Somehow I have managed to become the person my friends call when they are having "computer problems". This is most likely due to them hearing I have helped someone else and the fact that my personality doesn't let me say no when people ask for help. I think it is fair to say that I have been able to come up with good solutions for most of their problems. The majority of the issues have been hardware related, (I try to avoid "fixing" windows as much as I can) and most of those specifically hard drive related. There are a couple of tools that have really aided in the problem solving process.
July 2009 Archives
I finally got all the parts (and got them installed) to upgrade the Latitude C400 laptop Danika's mom gave me. Everything appears to be in working order. The laptop now has a 160GB hard drive (which the BIOS shows as 137.4, but the OS appears to be able to see the entire drive), an Intel Pro 2200 802.11b/g wireless card and 1GB of RAM (which was probably an unnecessary upgrade, but I got a good deal on it).
Danika has both a laptop and a desktop computer she uses at the house. Mostly she uses her laptop and when she needs to use her desktop she remotely logs in to it. This is partly because the monitor I hooked up to her desktop quit working shortly after I hooked it up. The other day she noticed that she could no longer connect to her desktop, so she checked it out and it was making some odd noises and appeared to just be rebooting and rebooting. She asked if I would hook a working monitor up to it so we could see what the problem was. I lugged in the large CRT from the storage area under the house and hooked it up.
Pretty much since he was born Graham have been very good at getting his arms out of his swaddle. I didn't find it too surprising when he could get out when swaddled in a blanket, but when we started using contraptions designed specifically to keep him swaddled I became more impressed. The last two nights he has become even more impressive. Both mornings when I went in to check on him, not only did he have an arm out, he had also moved himself from a starting position of 12 o'clock to somewhere around 7 o'clock. I wonder how long it will be before I go in to check on him and he's out of the crib sitting in the chair reading Green Eggs and Ham. I may need to set up a spy cam to figure out how he's doing it.
Here he is swaddled and placed at 12 o'clock
In the morning - one arm out and at 7 o'clock
Graham's pretty lucky, he doesn't have just one awesome quilt-making aunt, but two! Here is a photo of the quilt his aunt Sara made him. If look closely (and are familiar with how Sudoku puzzles work) you may notice something about the quilt's pattern. Thanks aunt Sara!
I have been meaning to post something since my sisters (and niece) left, but just haven't had time. They were in Seattle from the 9th to the 14th. We had a great time. Graham got to meet a few relatives from the Litke side of the family and we all got to go out to some of our favorite restaurants. We also visited Carkeek park and the Aquarium.
Graham and Aunt Lizz
Graham and Kiley
Graham and Aunt Sara
Normally, if I were posting something about Sprint, it would likely be a rant about how frustrating it can be working with their customer support people. That is not (completely) the case this time. When I checked my most recent bill from Sprint the other day, I noticed the $10 off discount they had been applying to my bill was no longer being applied. I was a little miffed, but decided to stay calm and call them to see if I could figure out what was going on (and hopefully get my discount back).
I called billing and spoke with a woman who told me the discount was being applied as part of the one-year contract I had agreed to. I remember talking to the customer service representative a year ago and she said she could get me $10 if I agreed to a new contract, but since my contract end date never changed when I checked it on-line, I assumed I had not had to enter a new contract. The woman from billing also said she could not get the discount reapplied, but she could connect me with someone else who might be able to extend some sort of new offer. We were on our way out at the time, so I told her I would call again later.
Later on I placed another call, this time to a service representative. I explained why I was calling, and that I had not realized the $10 off was something that would expire. She confirmed what the woman in billing had told me and started looking for any offers that might get me the $10 off again. She wasn't having much luck, but then she said, "Oh, you have a $15 data plan, what if we just switch that to be included in you regular plan?". She also said she would make it a permanent part of the plan and that I would not need to make any new contract agreements. Seemed like a heck of a deal, so I agreed. So, I should now have a $30/month plan that includes 200 anytime minutes, free nights (starting at 7pm) and weekends, 500 text messages and unlimited data! Now if only someone would port Android to my phone...
Those of you who know my dog, know she doesn't "talk" much. Most of you have probably never heard her bark. So far she has been relatively indifferent with Graham, she occasionally licks him, but that's about it... except when he gets to the point where he is really wailing. He seems to get the most upset on the changing table and sometimes when he really gets going, Dax chimes in with the most pathetic howl you ever heard. It's pretty funny.
I confirmed the configuration of the Latitude C400. It has 1.2GHz PIII mobile CPU, 256MB of RAM, no internal wireless card and as I mentioned in a previous post a failing (20GB) hard drive. I checked Dell's support website to see what else I could find out about it. It has two slots for RAM (upgradable to 1GB (2x512MB)), but only one is "user" accessible. There is removable door on the bottom that accesses one of the slots. Access to the other slot involves removing the keyboard. Dell's website has fairly detailed instructions explaining how to take it apart, so I gave it a try and it is pretty easy. I was surprised at the ease of getting it to the point where I had access to the RAM slot and even more surprised at the ease of getting it all back together again.
We brew hundreds of gallons of beer each year, and I still cannot refrain from buying Redhook Sunrye when I see it in the store (especially when it is on sale). It continues to be a very good beer, and a great summer time beer. I have been getting close to boycotting Redhook (because of things like their Slim Chance "Light" Ale), but I have a feeling it will never happen as long as they continue to make Sunrye... unless perhaps Marc and I brew our rye more often. I am pretty sure I have never bought Sunrye when I had our rye on tap, so at least I can feel good about that.
I started working on installing Fedora on the laptop I got from Danika's mom. Let's just say it has been interesting. I spent a fair amount of time creating a bootable USB key that has the full install image. It hadn't occurred to me to check if the laptop actually supported booting from USB before spending the time getting a key set up. Well, I got the key setup, booted into the BIOS to select "boot from USB", and guess what? No "boot from USB" option. There are several options, most having to do with docking station components, but nothing USB related. I checked the version of the BIOS and there had been several updates, so I got the latest BIOS and installed it thinking USB may be an option, but no luck.
Since that laptop has none of the components to do a "disk" type install, I figured I would just set it up to do a diskless/network install (pxe, boot from the NIC). I had setup up diskless installs a few times before and took good enough notes the last time, that it was pretty quick to set everything up and start the install. At that point it was getting late, so I went to bed and figured I would check the install in the morning. Well, this morning I checked and the install appears to have completed... but, it looks like there are issues with the hard drive. Smart reported some problems, so the next thing I am going to do is run bad blocks on it, and then start looking for a new hard drive.