Category Archives: Annoyances

Linux Ejecting DVD Drawer on Wake

At first I thought this was related to Windows losing drives on wake. It started happening around the same time, it also involved waking up from sleep, and the CD/DVD drive was disappearing in Windows along with the vanishing hard drive.

But while moving the cables fixed that problem, it didn’t fix this one.

It was only mildly annoying, especially compared to regularly losing access to a large chunk of local storage, so I figured I’d come back to it later.

Other people are seeing this too and it’s a recent bug in the Linux kernel. At least with Fedora’s rapid kernel updates I probably won’t have to wait too long between when the patch lands and when it hits my desktop. It’s been years since I compiled my own kernel, and I don’t feel like starting that up again now!

What is up with MacOS system updates?

On Monday, the home laptop mysteriously started lagging on heavily-modded Minecraft worlds that it had been just fine with the day before. Katie tried all kinds of troubleshooting over the next few days: using different launchers, trying local and server-based games, disabling mods, reinstalling Sophos, rebooting the system repeatedly. Nothing helped.

Until she checked the system update panel. Sure, it had a notification dot, but it always has one because it wants us to update to Big Sur, and we’re not quite ready to upgrade the system from Catalina. So it wasn’t obvious that it hadn’t actually installed Monday’s macOS update despite multiple reboots and a checkbox to automatically install updates.

Not that you’d expect a missing update to be the cause of the problem, since the lag only just started happening. But still, worth a shot. Especially since it started around the time the update was released.

(Incidentally, 2.3 GB? It’s only been a few weeks since the previous update. Did Apple just give up on deltas a while back and start shipping the entire OS every time there’s a bug fix?)

She had to manually tell it to install, and then force-shutdown the machine, because it wouldn’t restart on its own. Then the update installed.

And the Minecraft lag mysteriously disappeared.

Which means one of two things happened. Either:

  • Just knowing that the update existed caused something to chew up or block resources.
  • The OS silently started to install the update and got stuck, leaving the system in a broken state without telling anyone.

Neither of those is what I’d call encouraging.

Minecraft Bedrock Beta vs. the Microsoft Store

There’s got to be a better way to do this. Actually, I know there’s a better way to do this, because Minecraft already does it in Java Edition.

How to try out snapshots in Minecraft Java Edition:

  • Change the version in the launcher.

How to go back to the stable version:

  • Change the version in the launcher.

How to try out betas in Minecraft Windows 10 Edition:

  • Log in as someone who Microsoft knows is an adult, because Xbox Insider only allows 18 and up.
  • Sign up for Xbox Insider
  • Sign up for the Minecraft beta in Xbox Insider
  • Download updates on your Microsoft Store apps and hope it installs the beta.

How to go back to the stable version:

  • Leave the beta in Xbox Insider
  • Download updates on your Microsoft Store apps and hope it goes back to the other version.
  • Back up your saved games, which are buried deep in a hidden folder with cryptic names. Seriously, they’re in $homedir\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MinecraftUWP_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalState\games\com.mojang\
  • Uninstall Minecraft from every account on the computer, which will also erase all of your saved worlds, which is why you needed to back them up first. (oops.)
  • Reinstall Minecraft
  • Restore your saved games

There’s a known issue where leaving the beta doesn’t always work — especially if there are multiple accounts on the computer that have Minecraft installed. The only reliable fix so far is to uninstall every copy of Minecraft (Bedrock edition) on the computer, in every user’s account.

I’m just glad I found out that uninstalling the app deletes all your worlds before having to uninstall it on the kid’s login!

Oop Store

The Microsoft Store for Windows really feels a lot more fragile to me than either the standard run-an-installer paradigm or the Linux style package manager. I haven’t dug into its inner workings, but it seems like something that came out of the mobile and console ecosystems…and hasn’t been completely adapted to running on a general computer.

For example: Applications are only accessible for the user who installed them, like on Android. But sometimes it downloads the app all over again, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not even clear how much is stored system-wide vs. per-user.

As near as I can tell, the Microsoft Store will only download the application if it’s newer than a version that’s already on the computer. So if the beta is newer than the stable release, and the beta still exists somewhere on the computer (like in another user’s account), it’ll just use that one instead of re-downloading it.

Unsaved

But regardless of how it handles multiple installations on the same computer, it’s inexcusable that there is literally no way to reinstall a broken copy of the game and keep your potentially years of progress on a world without first digging into a hidden folder, then through seven levels of folders with generic or cryptic names just to find your saved games and manually copying your saved games before you uninstall and reinstall the game.

It shouldn’t delete your games (at least not without asking).

And it should keep them somewhere you can find more easily.

Virtual Waiting Room

Waiting at home for a link to a video call is, in some ways, better than waiting at the doctor’s office. You’re home, after all! You can use your most comfortable chair. You don’t have to worry about getting sick from other people in the waiting room. You know where the bathroom is, you can bring your coffee in, you have all your own reading material.

But….

There’s always that nagging suspicion that the email with the conference link has been lost, and they’ve been waiting for you to connect for the last 10 minutes and will just move onto the next patient.

Which I’ve had happen.

Over the last few months we’ve dealt with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, several in-browser apps and at least one app that couldn’t figure out landscape orientation. Between school and health, we’ve had some setups where we log into an account and the system connects you to the right person, some where each meeting has its own code, and some where a week’s worth of classes will use the same code. Some send the code or URL by email, some by text message, some through a portal. A lot of them send it out right at appointment time.

None of them just, you know, call on the app when they’re ready.

I actually had to reschedule one appointment after checking in. The front office called me on the phone to do the check-in, and at the end they asked if I knew how to get onto their portal to get the Zoom link. I logged in, and waited…and waited…and waited… No new messages, and nothing in the appointment info about how to connect, only that it would be sent in a message. By the time I called back, they’d marked me as a no-show. It turned out they’d sent the link buried in a message (in their portal, of course), back when I’d made the appointment. “But it says you read this message!” Yeah…not recently.

I’ve got to wonder — if someone who does tech for a living has trouble keeping up with this stuff, how hard is it for people who aren’t used to it?