Several months ago, the hinge on my work laptop started to give up the ghost. I asked our IT guy about getting it fixed, but since I had had the laptop for over three years, it was out of warranty, and he figured it would be better to replace it. OK. So I’ve had this new laptop for a while. I took the broken one home and let the kids use it. But every time they would open or close it, the hinge got just a wee bit worse. This week it finally popped. So I opened it up to see what it would take to fix it.

Basically, it’s going to take a new hinge. I found several on eBay and ordered a set. Then I started tearing into it a little more. Now I’m worried that it needs more than just a hinge. When it boots, I get the splash screen, but as soon as it switches video modes, the screen goes black. Most of the time anyhow. I found that I could plug it into an external monitor, and everything was cool – as long as you can get it to send the video to that monitor.

Tonight I removed the integrated display. Now it doesn’t even talk to the built-in one and goes straight to the external one. That’s good. I just hope that when I get the hinge fixed and the regular display/lid re-attached, it all starts to work again. It may need a new power inverter in the display though. Dunno!

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Yesterday afternoon at work was very unproductive for me. About 45 minutes before I went home, my wireless network connection went out. It took me about ten minutes to get it back up again, between restarting the router and re-entering the passkey on my laptop. Normally, I wouldn’t be concerned with that at all, except that I didn’t have a working driver for my wired connection. That left wireless as my only option. So after futzing around with it for ten minutes, I got it back up. And it stayed up for maybe ninety seconds. Repeat. Ten more minutes of effort got me yet another 90 seconds. Then, I moved the router so that I could plug it into a programmable power strip. With that, I can turn the thing off and on over the network. That wouldn’t work at all (how do you get on the network when your network connection is down?), except that I have two computers in my office, and that second one has a wired connection to the net. Too bad that maneuver didn’t shave any time off the ten minute part of the cycle. I eventually went home.

Today, the wireless network came up without complaint. Good. And it stayed up for about two hours and went into the ten minutes down/90 seconds up cycle again. Give me a break! I have been using our wireless connection at home with no trouble whatsoever, but it uses WEP vs WPA. That leads me to believe that the problem is either with the WPA encryption we use at work, or with the router we have at work. I turned to my second computer (gah! Windows!) and did some research, and found that Intel has indeed posted a Linux driver for my wired Ethernet controller. I downloaded it, and during the 90 seconds of uptime (it’s not 90 seconds every time – it’s just not very long), I copied it over to the laptop. But it wouldn’t compile. I figured I needed the kernel headers for that to work, but to get that on there, I was going to need a better network connection than I had. So I decided to go home. Why not just use the second computer? Well during the course of the day, I cycle power on that thing half a dozen times, as that’s where I put the board I’m working on. Sometimes the boards need something soldered on them, so I have to shut down. I do all my REAL work on the laptop, because (normally) it’s up all the time. Plus I run Linux on it. I’ve gotta have Windows on the other one though, because there are some tools I hafta use that are Windows-only.

About that time Va called. I invited her to lunch. We ate at Pizza Hut, just the two of us, which was very nice. We rarely have the opportunity to eat without one or more of the kids with us, so that’s a rare treat. After lunch she went to the school, and I went across the street to buy some eyewash (that ceiling tile is still in there). I also bought a small sack of peanut M&M’s because they are so goo, so good, you see.

When I got home, I fired up the laptop, connected to my home wireless network, and downloaded the kernel headers. Then I tried to compile this driver. But it refused. The kernel I have on my laptop is newer than the kernel for which Intel wrote that driver. I poked around the source code, found the problem, and fixed it. Once the driver was compiled and installed, I plugged a wire into my Ethernet port and bingo. I had a wired connection. I worked the rest of the day from home.

Around quiting time I got a phone call. My cell phone said it was Melissa calling, so I answered, “Hello user of Melissa’s phone!” because I didn’t know if it would be Melissa, her daughter, or Jonathan. It was Melissa, and she answered back with “What?!??” Then she told me they had just crossed into New Hampshire (after visiting Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan since Friday). Va was not yet home, so I suggested that she might call her and save Melissa the extra hour it would take her to drive to Northfield and back. Maybe Va was still on Concord and could pick Jonathan up at the church? Va pulled into the garage 10 minutes later. Melissa had left her a voicemail (her phone didn’t ring) but she had not listened to it yet. So I called Melissa and told her I’d meet her at the church. But they had, in the meantime, decided to stop at Taco Bell. She said she’d call when she was 30 minutes out from the church, and she did.

So I drove back to Concord and fetched my boy. He was tired, but I think he had a good time at Andrews. He sat in on a General Chemistry class and rather enjoyed that. Hopefully, this trip will inspire him to buckle down on his studies. He sure needs to anyhow.

Oh – one other thing I wanted to write about. I had a phone conversation with an Internet friend. We’ve been corresponding for about four years now. He runs pathfindersonline.org, and I am an admin on the forum. But the forum has been down for almost two weeks. He gave me the ftp credentials over the phone, and we chatted for about 30 minutes I guess. That was nice. After we hung up, I went to work fixing the forum and had it back up and humming after about an hour.

Tonight was the first night of an evangelistic series called “Amazing Adventure.” This one is tailored to kids, and was presented via satellite a few weeks ago. Our church had a full schedule when they were airing live, so my friend Brian recorded them to DVD, and we’re starting the series tonight. There were 13 kids present for it, including Beth. This run every Friday and Saturday evening, and a couple of Sundays as well for the next several weeks.

In other news…
My new laptop is feeling more like home. I have nearly everything I want installed on it, though I’m sure there are still plenty of programs I’ll need but haven’t noticed I’m missing yet. The screen seems a lot more crisp, and the keyboard has a nice feel to it. Most importantly, the keys are all located in the same places as on the previous laptop (and I’m talking about keys like escape, end, home, insert and so forth, not QWERTY). I was able to connect to the wifi at work today, which is really cool, because I never succeeded in doing that with the old one. It uses WPA-PSK encryption, and it was always promising to be a major science fair project to get that working. But with Kubuntu, it worked right out of the box with no futzing around necessary. The wire network does not yet work, but since the wireless is working so well, I’m not in any big hurry for it. So I’m really happy with this laptop so far.

I went to the Siam Orchid for lunch today with three co-workers. I decided to order the Vegetable Fried Rice instead of my usual Green Garden. That was a mistake. It’s not that it was bad or anything, it’s just that the Green Garden is so awesome Next time I’ll stick with the tried an true.
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The new laptop finally came in today, and I have spent most of the day getting it where I want it. I still have a ways to go. Step one was to wipe Vista off as completely as possible. I did this by installing Fedora 9, the latest free Redhat distribution of Linux. Unfortunately, the hardware in this laptop is newer than Fedora 9, and Fedora 9 wouldn’t even boot. So I did the only logical thing – try an even older version of Fedora (8). That at least booted, but it did not recognize any of the networking hardware. That means no Internet, no email, no connection to the file server at work. Basically, no nuthin’!

All the while these were installing, I was still doing work on my old laptop, so it’s not like the whole workday was wasted. But it was frustrating. By the end of the workday, I downloaded the latest beta release of Kubuntu. Allegedly, it has a driver for at least my wifi hardware. I burned it to a disk when I got home and installed it. The wifi works! yay!

Then I started the long process of copying my email over from the old laptop (wormwood) to the new one (spiff). I have always named my computers after Calvin and Hobbes characters. I should probably have called this one calvin, because there is almost no possibility of me ever turning on the original calvin again.

Once I had my email copied over, I was able to open Thunderbird and see it all. That was nice. I next tried to import all my Firefox settings, but only managed to bork Firefox up to the point where it will no longer start. So I’m using Konquerer (another web browser) to write this post. But I am at least writing it on spiff!

Come to think of it, I have already used the name spiff for a laptop. I might just go ahead and rename this one calvin.

Tomorrow I’ll see if I can get access to the company wireless network. If so, I can wait for the driver for the wired Ethernet hardware. It’ll come out eventually. But for now… I need to fix firefox.

My fantasy for a while has been to have a single car key that will unlock and start both my cars (both are Hondas). Well, the lock on Va’s car has been broken for a while, so while I had it in the shop last week, I asked them to take a look at it. The lock was broken, so they needed to order a part (which came in yesterday). So I drove her car to Concord today and left it with them. They sent the lock and key to a locksmith. It was ready in the afternoon, so when I got off work, I walked to the garage to pick it up. They gave me THREE keys – the original, plus two more. Honda told them that it was not possible to rekey the door with the same key as the ignition. So now I have three stinkin’ keys for two cars. That’s moving in the wrong direction!

Tomorrow we are having our annual potluck lunch at work. I signed up to bring “An Indian dish that might not suck TOO much.” I’m going to attempt to make some Aloo gobi. I made a list of ingredients and compared it to what we had in the kitchen, crossing off the stuff we had. Then Va took it to the grocery store. As soon as Beth’s in bed, I will make the attempt.

Two different people signed up to bring in some sort of Kielbasa dish – I can’t remember what, but they were exactly the same thing. Someone else then signed up to bring in a Kielbasa Jello Mold. I was thinking I might bring in either a Kielbasa upside-down cake, or make some Kielbasa smoothies. But no. I’ll stick with “an Indian dish that might not suck TOO much.”

Emphasis on might!

I need some plaster casts of some chipmunk and/or some frog prints. So tonight before dinner, I went to the frog pond to see what I could see. There are plenty of chippy prints, but no frog prints. I mixed up some plaster and cast two sets of chipmunk prints and one that I think was made by an earthworm. Then I forgot to go collect them. I might go after ’em before I attempt the Aloo gobi.

Looks like I’m going to get my new laptop none too soon. Last night the battery decided it was no longer content. I drained it while waiting for Beth to go to sleep. The LED started flashing red, red, red, red, greeeeen (repeat). I looked it up, and that means the battery is not long for this world. Soon, it will not take a charge anymore. I guess. I did recharge, and I’m running off it now (as I wait for Beth to go to sleep). Looks like it’ll last for about an hour, which is about what it was doing before. But I’ll get a new laptop prolly next week, so it doesn’t matter TOO much.

One more thing. Today is the third anniversary of the Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book. It now has 213 Honors completely answered. There are a total of 354, which means that if this pace continues, it will be done pretty close to two years from now. Cool.

The hinge on my laptop has taken the screen with it now. No morebacklight. I can barely see that there is something on the screen, but it’s not bright enough for me to make out what it is. I can’t find the mouse cursor. I did manage to bring up a text window and type in the shutdown command. I also could have hooked it up to an external monitor. I will most likely do that later when it’s time to recover files from it.

Meanwhile, I think Bill has already ordered a new laptop for me. I’m going to go ahead and ask him if I can just have my old one. Then I’ll try to fix it, and if that works out as well as my camera repair did, I’ll just hook it up to an external monitor.

After I shut “lockjaw” down, I fished out “spiff,” my old laptop. That’s what I’m usingto type this now, and it vividly reminds me why I replaced it three and a half years ago. Thespacebarisveryiffy. But this’ll hafta do until my new machine comes in.

I did take Beth and Penny down to Sandogardy Pond this evening. There are not very many flowers in bloom anymore. The Turtlemouth (Chelone glabra) is finished. There are several species of aster in bloom, but that is a huge genus, and it is pretty hard to tell them apart. Same for Goldenrod (Solidago).

Man, this old laptop is gonna drive me up the wall! Future posts may have to wait for a future laptop!

My laptop is coming unhinged. I noticed it about a week ago. The right hinge felt a little weak. Upon inspection, I saw that the two pieces of plastic that make up its housing were no longer meeting. Bummer, but it didn’t seem to cause a problem. Well, now it’s getting worse, and I think it very well may cause a problem, and soon. So I called Bill, our IT guy at work. He came up and took a look. We also found that the warranty had expired back in May. So he suggested that we should just buy me another one.

Well! OK!

So I’ll be getting a new laptop soon. I’ll look over what’s available and make a decision tomorrow.

I took Va’s car to the garage to have its annual inspection, and for it to pass, it needs new tires. I also asked them to see if they could do anything about the locks. The driver’s door and the trunk don’t work anymore. The mechanic said they were seized up – at least he didn’t say they were locked up. They took the locks out and will have a locksmith work on them tomorrow. Which means they kept the car overnight. Va happened to still be in town when I called her at 3:30. She had some errands to run, and then she’d drop by the office and give me a ride home. In the morning, I will take Beth to school, and then come back to the house. I’ll work from here until she’s ready to go into town. I should be able to drive her car home in the afternoon though.

I think I’ll stop by the garage after I take Beth to school though and pick up the inspection paperwork. Once they get the new tires on, it should pass. Tomorrow’s the last day to get that taken care of or risk a ticket. We should be able to take the “you pass” paper to the city clerk, hand them some bux, and have that out of the way before we head back to Concord.