53 Hour Battery Life on HTC one-M9 after Android 6 Upgrade!

A few days ago I wrote the post:  “Wow!! 48 Hours Of Battery…”.  To summarize, I discuss the vastly improved battery life on my phone after upgrading to Android 6.  When I wrote that article my phone had been on for one day.  I estimated at the time that the phone should have last me until at least 6pm the next day.

Onto the next day.  The discharge curve indeed held and the phone lasted until about 6:40pm, which was 10 minutes short of 53 hours.  I did allow the phone to go into energy saver mode at 15%.  I would also note that I believe I used the phone more often on the second day, making the battery life even more impressive.

I suppose none of that sounds impressive compared to some other phones.  My HTC one-M9 seems to use a lot of power, and not having to charge it every day is a fantastic new feature.

The people at Google deserve some real credit for this improvement.  If every phone that upgrades gets similar battery life improvement – then the people at Google have saved the world literally millions of dollars.  Numerous internet sources state that over 1 billion Android devices shipped in 2014.  I’m not sure how that number is broken down between tablets and phones, so lets just say 500 million phones.  Now lets do some math:

500,000,000 Devices
* $0.50 US to charge per year (approx)
= $250,000,000 per year
– 1/2 = $125,000,000 – PER YEAR

To be clear, I’m far more excited about charging my phone less/having more power when I need it than I am with the cost savings.  Since the actual charging cost is so nominal I can’t imagine it being an issue for anyone.  However, we live in a day and age where people worry about pulling their charger out of the wall to save the same 50 cents per year (or rather to be green and save the electricity which is the more valuable commodity).  Which is awesome too.

Anyway, great work Google, thanks so much!!

Wow!! 48+ Hours of Battery on HTC one-M9 with Android 6 Upgrade!

Yesterday after some long updates, I was prompted to update again, now to version 6 of Android.  Well, that sounded good, a new version of an OS often brings many improvements.  One of the informational pre-upgrade notifications mentioned that battery life could be significantly improved with this new version.  This kind of thing is always exciting, who doesn’t want better battery life without hardware changes?

The updater estimated that the upgrade would take about 1 hour.  I didn’t time it.  Once done, I let my phone charge up fully.  That was yesterday at 2pm.   Incredibly, I noticed a difference in battery life immediately.  After the first 6 hours I had only used about 7% of my battery life.  Like some car gas tanks, I thought that perhaps it just seems like I was using less at first.

During the evening I watched about 45 minutes of youtube with my screen on the first brightness setting (33%).  I was at home for most of the time since I started watching the battery usage.  Of course at home we have our phones on the wi-fi for the better network performance.  But I imagine that means that the phone doesn’t have to talk to the tower thus saving the energy required to transmit that far.  Other than that, I made a few very short calls, a few texts and checked my email and battery level numerous times.

At 2pm today my phone was at 56% battery remaining.  This is unprecedented, when we first brought the HTC one M9 home we could barely make it through the day on a single charge.  If this discharge curve holds, I should be able to use this phone all the way through 6pm tomorrow.  I don’t use my phone as much as I expect others do, I have my location on battery saver and I also don’t have many open/running or installed apps so that probably helps too.

I’m not sure what else has changed with the update.  I noticed a few of the icons in the top bar are different, and also now my carriers name is displayed in the top bar at the left.  Aside from that I didn’t notice a whole lot of other changes – but I’m sure that much was changed under the hood.

Budget openSUSE 13.2 Acer Aspire easyStore H340 NAS

A few months ago I picked up an interesting bit of technology, the Acer Aspire easy Store H340.  The price was right at just $50.  But of course it was craigslist and I offered $40, because you’ve just got to ask, and they accepted!

Quick Feature List:

CPU/Processor:  Intel Atom 230 Processor @ 1.60GHz (64bit)
RAM/Memory:  2GB DDR2 533 MHz (one slot only=single channel)
Chipset:  Intel 945GC Express
Video:  Intel GMA 950
Factory OS/Operating System: Windows Home Server
4x Tool less Hot Swap SATA 300 Drive Bays
1x Integrated 256MB USB Flash Drive
Size:  7.9″ Wide by 7.1″ Deep by 8.3″ Tall

81QUR1WRuuL._SL1500_cropThese are nice machines that feature a compact design with a cool modern look to them.  The drive bays are cooled by a large 120mm fan, however the unit is a little noisy, and the hard drives didn’t stay as cool as I might have expected.  Looking at the opposite side of the case the power supply is clearly blocking air flow, which is probably the reason for both the noise and heat.  I do like the look and feel of the power button, but as it is so large I have accidentally turned the machine off bumping it while opening the door.  I also appreciate the convenience of the front side USB port.

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Acer Aspire easyStore H340 IMAG2411_crop

This unit had a 2TB Western Digital HDD installed along with a 1TB Seagate HDD.  Unfortunately the 2TB had multiple S.M.A.R.T. issues including failure imminent on a number of checks.  The 1TB drive checked out fine, and I still feel I received a fair deal on the device.  I would at least hope that the original owner was unaware of the disk condition when they sold the machine to me.  Regardless, everything else about the machine was excellent.  Overall condition was clean and looked practically like new.  The original owner still had the accessory box and manuals that came with the unit.  And the OS was reset to factory (WHS).

Since this box had a license for Windows Home Server, I thought why not check it out.  After viewing numerous reviews & posts online I came to the conclusion that perhaps I should just install Linux (probably openSUSE, because that is what I know best).

This device has integrated graphics onboard, however there is no port on the back of the machine to connect a monitor.  The mother board contains a proprietary video/ps2 keyboard/mouse header but no cable was produced by the manufacturer for the general public.  This adapter cable can be purchased online, someone in Germany manufacturers them.  They are a little over $40 US for the VGA cable alone.  To me, this wasn’t worth the cost.  Computers are a fun hobby, but I don’t put much money into them.  Instead I looked for a 1x PCIe video card that would fit in the expansion slot.  At the time I thought it lucky the motherboard had that slot.  I got on eBay and found an ATI FireMV 2250 256MB for $14 bucks and used the best offer to offer the seller $10.  Again I was fortunate enough for the seller to accept my offer.  The ATI FireMV 2250 supports two monitors via a DMS-59 port which requires an adapter to use with any monitor.  Once again my luck was with me, I found a DMS-59 to dual VGA for just $4 with free shipping (not really sure how a seller on eBay can make any money with a price like that but I’m not complaining).  With those two parts I was ready to install the new OS.  As you can see in the images below, there is not much room to get any expansion card installed.  I had to detach the card bracket to get the card into position and then screw the bracket back onto the card once installed.

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My original idea was to install the OS onto the integrated 256MB USB flash memory.  First, I attempted to install openSUSE 13.2.  Unfortunately I could not get all the way through the installation program.  I tried multiple times, but seemingly random crashes would happen.  My first guess was some type of hardware failure.  I checked the RAM, and I tested the newly acquired video card in some other comparable hardware.  At the very least, those parts seemed to work fine.  I tried a number of other OSes, including Ubuntu 15.04 server and Windows XP to see if I could get any system running on the machine.  After many failed attempts I was starting to think that perhaps the motherboard had some undisclosed issue.  After a bit, it dawned on me that perhaps the new video card was the problem, like an incompatibility with other installed hardware.  My best guess is probably a conflict with the onboard video, which I don’t think could be  turned off in the bios (or jumpered off on the motherboard).  Ordinarily, I might have just installed the OS on a comparable machine, and then move the disk drive to the computer that won’t install.  Since I was so intent on using the integrated USB flash as the primary disk drive I hadn’t considered that option.  The machine only has 4 onboard SATA ports, so if I would use one for an OS, I would only have 3 left for my raid (or at the very least for single drive hot swap use).  Certainly you could probably add a 1x PCIe SATA controller, but the case configuration is pretty tight and there is hardly enough room to sneak in custom mounted 2.5″ HDD anywhere.  Finally, I did end up deciding to install openSUSE 13.2 (minimal CLI server) to a similar machine onto a 2GB USB stick.  I figured, at least maybe this way I could finally find out if the machine was damaged or there was just some funky issue with installation.  I added a small script at boot time to write to a file and say “worked”.  Sure enough, the installation on the USB stick started right up (after letting the H340 boot for about 2 minutes I just yanked the USB and plugged it into a different machine to see if it had written the file).  I had configured the network settings during the initial install.  However, I did not know what name the interface would get in openSUSE.  Once again, I modified the 2GB USB disk in a different computer to run the command “cat /proc/net/dev  >> /somefile.txt” at boot.  Then after the H340 was booted up, I pulled the USB stick and read somefile.txt on another machine to find the network interface name.  Next I modified “/etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg-interface_name” on the flash drive, to replace “interface_name” with the interface that I found in somefile.txt, such as eth0.  With that last change, I booted the system one final time and was able to SSH into the machine soon thereafter.

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I was somewhat worried about adding a flash drive as a hard disk for a couple of reasons.  Mostly I was concerned it may be slow, but I was also concerned that it could get broken off.  Fortunately it is right below the ethernet cable and doesn’t appear to be in any particular danger of physical damage.  As for the speed, it seems fine.  I don’t use the device for much other than cleaning and checking hard drives, which isn’t disk intensive on the OS drive of course.

In the weeks that followed the build I found the H340 to be a competent and reliable performer.  Though a little doggy, the Intel Atom 230 did well enough for what it is.  When cleaning 4 hard drives at the same time the CPU usage was at consistent at about 60-65%.  The openSUSE 13.2 installation has never crashed, at boot time it uses just 120MB of RAM.  The hot swap drive bays work great, and I love how they are tool less.  I didn’t bother trying to get the drive bay lights to come on, or to stop the i from flashing on the front panel.  I know others have worked at this, and it may be fun, but I guess it isn’t really necessary.  I have considered using this machine with a raid array and nfs.  Sadly, I don’t have any other conveniently tool less hot swappable available setups like this.  So the ability to pop a hard drive into a machine to test/clean/recover is a better use for me.  Due to the machines small size I was able to install it on top of my main workstation, looks pretty cool!

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One of the great things about this setup is that the H340 really becomes almost an extension of my main workstation.  Since I control it remotely through ssh on my main rig, and since it is within arms reach while I’m at my desk, it is just as good as having an additional 4 hot swappable hard drive bays inside the main case.  Linux is perfect for this type of setup, and probably makes it seem a little more seamless.  I’ll do a post on my trash picked Intel Dual LGA1366 workstation sometime soon!

In conclusion, though this was a frustrating build it did turn out very well.  I ended up spending $54 on the build total, but of course, I didn’t really end up needing the video card and adapter cable ($14).  I’ve seen the H340 going on eBay for about $100 (depending on disk configuration), so my price to value ratio was pretty good.  I would definitely recommend this item to anyone considering one for a reasonable price.

Restoring a 1990 IBM Model M2 Keyboard

One of the first projects I did when I got back into playing with retro computers was to clean up this old IBM model M2 keyboard.  This keyboard is one of the few items that survived my ten year break in retro computing.  I’m not sure where this one came from,  and they weren’t especially common even back then, so I was reluctant to let it go when I cleaned out my original vintage computer collection.  I had always planned all those years ago to fix up this keyboard, so I figured this would be a fun project to undertake.  At the time I didn’t have a ton of other vintage computer projects yet.  I don’t think I had ever used this keyboard, simply acquired the thing.  As I remember, I had another that worked fine that I used frequently.  I’ll mention that specifically since I would have never let it get this dirty…

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Pre Cleaning IMAG2420_rotate

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The first step was to remove all of the keys.  Of course this makes cleaning easier and it has to be done to reinstall the back cover anyway.  I used a small hex wrench to pop each key off.

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IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Pre Soak IMAG2428_crop

I used some dish cleaning liquid in some warm water in a disposable container.  I had a second container nearby with some plain water to rinse the cleaned keys.  I had to change the water in the bowls once because they both became filthy.

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Soaking Keys IMAG2432

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Although it looked bad to start, the keys all cleaned up very well and relatively easily.  I let them dry for a few hours on some paper towels.

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IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 "dusted" IMAG2427

In the mean time I cleaned out the main body of the keyboard with a small dust broom (outdoors of course).  Then I used some running water and dish soap on some paper towels to clean the crevices.  Once that dried I started to reinstall the spring assemblies.  I thought that perhaps some had gotten lost over the years.  This keyboard had been dropped and one corner had come open many years ago.  Though I stored it in a box by itself those type of things have a habit of getting lost.  Fortunately it turns out they were all there!  I used two small glass blocks at either end of the keyboard body to keep it raised.  To verify the spring assemblies positions I laid out the long keys on the keyboard to see if I had filled in all of the correct spring assembly holes.

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Spring Assemblies Installed IMAG2451_crop

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 IMAG2450_crop

Once all of the spring assemblies were in place I installed the back cover of the keyboard.  Now all that is left is to install all of the keys.  The long keys all have a bar that slides into a slot to help them glide smoothly, so I just use a little extra care installing those.  On the regular keys I am careful not to smash or bend the springs.  I test each key out by depressing in numerous times.  A properly installed key has just the right feel, and sometimes the keys don’t seat the spring properly.  In a case like that, I just pop the key off again and give it another try at installation.  Some of this may be due to the fact that some of the keys had slightly mangled springs.

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 IMAG2453

Once everything was put back together the keyboard looked great.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t tested the keyboard before hand, and when I did, I found it did not work…  I figured its a model M, I’m sure it works.  At the very least it is clean, and mechanically and cosmetically decent.  At some point I will probably find another that could donate any needed parts for this one.  For now though, back to the shelf you go.

IBM Model M2 Keyboard 1990 Before & After IMAG2420_rotate_combine

How I Made the Peppa Pig Red Family Car

Recently my wife was planning our daughter’s Peppa Pig birthday party.  While doing so she came across a picture wherein someone made a 2D cardboard representation of the red Peppa Pig family car to be used to take pictures with.  This was a great idea.  However, I didn’t think that would be nearly as much fun as a “real” 3D Peppa Pig car that my daughter could get inside and pretend to drive.

Creating the shape/body:

To begin I went out to our garage to look for a box suitable for this project.  We had a nice box from a stroller/car seat combo that looked just about right.  The tools I used for the basic construction included a hot glue gun, scissors, utility knife, pen/marker, tape and a tape measure.

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I drew freehand to make the initial curve for the front of the car.  I then used the piece I cut from the one side as a template to mark/cut the other side.  As you can see, I left the bottom flap on the box, this will become the front nose of  the car.  Inside the box I added triangular shaped support “beams” that I made from the two flaps that got cut off when I made the side profile cuts.  These are perfect for the job as they are the same height as the box itself.

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Next, I attached some small flaps to the bottom main flap of the box to be used to secure the main flap to the new contour of  the box side.  In the picture you can see where I should have at least put those small flaps inside the box before having had glued the other side.  I was trying to keep the attachment flaps on the inside of the box so that the outside would remain “smooth-ish”.  However, with the papier-mâché I did in a later step, any attachment flaps put on the outside ended up being hidden and smoothed over.

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Now that nap time was over for our kids, I needed to hide the Peppa car in our bedroom if I was to continue work without my daughter’s knowledge.

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My next step was to make a cutout for the top of the car.  I drew some lines so that some of the cardboard could be used as a dashboard, and the rear part as a reinforcement as well as a way to hide the rear side supports (not yet installed), and really the rest of the inside of the rear of the car.

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Now, I moved on to the rear contour.  For the back, I didn’t start the contour cut until after the main bottom flap (box half), but otherwise, I did the same thing I did for the front contour.  Also as with the front, I used the removed box flaps to make the rear supports.  Each flap gets 3 lines cut into it as shown in the image just above.  Then I folded them into a triangle and put hot glue on one of the short edges.  Once the glue was set on the one edge I glued the other edge and formed the triangle.

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For the front and rear hood/deck contour I found some large pieces of cardboard with the lines/grain running the width of the car to facilitate curving the piece.  I folded a small flap along the bottom of the hood piece and hot glued that to the bottom flap that was already on the car.  I tried to keep gluing flaps on the inside of the hood piece, but ultimately this proved impossible near the top.  With the dashboard and support beams installed I was hardly able to get my hands in behind the hood, let alone get hot glue on the tabs.

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Paint and body work:

Next we moved back to the living room once the kids were asleep for the night.  I wanted to do papier-mâché so that there wouldn’t be any seams, and I also hoped it would cover the attaching flaps used on the outside of the body.

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Fortunately the papier-mâché did cover all of the spots as I had hoped.  One thing I did not anticipate was how water logged the cardboard beneath would get.  If not for the support beams I installed, the Peppa car may have died right there.  If I did something like this again, I think I would cover the entire car in some tape to give the boxes beneath some water resistance.

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Once dry, the Peppa car looked a little wavy.  I’m not sure why, but I didn’t have anytime to try any fixes.  I did however use some tape along the bottom on the one side.  The papier-mâché had some bubbles and spots lifting after it dried.  But the paint soaked right into it and fixed most of that.  We used regular latex house paint, and were able to find a perfect Peppa Pig red car color.

Adding the finishing touches:

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I used some automotive grade vinyl material for the body lines (you can get scraps of this stuff at the smaller sign shops willing to deal with individuals).  The material comes in rolls and can easily be cut into strips.  I used a paper plate to draw and outline for the wheel outlines, then thickened the lines with a thick black marker.  For the hood line, I did the same thing, but I used an 18″ cardboard cake circle.  (And don’t worry, we put ears on Peppa before the party started!)

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I used LibreOffice to create some oval outlines on the computer.  Then I just used the printout as a template to cutout the headlight and headlamp bezel from construction paper.

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The final piece of the Peppa car was the windshield frame.  I took a flat piece of cardboard of the right width and ruled out five 1.5″ sections.  Next I folded up the top of the frame and hot glued it down.  With the bottom portion of the cardboard sheet, I made a left and a right bar with five 1.5″ sections each.  The portion below the bottom line is discarded.  Then, I cut the left and right sides at the bottom of the top of the frame through to the last section, discarding the center piece.  I left two tabs of the bottom squares on each side to fold into for a flat base.  The final step was to cover the the windshield frame with painter’s tape to make it blue (as well as give it strength and cover the holes on the end of the top of the frame).

The finished car:

The Finished Peppa Pig car IMAG3155_cropThe Finished Peppa Pig car IMAG3153_crop

My daughter had a small pink chair that I put in so she could sit down.  The car turned out to be a huge success.  My daughter loved it and had a great time playing in it.  My wife predicted that I would still be working on the car at 2:30 (when the party started at 2:00 lol).  Though she was right, it was only the windshield frame that I was still finishing.  The car held up pretty well, especially after my daughter got in and out of it a dozen times.  The windshield proved to be an especially attractive hand hold and ended up detaching somewhat soon after being installed.

How long the red Peppa car will last is unknown.  We’ll probably keep it for a little while at least.  This project did take a while to make.  Total time was about 6-7 hours over 3 days- 1 hour body construction phase 1, 1.25 hours body construction phase 2, 1.5 hours for papier-mâché, 45 minutes to paint, 2 hours of finishing touches.  I didn’t actually keep track of the time.  I tried to look through my photo timestamps, but I didn’t always snap a shot at the beginning and end of each time I worked on the car.  I had considered putting a plywood sheet underneath the car- that way I could raise the car up on blocks to add the wheels- but I ended up running out of time.  This ended up being somewhat of a blessing, as the car was already a bit too tall to start.  In addition, the car is probably just plain safer with the bottom of the box as the floor.

I’m really happy with the way everything worked out.  Our Peppa party was a great success and the car was a hit as well.  The smiles on my daughter’s face were well worth the time and effort and few dozen first degree glue burns, lol.

 

chris80502 – The Early Computer Years

This is a brief overview of my early years with computers.  I’ve been interested in computers as long as I can remember.  My first computer related memories are playing with the Logo program on Apple IIe machines when I was in first grade (I think 1st).  But it wasn’t until I turned 10 that I really first started learning about computers.  In 1990 my family moved to a different city where they had a much newer computer network comprised of IBM PS2 series machines.  One of those days, early after moving, I was talking to the network system admin and I believe I wanted to copy a disk.  He was kind enough to write down the DOS (v3.3 I believe) commands on a piece of blue ruled yellow paper, copy a>*.*, or something to that effect.  The more I think about it, the more I feel like that must have been some defining moment in my life’s development, almost as if the door had been opened or something.  I can remember that moment in time very vividly, in such clear detail- the admin, the paper, the look of his printing on the paper, the room, our position in the room, the 286 PS/2s in rows around the room.  Okay, anyway… that was the very beginning.

In 1993 my dad purchased a 486 Packard Bell 33MHz, 4MB RAM (IIRC).  I learned a little about Windows and DOS on that machine, however I never messed with things too much because I was nervous I would break things- and at that time I think he had paid about $1850 for the complete setup.  He used it for word processing and spread sheets, and we did go online as early as 1994 (I still have paint brush files that my siblings and I created).  My father is not technical so he also didn’t want me messing with things.  However, I was able to play with the school network a little throughout middle school.

I acquired my own computer in 1995.  It was a Compudyne 386sx 25MHz laptop with 4MB RAM, 80MB HDD 64 color monochrome screen, integrated trackball, and a dead battery.  It cost $684 and my dad bought it for me as an advance Christmas/birthday gift.  I started programming that year.  My high school offered a few qbasic programming classes so I joined and then proceeded to purchase the book Learned qBasic in 21 Days.  Within those 3 weeks I had learned far more than even the teacher knew about the language (what did she know anyway?  She was a math teacher, ugh…).  It was at that point that I became a nuisance to the school faculty.  While I wanted to learn more about computers I was far beyond everyone else in my classes – including the teachers.  So I ended up spending lots of time helping others.  Of course, that got old fast, I am a terrible teacher unfortunately.  Soon I was off to discover how the schools network worked and how I could get to DOS (or whatever the system at the time).  Though never on purpose, I did crash the entire network on at least one occasion.  Each year our high school attempted to rework their network software infrastructure.  After my first year there I guess they decided the network had too many holes, and indeed it did.  You could get to DOS from Microsoft Works somehow, lol!  Our network admin always suspected that I was to blame for some of the problems, however he could never prove that it was me, and quite probably, it wasn’t.  The big problem then was you could use a custom boot disk to circumvent the system startup and deliver you right to DOS.  From there you could do a ton of stuff, plus there were many other ways into DOS- and I was by no means the only person who knew these things.

At the end of my freshman year the admin told me they were going to upgrade the system to a new software that we wouldn’t be able to hack through.  He even offered to let me have a go at the system before the school year started.  Well, the software was installed but they never let me try to get into things.  As you might imagine this kind of made me upset, and I then made it my passion to find every hole in the system.  As an interesting aside, at the beginning of the year, there were new users for every student from the previous year, all without passwords.  So we (my friends and I) added passwords to every student we could think of that left school that last year, to gain extra accounts to use while we attempted to get into the system.  Once again, the admin had no way to track us.  Within the first quarter of the school year we had identified a numerous holes in the new system.   So many in fact that I wrote a small book and left a copy in the library computer lab where I was sure it would be found by an appropriate person.  I guess I just felt super burned by the whole situation.  Certainly, I never did anything to damage things, and by presenting the book, I was only doing what I had originally offered.

During the beginning of my junior year, I acquired my next computer.  To be clear, I did have a few other machines previously, but nothing I considered a real computer, lol.  An old science teacher had given me an old Apple IIe compatible (probably a Franklin).  I played some games on that one, but promptly ended up taking it apart and destroying it – I’ve never had much respect for Apple, then or now.  I also had an old IBM 8088 machine that was gutted and we used an oxy-acetalene torch to remove all the sockets from the motherboard.  I can’t for the life of me recall why we did these things.  Anyway, this new computer was the first I built myself.  I was so worried that I would damage the CPU and RAM that I purchased those parts with the motherboard and had them installed by the seller.  It seems funny to me now, you could can be entirely careless with those early socket 7 CPUs, bend a few pins, no worries, bend them right back.  Nothing like how easily motherboards of today can get a damaged pin, and they can be hard if not impossible to fix.  For this first build I spent some pretty big money for a 16 year old, about $3462!  I was lucky my father was willing to loan me this much via his credit card.  All of these purchases were through companies who advertised in Computer Shopper.  That was my favorite magazine of the 1990s.  I used to carry that huge book around all over, when I found an item I liked, I wrote the page number on the cover.  Back in the 90s it seemed like every part was about $200.  Need a sound card, okay $200, how about a video card – sure $200, RAM upgrade – no problem – $200.  Here is a quick list of the system specifications:

Intel Pentium 150MHz (was supposed to be a Pentium Pro 150MHz…)
32MB RAM
3GB Quantum Fireball HDD
Diamond Stealth64 2001 Video Card with 4MB Video Memory & TV Tuner
Sound Blaster AWE32
Cadet AM/FM Radio Tuner Card
Iomega 100MB Zip Drive
8x CD-ROM
6 Disc CD-ROM Changer

For the time, this was an impressive machine.  Kids I went to school with questioned the need for 32MB of RAM, which was certainly a valid point for me in particular, because I really didn’t use the machine to its full potential.  The TV tuner card was awesome, and the radio card was a neat novelty as well.  I also had an ISA fan card installed that was pretty unnecessary.

During those years I was sure of what I wanted to do in life.  Be a programmer.  It was something I thought was fun, and it was something I knew could make a good living.  By my junior year in high school I had moved on to the final programming class our school offered, which switched to the Pascal language.  For some reason I didn’t go after learning Pascal as I did qbasic.  I think I felt it was a bit archaic.  I probably also felt that it wasn’t worth learning another language that I wouldn’t use in a professional career.  Unfortunately, the teacher of the class and I did not get along.  This jerk-off was my math teacher too.  I have never been good at math, and this guy wasn’t a good teacher.  At the time I suppose I was a bit of smart mouth as well, which generally doesn’t bode well for most students.  Due to a combination of the aforementioned issues I did not do well in his class.  I also found myself wasting too much time playing around with things I shouldn’t have been, and not doing work.  I suppose that at the time, network computer time was a premium that you could only have access to so much of per day.  My plan at the time was to get into the advanced placement college courses for computer programming at a local technical school for my senior year in high school.  But as one might expect, that same teacher had to sign off on that, which he was not willing to do.  I was furious, I left the computer lab and about half way down the hall I punched a locker.  I had to trot down the hall quickly as I heard a different teacher came running out to see what caused such a commotion.  All this culminated in my first “walk away” from computers.

A Penny saved is a Penny Earned

As I was writing another post, I came upon the occasion to use the phrase a penny saved is a penny earned.  In the past I had always had ideas in my head regarding that saying.  Something to the effect of the money you have saved up is the money you have actually earned.  Recently I had a revelation about the meaning of that saying, and while writing the other post I decided to do a few internet searches on the phrase to be sure I was on solid ground.  The first search result provided a relatively good account of what the phrase actually means.  The others were almost as ridiculous as my own contorted ideas.  One site even said,  “Money that you save is more valuable than money that you spend right away.”.  To this I say, how so?  Another says, “Money not spent is money that is in one’s pocket.“, well duh… but still not what the saying means.  And yet another says,  “something you say that ​means it is ​wise to ​save ​money”, well duh again- but it doesn’t tell you when, and that is the key.  But don’t fear, hopefully this post will help others understand this old idiom.

A penny saved is a penny earned is not about putting money into your bank account.  It isn’t about being frugal, it’s about getting a good deal.  A penny saved is a penny earned means saving money (when making purchases) is as good as earning the same amount of money that the full purchase price would have required.  Lets say you buy something for $50, but it is actually worth $100.  Then in the time it took you to earn the original $50, you actually earned a $100 value, while not actually having to earn the other $50 in the traditional sense.  In addition, your personal value for time ratio is increased.   But remember, this doesn’t mean that buying something cheap is the same idea.  If you buy something for $5 that is worth $5, you will still have $45, but you have added no value.  Your total value would still be $50.

That’s it.  And it is a principal that I have been following for quite some time (even though the revelation of the meaning of the saying came recently).  It just seems like a no-brainer, right?  Try to get the best price you can on every purchase, and in the end you’ll have more of everything.

openSUSE Leap 42.1 Upgrade from 13.2 First Thoughts & Quick Review

Two nights ago I decided to update my main rig to openSUSE Leap 42.1 from 13.2.  After reading about the improvements to openSUSE and learning that it now uses the code base from SLE, I became quite excited.  Although there were a few snags along the way, I’m happy to have made the Leap.

I decided to try the DVD upgrade for two reasons.  First, because I had just reinstalled openSUSE 13.2 and it took a while to tweak the machine to my liking.  Second, because I had just reinstalled 13.2, so I figured, no big loss if something goes wrong.  There is currently no live DVD for openSUSE 42.1 and apparently no plans for such.  However, I would imagine that community demand will produce the tool at some point, regardless of whether or not it includes an installer.

The upgrade process went relatively smoothly.  Upon restarting the machine I did encounter a small hiccup.   It seemed as though there may have been a problem with the video drivers (I was using the community 1-click NVidia drivers).  No big problem, booted into recovery and removed the nvidia drivers via yast to fallback on the nouveau (seems like that should be automatic).  When I rebooted the system I did get to the GUI.  Upon logging into Gnome I found that the network connection wasn’t configured.  I am a little confused as to why it stopped working post-upgrade.  I had been using the wicked service before upgrading.  I ended up switching to network-manager and was soon back in business.  In addition, for some reason my user account was no longer part of the “user” group, or any other user group for that matter.  As with the other hiccups I experienced, they are easy enough to fix, but beginners might have problems…  One last note about the video, after the fact, I read somewhere that it is recommended to remove the proprietary drivers before upgrading from version to version.

At first glance, there are some immediate visual differences.  Some different fonts are used which make my gedit and gnome terminal look considerably different.  It looks like the Gnome icons have been refreshed as well, and the Adwaita theme has some updates too.  Since Leap is using packages that are much newer than the packages in openSUSE 13.2, I’m not surprised by this at all.

One thing that does seem to be fixed is the connectivity for my phone (HTC one M9). On 13.2 I had issues often with my phone, which had a secondary 32GB card in it (I had less issue with the other M9 we have without the add-on memory card – so perhaps an issue with that).  The problem in 13.2 had something to do with the MPT module crashing.  Another major issue that seems to be fixed is file transfer with Nautilus in Gnome.  Previously Nautilus/Gnome would hang during long file copies from usb to disk, or even disk to disk when using nautilus in suse 13.2 (or 13.1 for that matter). Say you started a copy of 1000 pictures, it would start and run fine, but after a few seconds all of the gnome desktop would freeze until the copy was actually finished (so it looked like the whole system hung). For a while I just used dolphin side by side when I needed to copy large sets of files. However, switching between two file managers is not ideal. I did some testing, disk to disk, disk to nfs share (and nfs to disk), mpt android to disk, everything appears to work perfectly now – I’m pretty impressed.

As for the rest of the system, most things appear to be working as advertised.  Everything feels pretty well polished.  The startup/booting animation I feel is a bit strange.  The Leap wallpaper with their gecko chameleon used as the light bulb filament is absolutely stunning.  However, the pure black background and lack of side window boarders in the Adwaita theme make the traditional green on black terminal windows practically disappear.

For myself the upgrade worked as anticipated. I’m at almost 2 days of uptime since the upgrade and I haven’t had any issues yet.  Next, I would like to upgrade my wife’s i5 laptop.  Rumor is that battery life may be increased significantly and I’m eager to find out if this is the case.