Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

0021Hours EDT

The Solid-State Situation

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Boat ramp and wooden dock to the Chattahoochee River at Buena Vista Park, Buena Vista Landing, Jackson County, Florida, 25 February 2012

In the two years since I purchased my Lenovo ThinkPad W500 with a Samsung MMCRE28G8MXP-0VBL1 128 GB SSD, its speed can only be described as scorching. For the past several months however, I have been monitoring a troubling performance issue with the drive.

The most notable symptom is an apparent hang during larger file transfers, although I have seen it happen during more unusual circumstances. During instances of this behavior where I was able to capture diagnostic data, the drive seemed to be saturated and overworked. Given the age and health of the drive, I should not be seeing this.

Imagine my surprise when I determined that although Windows and the drive itself support TRIM, the installed firmware on the drive does not. I had previously checked to ensure TRIM was enabled, but I apparently did not use a tool that was more thorough in its analysis. I suspect the firmware to be the cause of my problems.

Amazingly, Lenovo has still not provided a firmware release that remedies this issue, for which I found numerous threads on Lenovo's customer support forum. Since Samsung no longer even acknowledges this drive on their website, I thought I might be screwed. Thanks to resourceful individuals on the internet, that no longer seems to be my situation.

Samsung had previously released a firmware update on their site that addressed this and presumably other issues. Some people figured out that it was possible to load this firmware, erase the drive and start over with TRIM enabled and functioning.

I was excited to find that a RAR with all the necessary software—the firmware update along with tools to make boot media—had been put together and then equally disappointed to see it was hosted on the now-shuttered Megaupload.

Long live the internet. After several requests in the thread, alternative download locations surfaced and I now have a copy. My plan is to perform the upgrade procedure this weekend, hopefully not bricking the SSD in the process, use the built-in factory wipe utility to zero the drive, and reinstall my system.

Should all go well, Windows will be back up and running in eleven minutes leaving the installation and configuration of my software, which will take the balance of the weekend. I have read numerous success stories from those brave souls who have already done this, on both Lenovo and other hardware, so I feel fairly confident in the procedure and firmware.

Should all not go well, I will suddenly find myself in the market for an even faster and larger SSD. Of course, they are $350+ so keep your fingers crossed that my upgrade goes well.

Update 2012-03-03

The firmware upgrade was a complete success.

I avoided technical disaster and only made one mistake: forgetting to switch the BIOS SATA setting back to AHCI from compatibility mode. This was no problem as I simply rebooted, updated the BIOS and restarted the OS load.

Post-upgrade, the Windows Experience Index score for the SSD increased from 6.7 to 7.4 out of a potential 7.9. The 0.7 difference is quite noticeable so far, especially during boot.

It was clearly worth the risk to perform the upgrade!

Update 2012-03-04

For anyone wishing to try this procedure with their Samsung MMCRE28G8MXP-0VBL1 128 GB SSD (upgrade firmware from Lenovo VBM1EL1Q to Samsung VBM19C1Q), I followed the instructions written by Blue_Frog in the forum thread. These links will take you directly to the relevant posts.

Since the long-term viability of those download locations is uncertain, I have also decided to host the three key files.

Samsung SSD Firmware
Version VBM19C1Q
by Samsung


245 KB

The 7-Zip archive contains the firmware and flash utility.

  • if.bin
  • mf.bin
Photo Credit: David July

The Dark Clouds Loom

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Photo Credit: David July — High voltage electrical box 3756S28 with two way feed, Forest Street at Tupelo Street, Seaside, Florida, 26 November 2010

RSS Feeds FeedBurner feeds will be discontinued today. They should redirect from Google for thirty days, but you should update your subscriptions immediately. The shortcut links below are to the new locally hosted locations.

Linkage The Linkage feed through Google Reader will be discontinued today. Future Linkage will appear on Twitter.

I have always preferred to run everything on this site locally, without relying on third-party services. On a few occasions in 2009, I lightened up on this policy and expanded a few things outside my control. Most notably, I migrated the photograph gallery to Flickr, started using Google Reader to publish shared links of interest ("Linkage") and began providing RSS feeds through FeedBurner. Overall, I have been pleased enough with these arrangements. Flickr While I continue to worry about the future of Flickr under Yahoo!, my experience there has been excellent. Although my primary motive was to reduce the overhead in managing the gallery and costs of hosting, the unanticipated result has been the far-wider audience my pictures have received worldwide. I am no fan of the JavaScript or Flash only options for displaying recent uploads. Making mass edits is still far more cumbersome now; previously I could download the database, make batch updates and upload. I was also so frustrated by Flickr's outdated built-in Creative Commons license that I now just link to the license here. But so long as the service remains essentially the same, I will continue to pay for a Pro subscription and keep my images on Flickr. Google Reader Since I was already using Google Reader as my RSS aggregator, using its sharing feature to publish Linkage was a logical progression. I enjoyed the fact that this content could be viewed as a list in the sidebar, on a stand-alone page with images and via RSS. Yesterday I learned of Google's plans to "clean things up" as they said, referring to the discontinuation of sharing, following and friending inside Reader. Instead, new Google+ integration is designed to take over. By forcing this change, the usefulness of this product for me has just gone to zero. Mozilla Thunderbird, my first choice as an alternative RSS reader, has so far proven to meet my needs. I did not find any add-ons to share feeds from Thunderbird, so I will now be posting Linkage on Twitter. This works immediately, the only issue being that my script does not yet interpret the newish Twitter shortlinks (e.g. With that fixed, I think this will work out fine. UPDATE: this issue has been resolved. FeedBurner Finally, I have decided that the cons outweigh the pros with regard to using FeedBurner. I had originally sought the compatibility features and web front-end, but I find that my site's feeds are often delayed for no reason. RSS is ubiquitous and while Chrome still mysteriously has no internal means of displaying feeds, the other four major browsers now do. I hate that it may be a hassle for those two or three subscribers to update their feed software, but think it is better to cut this cord before I have an even more compelling reason to do so.
Photo Credit: David July

The New Website

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Photo Credit: Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program — Website Home Page, 23 October 2011 For the past few months, I have been developing a new website for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. Serving Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties in northwest Florida, the program is part of a statewide coalition of volunteers, community partners and professional staff. Guardians ad litem are court-appointed volunteers who protect the rights of and advocate for the best interests of a child involved in a court proceeding, frequently as a result of alleged abuse or neglect. I could not be working pro bono for a nicer group of people or a better organization. The work the program does is important and so are their fundraising, recruitment and training efforts. My greatest hope is that the new website will help the program better meet their mission, improve overall efficiency when dealing with volunteers and the public, more efficiently provide information and increase the program's online profile. The people I have met are extremely friendly and a pleasure to work with, a trait that should not be uncommon but my experience says differently (see Clients From Hell). Special thanks to Deborah Moore, Leigh Merritt and Stacey Burns for making the entire process fun and painless. It has been a challenging but extremely fun project. With my current day job workload—among other duties, I am an assistant project manager on the massive data center consolidation project for the Florida Department of Transportation—I have been working on the website nearly every weeknight and weekend. Although it has been an exhausting time, getting this website built and online as quickly as possible has been a driving force. In addition to significantly improving my PHP programming, WordPress theme development and regular expression skills, this project has rekindled in me a powerful urge to work for good. I last felt this way when I was running a small law office ten years ago. Going home each day with the knowledge that my day's work made a tangible difference in someone's life was a wonderful reward. In the near future, I shall investigate what opportunities may be available for me at not-for-profit organizations. Because you never know—and I would like to have that feeling regularly again. Please take a few moments to check out the website and learn about the program. I would love to hear any feedback you may have.
Photo Credit:

The Moonlight Permutation

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Photo Credit: David July — Palm tree and the full moon, 245 Front Street, Key West, Florida, 23 November 2007

In "The Hand Soap Quandary" published 23 February 2011, I discussed how my somewhat compulsive nature was not handling well the abrupt discontinuation of Moonlight Path Anti-Bacterial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap by Bath & Body Works. Most people can relate to the situation of having a valued product disappear from the marketplace, usually without warning. Nobody likes that.

You can therefore imagine my excitation when on 10 June 2011 commenter Megan wrote that Moonlight Path was again for sale on the Bath & Body Works website. I checked things out as soon as I got home from work. The bottle and label were different, but matched the design I saw in the store that fateful December day when I originally learned of the discontinuance.

I placed twenty bottles in my cart and finalized my purchase—$66.60 plus $8.99 shipping and $4.54 tax—convinced that all would be well soon. I received a notification of shipment along with a UPS tracking number on 12 June 2011. By the next day, UPS had the 13.7-pound box in its possession and tracking system in Louisville.

Adventures In Shipping

From Louisville, my box travelled to Nashville and then Jacksonville before arriving in Tallahassee. Unbelievably, this is where things get complicated. Although the package arrived at Tallahassee's primary USPS facility on 15 June 2011 at 1115 EDT, I would not see it for twelve days.
2011-06-15 1115 EDT Package transferred to post office
2011-06-16 1235 EDT Received by the local post office
At this point, I naturally assume that the package was transported the short distance from 2800 South Adams Street to 221 West Park Avenue, the home of 32302 and my Post Office Box.
2011-06-16 1420 EDT Package was forwarded to the receiver's address that is on file with the local post office.
As soon as I got home from work, I called Bath & Body Works customer support and spoke with a very friendly and helpful woman. I explained that I had forwarded my residential address to the PO Box and that if the tracking message is true, an unfortunate loop was about to be created. The CSR suggested the message could be interpreted as the act of transferring the package from the Post Office proper to my specific box.

I checked my box the next day and the day after that, no package. Now it is the weekend so I have to wait until Monday to check again. Monday arrives but the package still has not, so I once again call customer service.

The CSR, another friendly and helpful woman, reviewed my case and apologized for the situation. She immediately refunded the $9.53 shipping fee and tax that I had paid and offed to reship all twenty bottles immediately. While I accepted the credit, I told her I would prefer to have a final resolution before shipping another package into the aether.

Two more days pass and then I receive the following notifications from UPS.
2011-06-22 1425 EDT Local post office attempted delivery, package is undeliverable as addressed. Contact sender for further assistance.
2011-06-23 0927 EDT Received by the local post office
2011-06-23 0935 EDT Post office attempted delivery and left a delivery notice at the location. Contact post office per delivery notice.
The next time I check my PO Box there is indeed a yellow card, which indicates a package has arrived too large to fit in my box. Usually, they leave a key that opens a larger box nearby used explicitly for this purpose. Nevertheless, from time to time, they leave the yellow card instead, which means having to visit during their insufferable hours of operation and queue for fifteen minutes.

When I finally made it before they closed, it was Monday of the following week. I asked the USPS clerk what happened over the past weeks and she said that shipping with UPS to a Post Office Box was a bad idea. Clearly this is the case, but why is it so difficult? I thanked the clerk and left with my package.

2011-06-27 1204 EDT Package delivered by local post office
When I got the package home, I called Bath & Body Works one last time to inform them of my success so they could note it in my file. I was very excited to open the box and try the soap. The new bottles were an improvement insofar as the old pumps were often difficult to activate the first time.

The Times They Are a-Changin'

The first thing of concern I noticed was the color of the soap itself. I thought that perhaps the different bottle might be a factor until I actuated the pump; it pumped far more quickly than before, the viscosity altered to a more liquified state. Finally and most importantly, the smell—one of the key reasons I was enamored with Moonlight Path from the beginning—was changed.

Photo Credit: David July — Classic Moonlight Path Anti-Bacterial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap by Bath & Body WorksThere are two specific things I want to point out before continuing. First, I spoke with three or four different customer service representatives with Bath & Body Works and they were all friendly, professional, knowledgeable and incidentally, female. I never had to wait on hold to speak with them and their notes system meant not having to explain my situation thoroughly each time I called.

Customer support like this does not really exist anymore so I am pleased and impressed with this aspect of my purchase, despite the inconvenience that necessitated the communication in the first place. Other companies would be smart to take advantage of the current economic situation and re-think their customer service operations by hiring people in the United States to perform the jobs they had outsourced and by offering a real service to customers.

Second, I have to admit upfront that I do like the new Moonlight Path reboot. The smell is appealing not overwhelming, the texture is pleasant and I like the way my hands feel after using it. I am using it now and might get more in the future, but I am extremely dissatisfied that Bath & Body Works elected to call this soap Moonlight Path when it is obviously not.

Since I do not have a molecular analyzer at my disposal and cannot quantify the differences sufficiently by description alone, I resorted to typing the listed inactive ingredients on classic Moonlight Path and the new reboot variety—the only active ingredient, Triclosan, is common to both. The task took longer than expected as my fingers are not accustomed to scientific nomenclature and the font size on the bottles was extremely small.
Moonlight Path Classic
  1. Water (Aqua)
  2. TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  3. Propylene Glycol
  4. Alcohol Denat.
  5. Lauramide DEA
  6. Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer
  7. Fragrance (Parfum)
  8. Triethanolamine
  9. Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
  10. Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  11. Echinacea Purpurea (Coneflower) Extract
  12. Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate)
  13. Tetrasodium EDTA
  14. Panthenol (ProVitamin B-5)
  15. Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)
  16. Gelatin
  17. Acacia Senegal Gum
  18. Xanthan Gum
  19. Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate)
  20. Polyethylene
  21. Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  22. Methylisothiazolinone
  23. Benzophenone-4
  24. Ultramarines (CI 77007)
  25. Red 33 (CI 17200)
  26. Blue 1 (CI 42090)
  27. Ext. Violet 2 (CI 60730)
Moonlight Path Reboot
  1. Water (Aqua, Eau)
  2. TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  3. Propylene Glycol
  4. Alcohol Denat.
  5. Lauramide DEA
  6. Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
  7. Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract
  8. Honey Extract (Mel, Extrait de Miel)
  9. Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract
  10. Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract
  11. Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter
  12. Panthenol
  13. Tocopheryl Acetate
  14. Retinyl Palmitate
  15. Fragrance (Parfum)
  16. Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer
  17. Acacia Senegal Gum
  18. Gelatin
  19. Polyethylene
  20. Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
  21. Glycerin
  22. Triethanolamine
  23. Tetrasodium EDTA
  24. Benzophenone-4
  25. Xanthan Gum
  26. Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  27. Methylisothiazolinone
  28. Ultramarines (CI 77007)
  29. Ext. Violet (CI 60730)
  30. Red 33 (CI 17200)
  31. Blue 1 (CI 42090)
  32. Yellow 5 (CI 19140)
Four classic ingredients are not found in the reboot, while nine reboot ingredients are not found in classic. Indeed, the ingredients found in both versions are listed in a different order suggesting the quantities of each are also different.
Classic Ingredients Not In Reboot
  1. Echinacea Purpurea (Coneflower) Extract
  2. Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate)
  3. Panthenol (ProVitamin B-5)
  4. Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate)
Reboot Ingredients Not In Classic
  1. Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract
  2. Honey Extract (Mel, Extrait de Miel)
  3. Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract
  4. Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract
  5. Panthenol
  6. Tocopheryl Acetate
  7. Retinyl Palmitate
  8. Glycerin
  9. Yellow 5 (CI 19140)
Windiff: Classic versus Reboot
Photo Credit: David July — Windiff comparison of ingredients found in Moonlight Path Anti-Bacterial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap by Bath & Body Works classic and reboot versions, 23 July 2011
In Conclusion

Bath & Body Works does everything right in the customer service department but needs some lessons on product naming and marketing. It is interesting to note that if you browse the Moonlight Path fragrance page, the reboot soap product is not listed. It appears on the Deep Cleansing Soaps subcategory page.

Is this because they know it is not truly Moonlight Path?

I am left with my original quandary but have an acceptable, if deceitfully named replacement. In the great scheme of things, all is well. I only wish I understood the decision-making process involved here and will continue to hope that the true, classic Moonlight Path will return some day.

Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July

The Moon Landing at 42

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Photo Credit: NASA/Neil Armstrong/JSC — AS11-40-5850 Lunar Surface with Lunar Module Strut, 70mm Hasselblad, Kodak Ektachrome SO168 160ASA Color, Film Magazine 40/S, 20 July 1969 at ~0303:49 UTC
"I'll step out and take some of my first pictures here."      – Neil Armstrong (CDR)
Fifty-six seconds after informing Captain Bruce McCandless II (CAPCOM) of his intent to take humanity's first photographs on the lunar surface during extravehicular activity, Neil Armstrong adjusted the settings on his 70mm Hasselblad—loaded with Kodak Ektachrome SO168 160ASA color film, Magazine 40/S—and snapped a series of photos for a panorama starting with this one. The result is AS11-40-5850 "Lunar Surface with Lunar Module Strut" shot by Armstrong just west of the Lunar Module ladder looking east-southeast. You can watch video of this sequence, learn more about Apollo 11 photography and panoramas, browse the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal including the entire mission image library and read the official transcripts.

The Reynholm Way

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help

Original Logo Credit: Reynholm Industries

Are you a fan of the brilliant British television comedy The IT Crowd by Graham Linehan? Do you frequently feel the need to vent because of impossible users, clients or people in general? I think it is important these two demographics have an appropriate outlet.

"People, what a bunch of bastards."
     – Chris O'Dowd as Roy Trenneman

The IT Crowd S02E03 "Moss and the German" (2007)

As if that was not entertaining enough, Pam made a request for a version including her favorite Moss quote. Who am I to refuse a request like that?

"I like being weird. Weird's all I've got. That and my sweet style."
     – Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss

The IT Crowd S03E02 "Are We Not Men" (2008)

The sound clips are available to download via the Reynholm Industries logo on each page. I might be up for another one; suggest your favorite Jen Barber quotes and I can complete what may as well be a trifecta.

2011-07-09 — I rewrote things using HTML5, jQuery and jPlayer for better platform and browser interoperability. I did not find a Jen quote but I did find another of Moss appropriate for this impromptu YTMND inspired project.

"I came here to drink milk and kick ass. And I've just finished my milk."
     – Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss

The IT Crowd S04E02 "The Final Countdown" (2010)

2011-07-10 — Taking Pam up on her suggestions in the comments, I found a great albeit longer quote from Jen and also added Douglas Reynholm to the mix. Ladies and gentlemen I'd like to present to you...

"Wouldn't it be better if I could actually bring one of these wonders in to show you it? Say oh, I don't know um, The Internet! I think it would and I have! Ladies and gentlemen I'd like to present to you, The Internet! Oh please no flash photography, you'll harm The Internet."
     – Katherine Parkinson as Jen Barber

The IT Crowd S03E04 "The Speech" (2008)

"You there, computer man. Fix my pants."
     – Matt Berry as Douglas Reynholm

The IT Crowd S03E03 "Tramps Like Us" (2008)

2011-07-16 — This one is for Marc by email request.

"You'd best put seatbelts on your ears, Roy, 'cause I'm going to take them for the ride of their lives."
     – Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss

The IT Crowd S03E04 "The Speech" (2008)

2011-09-12 — This amusing addition is for Marta in San Jose, California via Marc by SMS request.

"You've got big balls, Roy."
     – Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss

The IT Crowd S01E06 "Aunt Irma Visits" (2006)

2012-09-05 — This has nothing to do with The IT Crowd but when Marc said that I should have my own Picard facepalm to link to online, this domain seemed like an appropriate home.

For those wondering, this now iconic image originates from the Star Trek: The Next Generation season three episode "Deja Q" which originally aired in 1990.

Picard Face Palm

2015-09-13 — Data wanted to join Captain Picard, so here he is saying "oh shit" in the film Star Trek Generations.

Data Oh Shit
Original Logo Credit: Reynholm Industries
Original Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Original Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures