Archive | August 2013

Why I hate batteries

Fujitsu Laptop Battery

Today it’s been a bad day, not because it’s rainy, but because a laptop battery died on me.

For “died on me” I mean “I killed it”. It all started few hours ago, when I put up my laptop to substitute the dead Dell…

Knowing my Fujitsu laptop’s battery was so old that it couldn’t hold more than 5 minutes of usable juice I pried its enclosure and revealed the 18650 cells and charging circuitry. As far as I knew the Li-Ion cells were healthy (they were in the good voltage range, not sure about capacity), so the problem was in the evil charge controller. Reading on the Net you can see that the smart chip in batteries remembers the age of the battery and throttles charging based on that age. I think this was my case.

Now the funny part: even if I knew that the smart chip’s memory depended on the connected cells, I disconnected one third of the 3S2P battery and reconnected it. No more responses from the battery. No more voltages on the pins. The laptop was going nuts trying to charge the battery. Now, THIS IS A DEAD BATTERY!

I do not regret what I did, it has been fun zapping the battery with a paperclip while trying to read voltages with the multimeter.

Life has an end

Yesterday I went home from my holiday 900kms away and I discovered a not so good thing…

My 7-year-old main PC was dead!

It would not turn on at the press of its round and beautiful Dell-made power button, it just stayed there while I stared at it waiting for a reply. It’s bad news for me because since I had two drives in RAID0, I can’t recover my data (thankfully I also have a standalone drive which holds most of my data), but still it’s good news because now I can finally build the new computer I have been dreaming of in the last two years.

My main PC was a Dell Precision Workstation 370, mounting a 3.2GHz Pentium4 540 with HT and Quadro GPUs – three of them: FX3700, FX3400 and FX570, because of overheating the former two failed (but then I cooked ’em and they worked both, another story). It has served me for 7 years without ever leaving me.

At the moment I’m on my Linux laptop (BTW at least 5 years old) and I’ll post news if I get to buy the new PC I planned, if my parents allow me.

BB (Bye Bye or BeagleBone)

When HDDs die out

Lately my older brother has been having problems with his Asus laptop which made him go mad about the Hard Disk. It’s the second time this laptop has had issues with the HDD: last time we had to get a new disk because the one which left us had too many bad sectors. Awww, bad sectors!

As far as UltimateBootCD tests can tell it’s – again – all about bad sectors: this time even Linux could not help us because the NTFS got inconsistent! It’s not usual having to swap disks every 2 years or so because they all get too bad, so it’s either a not-so-well-engineered-computer or just user fault. Hopefully that Asus laptop is about to get thrown in the garbage as a new one replaces it – so it will not harm any other HDD.

Just for the sake of fun today I took out from dust the old failed drive and hooked it up to my old Fujitsu Lifebook which surprisingly already sports a SATA port. It’s 320GB of pure Seagate bytes! When I booted the laptop, it started Windows7 and eventually it BSODed all the way. Then I booted the GParted Live CD and despite discovering that half of the HDD was unpartitioned space, I purged the partition table and went over to install Linux Mint 13 (I like the Pangolin). As I’ve just finished the installation, I can’t tell if it will work and for how long.

Well, now hope is my best friend D:

Introducing my BeagleBone Black

ImmagineDo you know her? No?! It’s a BeagleBone Black!

Today I’m here to introduce you to my little loved BeagleBone Black, the 45$ ARM PC which carries a whopping 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8, 512MB of DDR3L RAM and 2GB of eMMC (onboard flash storage) and features 65 GPIOs, many SPI, I2C, UART lanes, an Ethernet PHY, μHDMI output and *just* one USB host port.

As you can guess, it’s a very powerful Altoids-can-sized (or credit-card-sized if you prefer) board which can boot a custom Linux 3.8 kernel; that means you can run Ubuntu, Android, Arch or any Linux distro you may prefer.

The developers decided to ship this little guy loaded with Linux Angstrom, a distro tailored to embedded computing. Oooh… Angstrom! The first thing I did after failing to get something working on this distro, was flashing Ubuntu to the eMMC. And I do not regret. Ubuntu just runs much better and is much more lightweight, so much that it just needs 50MB of RAM to run the basic services.

So, this is the first of the many incoming articles about my BeagleBone Black (one of which is already in the works), which I hope will help someone in need of an enlightenment.

Bye bye! 😀

Grand Opening Today!

Well, here I am.

I have been making sites over sites for the last few years (it’s worth noting that none of them has ever had success), and now I think it’s time to turn page and write up some well-organized things.

I decided to finally put up a blog and write about my tech life simply because I’m all about computers and electronics. I could tell many facts about me, but it’s not worth it at the moment; you’ll learn about me by reading my posts.

Welcome and have a good read!