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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 23 Mar 2017

Coming over to the dark side

I recently received a too-expensive birthday present: a new laptop.

For the women in my life, seeing all those keys pop off was too much I guess.

The HP Pavilion g6-2210us is still kicking as it nears the 4-year mark. That's a modern record for me. My previous laptop, the Lenovo G555, died just after its second year of service. I still have a second replacement keyboard still on the way from China for the HP Pavilion.

Once I get this new laptop fully set up, at some point I'll pop a new hard drive into the old HP. The current drive has a lot of bad sectors. A lot. Then I'll run it as a full Linux system with no Windows partition.

So what about the new laptop?

It's an HP Envy 15-as133cl 15t with Intel Core i7, 1080p resolution, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB spinning hard drive.

The case is all metal, which is quite an upgrade from my previous all-plastic laptops.

It has Windows 10. The first thing I did was install the Windows Subsystem for Linux so I could have Bash in the terminal and access to thousands of console-based applications from the Ubuntu archive.

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Sun, 12 Mar 2017

Read all of Manton.org

Read all of http://manton.org. Deep thoughts on the social and personal web.

Mon, 06 Mar 2017

I install a Netgear AC750 WiFi Range Extender

I install a Netgear AC750 WiFi Range Extender http://stevenrosenberg.net/hugo/post/2017_0304_wifi_range_extender

Wed, 01 Mar 2017

Whiteboard interviews ensure biased hiring in tech, and programmers are calling them out

Whiteboard interviews ensure biased hiring in tech, and programmers are calling them out https://theoutline.com/post/1166/programmers-are-confessing-their-coding-sins-to-protest-a-broken-job-interview-process

Tue, 28 Feb 2017

WordPress WordAds revenue expectations are depressing

I've been going through the excellent WP Tavern blog on WordPress news today, and I stumbled across this post on how much bloggers can expect to earn from the Jetpack-powered WordAds platform.

tl;dr: Not very much. But the numbers are all over the map. One thing WordPress tells you: better content, more money.

Linked from the article above, a blog that makes about a month from WordAds on 2,600 to 16K page views.

WP-CLI is so very, very cool

At the moment, I only have two WordPress sites for which I have shell access, so WP-CLI shouldn't be a big deal for me. But it is.

The whole idea of managing WordPress.org sites in the console (and being able to avoid the WP Dashboard) is such genius, I wonder why nobody thought of it before now.

The possibilities, especially when WP-CLI is combined with traditional shell scripting, are many. From updating the software, installing and managing plugins, this drags WordPress into a realm where sysadmins can really get things done and save a lot of time doing it.

I still have blogs littered all over the place

I wrote into two blogs that I rarely think about:

Gathering up all of my blog entries from everywhere and putting them under one site has always been in the back of my mind. I have taken steps to do this, especially grabbing entries from WordPress sites en masse, but I have yet to write and deploy the scripts that fixes the metadata and image links to really make it happen.

My "old" WordPress blog is pretty deep in terms of content. It was active from 2005 through 2009ish. Combine that with my Daily News-hosted tech blog, active from 2006 through 2011 (with a smattering since then) and my other Daily News-hosted personal blog, active from 2006 to maybe 2009 with a trickle since then, you have a lot of blog posts.

Even though I wrote three WordPress posts today, I'm still a lot more interested in writing for the blogs that use "flat" files like this Ode system or my new, experimental Hugo site.

If and when I do get the ability to take the output from WordPress data dumps and turn it into text and image files that can work in flat-file blogging systems, then I'll have a huge archive of everything, however dubious it may be.

Mon, 27 Feb 2017

I finally replaced my HP Pavilion g6 keyboard

I had a new keyboard, and my "n" key on the old one broke again (the replacement was never as good as the original key), so I decided to pull the laptop apart and install the new keyboard.

While putting it all together, I did get one little screw wedged in a plastic hole (I'll extract that one later and replace it), but an old laptop can get along with many fewer case screws than it ships with. If you've ever had a used or otherwise repaired laptop, you know what I'm talking about.

The keyboard replacement wasn't too hard. I probably took out a lot more screws than needed to make it happen. I could have just removed the back panel, unscrewed the keyboard-retaining screw (that's the wedged-in-plastic one) and popped the keyboard out from behind/below by aggressively pushing on the proper spot with an eraser-tipped pencil.

I tried that, and it wasn't happening. I knew the keyboard was held in "tight" due to the last time I tried to replace it when I had the wrong part.

So I took out a bunch more screws and then tried again. The extra screws probably didn't need to be removed, but at that point I was more confident in the amount of pressure I was putting on that eraser-tipped pencil to push the keyboard out through the top of the laptop's plastic case.

I got the keyboard out and pulled the ribbon cable.

Inserting the new keyboard's ribbon cable wasn't instant. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how it snapped in. But I got it done, snapped the keyboard itself into the case and closed everything up.

It all works, and now I have a new keyboard on this laptop that will be 4 years old in a couple of months.

This keyboard isn't a "springy" as the other replacement keyboard I bought a few months back that didn't quite fit, but it'll do the job and give this laptop some more useful life.

My last laptop, a low-priced Lenovo G555, only lasted 2 years before it went to sleep and never woke up. This also-cheap HP Pavilion g6-2210us is still running at nearly 4 years old, but not without effort.

It just underscores my contention that you can't really get 5 years of service out of a laptop. If they don't fail mechanically or electronically, they'll be ancient in some other way. I'm no longer saying "don't pay more than $500 for a laptop," because I see real differences between the $500 and $700-900 laptops being offered these days. But I will say that no matter how much you pay, if you're beating the hell out of it like I do, don't expect more than two trouble-free years.

* Pictured above is the new keyboard before I put it in. After removing the hatch at the bottom of the laptop and removing a retaining screw, there is a little hole on which you can push at the keyboard from below with an eraser-tipped pencil and loosen its plastic grip with the case enough to start unsnapping it the rest of the way around for replacement.

Fri, 24 Feb 2017

'Big Bang Theory's' Stuart wears Ubuntu T-shirt

Am I the only person to notice that comic book shop-owning Stuart (Kevin Sussman) on the "The Big Bang Theory" is wearing an Ubuntu T-shirt on the episode airing Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017? (It's Season 10, Episode 17, if that information helps you.)

The T-shirt appearance isn't as overt as Sheldon's mention of the Ubuntu Linux operating system way back in Season 3 (Episode 22, according to one YouTube video title), but it's an unusual return for Ubuntu to the world of "Big Bang."

What does it mean that the show's most loserly character is a Ubuntu fan?

Tue, 21 Feb 2017

Tim Buchwaldt: Rails is f*cking boring! I love it

Tim Buchwaldt: Rails is f*cking boring! I love it. https://medium.com/@timbuchwaldt/rails-is-boring-thats-great-f896e9ab2cb#.djk89skub