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Blog Archives for January 2006

Laptop Surgery

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006 - Comments (0) in Computers, Work

So a co-worker of mine tells me the other day that her laptop was dropped (again) and the power jack was damaged. Basically the laptop fell on the right-angle power connecter breaking off the pin in the middle of the jack inside the laptop. Ouch. Since it was already off warrantee and she used this as an excuse to buy a new laptop I asked her to bring it in so I could try fixing it.

She brought it in this morning and let me check it out. After taking out all 35 screws and removing basically every internal part besides the processor I was able to get to the back of the power connector.

Power Connector 1
(Click to enlarge any of the pictures)

You can see in the first picture how the pin broke off from the part soldered to the motherboard (and destroyed the plastic that held it in the right position. In this pic I have the power plug inserted and the pin in the connector to hold it in place.

Power Connector 2

Here is the connector with the pin soldered back to the post. I was using a really shitty overpowered soldering iron for the job but it was all I had. I added a lot of solder to hopefully add more strength to hold up under the pressure of removing and inserting the power cord. It actually held up very well and worked fine without any strain-relief, but I did end up squirting some RTV in the gap between the plastic and the pin.

Power Connector 3

Here is the outside where the power cord plugs in. You can see how when it was dropped it cracked the outside of the case too. This is an after picture showing the pin back in its proper place.

Power Connector 4

After taking twice as long to put back together and having only 1 screw left over, the final test was turning it on (yes it still worked) and see the power cord charge the battery.

Poppyseed

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006 - Comments (6) in Life

Rachelle's friend, Christine, has this cat named Poppyseed. Unfortunately Christine's apartment complex forbids any animals in order to keep up their hypoallergenic bragging rights. They recently found out about Poppyseed and told Christine to get rid of her or she'll be evicted.

So while Christine works out who can take Poppyseed for the next few months, while she lives out her current lease, we get to temporarily kittysit!

Pre-Cana!

Monday, January 23rd, 2006 - Comments (2) in Life, Wedding

This past Sunday Rachelle and I attended a pre-cana class, a requirement for anyone getting married in a Catholic Church. It was AWFUL!! It was scheduled for 12 noon to 6pm, but only went to 4:30. Even though we got out an hour and a half early I thought I was going to kill myself.

It was a simple setup and really didn't need to be anywhere near as long as it was. They had like 7 or 8 readings from some book and talked a little about each one. We had to write answers to questions about each reading and then talk to each other about our answers. They gave us WAY too much time in between each thing to write answers and talk. I'm talking like 20 minutes to answer 3 questions and share the answers! We also watched a movie clip from some film where a couple was going to get a divorce but then changed their minds at the last minute.

It hardly seems possible all of that could fill up 4.5 hours, but it did. I am glad that we did the single longer weekend session rather than like 3 2-hour weeknights.

It looked like most of the people there were like us and not really pleased about being there. There was this one creepy couple that kept making out in the back of the room. It was gross. It made me think they haven't known each other long enough to get married if they are all over each other like that, especially in public.

Toilet Behavior Vindication

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006 - Comments (7) in Life

Growing up I was taught to put the lid down on the toilet. We had cats and if the lid was left up they would play in the toilets. So since putting the lid down is embedded in my soul I keep trying to get Rachelle to do it too. She continues to resist, but today knocked a tissue box into the toilet!

Finally!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006 - Comments (0) in Email, Linux, Nerd Stuff, Work

I finally figured out what is killing one of my servers at work. Every once in a while the server that runs the website would go apeshit and its load average would jump to around 30 (12 is considered critical (right now it's idling around 0.02)). It would do this for about 20 minutes and kill the MySQL and Apache services. Well it looks like the problem is related to SquirrelMail (a free webmail client) accessing very large mailboxes on an Exchange 2003 server. My mailbox has around 5000 items in it and when I tried accessing it with SM last night the server went nuts. I originally thought the problem was with MySQL (since it was one of the programs crashing and burning, but it looks like that was just collateral damage. It might be a problem with Apache's setup or just a bug in SM's software. Either way I've found the problem and removed the software. Go me!

Work Calls at Home

Monday, January 16th, 2006 - Comments (0) in Life, Peeves, Work

Today everyone left to go back home. Since they had a 6 hour drive and Kelly had to catch a ferry back to Long Island they had to leave pretty early. 10am is early for me on a weekend. So just after they leave while I'm eating my waffles the house phone rings. I look at the tv (caller ID on TV) and see the last name of someone I work with. I didn't answer it...and they didn't leave a message. This kind of annoys me because it was 10am on a holiday and I'm sure it was some stupid question that really could have waited 1 day until we are back at work. I would have been really pissed off if that call woke me up.

I used to have my cell phone number on the phone list at work. Then everyone started calling for every stupid little problem on my cell phone before they would email or call my office. I actually got a call last summer on the beach in North Carolina about some printer problem even though my office voicemail said I would be on vacation and not to call me.

The day after I got back from North Carolina I asked to have my cell number removed from the list. It's a shame I had to do that because I would like people to call me if there is an emergency (fire, explosion or theft) but not for things like printers running out of paper. Sometimes I think people just need to take a few seconds and a few deep breaths and think about what they are doing. It would make everyone's life easier.

Fun Weekend

Monday, January 16th, 2006 - Comments (2) in Life, Wedding

This past weekend a bunch of people came up to throw us an engagement dinner. Kelly, Dave and Jason all drove up in Dave's car on Friday and stayed until Monday. Originally we were going to eat at Benucci's (an italian place in Pittsford Plaza), but Kelly wanted to dress it up a notch so we ended up at Mario's Via Abruzzi. Rachelle's Sister Megan, Ben, Betsy, Manda, JR and Colleen also showed up. It was neat because we got to eat in the "tower" which was a separate room big enough for like 12 with a really tall ceiling.

After dinner a few of us went out to Oxfords on Monroe Ave. It was pretty uneventful until a fight broke out between two morons. Moron_1's girlfriend then got in the mix and everyone started pushing and shoving. Then the bouncers came over and put the smack-down. I guess moron_1 and girlfriend were friends of one of the bartenders because they weren't kicked out. This was kind of annoying because a few times people from moron_2's posse tried to start up the shit again. When we left around 12:30 moron_2 and his posse were on the corner waiting for moron_1. They actually said "we'll give you $5 to take care of that guy" as we passed. Kelly then said "How about you use the $5 to built a bridge and get over it." It was pretty funny.

Lazy Weekend

Sunday, January 8th, 2006 - Comments (2) in Life, Movies

Jason came up for the weekend from Albany for a haircut. He must really like his hairdresser to make a 4 hour trip here. After his haircut we just hung out watching TV and a few movies (Super Size Me, House of Wax, Re-Animator, Bedazzled).

Super Size Me was interesting at some points but just didn't do it for me. The premise was basically some guy wanted to see what would happen if he ate McDonald's food 3 meals a day for 1 month. You can imagine what happens.

House of Wax is the current remake of the Vincent Price classic. It also happens to be Paris Hilton's acting debut (at least in a movie where she keeps her clothes on). It was entertaining but irritating because all the characters would do the most rediculous things that get them into trouble.

Re-Animator is just a classic. I've seen it a few times and it just gets funnier every time I see it. The best part ever is when the (re-animated) severed head goes down on the chick. Awesome.

Bedazzled is also a great remake. It's about a loser who meets the devil who grants him 7 wishes. Great story, decent cast (Brendan Fraser, Liz Hurley, Frances O'Conner) and even a moral. Watch it!

I also played the second quest of The Legend of Zelda on a Nintendo emulator on one of my laptops. Even thought it is 20 years old this year I think Zelda is one of the best games ever! Playing it now totally brings back memories of the first time I played it back when I was in like second grade.

Home Theater PC Upgrade

Monday, January 2nd, 2006 - Comments (0) in Home Theater PC, Linux, Nerd Stuff

One of the projects I worked on over Christmas break was revamping my home theater PC (HTPC). If you aren't familiar with the concept of a HTPC, it is basically a computer that performs all (and more) of the functions of a home theater. These include playing movies, music, TV and games.

I reformatted the disk and installed an updated version of Linux (Fedora Core 4). Then I followed Jarod Wilson's HowTo to set up MythTV and all the required software. After that everything was working except the TV functionality. When I would try to watch tv I would get a black screen and mythfrontend would stop responding. Eventually I found a few site with different things to try and got it working! I can schedule recordings, watch the recordings and do all the cool stuff like pausing and rewinding live tv.

You may be asking yourself why I didn't just go and buy a Tivo and add it to my current home theater? Because I'm a nerd and like to do things the hard way sometimes. I didn't have to pay much for the parts; the only part I didn't have was a good tv tuner which was like $150. I can add an HDTV tuner if I get an high-def television in the future, dump my recordings directly to dvd, play my library of mp3's through my stereo, play any movie downloaded from the internet on the tv and just about anything else you can think of.

The Holidays...

Sunday, January 1st, 2006 - Comments (0) in Life

This holiday season was excellent; it was very relaxing, I got to visit the family in NJ and I accomplished a few things on my "list". Harley was closed for the entire week before Christmas which gave me a lot of time to get stuff done at work.

I was able to build a replacement fileserver for the kids. Previously the kids (and teachers) used an 18GB Quantum Snap Server. It was just basically just network attached storage without access control. I replaced it with an old 1GHz desktop with 2 200GB disks running linux. Backups were a big problem before because 18 gigs needed to be copied over the network often enough to not get out of date but not too frequently as to make it impossible to resurrect recently deleted files. I used one of the 200GB drives for the actual data share to be mapped on all the clients and the other drive for the backup. Every day an incremental backup is done copying only the files with dates that are newer than the backup. Then monthly a full backup will done to get rid of all the stale backup files that have been deleted on the actual share.

I found a decent tutorial on setting up Outlook Web Access (webmail for Exchange server) with a free SSL certificate. This will encrypt all webmail activity to make everyone feel just a little safer.

I finally got around to setting up our new webfilter. We use SurfControl to filter out inappropriate websites. Our current server is totally overwhelmed so it needs to be replaced with a beefier machine. I had the machine and the software (MS ISA server/Surfcontrol) but needed to get it configured properly. It's now configured properly. I just need to do some more testing and it'll be good to go.

I flew home on the Thursday before Christmas. Flying might be a little more expensive than driving but the time involved makes it totally worth the money. Christmas was quiet. A few people came over for Christmas Eve dinner and only a couple for Christmas dinner. My parents recently got Verizon's FOIS internet services (5mb/2mb fiber) so we had fun setting up wireless and getting them up to date in the home computing realm.

Rachelle's friend Kelly came to visit the day after I got back (Monday). It seems like the only thing they did was shop for 4 days! It gave me a lot of time to work on my home theater pc (I'll post laster about that)

Manda and JR came up from Pittsburg to visit on New Years Eve. It was fun, the girls got hammered and we played a bunch of games. Around 1:30am someone came up with the brilliant idea of going to Nick Tahou's for Garbage Plates (a staple in drunken midnight snacking). So we get to Tahou's and its CLOSED!! So we found some place on Monroe Ave called Dogtown Hots. The plates we got there were awesome!