Please Check/Reboot The Weather Content Engine

But, belaboring the point for effect, it’s nearly 4:00 AM

I just got an email from a server run by the TV station. So did a half dozen other people. The server was unhappy. It needed to be fed.

This is an automated message from the Recol server.

This warning is issued when a new copy of our SkyMax Doppler or other specified weather image has not been uploaded for more than+25 minutes.

Please check/reboot the Weather Content Engine, or check the WatchGuard firewall. Reminder, the DCE hostname is localhost.

OK… but I am in my pajamas… and it’s almost 4:00 AM.

Actually, we’ve been having trouble with this particular box lately. Something has changed. It’s a got to be software problem on this thinly installed system.

Unfortunately, trouble is typical of new programs, especially this one which lashes together a few totally separate systems to produce round-the-clock web graphics.

But, belaboring the point for effect, it’s nearly 4:00 AM.

Because of our earlier tsuris, I installed’s free remote control software. This is a godsend. I can’t figure out what their business plan is, but I love their product.

Logmein puts the remote computer’s screen right in my web browser! My mouse becomes its mouse and my keyboard its keyboard. It’s not as fast as working your own computer, but it’s not that bad either.

I scouted around on the station’s machine enough to jot down some symptoms. Then, I rebooted it. A few minutes later, I logged back in to make sure everything was running.

Actually, this is the second time today I used this software. Earlier, I did some troubleshooting on a friends computer the very same way. It must be weird to sit on the remote end and watch your cursor glide across the screen as phantom words are typed.

Meanwhile, work problem solved. I’m going to sleep.

New Monitor – Again

This past summer, after staring at a CRT monitor ratcheted up to its maximum resolution, I bought a brand new Pixo AT700S monitor. My thought was, an LCD monitor would have a sharper look, use less power, and make me much cooler. Plus, the 17″ CRT at 1280×1024 was blinding me.

You may be wondering, why a Pixo? After all, Pixo isn’t the first (or fourteenth) name that comes off your tongue when thinking of monitors. My thought was, since I was going ‘digital’, a pixel is a pixel, so all monitors should be equal.

What a dumb thing to think. It’s absolutely wrong, of course.

First, an LCD monitor, though producing a specific number of discrete pixels, starts its life by translating your computer’s analog video output to digital. Anything lost in that translation is gone – never to be found again.

Also, even in the 21st Century, monitors are loaded with components. Each of these components has to stay within its design specifications if the monitor is to perform properly.

Right away, I could see that wouldn’t be the case with the Pixo. I’d use a test generator and align the monitor only to come back the next day and find the alignment point had moved.

Then, one day, after a few months of use, the monitor sent a large puff of white smoke skyward. It was as if it had elected a pope. In the room, and later the entire house, I could smell the telltale odor of a capacitor that had fried.

I brought the monitor back to Staples, where they gladly gave me another Pixo.

No problem. Back on my desk, looking good, until a few nights ago.

I was working on the laptop at the time, so the LCD monitor for the main computer only caught the corner of my eye. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but I turned to see it brighten… and then dim… and the brighten again.

There are many things electronic components do very well. Healing isn’t one of them. I unplugged the monitor from my KVM (Keyboard, video, monitor) switch to see if it was the culprit. No change.

The problem came and went over the next few days. This morning, I had had enough. I was on my way to Cheshire to drop off Christmas gifts and figured I’d stop in at the Staples in Wallingford.

Long story short, the electronics guy at Staples didn’t seem surprised by the fate of my Pixo. He didn’t have any more, but he personally used an Envision (a name I’d actually heard before) and offered one to me at $60 more than I had originally paid.

I really didn’t want to buy a more expensive monitor, but I knew the Pixo was wrong for me. So, now on my desk is a lovely Envision EN-7100si.

The video is very sharp, though I’m not very impressed with the contrast. That, however, could be a driver or software problem, so I’ll hold judgment.

I see people using LCD screens all the time. They are quite cool and should look better than a CRT but only if they operate at their native resolution. 15″ monitors want to be at 1024×768. 17″ monitors need to have 1280×1024 resolution. If you’re not doing that (and most people seem not to) then the monitor is going to be smudgy, with dark grays where there should be black.

Oh – the Dell keyboard in the photo. I never thought a keyboard made much difference either. How many times can I be wrong in one entry?