How The Net Saved Me £300

English: A close up of a Toshiba Satellite L30...

English: A close up of a Toshiba Satellite L305D-S5900 Laptop Computer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a bit of a techie though the trauma of trying to resurrect an uncooperative network or computer caused me to stop being a computer geek for a while though even now I don’t keep up with the differences between Core i3s, Core i5s, Phemons and memory specs, I thankfully don’t really need to.

I do though recognise when my computer’s doing something odd.  In the past the LCD monitor attached to my laptop has started flickering, little irritating horizontal bars, and as I recognised this as electrical noise I rerouted the cables away from noisy power cables, or in one instance plugged the laptop’s power lead in properly and all was well but over the last few months the problem has returned and nothing seemed to work, I couldn’t get the leads any further apart without the aid of scaffolding.

My immediate thought was that the external monitor output was on its way out, I connected my netbook to the monitor to check that it wasn’t that or the lead to it that was faulty.  Nope.  My heart sank, as much as I’d like a shiny new laptop, namely a Lenovo one in blue at a significant discount on Amazon Warehouse, not that I’d looked in any detail, I couldn’t justify it.  I have an old desktop PC that with £50 of upgrades to its memory and an adaptor for the laptop’s big hard drive would also do the job but I thought I’d try asking the massed geeks of the net for assistance first.

Having typed “toshiba satellite vga output flickering” into Google (other search engines are available) and clicked through a few links I found that many people had solved the problem by plugging the laptop and monitor into separate mains sockets.  Sceptical as I was I tried it and blow me it worked.  There’s still some faint flickering and the fact that it’s a recent problem makes me think the adaptor could still be on its last legs but replacing that’s the cheapest option of all, if and when I need to.

That’s one of the greatest benefits of the internet, for all the naysayers proclamations that it’s just a hole of filth and misinformation – if you cast your net wide enough you can find an answer to just about anything.

Bag Fiend: Woz’s Backpack Edition

Steve Wozniac

Steve Wozniac (Photo credit: bbriceno)

I thought I had a lot of stuff in my laptop backpack when I travel, you know, laptop, PSU, Mio PDA/GPS (I know, Windows Mobile how 2007, pah), MP3 player, leads, mouse, adaptors etc…

Gizmodo though have had the opportunity to rummage through the contents of the backpack that Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) carries when travelling.

See the picture and a full list from the man himself here.

[Gizmodo UK]

Bike and Hammer in Imperfect Harmony

Screw_Low

Screw_Low (Photo credit: Curious_Gregor)

The recently released new Apple Macbook caused a minor stir recently when iFixit took one apart and found that it was so tightly integrated that nothing could be easily repaired by an enthusiastic techie, the memory was soldered to the board, the SSD storage was custom and even the battery was glued in so if any of these failed it would be an expensive repair and in addition upgrading was out of the question.  All of this was in the name of making the laptop thinner and shinier.

The same is true of cars where less and less can be fixed or tinkered with on the nations driveways and garages start to look more like F1 pitlanes.  More and more of our world relies on modular electronics in smaller and smaller packages, sealed (often due to the complexity of their components) and the only option on failure is to replace the whole thing, repairing no longer involves a soldering iron and screwdriver but a laptop and a plug and play black box.

So it gave me some satisfaction to actually be able to get my hands dirty and fix something for a change tonight.  My bike’s rear deraileur has been playing up recently, refusing to change into higher gears.  This may have been its attempt to improve my health (pedalling faster burns more fat, apparently) or it may have been trying to make me look silly or kill me, whatever it was I needed to get it sorted – engineering’s in the family and this bit of engineering was not gonna get the better of me.

The cable was slack but not broken, but when I pushed the mechanism into the higher gears the chain became slack.  A short period of pushing the arms up and down to identify the cause of the slackness revealed an adjustment screw pointing into thin air and adjusting nothing.  A brief period of what we used to call “passive maintenance” with a hammer to realign the bracket and a new machine screw later all was tensioned again and I’m again calling the shots as to which gear I want to use.

I have a toolbox and I’m not afraid to use it.