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10.30.2005
Anyone have a Sony Vaio PCG-FX370 laptop that needs fixing? As I think I've become a bit of an expert in the past few days...

Not quite a year ago, Amy was having problems with her laptop. The power connection was loose, and things would frequently switch between external power and batteries. I kept bugging Amy to find out how much time she had left on her PSP, but when she finally called, it had expired the day before. So she got a new laptop and the old one was left to gather even more dust.

A few months ago, I decided to take a look at things. It looked the positive terminal in the power jack was poorly designed and was failing. I thought I had it figured out, and even started to get an OS installed, but then it would just shut off. Perplexed, I set everything aside.

Flash forward to last week. For some reason I was determined to get it running again. I took it totally apart and discovered that the positive terminal *wasn't* failing. In fact, when plugged in, it was always getting power. However, there's a third pin coming from the power jack. When nothing is plugged in, this gets shorted with the negative terminal. When the plug is inserted though, the connection is supposed to open as a signal. I still can't figure out why this is necessary, but I thought I had the problem licked. I added some aluminum foil around the plug to make things snug. That seemed to work. Until it didn't.

I finally looked online and found replacement power jacks (cheap!). It turns out there's a plastic piece in the jack that keeps things snug - it had broken off. Anyway, the jack came, I got the old one out, soldered the new one in, and put everything back together.

And it didn't work.

Let this be a lesson - always test electrical connections you've worked on before moving forward.

Anyway, got everything apart (I was pretty good at it by this point), and found out the positive terminal wasn't making a connection. See, the positive and negative connections are on the top side of the motherboard, but you obviously have to solder on the bottom. Small pieces of copper line the holes to establish a connection, but when I had removed the old jack, the copper lining the hole for the positive terminal had been pulled out. I tried some creative soldering, but it didn't work.

Solution? Ordered another new power jack (two actually, in case I screwed something up again), and got a CircuitWriter pen from Radio Shack. Laid down some silver "ink" to make the holes once again conductive, put the new jack in and soldered. Tested. Put everything back together. And...it works.

I *finally* got wireless working in Linux this morning (although it still isn't quite as automatic as I'd like), but I'd still like to get sleep/hibernation and the advanced features of the touchpad (scroll regions) working. Linux is fun, but it still seems far from "plug it in and go", at least when it comes to laptops.

Long story short, I have a new (old) toy to play with.

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10.27.2005
Anyone have experience with one of these? I may need something like that for my power jack replacement in the laptop. The power connections on the PCB are a little worse for wear at the moment.

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10.25.2005
I can now proudly say I've completely taken a laptop apart and put it back together. And it even works. That said, I'm going to have to completely take it apart again soon and solder on a new power jack, as the one that's there now is partially broken.

Anyone use Linux on a laptop? I'm still working on stuff like wireless, battery monitoring, sleep/hibernation, etc.

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10.13.2005
Bill Gates can kiss my ass.
Software mogul Bill Gates pressed UW-Madison students Wednesday to do what he never did himself - get a university degree in computer programming.

Speaking to a select group of some 200 students on campus, the head of Microsoft Corp. and the world's richest man made his case using everything from grand visions to a video spoof of him dancing (badly) with the movie character Napoleon Dynamite.
[...]
Pointing to the "strength of universities like Wisconsin," Gates said in a later interview, "The people educated here - they're not going to have trouble finding high-paying, super- interesting jobs in software."
I guess he's right. Just strike "high-paying". And "super-interesting". And "software".

I'm not bitter.

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10.03.2005
Anyone looking for a house?
3-bedroom stone ranch is ready to move in! Refinished hardwoods, spacious dining room, recent updates in the bath with maple vanity. Expansive kitchen updated in 1997 with plenty of cabinets, eat-in area & all appliances included. Family room opens off kitchen with gas burning brick fireplace & sliding doors to the screened porch. Fenced backyard includes a shed & pond. Newer roof, windows, freshly painted interior & pro landscaped exterior. On a dead-end street & 2 houses from a dog park.
And don't forget the newly waterproofed basement.

[edit - added link]

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As usual, some of the questions were a bit odd, and I really wish there was an "I don't care" option between "agree" and "disagree", but anyway, here it is:

You are a

Social Liberal
(86% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(8% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Socialist




Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

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First, some depressing news about Racine:
The city of Racine has had the highest annual unemployment rate in the state for the past 11 years. And Racine County had the highest annual unemployment rate in the seven-county southeastern Wisconsin area (Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Walworth, Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Washington counties) for 12 of the 15 years 1990 through 2004. In the first quarter of this year alone, 1,200 people lost jobs in Racine County because of plant closings.
[...]
Western Publishing. Gone.
Hamilton Beach. Gone.
Jacobsen/Textron. Gone.
Racine Steel Castings. Gone.
Young Radiator Co. Gone.
Massey Ferguson. Gone.
Sauer-Danfoss. Gone.
Walker Manufacturing. Gone.

In their heydays, those companies together employed about 10,000 people.
That doesn't even count the Case transmission plant.

In slightly better news, the dining room and master bedroom are done being painted (other than some small touch-ups here and there), and the wallpaper is 99% gone from the second bedroom, which means that's just about ready for painting. The moulding for the dining room and hallways is purchased and stained, and the casing is around all 4 doors that need it. Once I finish the baseboards the dining room will be *done* (I hope). It's only been the better part of two years...

I can now say I've met both of Wisconsin's US Senators. Well, kind of. Most of you have probably heard the Herb Kohl story by now, but yesterday we were sitting waiting for lunch at Smoky Jon's. A friend of mine was eating with us, and she was on the other side of the table. Amy starts giving me strange looks, and I'm thinking there's something she doesn't want to say in front of my friend. It took a minute or two to realize that Russ Feingold had just sat down at the table ahead of us. We didn't say anything while he was eating, but as he was walking by on his way out I muttered "keep fighting, sir". At first it didn't seem like he had heard me, as he just kept walking by, but just before he got to the door he stopped and turned around. "Oh, thanks, I will. Sorry, I'm a bit out of it, I was just eating..."

Even more funny is I called to tell this to a friend of ours, and it turns out he had just been on the same plane that she had been on.

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The Simpsons Archive

Vital stats:
DOB 2/16/79. I'm a web developer at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. I like lots of old music, including The Who. I spend a lot of time working with computers. And my favorite TV show (when I actually decide to watch TV, that is), obviously, is The Simpsons.

Education:
In May 2002 I officially graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in computer science. In 1997 (man that seems like a long time ago) I graduated from Washington Park HS. Yes, I know, that site isn't very impressive, and no, I haven't touched it for several years.

WFS Logo

WFS:
One of the best experiences I have ever had was on a trip called Western Field Studies. This is a 33 day adventure throughout the western United States. Students travel on a school bus to national parks, monuments, forests, and places of historical interest and camp out (in tents or under the stars). I was a part of trip 25, which took place in the summer of 1996. A first for WFS was we took along a laptop computer and kept up a web site. That link will take you to the 1996 site, where there is a link to the current site.