Showing posts with label hardware. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hardware. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Doug Engelbart

I just learned that Doug Engelbart died yesterday.

So few people know that the way they work with their computers came to him in a flurry of creation while driving to work one day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Linux Live CD

It's been 12 years since Mark Knopper first created Knoppix, ushering in an amazing way to try running Linux: directly from a CD.

No installation hassles, no worries about losing data during an upgrade. No getting stuck in the middle of an install and not having a machine to use to track down documentation.

Just a running machine. Easily, quickly, and best of all temporarily.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Go fsck yourself, part duh

You remember last time, when I said, "I'm writing this blog entry on the same disk image that was giving me nightmares just 7 hours ago"? Hahaha, well, that was then, and this is now.

It's four hours later, and this time, I'm writing from the laptop.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Go fsck yourself

Interesting experience today.

My daily use machine has a SATA disk drive, and it would not boot this morning. GRUB would begin, and then fail saying it could not find any initrd or kernel.

I was able to boot using a Live CD, but several of the ones I have didn't work. Time to purge my "rescue disk" collection, download the latest Trinity Rescue and Knoppix, etc.

The one that did work would not recognize that the HD even existed. So no fdisk, no mounting the partitions for backup, nothing. Doomed, I thought. Fried disk. Right.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The joys of multi-card reading

As mentioned at the bottom of my prior posting, because of a surprising number of errors being received when I tried to use my venerable external card reader, I had ordered an internal multi-card reader. Well, it arrived in good order, and now the front of my PC has one more blue LED than it had.

I guess this is the way that streetlights have destroyed the night for so many of us, one bulb at a time.

They nicely include both grey and black faceplates, for the utterly pointless aesthetics of having the machine match. It must be important to someone, and I did indeed use the matching faceplate. It was already in place. My server has a silver DVD drive in a black case, and I can't say that anyone has complained.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Recovering from motherboard failures, and clean computing

When last we left the scene, one server was dead, the desktop dieing. However, ordering two new motherboards was successful. They arrived from Magic Micro quickly and in good order, and it was time to clean things up and make two working machines.

First, a note on cleaning. I am sick (and tired) of computer hardware that cannot be cleaned. Laptops that require being sent back to the manufacturers in order to be cleaned, things like that. I remember one call to Circuit City for a Sony Vaio laptop I owned, where the person who answered the phone simply did not understand what I meant when I said the fan needed to be cleaned.

I had to let her go to her script and answer the question "Is the machine overheating and shutting down?" with "Yes", because if I didn't say "yes" she didn't have any option for having me send it in for cleaning at all. So they did the cleaning, and wiped Linux, but I've learned always to do a full backup before letting anyone else even touch my machines.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

You know the universe is out to get you when....

Update: Part 2 has been posted.

Prior to Friday, I had exactly one problem with a motherboard, the clock battery leaked and damaged the traces. That system had been running for 5 years in a friend's garage, slowly rusting while running DNS, WWW, SMTP, my "blog" before the word blog was invented, and whatever else I needed in a server, but time did work its inexorable will.

Friday, my server was purring along just fine, and then it stopped. I thought it was a power supply problem, but as I was trying to determine if the power supply was still working, I saw a small orange flash.

The next power cycle attempt also got a bit of orange, but it was not small, and the smoke and cracking sound was more than clear as to exactly what had gone wrong. I have a picture of the offending surface-mount component, but it will be hard for me to post the picture due to the other problem. Note to self, always keep a working laptop for just such emergencies.

"Other problem? You mean this gets worse?"

Friday, February 11, 2011


Word to the wise:

When you order a new SATA DVD drive to replace the broken IDE drive, even if you have a SATA data cable, check to be sure you also have the SATA power cord.

And even if you know your power supply has one, like I did, make sure it will reach where you need it to go.

A photo will be posted when I get that machine put back together after a trip to the store. Hope they have a standard-to-SATA power plug adapter, like the one that was offered when I ordered the drive but didn't get. Yes, I know, "Next time you'll know better."

And now, you will too.


Ok, here's the picture, "Where it reached" and "Where it needs to go":

A few hours have past, and what do I have? Nothing. Serial ATA power cable? What's that???? Oy.

When the computer department manager at Xxxxx Xxx tells me, "I have no idea what you're talking about", I know it's time to go back to New Egg, Tiger Direct or Ebay for sanity and technical savvy.

I shook my head as I was leaving at the line of people at their "professional" technical support desk. I didn't expect it would be well received if I started handing out my computer repair business cards.

The last time I bought a system there, a laptop, I asked if I could get a Windows refund. The guy got a glazed look in his eyes and asked, "Why?"