Archive for the 'Geekstuff' Category

17 Mar 2014

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Geekstuff

License Plate Game Update

imagesO2A7QEJ8 Happy St. Patrick’s Day – the traditional celebration by the Irish of the only Englishman who was ever nice to them…

Now to the update! As of yesterday, the last day of my 11th year of playing the CNPS game, I have seen 820 plates in order (that’s 000 to 819, because, as in software development, counting starts with zero). Once again, not the best progress with only 51 plates in the past year – that’s half of the rate of my best year with the average rate dropping to under 75 plates a year or just 6 a month. At one point it looked like I would be at the end of the game in a dozen years, but that doesn’t seem too likely now. Not unless I start trolling through parking garages on my lunch hour. Can’t imagine that causing any trouble in downtown Calgary…

I think that it’s down to sheer stubbornness that is keeping this game alive – as far as I know, of all the friends and family that started in on this back in 2003, only Scott and I are still grinding away. That probably says something about how special we are!

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20 Oct 2013

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Geekstuff,Mr. FixIt

Click of Death

DSC06282When we developed the basement, back in 2007, we included a home theater with a big (for the time) flat screen TV. We did quite a bit of research on televisions, eventually buying a Samsung 46″ LCD TV for a bargain price (for the time) of somewhere around $2600. A lot of money, both then and now. Enough money that you might believe that you had purchased a high quality item that would provide many years of reliable service.

But, no.

After only about 3 years, we had some kind of problem with the TV accepting certain kind of inputs (I don’t recall exactly what anymore). Although the TV was (just) out of warranty, I called Samsung support to see if there was a fix available – new firmware or whatever. Of course, there wasn’t. That wasn’t too unexpected, but the support tech’s recommendation ended up being, “Your TV is 3 years old, you should probably think about just replacing it”. As if! I found a workaround and we just carried on.

Until about six months ago.

It started gradually, not too noticeable at first – the TV would delay, just a bit, before turning on. Then the delay became noticeable and sometimes a soft clicking sound could be heard, but the set would come on and life continued. Fast forward, a couple of months and the startup delay went from a few seconds to a few minutes; the wait punctuated with a series of clicks emanating from the bowels of the machinery. Finally, one day in late September, it wouldn’t start up at all. Just clicking and blackness. The Samsung Click of Death had claimed another pricey victim. After the earlier experience with Samsung support, I didn’t think they would be too much help, probably a good assumption as at one point while searching for a fix, a local Samsung repair center gave me a ballpark estimate to repair of $300-$400. A current 46″ TV is less than $800 – not a cost effective repair.

Turns out that a lot of Samsung flat panel TVs had been assembled with faulty and/or undersized capacitors on the power supply board between about 2004 and 2010. In fact, bad capacitors from Taiwan affected a lot of electronics from about 2002 onwards. Mark actually figured this out and found some You Tube videos describing the problem and outlining the solution. Quite a simple solution actually, if you can manage a soldering iron. So, I took the TV apart one Saturday and found 5 blown caps on the power supply board. Then the trouble started – it turned out to be very difficult to actually find capacitors for sale in Calgary; wherefore art thou, Radio Shack!? Well there is always the interwebs- I found a place in Texas that sells Samsung TV repair kits and placed my order.

After 3 short weeks (!), the kit arrived in the mail and I got to work. It was a bit more challenging than I though it would be, since my 25W soldering iron just didn’t have the oomph to melt the industrial-strength solder on the power supply board. I had to head out at 10:00pm to buy a bigger soldering iron. However I did get the caps replaced without any particular drama and, when I reassembled the TV, it turned right on without any hesitation.

Total cost of the fix was about $65, including $50 for the new soldering iron and it took about an hour or so to do the actual job (not counting the shopping trip).

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17 Oct 2013

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Family,Geekstuff

50% Married

On the day Brenda and I got married in 1988, I was 25 years, 1 month and 27 days old.

Today is 25 years, 1 month and 27 days since our wedding day. I have been married for exactly one-half of my lifetime today!

… now don’t be acting all surprised at this post – I am the guy who has been working on the number plate game for 10 years.
(Well, since you asked, 804!)

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22 Dec 2011

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Geekstuff,Mobile Blogpost (iphone)

Rubik’s Cube

It only took me about 30 years but I finally solved the Rubik’s cube that I got for Christmas back in 1980 or 1981. It’s not that it has never been solved before, several annoyingly bright people have solved it for me (or maybe it was showing off?). I’ve also cheated and pulled it apart and re-assembled it correctly a time or two. However, today I actually solved it.

I didn’t figure it out myself, exactly. I found a YouTube video that actually gave a sequence of algorithms to follow. It does bug me a bit that I don’t know why the algorithms work. Maybe over the holidays I’ll see if I can actually understand what is really going on…

Otherwise it will be back to the junk drawer for that toy for another 20 or 30 years!


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