As someone who sometimes gets money for internet ads, I don’t mind ads on websites, but I hate pop-ups and pop-unders. So I keep those blocked. And I also don’t like the ads that expand over the content of the web page. Usually these ads only expand if your mouse is over them and once you move the mouse out of the way, the ad shrinks back down. So I never did anything about that. But today I was looking up information about HDTV receivers that could also record (my HDTV receiver doesn’t work anymore and my TV can’t unscramble HD by itself). I was on a discussion area and there was an ad that would expand all by itself every now and then. You could click close, but you had to keep clicking on it. I thought I would block traffic from doubleclick.com who were producing the ad, which I remembered being pretty easy, but I couldn’t do it in either Firefox or McAfee after looking around a little. I did a search and found software called AdBlock, but then found something called Flashblock which only blocks content made for Adobe Flash player. The good thing is it replaces the ad with a Play icon so if you run across Flash content that you actually want, you can hit play and see it. I found it on Mozilla’s website, so I figure it must be okay.

Flashlight Rebuild

Previously I wrote about building a P60 drop-in from some different component parts. The P60 format is designed for that kind of tinkering. But when I bought the LED for that drop-in, I also got a second one just like it and looked around for a home. I thought I could put it in the AKOray K-106 3-mode programmable light I got earlier and had already taken out its LED and installed a brighter Cree XP-G R5. But when I did that I found a hole in the “pill” that the LED is mounted to and the XP-G R4 is on a smaller chip that barely covers that hole. That makes it harder to glue the LED in place but also greatly diminishes how fast heat can be transferred to the pill and then to the body of the light. This is very bad because even though the LED is very efficient, it produces more heat than light and if that heat has nowhere to go, the LED will cook in place and burn out.

Continue reading

Lost Series Finale

This morning a friend of mine e-mailed me, knowing I had been keeping up with Lost and asked me to explain how it ended. He had only watched Seasons 1 and 2. So here’s what I wrote:

I’ll see if I can sum it up. At the end of last season they nuked the magnetic source and seem to have created an alternate reality where the plane doesn’t crash and everybody ends up getting reunited in that alternate universe. When they are together they will suddenly remember they were on the island together. So Sawyer ends up with Juliette, Hurley with the girl that got shot, Sayid with the blonde chick that got shot, and Jack with Kate.

The island was being run by two immortal type guys and has a cork in the bottom that if you pull it out, all of the good things in the universe will drain out. So Jacob (good) is one of the guys and the smoke monster is the other guy (evil) but he can take a human form and ended up taking the form of Locke who had died (he was also all of the other dead people that showed up on the island). Jacob gets killed by Ben and then Jack takes Jacob’s place and kills Smokey Locke [whoops, Kate actualy kills Locke], but not before Desmond pulls the plug (not realizing the consequences) and the island starts to sink. So Jack goes in and puts the stopper back in place and saves the universe.

Continue reading

Back to the Aquarium

I went to the Georgia Aquarium the first month it was open in 2005, then again on Mom’s Christmas outing that December. But I had never been back. One thing I had been wondering about was the tropical reef which they had said back then would get better every year as the corals actually grew and created a real reef. Also the whale sharks should be getting bigger except that the two biggest ones died.

At work we have been taking one furlough day without pay each month because of the budget shortage and it always seemed like it would be good to go to the aquarium on a furlough day. During the week it should be less crowded, plus state employees get a 10% discount. So I figured I would go yesterday, before most of the schools let out, but maybe too late in the year for a field trip. I found out about a great deal for Friday nights where you can get a ticket for $15 ($16.25 after a fee) instead of $26, but the ticket time is restricted to Friday from 5 to 8 PM (the aquarium stays open until 10PM for jazz nights). I’m not a fan of jazz, but nothing is more relaxing than saving money, so I bought a 5 PM ticket.

Continue reading

My What Big Dogs You Have

When I’m out walking the dogs, I try to always go around people instead of passing them on the sidewalk because I never know if the dogs will nip, growl, or lick someone. I especially try to give black people a wide berth because they seem to worry more about the dogs than most people (I don’t think this is racist, this is just kind of how it works, primarily with black people who you can tell aren’t usually in the neighborhood). So anyway, I am going around a black guy this morning and after we get by without incident (as usual, my dogs aren’t racist, they just don’t like postmen and garbagemen), the guy asks me what kind of dogs I have. I say they are black labs. He said Really? I didn’t think they got that big. I pointed to Katie who is a little bigger than Austin and I said yeah I’ve seen bigger and a lot of times broader dogs (Katie is pretty lanky) and we moved on (neither of us had stopped, we were just passing).

This seemed to be part of trend or maybe just a coincidence because this past weekend I was outside when the postman came to deliver mail and had a chance to talk to him while the dogs were barking at him from inside. I said something like Sorry about the dogs. And he said it was no problem, but those sure were BIG dogs. He said he told people at work about how big the dogs are at my house, their heads halfway up in my windows. I said I don’t think they’re really that big, but they do have a stool near the window that lets them get a better view out the window. He laughed and seemed relieved that they didn’t tower 4 feet off the ground. I’d never thought about the stool making the dogs seem bigger but it also might help explain why last week my phone books were left not on the doorstep but about 10 feet out into my yard. That must have been about when Katie or Austin scraped on the inside of the door.

Wine With That Ubuntu?

I am still working on Jenny’s Gateway laptop. I got her HP laptop working pretty well using Windows 2000 and she reported that they were able to surf and get a paper written for school this week, though they couldn’t print from the laptop. But the Gateway is the one that eats up hard drives and the fourth hard drive is now showing problems. The laptop just won’t boot. For some reason it did boot a couple of times for me and I was able to install her copy of Office 2007 on it, but then I opened Word, the computer froze and I’ve never been able to get back into Vista again. I can use a Vista installation disk to boot the computer and I can boot it using Ubuntu, but Vista won’t reinstall because it doesn’t think there is a hard drive there. Interestingly, Ubuntu sees the hard drive and installs no problem. I even tried installing Windows 2000 by formatting the hard drive, but Win2k wouldn’t recognize the hard drive either. I tried different partition schemes involving Ubuntu and Windows and then formatted the whole drive with Ubuntu and tried to install Windows over it and still nothing. Ubuntu does say that there are some bad sectors identified on the hard drive.

Continue reading

Win2k All Over Again

My friend Jenny has been having problems with her computers. She has 4 computers in her house and only one of them was still working. So I went over there last Saturday to work on them which is when I found out about heat pipes. That computer was still overheating some, but the bigger problem was that a virus (or something) had associated all .exe files with Windows Media Player and they wouldn’t run anymore, just open the media player (which in turn couldn’t do anything with the .exe files since they aren’t music or video). Since all anti-virus software is an .exe, this prevents fixing it. And I couldn’t re-associate .exe since Windows Explorer wouldn’t open (it’s an exe too). So I wound up taking the hard drive out, scanning it in my desktop computer that I brought over there (I actually brought my new and old desktops over since one has SATA hard drive connections and the older one has IDE and I wasn’t sure what kind of drive the affected computer had in it; it turned out to be SATA and mounting it was no problem except that in the BIOS I had to enable that hard drive port instead of the computer just recognizing whether a drive was present or not). A scan turned up 79 viruses or threats, at least some of which were trojans (sometimes browser “cookies” are considered threats, but they don’t really do any damage, unlike trojans). So Kaspersky got rid of all of the viruses. The computer would run and could browse the web, but you still couldn’t open executables and it would overheat and shut itself off in a few minutes. But I found a Microsoft online wizard named Mr. Fix It that would reset the .exe association and that worked perfectly. There are also a lot of shady website out there that offer fixes like that, but I didn’t want to try anything like that with a site I wasn’t familiar with.

Continue reading

Building a New Light

Last year the big American LED maker, Cree, introduced a new LED called the XP-G. It was similar to their earlier XP-E, but had a bigger light emitter. I got a light with this LED in it recently and liked it. Then on the flashlight bulletin board someone was talking about ordering some of these LED’s from a supplier in Australia. Cree will sell you LED’s, but only 1,000 at a time. There don’t seem to be many US suppliers, so this company, Cutter, is maybe the best bet. But they charge $12 minimum for shipping an order to the US. So a guy in Hawaii was trying to organize a US-based group buy to divide the shipping costs, even though he also had to charge us for shipping once the LED’s were in the US (he bought 10 LED’s total).

Continue reading

Heat Pipe

Heat pipes are one of those weird things that you don’t realize are all around you until you start looking. It is a copper tube with a near vacuum in it. It also has some liquid in it (usually water or ammonia). The idea is that if the bottom part of the pipe gets hot, the liquid evaporates and the gas rises to the top of the pipe. Then you cool off the top of the pipe and the liquid inside condenses on the inside of the tube and runs down the side of the tube all over. It is like a refrigerator but without any moving parts.

Heat pipes are used in heat sinks that cool off computer processors. They are also surrounded by fins and a fan that help cool the top part, so even if you open up your computer you may not see them. I learned about these this weekend helping friends out with their computer which was overheating. I am still not exactly sure what was going wrong, whether the liquid had escaped the tube or the tube had somehow deformed and was no long making contact with the slab of copper that goes on top of the processor (or if something software-related was making the processor work too hard). I put in some small metallic disks (dimes) to shim the tubes down into making contact with the copper slab and got some thermal compound to put around them as well and hope that will work. But if the liquid has escaped then it will never work. You could also buy a new CPU cooler but this particular computer is very compact and it is hard to find coolers this small. It only has two L-shaped heat pipes in the heat sink. I looked inside my Dell and it has 3 U-shaped heat pipes with a bigger fan. Wikipedia says a heat pipe is more efficient at moving heat than a solid piece of copper.