Archive for September, 2008

shock value

Monday, September 29th, 2008

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stereo fail

Friday, September 12th, 2008

error #703: gremlins in filesystem

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Error #501 means cross-linked clusters on the disk. I’ll let you know if I ever figure out WTF is wrong with this machine.

my daring experiment

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

My current laptop is now more than three years old. I bought it in mid-2005 as a kind of uni-and-netgaming workhorse, which purpose it served very well. I’m still using it on and off, out and about and at home away from the desktop, mainly as a glorified mp3 player/MSN chatting device/internet browsing object.

I bought it with two batteries, which in 2005 were capable of running this thing – a 1.6ghz Pentium M Centrino laptop with 15″ LCD – for over ten hours straight. I barely took my power adapter anywhere, except for the first few days before it knew what the hell kind of battery life it possessed.

Even today, new laptops are considered awesome and portable and convenient if they manage 3 hours between charges.

Currently I’m eyeing off my next huge waste of money drool-inducing plaything thoroughly justifiable computer purchase, and was curious about how much of my battery life had actually been lost, for purposes of reselling.

I started scribbling times and percentages down in my trusty old notepad.exe, before wondering about the easiest way to convert the data to some kind of pretty chart for blogging the whole adventure. I was about to go download openoffice again, before remembering Google had some kind of web-based office clone of its own.

And, as it turns out, Google Docs is actually pretty damn cool.

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the coolest 3G problem ever

Monday, September 1st, 2008

3G modems – those little white USB bubbles – are well-designed things. They don’t give you a long enough USB cable to make data/power loss an issue, they don’t get ridiculously hot on your leg, and they generally just work.

The coolest part by far is how they detect as a device – they show up as USB mass storage, basically an inbuilt flashdrive, from which you can install all the software you need to use it as a modem. Once the drivers are installed, they re-detect and bring up the modem as a device as well. Hundreds of different devices would be improved by supplying drivers this way; it’s brilliant and elegant and fool-proof.

Well, nearly. A guy brought his PC in today, and presented me with the following error message:

Not actually having been given the error number it mentions, I was left in the dark; this would pop up about 10 seconds after trying to dial the ISP with the thing, and of course there was no net access afterwards. Being told about a closed port was an annoying red herring – I wish people designed error messages with their mothers in mind as the target user.

I was actually trawling through his BIOS settings for the fix to an unrelated problem when I saw someone’d turned off Plug and Play support for compatible operating systems. Windows XP, of course, supports this readily, so I flicked it back on and that was that – the modem started working.

Our current theory is that it requires PnP to do the device detection trick, which is perfectly fine unless you let your niece mess with the computer. So don’t do that.