No, California did not just ban gaming computers

While true that Dell is stopping selling some models in California and other states that have adopted the same energy standards, many recent articles on the subject have been misleading.

California is not trying to ban gaming machines. ‘Gaming Computer’ is not a class of computer for this energy efficiency program. The program creates a points system for the manufacturer to follow when designing computers. The more modular a computer is (and the more components it has, such as extra GPUs or SSDs), the more energy it is allowed to consume and still meet the idle restrictions.

The energy efficiency program now requires three big things:

  • 90% minimum efficient power supplies for computers
  • Computers (desktops, laptops, tablets. etc) must default to going into sleep mode within 30 minutes of not being used
  • Limits the amount of idle power (measured in KWHr) a device can use per year, based on the ‘modularity score’ of the computer

Importantly, there is NO restriction on power used while the system is be used. 1,000 watt power supplies are fine. Want triple 3090’s and a Threadripper? It’s allowed to use more energy, even while sleeping.

No one is taking away our gaming computers. The one linked from Dell has an older, less efficient power supply than is now allowed. The other versions of the same dell computer (with the newer PSU) are allowed.

The energy policy was enacted way back in 2016 and a summary can be found here:


Window Snap Tiling in Ubuntu Linux

One of the nicest quality of life features of the Windows 10 window manager is window snapping. By pressing the Win key and an arrow key, the current window snaps into full, half, or quarter size.

This behavior is completely absent in Mac OS (unless you count full-screen half-sharing) and only implement for 1/2 snapping in Ubuntu/Gnome.

Conveniently, there is a Window Tiling extension (WinTile) that extends Gnome’s tiling behavior to match and extend window snaps.

To install WinTile in Ubuntu:

  • sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell gnome-tweaks
  • Install the Firefox or Chrome extension
  • Run gnome-tweaks to adjust preferences for the number of snap windows

I really appreciate how it can easily be configured to support 2, 3, or 4 columns of snapping for ultra-wide monitors.


Resolved: git xcrun error

Opening up a terminal and trying to pull a git repo this morning gave me the following error:

seth@MBP13 ~ % git status
xcrun: error: invalid active developer path (/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools), missing xcrun at: /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr/bin/xcrun

After searching I found the following fix that worked for me:

xcode-select --install

It seems to be an effect of MacOS and XCode updates being handled separately. I would guess that my laptop recently updated, breaking the XCode install. I remember having experienced this in the past, and I’m still shocked that this behavior in MacOS hasn’t been improved.


M5StickC and Critically Low Batteries

I really like these little micro-controllers. They’re ESP-32 based, dual core, 4 megabyte flash, devices that have an integrated screen and a few GPIO pins. A built-in AXP192 power controller handles the small lithium battery. They even work with OSC!

After being in storage for a few months, I pulled an M5StickC out to program and couldn’t get it to connect to my PC over the USB C port. I knew the battery was probably dead, but every time before it would turn on shortly after being plugged in. Alas, the battery was so low that it wouldn’t turn on at all.

After reading about the issue on the M5Stack forum, I figured I could get it going again by charging the battery using an external power supply. Conveniently, the battery + pin is exposed on the GPIO at the top of the device. I set my bench power supply to 4.00V and 0.040A to slowly bring the cell back up to operating range. On first connection, the lithium battery in the M5StickC showed only a dead-beyond-dead 2.8V. Yikes!

Usually 3.7V is considered discharged. I hoped that if I could charge up to above that cut-off voltage the device would turn back on. I periodically pressed the power button and reconnected the USB C cable, and at around 3.9V the M5StickC turned back on. Good to go!

From that point I disconnected my bench power supply and let the internal charging circuit do the rest. I suspect the battery life will be permanently shortened from being discharged to such a low level, but hey, at least it’s working again.