Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Is In A Date

This year, Oct 10, 2010 is a special date, because one particular time on that date can be precisely (well, almost?) written as:

20101010 - 10:10:10.101010

This happens to be the date-and-time that the next release of Ubuntu 10.10 is planed. Normally, the releases follows a six month schedule, with the release sometime in the last half of the month. For this release, the schedule has been moved up to allow for this very special exact date-and-time for the release. The previous release 10.04, was in April 2010 - the tenth year and the forth month. 

For me, this date is also special, it would have been my Father's 89th Birthday (see previous post) - I will celibate it at 10:10 AM on Oct 10, 2010 - My dad would have like it that way. I am sure if he had been born 70 years later, he would have be a real First-class Ham Radio and Computer Geek.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The New Look

Google Blogspot has provided new customizable Templates for Bloggers.

This is my first attempt to change the look of my blog since my original selection. So far, I have tried to keep it simple and consistent.

The main reason that I wanted to try this change was it provides for wider text space and I like the star field in the background.

Some tweak may be necessary to get the colors right, but this is it for now.

So how do you like the New Look?

It is interesting, the old style is gone, as the New Style Template is used for the entire blog - as it should be, but that means new viewers can not compare the Old with the New.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When Things Go Wrong

This a dual boot, MS Windows and Ubuntu Post, Ignore it you do not use these.

WARNING - Some things NOT to do.

The other day while Larry - KB7KMO, was here helping me setup and reconfigure my Shop/Shack computers - we ran into trouble.

Larry brought his new laptop (NotPad) and several additional peripherals, including USB hard drives and CD readers - we had lots of equipment, felt invulnerable and therefore we could experiment and do anything.

Larry dual boots his NotePad with both MS Window 7 and Ubuntu - where the original disk space was shrank to about 50% for MS Windows and the remainder for the Ubuntu 10.04 install. He was able to show me many neat things that he has found in the new Ubuntu 10.04 release.

So, back to the current Shop/Shacks problems or challenges that we wanted to solve;
  • Fix a non-booting Ubuntu upgrade Workstation 
  • Configure an old, but newly recovered, MS Window XP Workstation, given to me by my son 
  • Understanding of the new boot process of a good working Ubuntu New Install 
  • Fix a non-booting MS NotePad 

We were working on all of the above at the same time, between reboots and as time permitted.

While working with the MS Window XP Workstation, I mentioned to Larry that we (my son and I) were able to restore the OS to factory original, via booting from the RECOVERY partition (the D: drive) and answering a few question - the process was real simple.

Larry checked, he had a unmounted partition on his NoteBook in the same position as a that found for the D: drive on my WorkStation.

"WE" decided to check out what options it may provide, assuming that Larry, at sometime in the future, may want to reset or recover his MS Windows partition. The RECOVERY process has a menu that allow you to pick what you want to do, or abort. But, . . . .

BUT, as we found out, it modifies the Partition Table, and the Master Boot Record (MBR) on the hard disk before it provides a menu and a chance to stop or abort the recovery process!

** We BRICKED Larry's new NoteBook! ** 
** It would NOT boot **
Larry, did not have backups
nor does he have MS install disks!

We used an external USB Drive with Ubuntu 9.10 to inspect the damage - and yes;
  • the MBR was damaged or modifed, 
  • a new very small MS Windows partition was exposed, 
  • and the previously used Ubuntu partition was maked as "unused", 
  • the original MS Windows partition may have be foreshortened. 

Nothing we tried seemed to help the situation. We did not want to touch the MS partition if it could be recovered as it contains valuable data. The Ubuntu partition contains a lot of customization and some data that would be nice to retain, but it is replaceable.

After many attempts to repair the damage (and after sometime around 1:00 AM), we decided to reset the "ID" on the Linux partition and attempt to re-install Ubuntu into it's alloted partition, hoping that the process "would" fix the MBR for both it and MS Window. The install process is very slow from the external USB CD drive - I went to bed with Larry camping out in the living room.

The next morning - Great News - it worked! Both MS Windows and Ubuntu booted as expected (or as we had hoped)!

The very first thing we did was install the Ubuntu "Backintime" backup utility. We set it up to backup valuable data from each partition (MSW and Ubuntu) to it self and to the other. Larry will add additional backups to multiple external USB hard drives when he returns home.

Lessons Learned - 
  • Have backups of all customization and valuable data! 
  • Do NOT boot from the RECOVERY partition unless you really intend to Recover to the "Factory Install", especially if you have modified the system for DUAL boot. 

We were thankful that this had a happy (and/or more knowledgeable) ending,

Now. (when I have time) back to my continued Shop/Shack computer concerns.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Data is Stuck in the Shop Below

I have several project updates for this blog, but the details are stuck in my Shop at a lower level.  That is my Electronics Bench is on the lower level within my Hanger/Shop and my Computer Room and Shack is above two stories in the loft - without a CAT 5 cable between.

I have plans to drill a hole and install a conduit between the two levels down through the corner of the bathroom, to make the communication connection possible. I have wireless, but the distance and the resulting slow data rate make it prohibitive.

Sneaker net, is possible, but that is up two flight of stairs, (34 steps, -  yes, I need the exercise) - but that is too old fashion.

Larry - KB7KMO, is coming over today help with computer setup and configuration for the loft Shack - I have been having trouble getting all of the systems to work together - for those that use Ubuntu 10.04 will understand that the new release has changed how "grub" (the boot loader) works and needs to be configured. Some of the systems were upgraded and others were fresh installed.  It appears the two methods do NOT result in the exactly the same end - I may have, or should have, expected that?


Thursday, June 3, 2010

When is PCB Material Clean?

For my Homebrew Projects, I have had varying degrees of success at cleaning PCB Material for use with the Toner Transfer process.

The most success seems to come from scrubbing the PCB Material with Scotch-Brite while under running water with soap.  I try to clean the copper until the water beads-up and runs off. Sometimes this happens, and other times it does not seem to work as well. If it does not look right, I follow-up with Alcohol, Acetone or Brake-Cleaner.

Inadvertently, I discovered my success was dependent on the type of soap I used, Simple Green seems to sheet the water off, and Boraxo Hand Soap beads the water off.  Obviously one of the two methods is leaving (or removing) something that is potentially, beneficial, or harmful, to the following Toner Transfer process.

The Boraxo cleaning method makes the board "look-the-best" and requires little or no drying - but I wonder if it is really clean, or is it a False-clean?

The Simple Green cleaning method requires drying, and so far I have used paper towels to "pat" the surface to dry. But, I think the paper towels may have chemicals that may be detrimental to the Toner Transfer process. Note: My Dad worked in a paper factory, and once said, "paper towels have rosin in them and that is what makes you nose red or raw if you use them as a tissue".

Should water bead-up or sheet-off of clean copper? I am not sure if I know how to find the real answer. It could make a big difference in the success or failure of my repeatable Thin Trace (5mils or less) Toner Transfer process.

Google does not help, most articels provide information on how to clean pennies or cookware, and then they suggest the addition of a protective ware-layer. Nothing I have found provides information on how to clean to real bare copper.

My new Shop location uses well water (the previous shop was on a city water supply, of processed lake water), I wonder if the well water is more or less deterministic for my success? I may try some distilled water, but I do want to kept it simple,

I need to investigate how to "cleaning copper" further.