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Sunday, 20 January 2019 Dereel
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A new ThinkCentre?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So what's wrong with lagoon? The obvious thing to do is to try to repair it. But these second-hand ThinkCentres hardly cost anything, and maybe it will make more sense to buy a “new” one.

Off looking on eBay, running into the same problems as on previous occasions: how do I know how fast the thing is? Some of the advertised systems don't even specify what the processor is. The ones that do don't give any idea of the relative performance, and not even the price is an indication.

What I found today was:

Model       CPU       Price+shipping       CPUMark       Comment
M71e       i5-2400       150+30       5962
M92p       i5-3470       165+24       3717
M81 FAST       CORE DUAL G620       189       2028
M81 FAST       CORE DUAL G6320             2377
      Core 2 duo (e7500)             1875
      i5-4590             7310       only tiny
M73       i5-4570       225       7131
      4570t? (2.9 GHz)             6794?

Yes, it's incomplete, but it might help. One issue is that the more powerful processors are in smaller cases, and they will probably not take a display card. I might just go for the i5-2400 again, the same one as in dischord.


More fridge insights
Topic: general, opinion Link here

My fridge investigations on Friday were limited to The Good Guys; clearly I need to find prices from others. Tried Appliances Online and came up with a better (if not good) overview, showing a significantly lower price for “side by side” fridges than the “French door” fridges that I had been looking at. For example, I can currently get a Haier HSBS628AW 629 l Side By Side Fridge for $1,069, but the cheapest “French door” fridge is the Hisense HR6FDFF630S with 630 l for $1,376.

Still, even that is significantly cheaper than what I have been looking at. What does the freezer compartment look like? Surprise, surprise! They're not telling! There are four images, none of which show what's in the freezer compartment:

Where are the other photos? One is the left half of this photo, another the right half, and the third (only on some pages) is the right half without content. No idea what the freezer compartment is like. You'd really think that they don't want to sell the things.

Still, it's becoming clear that our search isn't over yet.


Monday, 21 January 2019 Dereel Images for 21 January 2019
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Smart TV? No thanks!
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Recently on IRC somebody had come up with a really cheap 75" smart TV, something like $1,200. That compares to the $1,699 that I paid for a “dumb” 75" ALDI TV a year ago. Not that I want a “smart” TV: I returned one because I couldn't find any use for it, but the price was interesting.

Is that all due to continual price drop? Today I found this article, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the claim:

Geeks often ask for dumb TVs.

They don't say why, but others on IRC confirmed. And the rest of the article goes into the way smart TVs try to get money out of your pocket, and also potentially spy on you.

So the question: what happens if you buy a smart TV because of the price, and don't connect it to the Internet? Ah, it can do that itself. Can it? It could potentially do so here, because I'm out in the sticks where things like WPA are more a nuisance than a protection. But to keep the TV from spying on me, it might be worthwhile.


ThinkCentre motherboard issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Since Saturday's failure I've had the old lagoon, a ThinkCentre M 6073, waiting for reconfiguration. The documentation I found showed another board, so I first needed to find a layout for my motherboard, which looks like this:


This should be Motherboard.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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Where do you find that? It has to be somewhere, but it's not easy to find. Tried one place and was greeted with:


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Not only a bloody CAPTCHA, but one that wants specific web browsers! Damn Lenovo!

Well, no, this proved to be a different third-party operation that somehow got its Google rank lifted.

OK, try the Lenovo page for this machine, which was overflowing with documentation. No less than 5 Hardware Replacement Guides, with no further explanation of the differences.

After downloading the first two, it was clear what the difference was: despite the title to the page, they're for completely different systems. I struck lucky with the third page, which gave me this diagram of the motherboard:

 
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That doesn't look much like my motherboard, but that's because it's on its side. It seems that they have chosen orientations at random in their documentation; others show the motherboard rotated by 180° relative to this one. Still, it shows where the CMOS jumper is, and that's all that I really needed. Now back to the instructions:

  • Clear CMOS jumper in item #17
  • Remove battery in item #25
  • Hold power button for 5 seconds
  • Replace power cord (power cable from PSU to AC)
  • Power On then hold Power again to Power off
  • Connect CMOS jumper back on Pin 1 & 2
  • Replace the battery in item #25
  • Power up (system beep twice)

OK, how do I get the battery out of its holder? Simple, right? But I've never done it before, and it's not immediately clear in which direction. Still, there must be good stuff on the web. The first was Replace the Battery in your PC. Lots of nice photos showing every step. And then the critical one: how do you get the battery out?

Remove old battery with fingernail or use non-conductive screwdriver

Now isn't that helpful? It doesn't even show the battery housing. Fingernail? I had just cut them, as it happened. But the idea of a non-conductive lever sounds good. Only where do you find one? In the end I found a plastic toothpick which proved not up to the job.

Once again a photo makes the situation clear:

 
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The two black pieces at the bottom in this orientation hold the battery in place. Pull it out there and you'll damage the housing. And the piece at the top is a spring clip, so you just need to push it away from the battery and lever the thing out. All done in barely 10 minutes.

Then follow the instructions, and how about that, the thing came up. Two beeps? Two series of agonized beeps, followed by the fan going on full as before.

OK, let's power it down, connect a monitor and see if it's trying to tell me something. Did that, turned back on and... nothing. Back to square 2. I'm getting the feeling that this thing is really defective, but I'd like to be sure. One thing that is not mentioned anywhere is the function of the CMOS jumper:

It's a simple bridge jumper, but the header has three pins. How should I replace it? It wasn't until some time later that I read, from the instructions above,

Connect CMOS jumper back on Pin 1 & 2

OK, which are pins 1 and 2? They're not documented anywhere, not even on the motherboard!

 
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And somehow an errant mouse has already left its opinion:

 
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Queen of the night
Topic: general, language, photography Link here

The Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day today was “queen of the night”, which for me immediately brings associations of Die Zauberflöte. But no, it seems that it's

Chiefly poet. and lit. (A name given to) the moon.

That wouldn't work in German, where the moon is masculine. But it was clearly chosen to match today's lunar eclipse (not visible here) and the super moon that followed. By chance it was very clear at moonrise, and I got a few photos that are probably best seen as practice for better ones:

 
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I like the reflection in the second image.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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