Dear MSN Messenger. . .

Does anyone MSN message links with http://look***.com/ legitimately?  I feel like this shouldn’t be that hard to filter out or perhaps that you’re afraid of filtering too much. . .

Yes, I know I can set my preferences to only accept chat messages from people on my contacts list, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a instant messaging client.

Introduction to Arduino Powerpoint

If anyone else out there is planning on presenting an Introduction to Arduino in the near future feel free to build off my presentation here.  I’ve tried to cite anywhere that the images came from, keeping in mind that I was using the images in an educational setting which has magic rules for fair use.

Fair use explicitly allows use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Rather than listing exact limits of fair use, copyright law provides four standards for determination of the fair use exemption:

Let me know if this helps you out or if you have an glaring complaints 🙂


Introduction to Arduino Presentation

Presentation and demo (not included) given at the 2009 Enlight student organization kickoff meeting at the University of Wisconsin – Madison

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Dell Precision 650 Bad Capacitors

I was given a full Dell Precision 650 that wasn’t booting. In taking a glance at it, it was obvious what was wrong with the poor thing:

Bad/Leaky Capacitors

Bad/Leaky Capacitors

Dell Precision 650 Motherboard

Dell Precision 650 Motherboard

I pulled the motherboard and swapped all of the electrolytics out for known good capacitors.

Good Capacitors

Good Capacitors

After swapping out all of the bad capacitors it fired up like new!

Lots to replace!

Lots to replace!

Googlebot Crawl Rate for Blank Website

I’ve got a blank site that I’ve had hosted for a while now and I was adding all of my websites to Google’s Webmaster tools. Interestingly the site crawl statistics tell us that Google’s bot will crawl a index.html only site (with no changes over 6 months of crawling) every 4.5 days.  If you take a look at the graph below, you’ll see the crawler looked at the page 20 time over 90 days, or every 4.5 days.  You can also see the variety of site response time from my host.

Google Crawler Frequency Statistics

Google Crawler Frequency Statistics

So for those of you paranoid about when Google will crawl your site next to get updates, it shouldn’t be more than 4.5 days assuming it’s not a brand new site.  The rest of my sites are crawled daily. . .

Added Tear Downs to Site!

I’ve been taking apart just about anything I can get my hands on for a long time now, I finally had a few minutes tonight to get some of the pictures online over on the teardown page.  I’ll be figuring out a more scripted approach at this shortly, but for now you can at least catch a few pictures and hopefully this will help someone out there when they’re trying to figure out how to reassemble their junk!

The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronic Junk Arrives!

I signed up a few months ago on a fun website which tracks boxes of electronic junk being mailed around the world.
Tgimboej Logo
Of course I wanted to receive my own box of random electronic junk and send it on its way, so I added myself to the list and awaited an e-mail. A few weeks passed and I was contacted by Ronald in Tennessee who was starting several new boxes and wondered if I’d like to receive one. Three days later a box arrives via priority mail at work marked “Rattling is Normal” and it was here!


Of course if USPS was handling anything but junk the box would have been ripped apart and inspected by the DEA, ATF and the CIA; and it would have taken 7+ days to get here despite being priority, but junk, hell, they probably flew it up to make sure it got here quick. . .

On opening the box it was apparent that, as advertised, it was indeed a box of junk 🙂


I’ll post the contents and what I added after it reaches Colin since I know he’ll cheat and read this before the box reaches him!

10 Minute Headlight Repair – Remove Headlight Haze

After watching the headlights on the 1997 Ford Taurus grow progressively more and more hazy until night driving was impacted we finally decided to invest in the $10 headlight restoration / polish kit which supposedly would restore the headlights to their original haze free condition. I’m certainly a skeptic with these products, as more often than not they’re just a scam. . .

Ford Taurus Hazy Headlight before Repair

Ford Taurus Hazy Headlight before Repair

So I got out my drill, cracked open the headlight restoration kit and . . . READ THE DIRECTIONS! The kit basically included 1 arbor to mount whichever pad you were using on it, 2 ~360 grit foam backed sanding discs, and a single foam pad for use with the polishing compound. I of course, having read the directions, figured we were suffering from a severe case of hazing, so I opted for first using plenty of water and the sanding discs to start things off. The second I touched the sanding disc to the headlight I realized my mistake and now deep scratches which would now require extra buffing time.  After about 3 seconds of buffing and continuously moving you can almost immediately see results:

Ford Taurus Headlight after Repair

Ford Taurus Headlight after Repair

Recommendations on Repairing your Own Headlights:

  • Carefully clean your headlights before beginning, otherwise you’ll grind the dead bugs into your headlights and have more of a mess to repair!
  • Use the foam pad and polishing compound liberally, keep moving so you don’t burn (overheat) the headlights in spots
  • You don’t need to be running the drill full throttle, it takes very little pressure and very little speed, take it easy
  • Finally, have water handy and occasionally rinse the whole light off to observe any progress and remove anything that’s on the surface so you don’t grind it into the headlight

Finally,  if you’re a DIYer, you can likely perform the same repair with toothpaste and a foam pad glued to a drill/dremel/buffer arbor.  Better yet you can likely buy some polycarbonate polish for cheap from a plastics store (industrial) near your home.  ALWAYS make sure you test your solution on a small unimportant corner of the light to see what’s going to happen before going right to the center of your lense cover and potentially hazing a bad spot in the middle, and ultimately what’s $10 to know you’re doing it right?

You can purchase the kit I used from your local Harbor Freight store or click this link and when you’re done review your Harbor Freight purchases here!

Steam Error

If you get this steam error:
SteamStartup() failed: SteamStartup(0xf,0x0012E584) failed with error 1: WSAStartup() for 2.0 returned error code 10091
Just restart your machine, I’m not sure what caused it and I couldn’t find anything on the internet (hence the post) but restarting fixed it.

RepRap / Makerbot CNC Madison WI?

Anyone else around Madison [UW-Madison would be great 🙂 ] interested in building a RepRap or a CupCake CNC machine? I’ve got a couple stepper motor drivers, several large stepper motors, a shop, and material to build one, but would prefer to order some of the more commercial parts with a few other people to drive the price down with quantity.

Anybody out there? Shoot me an e-mail or comment below.

UPDATE: I’ve built a RepRap and I know someone with a Makerbot!

Pandora 40 Hour Limit Reached!

The world has ended, I’ve hit my 40 hour allotment of Pandora for the month. So what happens when you run out of 40 hours of Pandora. . .

This is where it gets interesting. I was joking about this with my co-workers this afternoon, since generally my Pandora is signed in and playing whenever I’m at work, which means I should hit my 40 hours in just a shade under a week every month. So expectedly I’ve hit the limit, so we figured just sign up for another account and sign in again and run through another 40 hours (which probably violates the TOS, but nevertheless. . .)

Nope, no chance, in fact the whole Pandora site changes over when you hit 40 hours. Gone is the registration link. No matter, I’ll remote desktop to another computer and register a new address and use it here since I can’t register locally. Nope! Logging in with a completely new registered e-mail address still says that I’ve listened to my 40 hours and am entitled to no more.

Alright, last try, let’s clear all of the browser caches/cookies/etc, and try again. Well, given that the site still has no register a new account link means it will make no difference. They’re clearly tracking usage by IP address, perhaps machine reported statistics, and obviously your username plays a role on some level (though obviously not entirely).

I wonder what happens on a shared IP address? Anybody out there know? Anybody else run into the 40 hour limit? I don’t mind paying the cheap cost of good quality music, but I’d like to know how their tracking these things.


After paying $0.99 on about the 20th of the last several months I finally bit the bullet and gave Pandora my hard earned $36 for the year (it’s nice that I don’t have to dig around for the “don’t auto-renew button”, it’s just presented when you pay).  I have to admit that the desktop app alone is worth the money, not having a bogged down browser is immediately apparent on an older computer, even when running with Chrome or with Pandora in a separate browser.

After some “careful” research, I’ve concluded that Pandora is storing player information in both a flash object, and tracking the time played by user account AND IP address, so if you want to continue to get more than 40 hours/month you need to have a separate account, a separate data/internet connection (you don’t have to clear flash cache or anything else) and then wait until you run one account out and switch over to the other for the rest of the month.  I could pay ~$12/year by waiting until I run out each month but again the higher quality, no advertisements, 5 hour timeout and the dedicated player are all well worth it!  YMMV