Aged vintage notebook

Years ago I bought an IBM Thinkpad laptop as a gift for my loved one. Granted, it was a good few years ago, when IBM still owned their laptop business, well before Lenovo acquired their Thinkpad line of portable computers. The laptop, an IBM Thinkpad 600, equipped with an Pentium II processor, 64 MB of RAM and a 6GB hard drive, has worked consistently and surprisingly well.

Until a few days ago, when it started to report BIOS error codes 161, 192, 163 on bootup.

What's a man to do, if not disassemble the machine open and fix the problem? Read on for an account of what was wrong with the laptop and how the problem was fixed.

Lifting lightweight laptops

I just won a bid on an awesome ultra-mobile slick Dell laptop!

Yahoo!!! I got this featherlight, ultra thin and very powerful notebook from Ebay.
It is only 1.36kg in weight. It is only an inch thick. It's got a 12.1 inches display.

I can't wait to entirely wipe out all the load of crappy proprietary software that comes preloaded on Dell machines and install my operating system of choice!

Open heart surgery on your desktop computer

Mainboard bios surgery

...or the art of recovering from a bios flashing gone bad.

Picture this scenario: you set about flashing your mainboard bios with an updated version, but something went horribly wrong and now your computer is no more useful than a giant paperweight.

I sincerely wish you will never have any use for the information contained in this article. In the unfortunate event that you do, I hope this information will make your life a little bit easier and help you fix what seems to be an insurmountable problem.

The Psion 5mx: it's retro and it runs Linux

Psion 5mx in all its beauty

Nowadays you see many people tapping and scribbling at their new fancy PDAs while waiting for the bus or commuting on train. These new personal digital assistants come with all the bell and whistles: bright color screens, generous memory, good applications, etc.

If you though that I am listing all the upsides of these devices to lead up to the point when I point out the inevitable downsides, you'd be right. However, you'd be wrong to believe that the downsides I thought of were that these devices don't run Linux. As a matter of fact, many of them do.

Wading through Windows


There comes a time in your life when you have to get your hands dirty and face up to the fact that you just have to do the one thing you wish you would never have to do.

Installing a Windows operating system. On a brand new Dell desktop. It makes you shudder, doesn't it?

To be precise, I had to install Microsoft Windows 2003 Server x64 on a Dell Precision 690, which comes with a Dell SAS 5/iR integrated raid controller.

<sarcasm>As usual, you would not expect Windows to install cleanly and without fuss... Where would that warm and fuzzy sense of accomplishment that accompanies every successful install go otherwise?</sarcasm>

Munging video into an ipod

On my way to work this morning, two seemingly unrelated ideas crossed my mind and created a desire to learn how to do something new.

Both ideas originated from the circumstances I found myself in. I was sitting on a bench. It was cold and windy. I had a very bad cold, a very sore throat, and a runny nose. I was waiting for a delayed train to work. I had nothing to do but wait.

The first thought that crossed my mind was that time spent commuting is wasted.

Debian GNU/Linux and world domination

The power and flexibility of Debian GNU/Linux never ceases to amaze me.

My root file system suffered from an unrecoverable partial failure yesterday. That resulted in a number of files in the /sbin directory being inaccessible. I know, with all the non vital directories in a file system, why is it that the most critical ones get hit the most?
Well, better /sbin than /home, right?

Anyway, the first thing I did was to boot off Knoppix and back up the entire contents of the hard drive, partition by partition. I used a combination of tar and ssh, partimage, rsync, and good old dd.
"What, you did not have backups already?" - I hear you ask. Well, you know, real men do not keep backups :-)

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