Dec 27, 2012

Can you burn bad wood pellets? Sure!

This season we've had several wood pellet bags with spoiled areas (wear moisture got into the bag and caused the pellets to expand).  At first I composted the bags and recently, I realized if I mixed some of the bad, expanded pellets with good pellets, they burn.  They burn fine.  No need to chuck them.  ;)

Laptop running hot? Cool it.

A while ago, I bought a used Dell Precision M4400.  I love this little laptop:  1920x1200 LCD display.  Recently, I installed a 512 GB OCZ SSD and the laptop absolutely zooms.

One thing I noticed was it always seemed to run warm.  If I watched a youtube clip, the GPU and CPU temperatures would go into 70-85C.  I even saw the occasional 90C+ on the core.

Today, I opened it up and blew out a dust clot off the heat sink's fins.  Next, I added additional thermal paste - I should have removed the old paste ... but I didn't.  :)

At idle, the GPU is currently running at 47C and the CPU at 44C.  Watching a youtube video my GPU is at 52 and the CPU at 51.

Without the fan kicking on, it's nice and quiet.

My final test was to watch a youtube video in 1080p/full screen.  This finally tipped the temperature up a bit 64 for the GPU and 72 for the CPU.  The fan, barely audible as it's not overheating.

Dec 22, 2012

HOWTO: Flash a (Dell?) BIOS on Linux

My desktop and laptop are Linux hosts.  I virtualize my Windows needs. 

Recently I wanted to flash the BIOS on my laptop.  I looked at different solutions but they all were somewhat lengthy to do a pure-Linux, Open Source solution.  I opted for a relatively simple method.
  • Download the BIOS .exe and place it on a USB stick.  Remove the USB stick when done.
  • Create a System Repair Disk (Windows 7 in my case) [using your VM].
  • Boot up using the System Repair Disk and start a DOS prompt.
  • Install the USB stick.
  • Change directories to C: and list the contents of your USB stick.
  • Run the BIOS .exe - note, you may need to use the /forceit switch.
  • The BIOS .exe will typically want to reboot your machine in order to flash the BIOS.  After executing the .exe, reboot your machine via the System Repair Disk menu and the flash will start.

HOWTO: Avoid Wireless Repeater Interference

I had some wireless dead zones in my home so I bought a Wireless Repeater (they're so cheap!).

Unfortunately, the location for the Repeater was such that it would confuse my laptop's wireless card.  The location was just about the same distance and strength from the base Access Point.

I resolved the issue by taking a piece of aluminum foil and creating a barrier so the signal from the omni antenna wouldn't be sent toward my laptop.  Easy!  And with infinite adjustments!  :)