23 April 2011

Mutual Respect: The Lost Skill of Being Punctual

When did punctuality become a rarity rather than the norm?   I've long grown accustomed to it, but I can't remember the last seminar, speech, or talk that started on time, whether it's late by five minutes, fifteen, or longer.

Being punctual is more than just a matter of courtesy, it's a matter of mutual respect:   the audience's respect for the speaker's time and, vice versa, the speaker's respect for the audience's time.

The most common rationalization I've observed is the 'wait a few more minutes for those who are running late to trickle in'.  Why is *their* time more important than the speaker's or than everyone's already in the audience?  Needless to say I'm not talking about specific individuals or VIPs whose absence necessitates waiting, whether by virtue of their position or connection to the occasion.

There are numerous and legitimate reasons to be late.  I've been late, but not once did I expect the speaker or everyone else to wait for me before starting and I suspect most people feel the same.  So why do it?

22 April 2011


A few weeks ago I received shipment notification and Purolator tracking number for an item I'd ordered online.  After 3-4 business days there was still no status information on the shipment.  The only information available using Purolator's online tracking tool was "there was a problem with your request, please phone...."

When I phoned Purolator I didn't learn very much more.  All they could tell me was that the item had not yet reached the border (it was shipping from the U.S. to Canada).   Purolator told me to wait a few more days.  Okay, fine.  It was only standard shipping, and I hadn't been expecting to receive a tracking number to begin with.   But here's the rub.  When I returned home the very same day I'd phoned Purolator, lo and behold, my shipment had arrived.

On a whim, a week after having received the shipment, I decided to check the tracking number with Purolator's online tracking tool, and the information still hadn't changed, "there was a problem with your request, please phone...."

Providing tracking numbers that can be checked by customers online is a great convenience.  There's no point to it, however, if the online tracking information is never updated.

14 April 2011

BCCode 116: Nvidia GeForce 7650GS video card

This is an update from my previous post, where I mentioned some problems I've been having with my desktop.  To briefly recap, I'd been getting video crashes with the error message "Nvidia kernel 266.58 stopped responding and has recovered," or words to that effect. Reinstalling the latest driver didn't turn out to be a permanent fix.

In fact, in the past 3-4 days it became progressively worse, where instead of a straight-forward crash I'd get incorrectly displayed displays (odd colours, horizontal lines, etc.), then crashes and then blue screens of death (BSOD).  The upside, however, was that I finally managed to catch the phrase "BCCODE 116" somewhere among all the funky graphics, crashes and BSODs.  I couldn't research this at home, of course, since my desktop was fairly unusable at this point.

Anywhoo, BCCode 116 turns out to occur when the video card malfunctions for whatever reason, one potential reason being the video card processor running at too high temperatures.  I found a free utility that reported current temperatures of hardware components, and lo and behold, at "idle" my GPU went from 78 to 95 degrees Celsius in a matter of minutes.  The temperature reached 102 degrees Celsius before I shut down my computer.  According to what I read, at idle it should be in the range of 50-70 degrees Celsius.

The cause of this elevated temperature?  The video card fan was no longer working, which I confirmed visually.  Cleaning up the dust (how does that much dust get in there, anyway?!) didn't help.  The video card is a Nvidia GeForce 7560 GS that came with my desktop.  It must be four, maybe five (or more?) years old, now.

I removed the video card, plugged my monitor via the basic D-SUB port, uninstalled the Nvidia driver, and now I can use my computer comfortably once again.  The only question I have now is whether I should buy a new video card.  I probably will, since I can already tell that videos run a little slower than they had previously -- not by much, almost negligible, but nevertheless noticeable.