Medion Laptop Power Socket Repair

The power socket broke due to age, being bumped around, and so forth. To inspect it, I took the computer apart, storing the screws in a little plastic bag. I measured the socket, identified all its pins, and searched for parts on Mouser, DigiKey, and Jameco. None had it.

So, I figured a possible fix would be to purchase an adapter or plug with a barrel connector, and cut it off. I went to ITC and found an adapter cord that fit, and it cost < $3. Cheap.

Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000

Having never owned a webcam, it's hard to judge this one. My previous webcams were video digitizers connected to camcorders, which generally produce really great results.

How to Clean a Pool Water Filter

The article isn't here, but on it's own page. I'm back to making web pages by hand again. A Pictorial Guide to Cleaning a Pool Water Filter.

Screen Scraping With wget (and Mailarchiva)

I was testing a new product called Mailarchiva, and I misunderstood the instructions. The upshot was that a mailbox full of messages was moved into Mailarchiva, and I wanted to restore them to the mailbox.

Soldering (How to Solder Electronics)

Sometimes, you'll find that a plug's come a little loose, or it operates right only when the plug's being pushed in one direction.

Cisco Console Terminal Cables

After doing some research on the subject, I was totally confused about Cisco terminal cables. These are just regular serial cables, with with all kinds of weird "cisco-y" features. The big tutorials on the web really confuse the issue by trying to cover every possible type of cable.

A Few Historical Opponents to the Patent System

Computerists are aware of the Open Source, and Free Software engineering and political tendencies. They may also be aware of the resistance to patents on algorithms and software. However, I and others were unaware of the long legacy of historical skepticism toward patents.

Vi and Vim, Macros

Vi and Vim have a "macro" feature to help automate routine editing tasks.

Sometime, you get a document, a file, or some data that's just messed up looking, or was formatted for printing, and you need to reformat it.

Most editors have some kind of macro function, where repetitive tasks can be automated. Unfortunately, these macros have, over the years, acquired an acute case of featureitis. Vim keeps it simple.

Watchdog: Restarting WiFi on OpenWRT if the Link Goes Away

I put my WRT54G into a noisy electrical environment, and it seems to cause the wifi to fade out a couple times a week, sometimes permanently. (I did this after using a USB adapter on Windows proved too unstable.)

After some experimentation, this script below seems to do a reasonable job of keeping it up. Save it, and put it into the crontab. (You have to install the crond package.) The gateway is at

#! /bin/sh

# Checks if the wifi conn is up.  If not, it tries to restart
# the wifi.  If that fails, then reboot.

if ping -c 1 > /dev/null

Novice's Notebook

This is a repository of "novice" articles, written with the intent of driving more traffic to the site, and getting more ad clicks. It's pretty crass, I know, but the information may be very useful.

The Year 2038 Problem

I was reading up on calendar data structures and came across something I hadn't thought about in years: the 2038 problem.

This is more serious than the year 2000 problem that was supposed to lead to the collapse of technological society. Out in my neck of the relatively modern woods, all that Y2K meant was that a few applications started displaying 19100 instead of 2000, and a few others showed the wrong time or date. They were fixed with minimal incident.

Y2038 is more serious. It's a problem a lot of Unix applications will suffer if they're still running in 34 years. Now, that might sound far-fetched, but, consider this: many important parts of Linux were written in the early 1990s, and haven't yet been updated. Many of these programs were originally written in the early 80s, and the origins of Unix as we know it go back to 1970.

We're already past the halfway mark: Unix is 34 years old, and there are only 34 years left until 2038. So, let's be conscious of this issue, and start dealing with it now, before it's too late.

The Year 2038 Problem - and follow t

Sun Serial Cable Workaround

If you come across an old Sun machine, you can boot it without a monitor and keyboard by hooking up a "console" to the serial port. The console can be a PC comm program (like Miniterm on Linux).

Building Your Own Ethernet and Crossover Cables

I got this information from which is run by those great Ambrosia Software guys.

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