Apr 29 2017

I fixed the clock and bulbs in my Toyota

I drive a 2005 Toyota Corolla which I adore. Unfortunately, ever since I purchased it in 2013 it has had trouble with the clock sometimes working and sometimes staying dark. You can buy replacements, but they run around $60 for a used clock.


Then I found a link to DC HomeMaker, where the author mentioned that she fixed hers herself. It really is as simple as she describes. All you need is a soldering iron and a couple screwdrivers.

Here is the result:

While I was doing it I also replaced the bulbs behind the climate control knobs with LEDs from SuperBright LEDs in Earth City, MO. The ones you want are the NEO4-NWHP: 4mm NEO4-xHP Natural White.

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Oct 4 2013

Always check the physical layer

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in IT I learned from one of our network guys at the time. I had misdiagnosed an issue as a “network problem,” a term which is a catch-all used by noobs and vendors to say that they don’t know what the problem is.

Chris, the network guy, helped me troubleshoot it, and the issue turned out to be not a “network problem,” but a “something wasn’t plugged in” problem.

After helping me, he gave me a lesson:

“Always check the physical layer.”

For you non IT people, there is a seven layer model used to specify how networks work. The physical layer, or Layer 1, is the stuff you can actually touch–cables and jacks and things.

However, the mantra “always check the physical layer” doesn’t just work on networking–it’s just as useful for troubleshooting pretty much anything electrical. You could also say, “Is it plugged in? No, I mean it–is it really plugged in?”

Once in a while I still fail to check the physical layer, but not often.

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Sep 6 2013

Quotable: John Moltz

“As for the Surface, Microsoft was forced to write off its unsold inventory to the tune of $900 million, which is a really lousy song. Like Coldplay, Nickelback, and Creed all got together and collaborated on a song.” –from his MacWorld article on device philosophy

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Jun 17 2013

Thanks, Siri

The other day I was dictating voice notes on my phone for my Wednesday night lesson at church. At one point what I said was “Three offices in Old Testament were prophet, priest and king.”

What Siri translated was, “Three offices in Old Testament were probably pretty stinky.”

While technically true, due to the hot climate and lack of deodorant, this wasn’t really what I was after.

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Feb 27 2013

Warning: WD Caviar Blue 500GB

Where I work we have a lot of computers that have Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GBhard drives–and we are getting a lot of drive failures. If you have one of these drives in your computer, you need to back your data and/or get a new hard drive as soon as possible.

I will show you two ways of finding out of you have one of these models of hard drives. The first is to simply open your computer up and look at the hard drive (obviously, this only works if your hard drive is reasonably easy to open and access):


The other method is to check the Device Manager. For the purpose of this tutorial I am using Windows 7.

1. Click on Start, right-click on your computer icon, then click Manage.


2. Click on Device Manager and expand Disk Drives. If your hard drive begins with WDC50, it is likely going to die (technically all hard drives die, but in this case I mean soon).


In case you are wondering, ‘How will I know if my Western Digital drive has already died?

  1. You won’t be able to use/access/boot the drive.
  2. If it is hooked up, you can put your ear real close and hear this sound (you may have to turn up your volume for this link):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Feb 21 2013

That’s a nice case

I’m on my third iPhone now, all second-hand, all purchased or traded for. My first was an iPhone 3G, which was great, though it was a little slow, partly due to having to jailbreak it. Then I picked up a 3GS, which was way faster. Now I have an iPhone 4S. The best analogy I can think of speed wise  is like going from a car with a 4-banger, to one with a six cylinder, to one with a V12.

The phone came with a scad of extra chargers and cables and other doodads, plus a couple of nice Otterbox cases. However, I dislike big cases (I never used one on my previous phones). But the 4S came with a “bumper” case on it, just a thin, smooth case that covers the back, corners, and sides. It has a logo of an MU Tiger on the back, which I’m indifferent to. But the case is slim and smooth and doesn’t interfere with pocketing, so I kept it on.

I can do so much more, so much faster than I could before, especially making better use of my hour long commute. It’s like having an external extra brain to remember things for me.

Still, when people see my amazing phone, you know what they say?

“Wow, MU! That’s a cool case!”


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Aug 27 2012

My TV is a goner pt. 2

This blog was birthed because my TV was having problems in December of 2008. Now, it has finally died. Eight years of mostly loyal service. It’s terminal this time.

And so, we will have to start TV shopping some time. I’m not in a huge hurry, as I have a ton of other productive things I have to do, and other more important expenses, like replacing the water heater.

Upside for the two of you who read this blog: I should start posting more often.

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Apr 2 2011

Walmart Product Replacement Plan, Pt.1

I don’t know how it’s going to all to work out at this point, but I’ve got to say–at least from my initial experience this afternoon trying to get a defective digital camera replaced–that Walmart’s product replacement plans have not been of any benefit.

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Sep 27 2010

A fix for ‘no SIM card detected’ on iPhone

A couple of months ago I picked up a second-hand iPhone 3G and jailbroke it so I could run it on T-Mobile. The thing is amazing. It replaced my iPod Classic, Palm m515, and Motorola Razr, and does more than all three devices did.

The only real issue I have had with it is that twice now I have lost service due to the phone not recognizing the SIM card. Fortunately, the fix is easy: just power the phone off, remove the SIM card, breathe on it like you would an old Nintendo cartridge, reinsert it, and power back on.

I’m not saying this is the fix, but a fix that worked for me.

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Mar 30 2010

Drive on

Working in I.T., I hear a lot of figurative terms for USB flash memory drives: thumb drive, jump drive, zip drive*, flash stick, and memory stick**.

My favorite term that I have heard, though, is ‘nerd stick.’ As I have mentioned before, my favorite nerd stick is the Victorinox USB Swiss Army Knife.

Both asterisked terms are erroneous:
* A Zip drive is a completely different (and antiquated) type of storage media manufactured by Iomega.
** A Memory Stick is Sony’s proprietary portable flash memory storage device.

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