Archive | February, 2015

50 Grades of Che

9 Feb

We think this might actually make a more interesting movie …

Report Card of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna

            | 1st | 2nd | 3rd | 4th | Final
Subject     -------------------------------
Reading     | B   | C+  | B   | B   | B-
Writing     | A   | B   | C   | B   | B+
Arithmetic  | A   | B-  | C   | C   | C+
Geography   | C   | C   | B   | B   | C+
History     | C   | D   | D   | D   | D+
Science     | B   | B   | C   | B   | B-
Art         | B   | C+  | B   | B   | B-
Music       | C   | B   | B   | B   | B-
Phys. Ed.   | A   | B   | B   | C   | B
Citizenship | B   | C   | C   | D   | C-
Tu, che

Tu, che


Computers and Paranoia

3 Feb

We’ve been offline for a bit.  During that time, however, we were not idle.  In fact, we managed to replace the motherboard on our spouse’s laptop.  Now, that may not sound too impressive, ’cause let’s face it, it isn’t.  The average teenaged kid can probably replace a motherboard eight ways from Sunday. We were, however, pretty impressed with ourselves for two reasons:

1. We are decades away from having been a teenaged kid.
2. We managed to do it despite the fact that everything we read told us we’d probably screw it up.

In the middle of some idle web browsing, the screen on the laptop had gone dark.  After a little research, we concluded that the video card suddenly went ka-fuddah. We couldn’t just replace the card though; it was part of the motherboard, hence it needed a whole new board.  We dithered, then ordered a new motherboard online.

Being the cheap bastards that we are, we did not pay for expedited shipping.  We therefore had lots of time to figure out how we were going to install the darn thing once it arrived.  Luckily, there are online videos that described how to remove this model’s old board and toss a new one in.

We’d replaced small components in the past, so we knew there are things that you can do wrong without even trying. For example, when messing with computer stuff,  if you don’t wear a proper wrist strap (or at least touch a door knob or something metal) you just might fry the electronics with your static electricity.

Further research got us really freaked out.  Turns out that these here CPUs are in contact with a heat sink, with a layer of thermal paste between the two. The online instructions for the paste we’d bought said it “could cause problems if it bridged two close-proximity electrical paths.” Yikes – two close proximity electrical paths – who knew? But it didn’t end there – the instructions also said, “a hair, piece of lint, and even dead skin cells” could screw everything up and “fingerprints can be as thick as 0.005.”  Our own fat fingerprints could do us in! Even if we didn’t get any hair or skin cells into the mix, we could still screw it up with too much or too little paste.  We stood to lose over 100 bucks if we screwed this up.  We were nervous wrecks.

The new board finally showed up and we forced ourselves not to chicken out and set to work.  After some time, we finally transferred the CPU to the new board, applied the paste and the heat sink, and put everything back, with the video as our guide.

It was now the moment of truth.

We plugged it in and turned it on, half expecting to hear ‘zzzzzzt!’ accompanied by the smell of electronics burning. To our amazement, it booted up and ran at a temperature that remained in the safe zone.  Everything wasn’t Shangri-La, though – we’d put the screw over the battery compartment in wrong and the ‘L’, the ‘O’ and the numeric zero keys did not work. We opened it up again, and after fiddling with the keyboard cable, all the keys worked. The only casualty was the screw over the battery compartment – we’d stripped that bad boy.  Nonetheless,  we’d worried, we’d fretted, but in spite of ourselves, the old beast lived again.