Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Computers and bikes

A quiet day at home ... and then my new Dell Precision M60 arrived in a load of foam pebbles. I unpacked it, and it looks good. It arrived with Windows XP, which I don't really want, but just in case, I did a backup of it before I cleared it. The backup wanted to make a floppy boot disk, and the Dell doesn't have a floppy drive. And then I thought, hey, I've got a floppy drive attached to a USB, so I used that and it worked.

So then I tried to install Linux 17 (the current version) and it wouldn't go. So I tried 16, and that's going on just fine. I'm planning to use this as a computer that will be left at daughter.1 so I can do stuff while I'm visiting, now she's got her wifi working. But, just in case, and why not, I also installed a ton of games on it. This computer is just what I wanted - it has a 1920 by 1200 screen, which means lots of screen space, so I can have multiple terminals open. And it only cost me £99; found on Ebay.

I contacted Seagate again, and told them that I've solved the problem of Seagate 3TB drives failing in large numbers shortly after install. My solution is to buy Western Digital drives instead. Unless they can come up with some other solution. It's ridiculous, I'm getting a failure rate of more than a quarter. OK, I can send them back under warranty, but that's not what I want to do. The email I got back from Seagate so obviously hadn't read my message, because they suggested doing a check disk. No, Seagate, the problem is reallocated sectors, meaning sectors that have failed, this is a drive problem.

And the bike - a few problems, of which the biggest was the extreme stiffness of the gear shift for the front sprockets. Oiling the cable hasn't helped, and there's no "stiffness" adjustment. So I had an idea, and I've ordered lever shifters (currently I'm using twisters, which means I have to grip *really hard* in order to change gear). Two Shimano shifters cost me £24, which is really cheap, especially if it gives the effect I want (easy gear changes).  When you're going cross-contry (as I do in caching) you change gear a lot. Unless the gears are so stiff that you can't!

In looking into the gear shifter problem, I ran up against a problem I had before - how do you get the handlebar covers off? They're just a push fit, but I just didn't have the grip to get them off. The answer was the mole wrench that I impulse-bought from TK Maxx a couple of weeks ago - I knew that would be useful.  After a minute or so, the handlebar cover yielded to the mole wrench. Easy.

I also fixed the battery level indicator - the plastic thing attaching it to the handlebars broke. So I've applied some blutack, and I think that's working. While I had the bike out, I adjusted the brakes - I think you have to do that regularly, or at least, whenever pulling on the brakes results in not being able to put them on as hard as you can. Not that I want to use the brakes much - each application of brakes is a waste of kinetic energy. But when you've got to brake ... it's important that you can! And I refilled the front fork shock absorbers - they seem to get through a lot of hydraulic fluid. Maybe they have a slight leak?

Tomorrow I'm going out caching again. On the bike.

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