Tag Archives: computer

A Bit of Thermal Paste My Life 19 SEP 2011

Hey, learn something new every day. I’ve at last fixed the problem of the intermittent shut downs of that desktop machine I bought from Matrix Warehouse a year or two ago! :)

Shortly after I purchased it and loaded up Ubuntu as my operating system of choice, I started experiencing the problem of it repeatedly and unexpectedly shutting down on me, causing a lot of frustration and a lot of expensive troubleshooting as I went through the exercise of trying to determine what was causing the issue, looking at both the software and hardware fronts.

I wasn’t successful, was tired of throwing money at it, and after discovering that if I leave it lying on its side it tends to work, I converted it into an Ubuntu server machine and went back to working on my old Intel machine that I had purchased back second-hand from the varsity before I left.

A year or two later, and now that my laptop is in the hands of Rory while he takes a look to see if he can maybe find the cause of its sudden implosion, I need a second machine running and so I decided to reopen the case of the faulty PC.

So on Sunday I took apart the machine and gave it a thorough clean out with a handy old toothbrush, removing all the dust that had collected over all the components thanks to the unconventional position the case now occupies. The heatsink needed a good clean as well, and when I detached it from the CPU I noticed that the thermal strip between the two wasn’t looking healthy at all, prompting me to check on the CPU temperature as a possible cause of the problem…

Bingo!

The BIOS health status screen showed up the problem straight away. The minute I turned the naked machine on, I could literally watch the CPU’s operating temperature rise at the rate of a degree a second, right the way up until it passed the safe threshold and at a 101 degrees Celsius mark, turn the whole thing off.

Being a first for me, I quickly did some research on the Internet on replacing thermal paste, and a quick trip through to Chaos Computers for some thermal paste (they had some from Cool Master in stock which they could sell to me) and Dischem for some pure acetone, resulted in me ready for action.

With Jessica enjoying an afternoon nap, I grabbed some of Chantelle’s cotton earbuds and used the acetone to carefully remove the old and grubby thermal paste from both the heatsink and CPU housing. Then, using the handy template that came with the thermal paste, I carefully applied the brilliant white paste in an even manner on the base of the heatsink, before gently worked the unit back in place over the CPU on to the motherboard.

Excitedly I hooked up the power cable, and hit the switch, watching the BIOS reading with bated breath…

It had worked!! The machine started up colder and the CPU temperature hovered at a constant 31 to 32 degrees Celsius. After a lot of fist pumping into the air (silent of course, wouldn’t want to wake Jessie), I set about first partitioning and installing Windows XP (for my outdated scanner and webcam which aren’t supported well enough in terms of drivers under Ubuntu), followed by a fresh dual boot install of the latest Ubuntu desktop release for normal every day use.

And seeing that this machine now has a nice graphics card thanks to my earlier troubleshooting efforts, I now even get to experience the new Ubuntu Unity desktop shell that has garnered so many divided opinions since its introduction for the very first time!

So yeah, pretty chuffed with myself now, I won’t lie! :)

Shutting Down – Again and Again My Life 20 APR 2010

Aaargh, so frustrating! I mentioned a while ago that my newish PC back at home kind of packed up on me some time back, completely losing its video output as a start.

Listening to it and plugging it into various other display sources, I concluded that the onboard graphics must have gone and so looked around on the Internet before settling on a new graphics card which I subsequently ordered from Take 2 for around R500.

A short wait and the card arrived, which I eagerly plugged into the board, proclaimed “There, that should fix it” and hit the power switch, only to see… well nothing. The new graphics card had not solved the problem, meaning that my diagnosis had obviousy been wrong. Doh!

So anyway, this weekend I made some time to try and sort out the issue, taking the machine completely apart and giving it a good dust out, as well as checking and tightening all the connectors and screws that I can find!

With a “Well, maybe this will sort it out”, I hit the power switch and lo and behold, all of a sudden I had video out again – awesome except for the fact that it only lasted a minute or two before the machine without warning simply lost power.

Booting it up again, it became apparent that this was now the new problem and that the video outage had most likely simply been symptom of this new problem.

The losing power thing seems to happen completely at random – it can happen as the machine is still booting up, it can happen while Ubuntu is still busy starting up, or it can strike just as you start thinking that the problem has sorted itself out and open a website to check what might be causing the problem.

At first I thought that maybe the power supply wasn’t pushing out enough power and that the devices were too much for it to handle, so I systematically began unplugging components but to no avail.

So out came the screwdriver and back into the box I dove, giving everything another good dust-over before removing the Power Supply Unit (PSU) and completely taking that apart, cleaning every bit and piece as I came across it.

Slapping everything back together again and hitting the power button proved to be completely… futile.

Sigh. So the power was still coming and going sporadically so I had to make the call as to whether I thought it the PSU or motherboard which is the problem child. Looking at the board I couldn’t see any problem, no popped capacitors or anything like that and so hopped into my car and drove through to Computer Mania at Somerset Mall where I slapped down R600 and bought a nice and shiny 600W power supply that comes with a giant fan and looks pretty damn spiffy.

Back home I installed the new PSU, booted the machine up and yay, “Seems like that sorted it out” – until the machine shut itself down again just ten minutes later.

So the problem still isn’t solved and my ability to diagnose hardware issues lies in complete tatters. Chantelle keeps urging me just to take it in and have it fixed, but my pride as a man simply won’t allow me to do that.

It’s now a personal challenge for me, and one that is bringing no end of frustration. The question now of course is – should I look at the RAM as being faulty or is it the whole damn motherboard itself?

Decisions, decisions…

The House of C 013: Leet Mad Skillz The House of C 01 MAR 2010

Gamers are pretty sophisticated computer users aren’t they? They tweak and they hack and they optimize and they perform magic with that little mouse and keyboard of theirs – in other words they the equivalent of PC Gods. Yet for some or other reason these leet mad skillz hardly ever translate well to real world problems that need to be solved on a PC – like tax forms and balance sheets for example! ;)

(Oh, and while we’re at it, meet Carl, the newest member of the regular House of C cast of characters.)

Chantelle can’t be Impressed with This My Life 16 DEC 2009

I was just thinking to myself, Chantelle can surely not be impressed with this. Every time she blinks, our lounge is overtaken with some new electronic gadget or appliance, meaning that currently our nice and clean lounge wall is currently blotted out by all of this junk:

my-lounge-and-all-its-gadgets

Surely she can’t be impressed? Just maybe I should hide some of this stuff behind floral prints – what do you think? ;)

A.I. Love You (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 28 FEB 2009

AI Love YouBehind every great man is a great artificial intelligence.

Hitoshi Kobe is a poor student, a bad athlete and may be the unluckiest man alive… though he does have a knack for creating Artificial Intelligences. Number Thirty is Hitoshi’s favorite A.I. And the only girl he can talk to. If a freak accident can turn Thirty into a real girl, can Thirty turn Hitoshi into a real man?

A bit of a geek, a bit of a loser, Hitoshi Kobe doesn’t exactly have all that much going for him, apart from his skill behind a computer keyboard. Creating artificial intelligences is his passion and he is surprisingly good at it… though even he didn’t realise just how good that actually is!

A freak electrical mishap and his favourite A.I. out of them all comes to life and the relationship they shared in the digital world now spills over to the real world – and often with the most comedic of results! The time is now to learn and teach about life, love and all the good things in life…

Thus starts the very unconventional pairing of a girl who talks to machines and who shouldn’t even exist in this world and a boy who already struggles to interact with society but who now has to learn how to deal with a woman – even if she isn’t quite so real to the rest of us.

Most manga fans by now would have heard the name Ken Akamatsu, the man behind the hugely popular Love Hina franchise and now more recently the Negima! phenomenon, but most people haven’t really come into contact with his earlier work, work done before Western fame struck him as hard as it did. A.I. Love You is one of his best known earlier works and thanks to Tokyopop, a whole new generation can get to grip with the output that started it all.

First off, it must be said that A.I. Love You has most certainly NOT dated well at all, in the most part thanks to the rapid advance in computer technology that we have experienced over the last couple of years. To read this book you have to pretend you know nothing of computers or even the technical world for that matter, that’s how bad it seriously is.

However, that said, stripping the technology out of the equation leaves us with a fairly bog standard young romance comedy scenario about a unexperienced, naiïve boy and his interactions with a beautiful, willing girl. The writing isn’t particularly clever and the humour and situations quite often come off more forced than natural, making A.I. Love You quite the chore to read through at times. The drama is a little overdone at times as well and while the book will have you giggling every now and then, the lack of a fun flow really pulls the story down just that little.

It’s not bad per say, but it certainly isn’t particularly good which means that average seems about the best way to describe both the story and writing ability on this one then.

Artistically, it is very interesting to see where Akamatsu was before he developed his cute, ultra effective style that won him over so many fans for Love Hina, and although A.I. Love You doesn’t look overly bad, one can see that this is very much Akamatsu’s earlier, more unrefined work. There is however certainly a lot of good background detail stuffed into his panels and the trademark, little bit on the naughty side, female form outlines for which he is so famous for makes a strong appearance as well.

Overall, A.I. Love You is certainly nothing special and can quite comfortably be skipped by the more discerning manga readers out there, but if you are a big fan of Akamatsu then this is a very good peek into what the man was doing before he reached his current point of expertise – and that in itself makes A.I. Love You worth looking into then.

(But remember. Pretend you know nothing about computers at all. Seriously. I mean it!)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.I._Love_You

Chobits (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 08 JUN 2008

ChobitsChi isn’t your average humanoid computer. She can’t do word processing, she can’t connect to the Net, and she’s incapable of interfacing with other Persocoms … but when the hapless, technophobic Hideki rescues her from the scrap heap and takes her home, he finds that she may be more advanced than her childlike behaviour lets on…

Chobits tells the story of 19 year-old naïve farm-boy Hideki Motosuwa, currently studying to get into university through a Tokyo prep school, who comes across an abandoned Persocom just lying there in the trash. Persocom are androids, computers in the form of human beings, and are currently the hottest thing in Japan, with nearly everyone in the city owning one of these powerful machines. Everyone except the eternally broke Hideki who can only ever dream of owning one of these beauties to handle all his email, internet and porn-browsing needs.

So the discovery of his very own Persocom is indeed a time of happiness – that is until he discovers that there is something very, very wrong with this one. Unable to speak, ‘Chi’ being the only thing coming out of this adorable little android, Chi (as she is now named) is in need of some serious teaching and unfortunately for her the good-hearted (but very hot-blooded) Hideki is the boy to do it.

Volume 1 of this adorable little developing comedic love story introduces us to the main characters of Hideki and Chi and establishes the baseline on which the rest of the manga is to follow. The central intrigue surrounding the story is of course who is Chi, why was she abandoned and why is she seemingly so powerful? Built on this are a number of observations of love and the nature of it and then on top of that gets thrown all manner of comedy as the naïve but rather perverted Hideki gets to try and teach Chi about the world and daily living.

Chobits is legendary mangaka group CLAMP’s first attempt at a seinan story, in other words a story which is aimed at men aged between 18 and 30. As with all their writing, Chobits is intelligently written with loads of humour, both physical and inferred, more than enough intrigue and dramatic elements and a heavy dab of developing romance. There is also quite a few ecchi moments tossed in as well, some fairly unfamiliar territory for a group that made a name for themselves with younger girls’ titles like Cardcaptor Sakura and Angelic Layer.

Visually, Chobits drips detail and the character models are simply gorgeously rendered. Every single character that appears on the pages are brought to life with expert line work and makes Chobits one of the better looking titles out there. There is loads of background detail as well for a change and it is nice to see CLAMP drawing without falling back on their trademark elongated human proportions. And of course, their brilliant ability to capture the more humorous moments with great caricatures and exaggerated artwork simply adds to the fun!

Chobits volume 1 is a great start to an interesting, compelling and deep storyline that keeps you entertained with plenty of humour, both ecchi and normal, but at the same time keeps the mystery and intrigue flowing – all the while making social commentary left, right and center too! And to top it all off, there is even a hint of a romance to keep you on your toes!

All in all Chobits is a great read and a good laugh, and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to jump on CLAMP’s more mature works bandwagon.

Especially males that is.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chobits

Monkey See, Monkey Do! General Nonsense 05 FEB 2008

RobotI love it whenever I see Science Fiction become Science Reality. Case in point: The monkey propels the robot.

A couple of weeks ago this remarkable report appeared which tells the story of how a small monkey named Idoya made a rather large humanoid robot walk on a treadmill – using only her brain activity! And to make this story even more amazing – she was in North Carolina, USA while the robot was in Japan.

Basically this is what was done. For a couple of months the researchers trained Idoya to walk on a treadmill. At the same time the scientists were recording the various brain activities and neuron responses to her walking action, generating a language that a computer would be able to understand.

Once all the preliminary work was done, Idoya (who has electrodes implanted in her brain) was then introduced back to her treadmill, this time with a big screen in front of it. On this screen was the live video of the CB (Computational Brain) robot, also standing on his very own treadmill over in Japan. As Idoya began walking along the treadmill, her recorded neuron patterns were fed into CB so that he too began to walk, basically copying Idoya’s thought patterns. The response time was less than a quarter of a second, so Idoya basically became attuned to the robot’s movements.

Backwards and forwards Idoya walked, controlling the robot at every step of the way until the researchers decided to play a trick on her and did something rather unexpected – they stopped the treadmill. As everyone held their breath, Idoya’s eyes remained focussed on CB’s legs and much to everyone’s jubilation, CB continued to walk as Idoya maintained her concentration on the robot.

This is a huge step in showing how it is feasible for humans’ to be able to control equipment like exoskeletons using only the power of their mind, and once we find out how to safely place electrodes in a human brain, this may very well be the next step in creating a new Science Fact!

Once again, a person can’t help but be impressed by human ingenuity. Honestly, sometimes it seems that nothing is impossible for us as a race – except perhaps the creation self-cleaning baths and showers – those things would sell like hotcakes!

Related Link: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/16/healthscience/15robo.php

New Computer My Life 20 AUG 2007

My New PC 2Finally! Finally I’ve taken delivery of my PC from the DPRU’s sale of their old lab equipment. I’ve been waiting for this darn thing for literally months now. Anyway, my brand spanking new 3 ghz Intel Pentium with a 1 gb of RAM and a nifty little 17 inch flat screen monitor will now finally replace my clunky old (I mean ancient really) 756 mhz AMD that I’ve been using for years at home.

And the best part, it cost me a whole R1500 for the lot :)