Monday, October 18, 2010

Life is a series of left turns...

From home to drop-off, it's just a series of left turns. I'm surprised, I'm not home by the time I'm there!!
Turn by turn account goes thus... (Road name in parenthesis for my reference)
1.  Left.... (WO)
2.  Left.... (OP)
3.  Right.... (PL)
4.  Left.... (HH)
5.  Left.... (WD)
6.  Right.... (WD)
7.  Left.... (TP)
8.  Left.... (FL
9.  Left.... (RT)
10. Left.... (MD)

WTF?  2 out of 10 turns are left turns? 3 of them with stoplights! One might think I'm going round in circles!

The good thing?? Well, my way back is a series of right turns with a couple of lefts (without stoplights) sprinkled in between. If I measure the time, it probably takes me 25% more time to go than to come back!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A bad workman blames his tools

A possible corollary to the previous post :)

No updates on the repair job yet. Just a pile of tools, bad caps and more tools taking up space on one corner of a table....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cheapo parts not a good job do

The stupid 4 dollar soldering iron won't get hot enough to melt the solder. I paid a dollar for the iron and 3 bucks for shipping. No point going around the hassle of returning it either.

RadioShack came to the rescue. I've never been a RadioShack fan but this was the second time it proved to be very useful.

A couple of months back, the Microwave went kaput. After opening it out and checking some of the circuits, it seemed that the internal fuse might have blown. I wasn't sure but it was worth replacing before spending a hundred bucks on a service call to a repairman. Checked online, the fuse was at least 10 - 15 bucks shipped. Tried my luck at RadioShack - 3 for $2!!. Yaaay....replace...see if it works...rinse...repeat 3 times. It worked on the first try. The microwave has been working fine ever since. Hundred bucks saved - thank you RadioShack!

Fast Forward to yesterday. Went to RadioShack, found a decent 30W soldering iron + starter kit (some solder wire, stand, etc.) for 8 bucks! Made me kick myself for wasting time and money ordering online before checking at RadioShack (2 mins from my house)

The project still is facing hurdles. I was able to easily remove the bad caps with the RadioShack iron....but the solder in the holes won't come out. My noobiness is shining very bright. I've already tried a couple of times - spend around 2 hours an successfully cleared out enough holes to put in half a capacitor.

Good news? No burns yet - no fingers burnt, no table burned, no house on fire either.

If it doesn't work by this weekend, I'm giving up (would be a BIG blow to my ego if I do give up). Let's see....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fatso. Undo. Update. 1

From the various things I had set out to do, these are the one's I'm doing and the once I aint...

- Drink more water - try to keep track of qty drunk - Target: 1 gallon/day
>>> I have upped my water intake for the most part. Not consistently though. Also I'm not tracking my consumption so cannot say how close I am to hitting the gallon a day mark. I'm probably close to 1/2 gal/day

- STOP late night snacking
>>>> Been successful at doing this for the most part. Some nights are bad but those are rare.

- Wean away from reaching for the candy jar (I have a sweet tooth and I know I cannot completely give up on it)
>>>> Reduced considerably but not given up completely

- Build an exercise routine - at least 3-4 days a week - cardio, weights
>>>> Failed miserably at doing this. I must say I did not attempt this with any effort at all. This is definitely something I should start soon.

- Exercise portion control and attempt to consistently count calories - plan on using
>>>> Been doing very good at portion control both at lunch and dinner without ever starving myself. Water intake before meal, whole wheat bread, fruits, etc. are some of the things that are helping this.

I have not been using caloriecount...but I'm pretty sure I've been within 2000 cals most of the days.

- Sleep at least 6 hrs/night
>>>> Weekly average of 6 hours is being met but not on a daily basis.

- Weigh in every Friday and monitor the weight gain/reduction on a weekly basis
>>>> Been doing this every Friday morning. Three weeks later, I am tracking at 189-190 lbs. I have lost 3-4 lbs over the last 3 weeks, which is in line with my target of a pound a week.

However, these initial pounds that I've been losing are the easy on, easy off ones. They were more of a bloat due to bad habits over the last few months as opposed to gradually gained over a few years. After I lose another couple of pounds, I know it would get harder and I will have to add exercise to the mix. So I better start working on it now!

Monday, October 4, 2010

To solder or not to solder....

I think I have answered the question

Over the weekend....
- I found the stock VGA card that came with the desktop.
- It doesn't even support any widescreen resolution or any std resolution beyond 1280 * 1024
- At 1280 * 1024, you can literally see the screen refreshing when you switch windows
- Anything graphicky runs yucky and puky with the stock VGA card
- I found yet another graphics card (FX 5200) that had a couple of popped capacitors
- I noticed that all the popped capacitors on FX 5200 as well as the 7600GS were of the same ratings
- Figured even if I manage to fix one of them, I would be in good shape
- I also figured I must have spent around 150-200 bucks between these two graphics cards (Dang! PC Gaming is expensive!!)

So, I went ahead and placed orders for....
- Off eBay -- Rubycon 1000uF, 6.3V Low ESR capacitors - 15 qty - $5.50

- Off eBay -- 40W soldering iron with pencil tip + some 60/40 solder wire - $8.50

- Off Amazon -- Solder sucker - $ 3.49
- For a total of  around 18 bucks, I figure this is way cheaper than getting a replacement card

- I also figured that it's way way way cheaper than replacing the 6 year old desktop (Just looked it up, purchase date: 8/23/2004) that still continues to function and perform like new

What would be the outcome? One (or more) of these should/would/could happen...

- I burn one of the cards with the soldering iron - I burn both the cards with the soldering iron
- I burn 10 of the 15 capacitors with the soldering iron (I only need 5)
- I burn my fingers with the soldering iron (sidebar: As of this morning, I have either a cut or bruise on 4 of my 5 fingers on the right hand!)
- I burn the table with the soldering iron
- I burn the house down with the soldering iron
- One of the two cards gets fixed- Both the cards get fixed
- Both the cards get new capacitors but still don't work

Worst case? I burn my fingers, the cards, the table and house --- Outcome: I'll have buy a new desktop
Best case? I fix both the cards, both test out fine, 7600GS goes in Desktop, FX 5200 on eBay --- Outcome: Profit!
Most likely case? Jury is out on that one....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

RIP Video Card. He loved to laugh....

I have a Dell SC400 as my primary desktop. It is old, outdated, relatively slow, but a the same time, it has been one of the most stable desktops I've ever had. I've owned it for 6 years now and it has never given me any problems. It has been upgraded over time with more RAM, Hard Drive capacity and Video Card. I have been contemplating upgrading but have never been compelled enough since the stability of this desktop more than made up for it's lack of speed and processing power.

It was working fine until a couple of days back. Today, I turn it on and nothing comes up.

I don't get a BIOS check complete beep either. It's not completing the POST.

Did the initial pushing and pulling of wires but no luck.

After opening it up, I hear two very feeble beeps a few seconds after turning on....unsure whether it's coming from the motherboard or the VGA card.

I suspected the RAM first so I uplugged the DIMMs one at a time to see if any of those had gone bad but no luck.

I finally unplugged the video card and here's what I found....

Seems to me like the two capacitors are toast. I don't have the inclination to go buy a couple of capacitors, a soldering iron, solder wire, unsolder the bad capacitors, solder the new ones, etc. etc.

I think I have a old base VGA card somewhere. Will hunt for it in the morning and plug it in to make sure that is actually the problem.

Ironically, I had bought an external hard drive a couple of weeks back to backup the data on this PC. Never got around to actually backing it up!

Sidebar: Don't you love the fact that a $100 point & shoot can take better macro pics than a $1000 SLR unless you have a dedicated macro lens?