Apologies, this is but another brief post.

In the last few weeks, even though I’ve not been posting, the site seems to be getting more and more popular.

As a result, it’s just rolled over 51,000 views!

To everyone who visits, thank you, and I hope to see you back here soon ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t forget to comment on stuff you like ๐Ÿ™‚


No, I have to admit, I’ve not been the most regular, or interesting writer these past few months. To be honest, I simply havn’t had the volume of time I envisioned myself having over this summer.

Between being out and about, and working, I’ve just not had time to even look at the insides of a computer, even though so many of them seem to be breaking around me. I have a small stack of laptops in various states waiting to be fixed.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. In about a month of so, summer will be ending, at the glory days of college shall begin. And considering that I’ll be studying computer science, there should be a torrent of material to post about ๐Ÿ™‚

So, please bear with me for the moment.

As an infamous animatronic figure once said, “I’ll be back”.

Remember I’ve been complaining for a while about the problems I’d been having with via_sata cards and Linux? No? Well, in summary, they don’t work well together, causing lock ups and cryptic error messages. And remember how I said I’d gotten some lovely free motherboards and various other bits and pieces?

Well, as it turned out, a number of the motherboards I recieved actually had inboard SATA. Theoretically they were therefore a fantastic replacement for the no-functioning via-sata cards.

With my usual gun-ho ( is that how it’s said? ) attitude, I plowed ahead and ripped out the innerds of my server which for so long had lain idle gathering dust.

At first things didn’t look great. The first motherboard I tried was dead on arrival, but things picked up with the second. I hooked it up, and beamed when my sata harddrive was detected. I quickly proceeded to complete the transfer, getting all the drives and fans into the case, tidying the cables and that. It was only toward the very end that I realised what I had done.

Before I’d finished, I’d found an extra stick of RAM. The more the better I thought, and I leant over to fit it.

I then noticed that one of the modules seemed slighly ajar. In another second or two, I saw that the little green power light on the front of the case was still on.

I had somehow managed to leave the machine running, and dislodge the stick of RAM. Understandable, the mtherboard didn’t particularly like that, and now has given up the ghost.

Which leaves me back where I started, with a server I can’t run and files I can’t access. How easily stupid mistakes can ruin a build ๐Ÿ˜ฆ



I am currently right in the middle of my exams, and things are more than a bit hectic.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that I’ll have time for new posts, for the next two weeks or so.

You never know, I might get a few minutes here or there, but I’m afraid I can’t promise anything, other than when I get back, I’ll be seriously upping the quantity, and hopefully quality of my posts.

See you in a few weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

This howto is selfish, in that it is for me only. It is so that I can remember how to set Compiz up in the way I like best. You may or may not find this of any use. I know I will ๐Ÿ™‚

Virtual Desktops

In “General Options”, change Desktop Size to 5 horizontal, by 1 vertical.

Zoom Desktop

Enable “Zoom Desktop”

Viewport Switching

In “Viewport Switching”, on the “Desktop-based Viewport Switching” tab, change Move Next to Button5 and Move Previous to Button4. This allows you to switch desktops by flicking the mouse wheel ๐Ÿ™‚

Desktop Wall

On the “Viewport Switching” tab, change Non-sliding windows to (type=Dock) | type=Desktop

On “Edge Flipping” tab, enable Edge Flip Move.

Wobbly Windows

Enable Wobby Windows, disabling Snapping Windows.

Windows Previews

Image Loading

Under this heading, enable all options, JPEG, PNG, SVG and Text.

Ring Switcher

Enable. Set Ring Height to 12. Set Text Placement to “Below Ring”.

Static Application Switcher

Disable “Show Minimized”.


Go wild. Enjoy yourself.


Apologies for the lack of any real content, this is really just so I can remind myself. I’ll post some decent stuff once I get time ๐Ÿ™‚



Firstly, let me apologise for the terrible lack of blogs over the past number of weeks. This time of year brings with it a rather heavy workload, in the run up to some of the biggest exams of my life ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Therefore, posts will be more sporadic than they already are, as I simply neither have time to write, nor to experiment.

Either way, a few weeks ago, an ex-teacher of mine (one of my favourites) sent some old machines my way.

When I use the term “old” I do so loosely. I got five 2.4Ghz Celeron machines, a couple of harddrives ranging from 10 to 41Gb, a stick of RAM or two, and a number of CD and floppy drives.

One of the 5 motherboards has been used to replace the 1.7Ghz Pentium IV board in my server, but that’s a story for another day, as it’s not been very successful.

As for the rest of them, I stripped what I thought would be useful and put the rest in storage for the moment. When I have more time, I’ll take them out and test each motherboard and CPU to see what works and what doesn’t. Floppy and CD-ROM drives have been added to the stack ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the harddrives, I’ve yet to have any success. All have bent pins, two having pins that have been shoved into the casing. Another is labeled “Bust”, and has a chunk of the chasing missing. I am convinced however, that given enough time and a bit of care, that at least two, if not three, of these drives can be coaxed back into life.

Finally, the last thing I received was an 8-port 10/100 D-Link switch.

Like the rest, I’ve yet to test if it actually functions as a switch, but at the very least it powers on, a fact easily discernible from the rather noisy rear fan. Ebay should be able to find a cheap replacement.

Phew. That’s it for now. I’ll do my best to keep posting, but for the next two weeks or so, I can’t make any promises ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Made a little progress tonight, in that the cause of the problem has been isolated.

The screen seems fine. The backlight flashes, and doesn’t display any of the typical cracked LCD colours. Yet at least.

The VGA port works fine. However, “booting” to Vista on an external screen gives pure blackness. I get to see a little bit of the boot process, before it simply seems to die on me. Laptop keeps chugging away though. Problem with the OS then. Booted up Slitaz from a USB drive, and the screen worked fine, giving perfect 1024×768 output. It’s possible that I don’t get to see Vista, as it’s not correctly adapting to the lower resolution of the external screen, compared to the 1200×800 (roughly) native LCD resolution.

It also tells us that the rest of the laptop is probably fine, barring perhaps the harddrive. The most likely cause for the dead screen then is that the ribbon cable between screen and mobo is severed. I’ll open it up at the weekend, and see if I can’t replace, or repair it.

For now though, a Clonezilla backup is needed.

I do love projects. Today, my path happened to cross this Toshibaย Satelliteย Pro L300.

Externally, it’s perfect, not a single scratch, crack or even wear mark. Which is amazing, when you learn that it’s taken a trip down a staircase.

The screen however, is dead. The backlight lights, but nothing shows up on the display, not even the rainbow of broken LCD colours that I expected.

Initial thoughts are that the cable between screen and motherboard is damaged, which I can’t check without dismantling it.

However, it won’t boot up properly. Or at least, when it gets to the stage where Vista should load, the VGA port seems to switch off, and won’t output video (it will up to that point). So there’s a problem there.

First things first, boot up Ubuntu and learn a bit about the machine, assess harddrive condition, and if possible, do a full backup. Next, dismantle and examine the screen housing. From there on, we’ll deal with what we find >.<

I’m going to do my best to document this project a bit better than I have been the others I’ve been fiddling with. That said, no promises ๐Ÿ˜‰



I won’t be able to put up a post this weekend, seeing as I’ll be away from home and Internet ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Hopefully I’ll get it done Monday, when I install and test out Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity ๐Ÿ™‚ Keeping an open mind ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ok, I’m sure I’ve posted this before. Perhaps a longer method? Either way, I can’t find it, and I needed this info today.

In that light, thanks to Kevin’s Blogย for helping me find it.

Thanks to a new little tool from Microsoft, this is now incredibly easy.

First, download the ImagingMaster API, which is required by the program. Download, run, click your way through, and allow your computer to restart.

Next, download the Windows 7 USB DVD tool. Again, run and click your way through the install.

When it’s finished, you’ll get a lovely little icon on your desktop ๐Ÿ˜‰

Step1. Browse for your Windows 7 DVD ISO file.

Step2. Select where you want it to go, a USB drive, or a DVD

Step3. Select the proper device, and click “Begin Copying”. Make sure you have all your data on your USB drive backed up, as it’ll be formatted.

That’s it! Take your USB drive, setup your computer to boot from USB, and enjoy your install ๐Ÿ™‚