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Posted 2008.05.23 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

I fixed it I fixed it I fixed it I fixed it!

I got some brass metal strip and cut it to size then made some holes in it to increase surface area, and used some epoxy to fix the metal over the crack on the back. I used more epoxy to build up material on the side as well, and then the face too where it had broken inside.

Epoxy is good and strong but you have to let it set for 24hours to really reach its full strength, so each step took a day of waiting for it to cure before I could turn it around and work on the next bit.

But it’s done now and I’m happy!! 😀

The imposter is back in storage and my HPLX is back in my purse where it belongs.

Its Fixed!
Doesn’t it look so happy?! That’s the HPLX I love!


Posted 2008.05.21 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

This is the false HPLX.

It has the motherboard of *my* HPLX but the case is all wrong.

Just look at it! You can tell it’s mocking me. Taunting me. It tries to look correct, tries to fit in.

Late at night when I should be asleep, I just know that…thing…is in my purse or on my desk.. just…sitting there.

I *have* to fix the old case and make things right.

Its. All. Wrong.

WTF happened to bicycles?

Posted 2008.05.21 0.00 in Sports by Stephanie

Seriously. I haven’t been much into bicycling since I was a kid. I was the last one amongst my friends to get a 5-speed, and back then, that was the bees-knees of cycling. Sure the guys you saw at the Olympics had 10 speeds and 12 speeds and whatnot but that was the cutting-edge technology. Us normal folk just went over to Canadian Tire with our parents to pick out a $150 or $200 5-speed and then we were just all that. Then, when I was 18 or 19, I bought myself a (small) motorcycle and after that bicycles were just very, very lame and seriously uncool. Like, bicycles were only for little kids who weren’t old enough yet for a (motor) bike.

Fast-forward to modern times and my motorcycle is in storage (it was old when I got it, now it’s an antique and I can’t get it insured — it doesn’t help that I never got around to even getting a motorcycle license, for the 5 or 6 years that I drove the thing.) Now I’m 30-something and health is an issue, along with the environment and all that jazz. So I think I’ll get a bicycle. I’ve got lots of bike paths around, and I’m less than 10kms to work so it’s not unreasonable to think someday I could actually get there on a bike.

So — WTF happened to bicycling, in the past decade or so? The only ‘cheap bikes’ you can get are broken or stolen, and everything’s 21 speed or more, there’s not one but two shift levers because they put gears on the bit your feet work as well as the gears on the back wheel, and bikes aren’t just built by one company, all the bits come from different specialty shops. Then there’s 4 or 5 different ‘kinds’ of bike and you have to pick the frame and the wheels and who knows what else.

I was just thinking to go to the bicycle store, find a cheap-and-cheerful one on the display rack, and get on with my life… well ok in the end I managed to do that, but clearly the bike-store people think I’m some kind of uncouth savage who clearly has no appreciation for the finer details in cycling.

Oh wait. They’re right – about the appreciation thing. I don’t want to start training for competition (street, dirt, mountain, or otherwise). I just want to pedal around the block FFS, not on some 3-day expedition.

So I got a bike, some no-name cheap frame that is probably made of whatever metal is 3-years out of fashion. I picked it because it had the redeeming quality of being the right shade of purple. I did pick the thicker knobbly-type tires because I want to not care if I am riding on pavement, grass, or dirt. I got the exact kind of gear shifty dealies that were exactly right for my style of cycling — based on the fact that they were already attached to the frame that was the right shade of purple.

I don’t recall exactly how much my new (purple) bike cost me, but I do remember it was more than I was planning to spend. I’m pretty sure it was at least a little bit less than my motorcycle had cost me back when I was 18 or 19.

Now, I will confess that this all happened about 2 years ago – but it’s all fresh in my mind because I was just at the bike store again. They didn’t recognize me from my previous visit, so I was able to avoid being treated like an ignorant uncouth cycle-hating savage — at least for the first 53 seconds, and then I started talking.

See, I had been told that you could get a little metal stand that propped the back wheel up off the ground, so you could use your bike like an excercise bike. The idea, alledgedly, was that you could save money by not having to buy a whole nuther bike – that doesn’t actually go anywhere – to plunk in the living room infront of the TV — and you had the added advantage of working out on the same bike you would actually ride around outside on, so the right muscles would get tuned to the right bike. Or something.

So I ventured into the bike shop and looked lost till the salesguy came to see me. I described what I was looking for in the exacting technical terms that I knew it as — a metal thingy that propped up the back wheel so you could ride it indoors for excercising. Amused, he told me that it was called a “Trainer”. Yes, I exclaimed as if I knew that and the word had only momentarily escaped me, I wanted to buy a trainer. He led me over to the one he had on display, for the low low price of $400.

Four hundred dollars. For a metal thingy that props up the back wheel. Now I don’t remember exactly…but I’m pretty sure that my actual (purple) bike did not cost $400 (it might have, but if it did, I have suppressed that memory.) What I do know is you can get a pretty kick-ass reclining excercise bike at Canadian Tire for only $200. (Don’t ask how I know this and do not look at the fancy device I use to dry clothes on.)

Now, the $400 dealie is the top model. He has another one for the low low price of $200. I remark that for $200, I could in fact acquire an entire complete excercise bike.

If only I had a camera.

The confident, slightly condescending, knowledgable smirk on his face was… it was just incredible. And the way he said “No, you can’t.” – I mean, I don’t have any special telepathic abilities or anything, but between the smirk and three little words, I knew exactly what had happened. Again. I had revealed myself to be an uncouth savage cycle-ignorant doofus.

Clearly anyone who thinks they can get an excercise bike for $200 is probably the kind of putz who would ride around on a cheap (purple) bike and not even be mortified to be seen in public on a bike that cost less than $1000. So, the sales guy now knows exactly what kind of person he’s dealing with, and I now know that I’m in over my head. Lost, struggling, I do the only thing I can: I ask if I can see the cheaper one.

Only, they don’t have it in yet. One’s on order, it’ll be here tomorrow or maybe even later today. He asks if I’d like them to call me when it’s in. Oh yes, I brightly respond, please do. I leave my name and phone number. So I leave the bike shop, confident that they think I’m an ignorant putz, and also figuring that I’ve probably agreed to spend $200 on a metal thingy to prop up the back wheel of my (purple) bike.

My (Purple) Bike!
My (Purple) Bike – no metal thingy yet though.

From the You Aren’t Going To Eat That files…

Posted 2008.05.20 0.00 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

It reminds me of one of those things from Star Trek. Triffles? I forget what they’re called. Yeah, the star trek things were fuzzy, this is more spindly. Ok maybe its more like a sea urchin. I don’t know. It’s not cute and cuddly looking, that’s for sure.

You really do eat them, though. It’s not a critter, it’s a kind of fruit.

It’s called a Rambutan and they grow in trees I think.

Once you peel off the freaky-looking shell, they’re sort of like a lychee inside – an oblong white fruit, with a big nut in the middle. It’s sweet, a bit juicy, a slightly exotic taste. Not as freaky as it looks. Fun to eat infront of people who don’t know WTF it is.

If A Clean Desk Is A Sign Of A Cluttered Mind…

Posted 2008.05.19 0.00 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Then my desk must indicate a very clean and well-organized mind!


Embrace the Clutter!

Touchy-Feely Technology : Redux

Posted 2008.05.18 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

Recently I wrote about anthropomorphising electronics, and the sadness I felt when erasing and boxing a laptop that I no longer needed. Little did I know that I’d be facing another little dilemma so soon, along the same line.

For over 3 years now, my HP 200LX PDA has been a near-constant companion. Although an antique, it does exactly what I need, everything I need, as far as organizing my schedule, reminding me of projects and appartments, keeping all my contacts’ phone and address info, and having a handy database application which I used to create several custom files for all manner of things, even wine-tasting notes.

The thing with antique technology — as I have written before — is that you have to be prepared to act as your own parts-depot and repair shop. HP is not likely to have a stock of parts handy for something they sold 12 years ago, nor are they likely to have any staff in the service dept. who know what it is, let alone how to fix it. To that end, I have a small supply of spare parts, even a couple spare units. A year or two ago, I sold one of my spare units. (Actually my best, almost-mint spare.) No problem, at the time there were a number of good-quality replacements still on ebay. However, as more time passes, there are fewer and fewer good quality replacements. Those who use and love the LX are undoubtedly doing like me – stockpiling parts and spares.

About six months ago, I realized that my beloved LX was starting to succumb to the infamous “Hinge Crack” problem — the right-hand screen hinge has the resistance that holds the screen up, and therefore all the stress of opening and closing against that resistance goes on the plastic surrounding the right-hand hinge. Eventually the stress is too great and the plastic starts to give. And ultimately, it breaks completely. It’s not like this is the first thing to go wrong with my LX, by the way. The lid clip broke, it’s not springy any more. I stuffed some rubber band bits into it to try and make it springy. And the plastic overlay that surrounds the screen, fell off years ago. I tried putting a new one on, but it feels ‘wrong’ now.

Anyhow, when I saw the hinge crack, I got on ebay and eventually found a replacement that had the same upgrades as my main unit — overclocked to 2x speed, and 8MB memory. It cost a pretty penny, but you do what you gotta do. Soon enough, I had the replacement. I ran a backup of my HPLX and then restored to the new one. But…

I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. The new one was not ‘new’ or pristine, it was used. Yeah it’s in better shape than mine. But mine is mine. It has the melted bits in the lid where I lasered it. It has the teeth marks on the case where I chewed on it. (Don’t ask.) I’ve gotten so used to the ‘face’ without the plastic overlay. The ‘new’ one was just too…unfamiliar.

So I kept the new one in a drawer and went right on using my old, beat up, well worn LX. I knew that every day the hinge crack got worse, every day it cracked a bit more. I kept telling myself that I could maybe fix it, maybe epoxy, metal, nuts and bolts, something would save it. I just needed to take it out of service for a week or so, while I worked on it. And still I couldn’t do it.

Finally, recently, the crack made it all the way around, back to front. It stopped being cracked and started being broken. Its time had come.

I got out the replacement, did the backup/restore again. And still! I can’t use it. I just can’t use the replacement. I went to my spare parts box and pulled out all my LX parts. I went through them all to find one that had a good screen and case. Then I opened up my old one and the spare one, and swapped motherboards. Now I’m using the same old motherboard in a relatively good case. For all intents and purposes, it *is* the old one, just in a fixed shell.

But damnit, it doesn’t feel right. I’ll put up with it for a little while — long enough to try and fix the crack on the ‘old’ case. Then I can put the motherboard back where it belongs, and hopefully I’ll be happy. And hopefully my LX will be happy too!

HPLX - Broke
My beloved HPLX with the dreaded Hinge Crack highlighted.

Ethical Dilemmas of

Posted 2008.05.17 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

Anthropomorphising Electronics

Many people do it. Some more than others. Think of your computer, PDA, cellphone, etc. as a ‘him’ or ‘her’, rather than an ‘it’. Attribute some feelings or emotions towards it. Perhaps even feel bad / upset if it gets damaged, lost, or stops working. Maybe even feel bad if one doesn’t use it for a while and it gets ‘neglected’.

Although I have been described as having a very logical mind, I confess I do anthropomorphise some of my equipment. Not everything, and perhaps not to the extent that others do. I don’t give things names or address them as him or her (at least, not too often) but I do have a strong emotional association with some of my electronics goodies – primarily, the ones I use the most, the ones that are around me the most.

For me, the association is not strictly with hardware, nor is it strictly with software. For instance, updating the operating system on a computer which which I have a strong ‘bond’, is something I view as merely upgrading the computer, it rettains the same ‘personality’ but just gets better, faster, more-capable. Conversely, upgrading the hardware is the same: It ‘goes to sleep’ in an old box and ‘wakes up’ in a shiney new box that’s better, faster, stronger. In either case, I suppose (warning, techspeek coming) because it wakes with the same IP address, the same user interface / GUI, and all my documents and programs and customizations intact, it ‘looks’ and ‘feels’ like the same entity, just improved in some ways.

In this way, I can trace the ‘lineage’ of (eg.) my current desktop computer back through a number of hardware ‘incarnations’: In 1999 I got a strawberry iMac G3 (one of the ‘bubble’ ones). Since then, hardware-wise, I’ve had an MDD G4-dual processor, then an Intel iMac 17″, and now an Aluminum Intel iMac 20″. I’ve gone through OS9, and a few version of OSX. But to me, they’ve all been “the same computer” emotionally – they’ve gotten faster, better, stronger, more-capable. But I do not feel sadness when a hardware box is retired – what gets retired is an empty shell. That which makes the computer Mine is moved on to the next one.

In 2000 I got an iBook, one of the clamshell ones, it was the Lime Green one. Later that became a white iBook, then an aluminum Power Book. There may have been another iBook in there somewhere, I don’t remember. As with the desktop computers, it’s always been the same Computer to me, just different incarnations.

Here is where things get troublesome, for me: What happens when a ‘line’ is retired? Not upgraded, not moved to a new hardware box, but simply comes to an end?

The iBook/Powerbook line is a fullsize laptop line. I’ve always prefered a smaller format, the micro-pc / sub-notebook / mini-laptop format. Since 1998ish, I have had a Toshiba Libretto 100CT – a laptop computer slightly larger than a VHS cassette. By today’s standards it’s ridiculously outdated. Yet I’ve been using that for ten years, and it still works. It’s undergone only a single hardware reincarnation – and that was not an upgrade. The old hardware simply wore out so I found an identical replacement on ebay and shifted its essense (OS, GUI, data) to the new box. Now after 10 years, I’ve finally found an upgrade for it. The eeePC is the same format but with modern hardware. The ‘spirit’ of my Libretto has migrated to the eeePC, and the eeePC has become my primary laptop.

So the Powerbook is redundant, unneeded, and unused. I’ve made arrangements to sell it to someone who will undoubtedly treat it very well. However, in preparation for sale, it had to be wiped and boxed.

This was the first time in perhaps 10 years that I’ve retired a line. Every other time I’ve wiped and boxed hardware, it was because the ‘essense’ was already in a newer, better system — it had already reincarnated — and what was left was just the shell.

By now you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking I’m a nutcase. Maybe. We’re all entitled to our own opinions and emotions. But as I sat there with the system disk in there, finger on the wipe button, I did feel a strong sense of sadness. This was not just my Powerbook, it was all my Mac laptops dating back to 2000, and all the experiences I’d had with it. All the work I had done to customize it, all the work I had done using it. Eight years of experience.

I did eventually hit the button, and continued to feel uncomfortable as the drive was wiped and a fresh OS installed. When it was over, what was left was just a computer. A laptop. But not my computer, not my laptop. End of the line.

Closing the Box
Closing the Box, Ending the Line