Category Archives: Misc

Hardware: Setting Up A New Laptop

My autistic adult son finally killed his 5 years old Dell laptop, so for Christmas, it’s time to get him a new one. His old machine was Windows 7, and because of the WiFi port not being compatible with Linux I’d left Win7 on the machine. The new machine however, does not have that problem.

The laptop we chose is the Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK which was at the time of purchase, only $219 for a dual core Intel Celeron processor.

 Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK

Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK

The Amazon reviews of the unit clearly show a lack of power to run the included Windows 8.1 software, but since Linux is our OS of choice, I went ahead and got the unit, planning on installing Mint 17 MATE on the unit.

Installation was a breeze! At first boot-up, you want to hit F-12 to bring up the boot menu. From the boot menu, select the option to enable Legacy booting.

After that’s done, (and it will complain!) then insert your thumb drive witha Mint 17 disk image and reboot again, once again pressing F-12 to access the boot menu. Once there, tell the machine to boot to the thumb drive.

Once booted into Linux, setup your WiFi network and then select the Install Linux Mint shortcut on the desktop.

The install took only about 10 minutes, then another 30 to do the software updates and install my son’s favorite programs that he uses on his Mint desktop computer.

Of course I setup Caja with shortcuts to his desktop home folder so he can share files back and forth.

The Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK is screaming fast with Mint installed, and I’m sure it will give him another 5 years of dependable service.

So don’t overlook the lower end laptops by Dell or other companies. With Linux, they will be first class machines!



Happy Labor Day!

To our USA viewers, happy Labor Day.

Lots of picnics, sports, and fun as most of us don’t have to report for work. We’ll be watching golf!


Frogs Looking For IT Work

At 5:30am this morning, I’m awakened by my bedside computer that one of my servers was off-line. The server, an embedded system controller that is used to control my video routing switcher for my goat website.

Dragging myself out of bed, I get dressed and go out in the rain to my office, which is a stand alone building next to my barn.

Opening the door and switching on the light, I am greeted by a huge, green tree frog. The frog has managed to unplug the Cat5 cable from the controller and was now happily hanging from the now dangling cable. How on earth he managed that I don’t know!

I shooed the frog away from the controller and plugged the now slimy cable back into the controller and managed to snap a photo of the frog where it ended up a moment later, on a video distribution amp.

Frog in the office

Frog in the office

You just never know what might give you a networking headache!

Busy Few Days On The Farm

The last 4 days have seen us finish one project and start another. The first project, started in beginning of May,  involved us building a small 2 x 4 meter camper for my autistic adult son. It’s been a great project for the two of us to work on together. My 28 year old son functions on the level of about a 4 year old, but he was so excited with the project, he really enjoyed the process.

You can check it out on my son’s web page:

The second project is smaller but no less daunting. Once his camper was done, my son started moving some of his possessions in, and came to me with his 6 core laptop that wouldn’t turn on. A quick check found that the power input jack for the charger was completely broken out!

My manual dexterity is greatly diminished   from multiple sclerosis,  but there was no way I was going to afford a new laptop with the same specs as this one.

Take it apart, I did!

Son's broken laptop

Son’s broken laptop

It took the removal of almost 40 tiny screws and a number of ribbon cables to get where I could take out the charger input card.

The card also contains network, USB, and VGA output.

Once the card was out, and unsure where to purchase a single board for this machine, I stuck the PC board’s part number, into! Before I even got 3 of the many numbers in the part number, Amazon’s auto complete took me right to the exact part I needed. The best part, it was all of $15!

So provided I can get the silly thing back together in working order, the computer should be as good as new!