31 December, 2007

Learn more about the One Laptop Per Child

I found this video on the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) from Yves Behar, the designer of the OLPC.

Dell laptop running HOT!

My work laptop is a Dell Latitude D810, and it has always ran hot. More recently on a business trip it crashed three times, which I am convinced is due to the high temperature. I found a utility, SpeedFan, which allowed me to monitor various temperatures.

SpeedFan indicated very hot (flames) for many of the components, but it wasn't capable of turning the fans on or up. Further, it didn't give me any indication of what temperature was dangerous to my laptop. In searching for threshold temperatures, I found another, more useful utility, 18kfanGUI.

18kfanGUI was developed by Christian Diefer of Germany specifically for Dell laptops (see his compatibility chart). Using 18kfanGUI, I am able to get my fans to turn on or up sooner, and therefore keep the temperature of my laptop lower. Christian also hosts a Forum, which appears to be very active, so you can support beyond his manual and FAQs.

Now, my laptop is a bit noisier, but I am much more comfortable in knowing that my laptop wont crash (or worse, get ruined) by high temperatures.

BTW: In Christian's FAQs, he has a listing for the BIOS temperature / fan speed for the Inspiron 8000 and 8100.

21 December, 2007

Computer Tips and Help Guides

I receive a weekly email from ZDNet called Download Digest (which I read about every 4th one). It is their weekly recommendation of software; much of it is useless, but occasionally there are some nuggets. In addition, there is a section on recommended TechRepublic articles. These are recycled over time, but again there are some nuggets. For example, if you're not real Internet savvy, you might be interested in 10 things you should do to a new PC before connecting it to the Internet. (Note that you must sign-up for a free account to access TechRepublic.)

Here are some TechRepublic tips and guides that I believe people may find valuable:
  1. Powerful PowerPoint Presentations: This wont teach you how to make better presentations, but it will teach you how to use PowerPoint to its fullest capability.
  2. How do I...Migrate from Outlook Express to Mozilla's Thunderbird?: If you haven't yet switched to Thunderbird for email, this article is helpful in getting you through the process.
  3. Creating a bootable USB flash drive for Windows XP: Just what you need when you're troubleshooting your friends PC.
  4. Create a bootable WinXP CD slipstreamed with SP2 and hotfixes: The perfect companion for your bootable USB flash drive when you need to reinstall XP.
  5. How do I... Uninstall Microsoft Internet Explorer 7?: This will only roll you back to IE6, but if you are having problems with some web apps using IE7, this is a great help. (Of course you should have been using Firefox anyway.)

While you're visiting TechRepublic, also be sure to read The 10 worst geek gift ideas for the holidays.

As with the Download Digest, if you are willing to put the effort into sifting through for the nuggets, TechRepublic does contain some practical articles.

16 December, 2007

Solving 6-piece Burr Puzzle

Not really computer related, but rather solved with a computer...

I have one of those 6-piece block puzzles that has been apart for some time. I decided to look online to see if I could find a solution. First I learned that it is called a 6-piece Burr puzzle; then I discovered that there are too many different combinations that I would be luck to find a solution.

Then I ran across an IBM Research site on Burr puzzles. After looking through many of their solutions, and not finding a match, I discovered their applet to solve any Burr. I just entered the cuts of each of my 6 pieces, and within seconds it had the solution for me. And if that wasn't enough, it showed me piece-by-piece how to reassemble it.
Truly I am impressed.