Computing rant

Hardware is Fragile

I’m gonna give up on working with computer hardware. Certainly there are more ways to destroy a circuit board than there are grains of sand in the ocean. After buying my brand new Shuttle PC; I had the bright idea that I was going to install a second hard drive. After several minutes working on the machine with the case off I realized some metal shavings might have fallen on to the motherboard below. I turned the machine upside down to try and shakeout anything that might have fallen. I even retrieved my trusty can of compressed air to again blow out any foreign matter. I never did get that hard drive installed.

The next day I was rewarded when I booted the computer and the graphical grub splash screen failed to load. When I hit enter the computer booted normally except that the text was garbled for several seconds during the early stage of booting. With great sadness, I thought for sure I had shortted out the video permanently.

Wait one moment though! Most recently tonight, I again booted the computer and now the grub splash screen loads correctly. What a relief! I hope strongly that I didn’t do any permanent damage. I should know after working for a short time at the Computer Shop that I am no good at hardware at all.

Computing gentoo

lm_sensors for the Shuttle K4500

Moving right along, I installed lm_sensors and put the effort in to correct the readings I was getting. I wrote down the readings from my BIOS and matched up those with identical readings from lm_sensors. Then I stole the equations from the it8716 section of sensors.conf. In the end, I only have one sensor which is unlabeled. It is probably -5v but the equation from it8716 doesn’t figure to be close to -5v so it must be disconnected.

Contents of /etc/sensors.conf

chip “it8718-isa-*”

label in0 “DDR2”
label in1 “-12v”
label in2 “+3.3v”
label in3 “+12v”
label in4 “+5 VSB”
label in5 “Chipset”
label in6 “CPU”
label in8 “MB Batt”
label fan1 “CPU Fan”
label temp1 “Case Temp”
label temp2 “CPU Temp”
label vid “CPU volt”

compute in1  (1+232/56)*@ – 4.096*232/56 , (@ + 4.096*232/56)/(1+232/56)
compute in3 ((30/10)+1)*@ , @/((30/10)+1)
compute in4 ((6.8/10)+1)*@ , @/((6.8/10)+1)

set in0_min 1.8 * 0.95
set in0_max 1.8 * 1.05
set in1_max  -12 * 0.95
set in1_min  -12 * 1.05
set in2_min 3.3 * 0.95
set in2_max 3.3 * 1.05
set in3_min 12 * 0.95
set in3_max 12 * 1.05
set in4_min 5 * 0.95
set in4_max 5 * 1.05
set in5_min 1.5 * 0.95
set in5_max 1.5 * 1.05
set in6_min 1.2 * 0.95
set in6_max 1.2 * 1.05
set temp1_low 40
set temp1_over 70
set temp2_low 40
set temp2_over 70
set fan1_min 1400

ignore fan2
ignore fan3
ignore temp3
ignore in7

Output of “sensors”

ebrake@scanner ~ $ sensors
Adapter: ISA adapter
DDR2:      +1.82 V  (min =  +1.71 V, max =  +1.89 V)
-12v:     -12.03 V  (min = -12.61 V, max = -11.37 V)
+3.3v:     +3.28 V  (min =  +3.14 V, max =  +3.47 V)
+12v:     +11.84 V  (min = +11.39 V, max = +12.61 V)
+5 VSB:    +5.16 V  (min =  +4.76 V, max =  +5.24 V)
Chipset:   +1.52 V  (min =  +1.42 V, max =  +1.57 V)
CPU:       +1.25 V  (min =  +1.14 V, max =  +1.26 V)
MB Batt:   +3.26 V
CPU Fan:  1638 RPM  (min = 1400 RPM)
Case Temp:   +57 C  (low  =   +40 C, high =   +70 C)   sensor = thermistor
CPU Temp:    +52 C  (low  =   +40 C, high =   +70 C)   sensor = diode
CPU volt: +2.050 V

Just for fun here is the SMBus version from lspci

00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 01)

Computing gentoo

Booting from USB

The Shuttle PC arrived today! At this moment, I’m doing the Gentoo install. The first issue I had to figure out was the exact sequence to make the machine boot from my usb key. Pressing Escape during post brings up a screen to change the first boot device.

Hard Disk

None these options worked, however. The correct option was found buried deeper in the BIOS options.

  1. Boot the Shuttle PC with the thumb drive plugged in and press delete during POST to enter setup.
  2. Select Integrated Peripherals
  3. Select USB Device Setting
  4. Under the “USB Mass Storage Device Boot Setting” section there will be an entry for the USB thumb drive.

For my thumb drive I had three choices “auto”, “FDD only”, and “HDD only”. Choosing “HDD only” causes my thumb drive to show up as a standard hard disk in my boot options.

Computing gentoo

A New Toy for Me

Shuttle PC K4500
Shuttle PC K4500

Today, I ordered a new toy for me. It’s a Shuttle PC model K4500 from Newegg. Actually, I want it to have a dual purpose. It’s primary purpose will be to operate the flatbed scanner when Mom wants to copy something. Right now, she depends on me to operate it for her but I plan to automate the process so she only has to type a few simple commands such as “scan” or “copy”. The second purpose will be a platform for my self-education. The various computers I have owned have all eventually become unusuable due to age. After, the previous computer’s video started to give out and it later died. I was in search of a replacement but I didn’t want to spend $500 to a $1000 on a normal tower PC. The K4500 model does not include a internal CD-ROM but for Mom’s use it isn’t neccessary to have one. I did confirm that the Shuttle PCs can boot from an external USB disk like a flash thumb drive. Which is all I need to install Gentoo.


Old First City Bank Open House

Renovations on the old First City Bank are now complete. The building was made open to the public before the building became occupied. Seeing that this was going to be a unique opportunity I brought my camera. The first floor will be occupied by Probation and Parole. While the second floor was converted into apartments.

To hear more about the renovations you can listen online to a interview by WKDZ. The Prairie Bluestem blog has a few pictures from earlier this year. Among the things, that stood out for me was the view of the streets below and the bank vault. Enjoy!

Computing hopkinsville

Netiquette Lesson: Avoid the Hostile “you”

Maintaining polite discussion on Internet forums is often a difficult task. For forum participants, it requires a concerted effort to avoid confrontational language, exercise personal self-control, and accept anger from others calmly. Oh, is that all? :) To illustrate, I’ll give an example of my own poor behavior.

Re: McCain Ad on Obama’s Sex Ed in Kindergarten

Obama’s policy decisions are based on the latest public opinion poll. I think you would fit into his cabinet as the Dept of Education director.

This is a mild personal attack against another user on HTH because there are any number of ways to reword this statement without pinning the target in a personal manner. As a general rule, I don’t believe it is ever neccessary to write the word “you” unless the writer has first-person knowledge about the target. Yet I have a bad habit of abusing “you” without enough thought given to what I’m saying. Here is a statement to make the same point without being aggressive.

Obama’s policy decisions are based on the latest public opinion poll. Now tell me why is it a good idea to move in any direction the wind blows.

Here this statement refutes the opposing argument without causing a personal attack.