Saving Sam

 Daily Lief, Hax, Media, Tech, Television  Comments Off on Saving Sam
Jul 032010

The other day the Samsung TV in the bedroom decided to bork. I guess Samsung decided that their 2005-2007 TV’s would have bad capacitors inside, causing them to fade away prematurely. Thank god for the internet, I had that shit diagnosed within 10 minutes. Apparently, rather than buy a new TV, I just had to tear the sucker open, remove the bad capacitors, and pop in new ones with a soldering iron. Easy enough right? I’d never soldered a damn thing in my life but I’m not one to shy away from tech stuff. Usually I figure it out or I kill myself (I’m still here weeeee).

So I unscrew the 18 screws that hold the back on the TV and I totally see it:There, in the group of a capacitors, were the 3 busted top capacitors leaking the black electrolytic fluid. Assholes!!!!! So it’s on. I’m going to go to radio shack, grab some bits and nubbins including a new soldering iron, and hopefully make this happen. The only potential cost really is screwing up the tv’s motherboard (do we call them motherboards in a tv?). Apparently these cost $120 new, so I guess no matter what I’m not going to be buying a new TV.

So off I went to radioshack (I apologize for the changing perspective, I can’t seem to commit to a specific one tonight) and spent a good 30 minutes pouring over their soldering supplies. I end up selecting a 15-Watt soldering Iron, a 45-Watt Desoldering Iron w/Bulb, an iron holder with a sponge, some thin silver solder, a mini wire cutter, and 3 1000um 25 watt (I think) new capacitors. If you are reading this and you need to replicate the procedure, email me and I will give you the correct part numbers. Some total cost of parts: $54.00.

I take my bag of parts home and get set up. The situation is a little janky because I didn’t have any clamps or appropriate soldering station gear. I read on the web that you want to secure the board you are working on, and raise it, so I employed a box and several full bottles of pasta sauce and curry from the cupboard. They have a nice wait and I imagine they will be immune  to any hot solder bits that could potential fly their way.

I made sure to map out exactly where I was supposed to be soldering on the circuit board. The back of those things just appears like a complicated jigsaw of little metal bits if you aren’t used to the appearance. I also remembered to take note of the negative orientation, something that could have endangered the whole mission had I forgotten.

The de-soldering effort was a little confusing first. I couldn’t seem to tell if all the solder had been removed and it was time to pluck out the capacitor. Eventually I realized that once they start wiggling it time to pull them out. Getting all three bad capacitors wiggled out felt like a massive accomplishment.  I was then able to plug in the three new capacitors like you see on the left. I secured them with tape and prepared all the soldering apparatus for the moment which made me nervous.

The soldering itself, in theory, wasn’t such a big deal. The soldering iron has a > tip, and the key to use the side of the tip, not the point. I took the angled side of the soldering tip and applied it to the area of the circuit board where the capacitor lead meet the holes in the board for 20 – 30 seconds. Once fully heated, I took the soldering wire at lowered it onto the soldering iron (not the hole). The soldering iron melted the solder instantly, and basically formed a pool that surrounded and enveloped the whole in the circuit board. The first join I soldered made me pretty nervous, but right away the process began to make sense and I made pretty short work of the remaining joints. By the end of the effort, I had already begun to feel like a pro. 

At the end I checked all the joints and they felt solid. So I looked at the pictures I took of the circuit board before I removed it and was able to quickly reattach all the cords and wires to their proper areas on the circuit board. 10 zillion screws later and I had the TV looking as good as new, though the big step would be turning the beast on and surviving the explosion that would follow.  When I finally had the TV back in its proper place, I was pretty nervous about turning it on. Had I really just saved $500-$1000? Sure didn’t feel like it, that was simple! Too simple? Well, I did save myself the money. Booyah. The minute I plugged the TV back on it snapped to attention and powered up like a good little Samsung should. The taste of victory was sweet. Technical empowerment! I put the soldering iron away in a box and swore to myself that it would be a goal of mine to use it for good at least once more in this lifetime, but who knows…. I’ve always told myself that circuit boarding would be something I’d enjoy and lo and behold it really was. I’d love to do it again. Maybe I need a book on the subject.

So now I find myself in bed watching this newly fixed TV (From Russia With Love), and the sense of pride remains still. I can fix shit!

 Posted by at 12:49 am
Mar 112010

One of my favorite Magic: The Gathering cards of all time is called Balance. It has an incredible effect on the board, it is aggessively costed, and the art is iconic: a knight holding a tipping scale. The cards intent is to “Balance” the game state by equalizing lands, creatures, and cards in hand. But as the designers of the game soon discovered, Balance is a very difficult state to achieve. The card was eventually banned from most formats in the game for being incredibly overpowered, and just like the iconic card, even today, Magic designers have a difficult time balancing out the power level of cards.

Shift perspective to my life, and I find myself suddenly sympathetic. I work from home now, and I live from home, and I do basically everything else from home. I’m at a very homey stage in my life. I also share my home with Jenny. We live together. For the first time in my life, my work is now mixed with my normal life. When I was a waiter, I’d clock out every night and walk away, leaving all the troubles of work in some other mystical land to be forgotten until the next time I had to go clock in. Now the lines are very very very blurred. When does work begin? Basically, when I wakeup at sit at my computer. When does work end? That previous time plus about eight hours. BUT, sometimes we add nine hours. Sometimes seven. My work day is a sort of amorphous power struggle between deadlines and hours in the day.  This blurring of barriers has me very confused. Sometimes, at night, I watch TV with Jenny and mere feet away is work. Problem solving, deadlines, clients, coworkers, and programming, stress and satisfaction… all mere feet away. Two meters even.

But there’s more. Work isn’t as boring as it used to be when I was a waiter. Work involves problem solving, work involves math, work involves computers. We all know how much I like my computers, and how much I like problem solving, and how much I like my math. So sometimes I let the gaze of work distract me more often then I should. Sometimes I answer an email, I read up on a javascript technique, or I attempt to debug an error long after work hours have officially past. NEVER in my latter days would I have taken a mans order in the middle of my time off. It wouldn’t happen. But tonight I was caught out. I sat there, watching a funny, engaging show with my funny, engaging girlfriend, and without really thinking about it I lifted my Blackberry and responded to an Email. Shame on me! I need to get a handle on myself before I lose control. I’d hate to awaken from a daze years from now and realize I was one of those guys who ignored the real world to get a little more work done. That isn’t me! I need to come to grips with the constant invasion of technology surrounding me before my home life suffers. I aim to do it too. Just you wait and watch. I will not be one of those guys….


 Posted by at 12:04 am

Time Alone

 Daily Lief, Romance, Travel, Work  Comments Off on Time Alone
Jan 192010

It is strange how a place can change when one of its primary denizens has nipped off to some distant place. In my case, her shadow seems to linger on the walls looming over me in silence. It doesn’t matter how fun I suspect my boy time will be, the lack of laughter and life in the apartment seems to drain all desire from my soul! I am certainly reminded of my reasons for moving here. Hopefully she remembers her reasons for asking me to stay forever, and returns to me soon.

To while away the hours, I do have work to focus on. Seeing myself referred to in emails as a “Senior Developer” on multiple projects gives me the willies.  However, it is nice to feel like some manner of adult. Especially when a year ago I was beating myself over the head for motivation to apply for graduate education. I’ve come full circle back to the programming career I thought I wanted, and I want it again! Amazingly, in a year’s time I’ve achieved a financial stability unknown to me for 25 years. I now have a structure I can build on for the future, a prospect I’m finding very exciting. As long as I knock my next few projects into oblivion I’ll be doing great.

I respect the frigid blustery rain that has been pelting our small city in such a sinister and purposeful manner. I told my fair lady I wish it not to leave until she returns, as its parting would then coincide with the parting of all the clouds in my heart. Delicious. However, during such inclement weather we must remember to beware all the evil creatures that go seeking empty homes to hide in! We wouldn’t want to have our soul consumed for lack of better preparedness!

 Posted by at 11:43 pm


 Hax, Tech  Comments Off on Rebirth
Jan 192010

At the behest of my lovely girlfriend, my writing has begun again. My wordpress blog self destructed somehow during the 8 month period where I ignored it. I will probably spend a good deal of my time rebuilding it. Sadly, I’ve returned to discover that the Gallery-Wordpress integration isn’t exactly possible these days. Promises of a bright future exist, but who knows how long that could actually take. I think I’ll spend most of my efforts on content and framework for now, and integrate gallery3 when it’s good and ready to be integrated.

When confronted by Jenny with the option of Blogger or WordPress, I found myself faltering. How easy would it be to build a blogspot bloggity blogger and never have it die. Ever. I’d never need to try and make it do the things I constantly try to make wordpress do. But I’m afraid I would miss something. I love crafting my website into the acceptable thought portal I see in my imagination. It feels me with pride to tackle such concepts as Archive pages and fast loading gallery’s with my own discerning eye for well written code. I think we found a compromise. I started a blogger bloggity blogspot, but I post to it via a crossposter linked into my WordPress blog. Success for technolgy. Hopefully we are both getting the things we need this way.

 Posted by at 11:15 pm