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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September 19, 2006

Miscellaneous Stuff

Well, it's only been a bit more than a week since the last post, which isn't too bad if you ask me. There wasn't much happening last week...aside from the fact that the 'non-summer routine' is starting up. I was kept fairly busy throughout the week, so I left work early on Friday afternoon to enjoy the remainder of the warmer temperatures for a while...

An Upgrade...

I was doing some work on various websites over the last week or so (see below), and thought it time to update the TWiki here at MZ Online. I had a few notices sitting in my inbox for a while, so I figured it an appropriate time to do some upgrading. It didn't really take all that long (it wasn't a major upgrade, just a few patches), which was nice, but it still burned up some time. I've also trimmed back the number of TWiki installations I manage. There's the one on my local intranet at home, and the one on the intranet at the office, but this is now the only 'publicly-viewable' installation.

I've been into the PHP thing lately, and the overhead of keeping everything running properly (and patched) when I'm the only one who ever really utilizes the software is a bit of a stretch. Call it simplification. smile

Websites!

I've been in a mode lately where I've been going back to the standards. The W3C standards, that is. For some time (at least two years), I've focused on keeping all HTML I write in a compliant form of XHTML (specifically XHTML Transitional), which doesn't really mean a lot (aside from being a standard, it should render correctly and as consistently as possible across browsers and devices) when it comes right down to it. It was time to do some checking up on my various projects, specifically because there are two fairly recent web updates I'm working on.

I was overall very happy with the results. The part I like about the validator tools is that they often times catch strange things and help to make sure things appear properly. I had very few problems overall (I probably checked 50 pages and really only had troubles with a line here or there, most of which was fixed by changing one or two templates)...so I was happy about that.

I haven't yet run most of the MZ Online stuff through the wringer. It gets a bit more complicated with the TWiki rendering, because in my experience, sometimes the markup 'code' one uses in TWiki doesn't render out to 'proper' XHTML (although it's supposed to). But, all of the other sites I actively manage are both XHTML Transitional compliant and CSS compliant. Go me. smile

Cold Weather

I finally received the extension ladder I had been told I was getting. Of course, it came on the weekend when the cold came. It's been too cold (and sometimes rainy) to paint outside, so I'm having to wait until it gets a bit warmer out (it's supposed to get back to more normal temperatures starting this next weekend) to do that work. But, I should be prepared to do the upstairs window trim and whatnot as soon as it's possible. We're actually in a frost advisory for tonight, so that gives an idea how cool it really is here...

I did manage, however, to do the downstairs trim before it got cold. I may do another coat of paint on the newly painted stuff (door trim) and I'll double-check the window trim again (which was painted last year) to see if there are trouble spots which need to be addressed.

I also finally found the correct size storm window for the window which doesn't open in the kitchen. I'd always had the screen on it (which at least kept out some of the snow and stuff, but it wasn't any good from an insulation perspective)...and I was looking for the storm window. Long story short, I found it (it was hidden with a bunch of screen windows we no longer need), and it only needs to be repainted (upon first inspection). That's a Good Thing.

A Laptop?

I'm not really a large fan of laptops, specifically since I don't really have much use for one. But, I was recently 'given' a laptop to see if I could fix it. It wasn't mine to keep, but just to see if I could get it operating again. Basically, the plug for the power cord was broken, so once the battery died, there was no way to power up the laptop.

When I was given the unit, it was missing several chassis screws I noticed. This appeared to be the sign that someone else started working on it but gave up. Anyway, I was feeling up to the challenge so I took it apart, clear down to the removing the motherboard. Before I got that far, however, I noticed how 'dire' the situation really was going to be. Not only did the power plug break, the nipple part was rolling around loose inside the laptop. Upon removing the motherboard and doing some close-up looking, I figured that I could possibly epoxy the plug housing back together (it at least broke cleanly), but the bigger question mark was whether or not I would have a reliable electric connection when it was glued back together. You see, when it broke, it actually pulled one of the electrical contacts clear out of the motherboard.

It was at this point in time I wondered how damage like this could be done...

Anyway, I broke out the epoxy and mixed it, then applying it to the plug housing generously (on the exterior). In addition to having epoxy in the cracks, I figured the additional 'shell' which was created couldn't hurt. Of course, neither could taking it apart -- after all, it couldn't get any worse than it was -- it already wasn't working. After the epoxy set up, I broke out the old soldering iron (which I hadn't used for at least five years) to see if I could make a solid electrical connection again.

After putting up with the stink of the soldering iron, I finally got what I believed to be a fairly solid electrical connection established. After doing a bit of cleanup, it was time to reassemble the laptop. That didn't go too terribly bad, aside from having to remove a few screws which I'd put in the wrong places...

So, once the machine was back together, it was time to try starting it up. Much to my surprise (I really didn't expect it to work), it powered up and after sitting for an hour or so had fully charged the battery. I made sure it seemed stable (it's not a bad little laptop, even though it's on the order of 4 years old), then shut it down. It's still sitting here on my desk now waiting to be picked up, but the fellow whose laptop it is should be able to resell it. I would just personally be a little gentle with the power cord. I might be good, but I don't know how good I'd call that soldering job.

And That's About It...

...at least for right now. We'll see how the next week or so goes. Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

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