Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hewlett-Packard Laptop Disaster Unwound

[Einstein and Fermi figuring out how to delete HPtonecontrol from Windows - actually it's Leo Szilard]

I have been tearing my hair out over a persistent problem with the big Hewlett-Packard Pavilion DV8t Entertainment PC laptop I got for doing Photoshop and watching Netflix, and all the usual email, Facebook, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on that one does.  I paid what seemed to me a lot at Costco for H-P's biggest and best screen - 18 inches, high resolution, good color, good sound.

What I got was a chronic pain in the butt that evolved into complete unusability.  The tone adjustment bars would not stay off the screen no matter what I did.  Since they immediately became the current program and pushed the others into the background nothing else could be run.  Since they could not be gotten rid of for more than a second, the pc was effectively unusable.  

Even before that became intolerable, the wi-fi antenna became equivalently unstable.  It constantly went from blue (on) to red (off) and knocked me off the router connection.  By the time the router connection was restored, the antenna went off again and blew off the connection yet again.

H-P Help wanted substantial money for services that every user forum universally described as "useless", "incompetent", "worthless", "didn't help", or worse.  With a machine that didn't work and that I couldn't fix nor have fixed, I had an expensive piece of junk on my hands.  I had a machine that sometimes almost worked and was too expensive to replace out of hand.  So it constantly made my life miserable and there seemed to be nothing I could do about it, except bite the bullet and buy another machine or suffer along with the ever-worsening piece of crap I already had.

BUT several entries down on a secondary user forum, a user suggested a fix.  Start --> Control Panel --> Uninstall a Program --> HPtonecontrol.     DELETE that evil piece of squat.  And it worked.

Now the wi-fi antenna stays on.  Now there are no tone control bars constantly popping up.

I can no longer adjust bass/treble balance. As they say in New Jersey, "Ask me if I care.  Go ahead, ask me."  And just in case you did ask me, the answer is, "No, I don't care."

It is yet another example of how some tiny thing can stop everything and wreck everything.  Once it is removed, the sun comes out.  

If anyone reading this has, or knows anyone who has, one of these H-P dogs, send them a link to this.  Or just copy the instructions.  Or just the words, 'delete HPtonecontrol'.

I call such things 'boron'.  There was a time when the Manhattan Project, which would dramatically shorten World War II, was stymied by few milligrams of boron impurities.  The trace amount of boron in the tons of graphite bricks Fermi was using to build a primitive nuclear reactor absorbed the neutrons and ruined the reaction.  The vast endeavor of mankind was held up for months while graphite purification processes were improved to get rid of it.  

If you look around you, you will find examples of boron in your own life and in the world generally.  Another phrase for it would be 'active entropy'.


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