A Computer Challenge

Recently, my brother-in-law visited relatives in Washington, DC. When he was about to leave for home, they presented him with a computer that didn’t work. He brought it to me with the instructions to “fix it if it is practical, otherwise, pull any parts out that you may want and throw away the rest”.

When I first looked at it, I noticed that the cdrom and floppy drive were missing. It also had the sound of loose parts inside. When I opened it, I found both the cdrom and floppy drive inside, unsecured. Wires were ripped from the front panel, possibly from the loose drives tugging on them.

I cleaned the outside of the case and blew out the dust from inside using compressed air and began my visual inspection.

I have already decide that this is not a practical fixer up, Repair costs (parts and labor) are already over $200. This is mainly a challenge to me. I want to see how far I can get with this pc.

Here is a list of “obstacles” within this computer.
1. ripped wiring between the front case and the motherboard
2. password protected bios (unknown to me or my brother in law)
3. password protected login on win-xp/home (unknown to me or my brother in law)
4. unknown motherboard ( I looked everywhere — both sides of motherboard, still no manufacturer identity)
5. Loud noises from Hard drive
6. Need to re-install cd rom and floppy drive
7. one defective usb port out of two available

Using some of my software tools, I was able to determine that the processor was 1.6 ghz pentium 4 with 256 mb of ram. Hard drive is a 17 gb hard drive.

I now have it working. So far, I have substituted a new power supply and because of the ripped wires it will need a new case, and the hard drive is making noises like it may go at anytime.

I rejuvenated the hard drive with Spinrite, but would not recommend continuing it’s use. I called my brother in law with the news. He has decide to pay for the repairs, so my challenge has become profit ( a little — anyway ). If I had billed my brother as a regular customer instead of giving him the “relative discount”, it would not have been practical to fix.

I have learned techniques that will be useful in other repairs and in troubleshooting. I have made a little money, plus my brother-in-law is happy! The challenge was worth it.


Cranberry Juice Anyone?

About five years ago I had an attack of Kidney stones. It wasn’t my first and it probably won’t be my last. At the time, a friend on mine suggested drinking cranberry juice each day. “it will help with your kidney problems”, I was told.

Not long after that, My mother was hospitalized with urinary tract infection and while visiting her, I found that the hospital was giving her cranberry juice. Hmm, might be something to this cranberry juice.

I began drinking a half a glass of cranberry juice cocktail each morning. Since then, I have had three kidney stone attacks. None of them were painful. Just aggravating. I captured the stones and compare them to my last painful attack. The painful stones were jagged with spikes. The non painful ones were very smooth.

I continued to drink cranberry juice each morning, but was “disturb” to find that a group of researchers did a test that seemed to indicate that cranberry juice didn’t help with kidney stones.
See http://www.foodnavigator.com

The last paragraph of the article says “The study does not detract from the scientific evidence supporting cranberry juice’s use for urinary tract health, but it does indicate that it is not an advisable course of action for those with a tendency towards kidney stones.”

As usual, I am the exception.

Gas 75 cents/gal – It will never be that High!

Back in the 70’s, I stopped at a country convenience store near my home. I was chatting with one of the owners, who had the Wall Street Journal near him. He was reading about the oil situation. He commented that gas would probably go to 75 cents per gallon. I remarked, “75 cents per gallon, NO WAY!” How wrong could I be?

Now with the results of the hurricane hitting the gulf coast, a new surge of gas price increases is hitting our area. Almost a 60 cent increase in four days. The official reason is that there is no electricity to run the pumps to get the gas that is stored at the refineries in the gulf coast area. According to a news report last night, this area gets 95 percent of it’s gasoline from the gulf coast pipeline.

If you live near your work, you are indeed fortunate. I travel 40 miles one way to work. My vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon. Soon there will be a severe shortage. There may not be any gas to refuel my vehicle. What alternatives do I have?

Work from home – possible on some days
Take vacation days – might be possible
Use my wife’s car – gets slightly better gas mileage
Not a very good list, is it?

We have become so dependant on our cars. Hopefully, this shortage will be short lived. Our economy is in a delicate balance these days. This may cause more problems that just the inconvenience of transportation issues.

Have you considered getting a scooter or a motorcycle? Might not be a bad investment these days.