Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

New Nailers!

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I picked up my new Hitachi nailers on Sunday night visiting my parents down in Niagara.

On the way home from work tonight I picked up some 23 gauge pins from Home Depot – the maximum length is 1 3/8″ for this tool. I already had a pack of DA style finishing nails from Canadian Tire. The Mastercraft 35° nails come in a 1000 pack and work even though the tool specifies 34°. Otherwise you’ll have to special order Senco packs of 700 or 4000 – I think crispair has some too.

After dinner I tested out the new nailers – here they are a 23 gauge NP35A pin nailer and a 15 gauge NT65MA4 finishing nailer:

Canon PIXMA MX860 All-In-One Printer

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I purchased a Canon PIXMA MX860 printer after the holidays during the boxing week sale. I have been looking for a printer/scanner/fax for the house for a while. We’ve lived without one for 3 years but every now and then I want to print or copy a document and it has become annoying enough that I’ve decided to do something about it. A co-worker made fun of me for wanting a fax in this day and age. While I agree with him, every now and then a fax comes in handy – like dealing with realtors.

I was looking for a laser all in one, but the cost of those with wireless network and a fax is north of $400 CAD. Way more than I was comfortable paying for a home office machine.

This device has great reviews – there were a few negatives concerning the print quality but for $100 CAD on sale from Best Buy I can’t see how it gets much better than that.

The big issue I found after unpacking it and loading in the print head and inks is that there is no way to configure the networking of the device from Linux. I had to use the packaged window application to get the device set up on my LAN since I have secured my wireless network. But once the device joined the network I haven’t had any problems printing. I haven’t tried scanning with the Canon drivers (europe location) yet but will up date when I have to figure that out. Sane might already have the drivers set up to go.

For those looking for something to do, you could probably try to sniff the communication of the printer on the USB port. Another thing that would be great is to sniff out the communication of ink levels and other admin tasks between a windows machine and the printer. My install of cups doesn’t seem to handle the feedback.

I haven’t tried the fax, scanner, or media readers yet but the copier and printer work as expected.
I modified our PPD file to do grey scaling by default to save on colour ink. If you want a colour copy you have to change the advanced setting. I can post the change to the PPD file if anyone needs it but you can find them online.

Configure Scanning

Install the snapgearmp rpm.
Edit the file /etc/sane.d/pixma.conf to point to your networked PIXMA MX860 printer.
Check your firewall to make sure 8612 is open in both directions. Or run service iptables stop to disable your firewall for now.
Open Applications -> Graphics -> Simple Scan and it should recognize your scanner.
For more details read the man page man sane-pixma

Fountain Pen

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I took a step back from all the convinces of modern day life and bought a fountain pen.

Not that I’m giving up electricity and computing or anything but this pen is somewhere in the middle. It uses a medium nib (the tip part) and ink cartridges instead of filling a well in the body of the pen from an eye drop dispenser. I can buy a well adapter if I ever wanted to use scented ink or blood to “seal a deal” — but I don’t see that happening in the near future.

I did a little research on introductory pens and found a site that recommended a Lamy Al-Star pen as a great starter pen that is rugged for daily use and the ink writes really well on moleskin paper – which is my notebook of choice.

So far I’m happy with it — when I opened the pen and punctured the cartridge I got ink on my fingers. Upgraded

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I’ve been working on a hardware upgrade for over the holidays. I’ve almost migrated all the things that I use from the old machine to the new.

I’m running a RAID 1 array of hard drives. This allows me to mirror all the data from one hard drive onto the other in case one of them physically fails. I will be able to recover my data from the other and rebuild the array once a new hard drive is inserted.

Lots of software upgrades have taken place and I’m finally running a current Linux operating system again. The hardware is power efficient running a VIA Esther processor at 1500MHz and the CPU runs fanless, but of course the power supply does not. This makes it nice and quiet as well.

RAM has been bumped up to 512 from 128 in the old machine with a massive 80Gig hard drive.

It just shows that you don’t need a huge power sucking work horse to do basic things like web serving, email, and data base work. That is unless you are serving for a site like Digg or Slashdot. I have a feeling that my network pipe would be the bottle neck and not my hardware in case I ever get swamped with traffic. But I haven’t left it to chance either, my firewall ensures that only a trickle gets through and not a tsunami of network traffic.

All that is left to do now is the following services. I’d like to get them finished up before new years eve so I can decommission the old machine to the dumpster for the new year.

  • SVN
  • Trac
  • munin

Penelope Brake Job

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Penelope was due for her 95k oil change service and I had noticed some “chirping” noises in the wheels since I need to roll down my window to access the magnetic key fabs for my building. I had been ignoring that for quite a few weeks now because some days my 2002 Chevy Cavalier is a symphony of groans and squeaks.

That “chirping” noise was the front brake pad warnings – I should have known better since it went away when the brakes were applied. Apparently when they inspected the pads on the lift I had 3mm left therefore a brake job was in my future as well. I knew my rotors were warped since the car bounced around pretty well when braking was taking place so I had to bite the bullet and make the decision on the spot.

When I bought the car the dealer did a brake job for me at 65k so those pads only lasted me 30,000 km – which I found out from Scott at Richardson Chevrolet is near the norm depending on the parts used.

The rotors were already warped, having only 3mm of pads I didn’t want to drive it around since I could etch the rotors with the calipers if those 3mm wear out, I don’t have a jack, stands or a garage to do the work in myself. I was stuck, so I had the guys at Richardson do the work.

Wii Tennis And A Roomba

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written here but I have been plenty busy with packing, moving, unpacking plus the daily grind on top of that.

But all work and no play makes me a dull boy — that’s where the Wii helps. I was in a race with Chris at work to see who could accumulate > 2000 points in Wii Tennis. On Sunday night I won a game which put me at 2011 points. Just enough to edge Chris out before he could get there, but he’ll stick to his story that he had tennis elbow and couldn’t play as often as I could.

On Tuesday this week Lauren and I picked up a vacuum cleaner from Canadian Tire. It’s a Roomba Discovery created by iRobot. iRobot is a robotics company that just happens to have a hugely successful robotic vacuum. From the outside it looks like a pretty neat company with some very interesting software challenges.

Now for the neat part. You can control the roomba’s motors and read the sensors through the serial port. There is a published serial port (hardware) hack that puts a Bluetooth radio onboard the device which allows the radio to connect to any other Bluetooth device that can talk the serial port protocol. Now I need to build some hardware so I can write some software.

New Tires

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

I picked up some new tires at Active Green & Ross today. Monday night was pretty slippery so I decided it was time to replace the Goodyear/Handcook mix that came on my orphan’s rims when I got her about a year ago. Since I’m on vacation this week to study for my PPE exam I had some time to burn.

I bought some Uniroyal Tiger Paw AS65’s which are rated for 110k km. It was one of those buy one get one 1/2 off deals, but I still had to pay for balancing and valves of course so it becomes less attractive. But since I plan on riding out these tires until they or the car end I think it’s best to pay a bit more than going for the bargin basement tires.

Hacking Democracy

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

I watched the HBO documentary called “Hacking Democracy” last night and it was quite eye opening. They showed how a Diebold optical scanning voting machine was able to have it’s memory card altered to effectively “stuff” the ballot box in the favour of a candidate while maintaining the accuracy of the total vote count.

Without having looked at the software — because it is illegal thanks to the DMCA — I will speculate my thoughts on this situation.

The machine relies on removable memory cards in the same way that your camera does. This allows machines to be disconnected from a computer network, but relies on “sneaker net” to transfer the number of votes from each individual machine to the “central tabulator” which reads each memory card and sums up the totals for every machine in the election.

Learning The Stick

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Lauren took me out in her car in the WalMart parking lot and showed me the ways of the clutch.

I drove us home and only had to work over the starter a few times when I stalled her. I’d be alright with a standard, but it’s a skill that needs practice. Which isn’t something I’ll be doing any time soon.

Bare Metal Restore

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

How are your data backups? Do you have a data backup? Do you have an off-site data backup?

What would you do if your machine were to have a hardware failure? Knock on wood it doesn’t happen, but here is a neat method of storing every bit you have on your hard drive using good old fashioned GNU tar

Maybe now would be a good time to back up your data because bad things do happen to good people.