Archive for the 'Old Site' Category

Dear Apple

re: The Macbook.

I’m coming up on the 2:15 mark on hold on this call. That’s 2 hours, not 2 minutes.

I’m glad that I paid for applecare on this machine so that I could have the privilege of having the first repair not address the problem, and then have the second repair wait on a part for a week and a half. The machine has worked properly for 4 days since 8/14/06, where working is defined as a day where it didn’t randomly shutdown.

It’s not like the problem with this machine is uncommon.

As I survey the number of Macs that I’ve had (2 minis, tibook, ibook, sawtooth, G3, and assorted pre Gx machines back to 1990) and their repair history, I’m noticing that this Macbook is both the first one that was ordered anywhere near the introduction date and the first one since the 68k days that I’ve needed repaired.

All I really want at this point in the call is some info on what part is on order and an ETA.

But depending on the answer to that, perhaps you should just ship a new machine. You replaced the wrong half of the machine the last time, and I’d guess that whole machines are more commonly available than whatever part is on order.

At 2:39 into the call, some poor CSR answered the phone and:

  • It needs a heatsink. Not suprising really.
  • There are a lot of other units in awaiting the same part.
  • He ran a part search, which should put me on the priority list for getting it repaired
  • There’s no information available other than what’s on the website short of listing to the hold music for a while.
  • There probably won’t be information on the part search until Tuesday afternoon.
  • A replacement really isn’t an option.

Not amused. Not at all.

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Walking Away

Blackberry stained

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More Waves



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Miata Charging

The Miata has not been used a whole lot since we’ve moved to the island. I think the last time that I put gas in it was Mind Camp back in April — since then I’ve driven it 5 times, tops. Before that it wasn’t used a whole lot either, so it’s had a long time to sit and not a lot of alternator charging of the battery.

So of course, when I wanted to drive it it was dead. Jump started it, drove to Freeland and back, the long way, probably an hour. Two weeks later, dead again. So it was time for a new approach. I wanted to do a trickle charge, something that I could leave on and keep the battery topped up continously.

There are two problems with that option.

  1. I’m cheap, and I have a power supply that could do the charging, but isn’t exactly trickling.
  2. Attaching leads to the battery is a pain because it’s in the trunk and under the fender. The next best solution: the cigarette lighter.

Leads on the battery are a non-starter for this car, and there’s really no other good place to tie in. The cigarette lighter is the perfect option, but for one catch. The key needs to be at the accessory position for the socket to be active. Thankfully, that’s not too much of a problem in this neck of the woods, but not something that’s really a good idea for long term charging. I cannibalized a cord from a Rat Shack lighter extension, wired to the terminals of the power supply, and did some measuring.

This power supply is a 15V nominal, quite heavy, and was obtained from someone who just wanted it out of their garage. It powered my subwoofer crossover for a while, then got back to taking up space in a garage. It’s not fused, but the lighter cord and the lighter socket are, so I was pretty sure that nothing would get too fried.

The power supply turned out to be a bit high powered for a trickle charge, as it was kicking out a little more than one amp into 11 volts on a pretty much dead battery. That went to about .6A into 13.5 volts at the end. I’m guessing that there was an ohm or two of internal resistance in the system, and the rest of the voltage drop was the internal voltage of the car battery. The Miata has an interesting battery, it’s small, long life, and expensive. It’s a fiberglass mat lead acid cell, without the normal free flowing acid inside.

Since this battery is about 35 amp hours, the initial charge rate works out to about a .03C charge. (C is a measure of battery charge/discharge rate, and is the equivalent of rated capacity in one hour.) That rate is high for a trickle but perfectly reasonable for a slow charge. A fast charge can go up to .2C or so for a lead acid battery, but isn’t terribly good for it. (see http://batteryuniversity.com) So this isn’t a set and forget thing, but it’s something that I can run for a couple of days and end up with a charged battery.

After two days of charging, the car starts up very well and even seems to run a bit better. I’m wondering if the alternator hasn’t been working well over the past year or so, but I’m not inclined to put too much effort into that diagnosis until I see how long the charge lasts. At 150 miles in the last 4 months, it’s not like I’m likely to need it.


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Sheer Heart Attack

Or what to do when you need to gain some weight. Any recommendations here should be run by your doctor. Or not, because you probably won’t get to enjoy Goat Cheese and Pesto pasta. In cream sauce. With butter. And cream. Serves 2 and a half.

Start pasta water for bowtie pasta.

Make a Roux, couple tablespoons butter and a couple teaspoons of flour. When it’s slightly brown, add cream. Let’s say a cup or more. Stir, it should thicken. At this point, it will taste like shortbread. Then, either add the rest of the pint of cream or slowly add about a cup of milk. (Not sure on quantities, was just winging it)

Grab 9oz log of TJ’s goat cheese. Break into chunks, add about 6-8 oz to the cream sauce, eat one ounce (or not). Stir it in till it melts. This should make a nice, thick, goatcheezy sauce. Keep warm on low heat.

Drain the pasta, and add to the sauce. There should be enough sauce to nicely cover the pasta. Add several tablespoons of pesto, 2 or 3 per serving. Mix till things are mostly evenly green, then dish out and top with whatever goat cheese escaped eating while cooking.

Try to excercise tomorrow. You’ll need it.

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Security Engineering

This came through on the IP list: Ross Anderson’s book Security Engineering is now available on his website in PDF. I’ve read a few of the chapters, the rest are queued up for reading Real Soon Now.

I think this book is going to be useful backup for some of my explanations of security to non-technical users, as well as a good things to implement or avoid when designing security.

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Macbook away

The Macbook is off to the repair depot, thankfully the DHL guy waits around for me to stuff it in the little box and write up the slip.

I did actually get it backed up today after two days of not having it stay powered on for more than a minute or two — today I managed to backup the disk twice. Once in firewire mode to a disk that turned out to be faulty, and once via the Install cd to a better drive.

The down side is that I just managed to run the machine for a couple of hours without it shutting down. This is one case where I hope it performs for the repair folk when it gets to Apple.

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Macbook Encore

So it’s headed back to Apple.

The Macbook didn’t actually come back with a new logic board the last time, and it’s gotten to the point that it won’t stay on for more than a minute or two. This even in firewire mode or booted off of a cd. (not software!). It’s not memory, since swapping the original memory back in gave a shutoff on cue while still on the phone. (thank the demo gods!)

But, due to the lack of power, there’s no good way to make in image of the drive, so if the do decide to replace the hard drive again, I’ll get to do the whole setup thing again.

No clue what they were trying to fix before by replacing the keyboard, bezel, top case and the hard drive, but it wasn’t the problem that I was having.

***Detailed notes

  • 8/21, 4:50 pm, full battery, had been asleep, after blog scan &c. Checked email, turned back to other machine, couple minutes later it was dead.
  • 8/24, 5:34 pm, full battery, had been awake, reading wired article about Woz’s autobiography. Power adapter still showing green. Just heard the hard drive thunk into a parked position.
  • 8/25 8:30 am Charging, 2/5 battery left, after morning troll, just turned off, no thunk. Was about to watch improv everywhere youtube viedo.
  • 8/26 2:45 pm On battery, 64% power left, actively websurfing. Wouldn’t restart (repeated turnoff in 3 sec) without getting power, turned off 5 min later (again) after being logged in for a minute or so. Apps starting up.
  • 8/27 Morning. Many Many times. lasts ~ 2 minutes off of startup cds, 45 sec in FW mode, a few minutes booted normally. Started on power, with full battery after morning blog troll. So bad that it would poweroff before the startup bong. Did reset the power manager. Didn’t change anything. This didn’t help. Also did it with the original memory in the system.
  • 8/28 Morning, wouldn’t stay running under firewire mode or rescue cd.
  • 8/29 Managed to backup drive twice, once via firewire, once via rescue cd. Both time starting up with the ‘hold down the power button’ method. Back to apple.
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Saturday Bug Blogging



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