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A peek into my technical life

I returned from the Okefenokee slightly sunburned and somewhat sore (review to follow later). Yesterday I had the pleasure of dabbling more with Subversion (SVN) including its integration with DreamWeaver via a free plugin and Tortoise SVN. I am digging it! I am not sold on Trac yet but am going ahead with a multiple project Trac installation since it ties into SVN.

Today I have the pleasure of finishing soldering a power plug onto a Toshiba M35X laptop. I should have finished last night! It had to be totally disassembled. Apparently Toshiba lost a class action against them over badly designed power plug. See also, also, and also.

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Offering New Service

The Apple Computer Store offers a service for $99 per year you can go into the store for up to an hour a week and get help on your computer. I have many requests to help people on their computers but I charge $135 per visit with a 5 hour time limit (The Geek Squad charges that much just to come see you then upsells a bunch). I want to add the Apple Store’s model to my offerings to Knoxville area computer users.

For $200 for a year’s time I will make myself available to you for up to an hour per week for training, computer help, computer advice, and so forth. That’s less than minimum wage! I am charging more than the Apple Store because 1) I will give advice on both PCs and Macs and 2) instead of you going to a store, I will come to you. You must be in the Knoxville area and appointments must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

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User interfaces of the future

Windows and even the Mac OS are products the 80s. The user interface you use to operate your computer is over two decades old. Is this as good as it gets? John Kheit says change is coming and offers descriptions and links to what could be the computer user interface you use tomorrow.

Look at pictures of desktops (user interfaces) from 1984 to the present.

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Now I am an IT manager!

Sometimes I don’t think. When I setup our home network, I did what most people probably do and set up DHCP which means the router dynamically gives a computer connecting to our network an IP address. This is nice that if someone with a laptop visits or I am working on someone’s computer that all we do is plug it into the network and the machine works on the Internet. Well, for a network of 7 computers that never move, DHCP is a bit of overkill.

Sometimes I like to look at the router logs and see what the kids are looking at on the Internet. Conceptually, their IP addresses could change and I never really know whose traffic I am observing. DHCP simply makes that difficult.

Sometimes I want to yank the Internet from one or more children. With DHCP the easiest thing to do was to walk to the router and pull the cable.

That has all changed! I wised up and set static IP addresses for all the machines. The ending ip number simply corresponds to the year of birth for the primary user of the computer. Now the logs make sense. Now in a couple of seconds I can deny the appropriate computer access to the Internet. Now I’m thinking.

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For the record…

None of my arsensal of antique pci video cards have available drivers for Windows XP (yes, they are that old!). Despite knowing this, I periodically shut down all my machines and go through the exercise of removing and trading out video cards to try to get a second monitor working on my workstation. Eons ago when I had two functioning monitors my productivity felt so much greater. Usually I do this at the crux of a critical deadline (call it avoidance.. call it procrastination.. whatever label, it is just plain stupid.).

So, I now put this down for the world to see so that 6 months from now, when I am certain that I overlooked a compatible car in the stack of useless hardware or buried in the depths of a dusty case, I can be reminded that I’ve been through this exercise enough!

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The Realtek 8201CL does not require a driver!

If you are using a motherboard with a built-in network adapter (like the Realtek 8201CL found on the MSI PM8M-V which is a Via P4M800) you don’t need to be looking for a driver for the 8201CL. Instead you need to look for the driver for the MAC chip embedded in the chipset. Ie. See your motherboard manufacturer specs and download area.

The Ethernet hardware consists of two parts: a PHY chip, and a MAC chip. It’s the MAC chip that requires the drivers. RTL8201x is a PHY only chip which does NOT need any driver at all. If you have RTL8201x in your computer system, there must be another MAC chip in the system too. Most likely, the MAC chip is embedded in the chipset. Please contact the board or computer provider to find out which MAC chip is in your system and how to get the drivers for it.

In my case the drivers needed to be for Realtek RTL8139/810x Family Fast Ethernet NIC.