Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tip of the Day - August 25, 2007

Generally, don't bother asking for permission to do something that they don't stand a chance of understanding.

This happens a lot to me while I'm working tech support. People just do not understand computers and are terrified of them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

ARM Microcontroller Development System

Thanks to freecycle yesterday I managed to get my hands on an embedded development board, designed to help people write applications for PDAs and the like. It came with Windows CE circa 1998 on a flash chip that I finally managed to get it to boot off of, which I'm typing on right now, to then copy it onto my laptop to post.

It was a long and painful 4 hours of trying different jumpers on the 20-some-odd pairs of pins before I got anything more than my power supply fan spinning.

Ignoring the fact that it is pretty much useless thanks to the fact that every time you reboot it it loses all your changes (including calibrating the touch screen! #@$^#^), it is a very cute systemto play with. Nice little 5" touch screen (640x480) and an 8" keyboard which is a little awkward to type on with more than two fingers. It even has a little pezo buzzer that clicks every time you press a key.

It also has a ton of pretty cool stuff about it. It has a MultiMediaCard slot (which is how I save data between reboots) a PC card slot, an RJ-45 jack, 3 serial jacks, and even a video capture card. Granted most of this doesn't work without writing your own software for it so I'll just enjoy typing into my text files.

It also has a liquid crystal display on the board itself that has never displayed anything and a keyboard that doesn't have every letter and the ones it does have aren't even right. (k=tab v=` m=\ i=x etc etc)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tip of the Day - August 9, 2007

If your computer ever randomly dies and restarts, run a memory test.

I am currently trying to fix a neighbors desktop that does just that, and my dad suggested trying a RAM test. It was trivial because Ubuntu gives you a memory test on their install discs so I dropped on in and ran it. 50% in it started picking up errors every few seconds, which would explain why it was acting oddly. It's like your post-it notes disappearing when you randomly decide to stick them to one certain place on the wall.
The first thing you try when RAM starts giving errors is to pop the SIMMs out, blow out some of the dust, and reseat them. It will usually fix it unless the RAM is really defective. Then you're SOL.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Tip of the Day #2

Keep silica packs in your toolbox to remove moisture and prevent rust.

The Truth About Debugging

"Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it." - Brian W. Kernighan

Monday, August 6, 2007

Tip of the Day #1

Always carry pen and paper with you

I've been a big fan of the Hipster PDA. It's nice when you have random ideas, or even just need to write a note to someone, to have a pen and paper on you to just whip out. I had a brainstorm on the way home from Portola yesterday (read: 5 hour drive) and came up with more than 10 of these.