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2020 Chilli Sauce Recipe

30 June 2020 by Lincoln Ramsay

The Finished Product

This is the third batch of chilli sauce I’ve made and I actually took some notes this time. Each batch has been slightly different, but the general aim has been more or less the same. I like a thick chilli sauce that is both hot and tasty. more…

MacBook Pro lives to fight another day (and other computer news)

14 May 2020 by Lincoln Ramsay

My venerable MacBook Pro, a 13″ 2011 model, had a problem with the screen after the recent surgery. It just… stopped closing all the way. I thought maybe the case had been warped, possibly as a result of having nothing where the optical drive should be, but after putting up with it for a few days, I did some googling and found that it’s a somewhat common complaint for older machines.

Maybe the timing was just a coincidence, or maybe I got something (dust?) in the hinge. What I saw online suggested replacing the hinges, or maybe lubricating them would work.

So last night I had my computer open once again. To get the hinges you’ve got to take the whole screen off. The instructions have some ominous warnings because once you take out that last screw, the screen and body can just fall apart from each other if they’re not being supported.

I was kind of surprised that I couldn’t actuate the hinges with my hands… I guess the force they get with the weight (and leverage) of the machine attached is much higher than I can impart.

I sprayed a bit of WD40. I know it’s not strictly a lubricant but it’s what I have and it can work its way into tight spaces. Since I couldn’t actuate the hinges I had to put the machine back together before I could tell if it had helped. Also, I was nervous about the things I’d had to unplug that had never been unplugged before (like the video cable).

But the hinge works just fine again, and the machine booted up. Everything seems to be working. Another successful operation!


In other news, we sold the MacBook Air and used the money to get an RX580 for my son’s computer. He was very specific about wanting that card, even though it’s a little older, because newer/cheaper cards don’t have support for older DirectX versions except through emulation and that gives worse performance, and he has a bunch of older games. It turned out to be a convenient coincidence that we had a 90 degree sata connector on one of the cables though, because the motherboard put one of the sata ports under the back of the GPU.

The memory failures… I dunno. The shop did a “clean and reseat” of the RAM and said it was working. After dealing with some USB issues, we were able to get RAM errors once (after 7 hours of running memtest) but… after figuring out the USB situation, the memory errors have gone away. In any event, the machine seems to be stable so… I guess we’ll wait and see on this.

We’d also asked them to check on the front USB port (which had been causing stability issues, but my son hadn’t cared enough to lose his machine while it was repaired). They said the USB was fine, but when we got the computer home we found they had only connected the USB 3 pins, not the USB 2 pins. A bit of shuffling later and we were able to confirm that the black port on the front is fine but the blue port cannot be connected to the USB 2 pins or the system is unstable. Apparently USB 3 devices will be fine (though I don’t think we’ve tested that yet) but things like USB sticks won’t work. My son doesn’t want to lose his computer over 1 nonfunctional USB port so once again, we’re going to ignore it.

Woody is dead. Long live woody! (part 2)

14 May 2020 by Lincoln Ramsay

The MacBook Air was indeed a nice host for woody. It ran without complaint and it was quiet. Interestingly, it did network transfers slower than I expected. I can’t believe it was the SSD (though I didn’t run a benchmark) so it must have been the USB ethernet dongle I was using.

The HP was attacked by my son and one of the things he found was a literal wall of dust in the exhaust fan (almost completely blocking it). With the dust removed, the chronic overheating issue was resolved. Then he was given another old laptop, an Acer Timeline X. He decided that he liked it better than the HP, so over the weekend we did some major shuffling.

  • woody was moved back to the HP (which is cooler and quieter than before, but otherwise the same).
  • The MacBook Air is once again running macOS. We have cleaned it up and hope to sell it to raise money for a GPU for my son’s gaming PC.
  • I finally got around to moving the SSD in my MacBook out of the optibay and back into the regular drive bay, replacing the broken cable in the process. That job has been sitting in my queue for nearly 2 years now!
  • The Acer was disassembled (it also had a wall of dust) and re-assembled with the optibay giving it extra storage.
  • We took my son’s gaming PC to the store because the CPU or motherboard has failed (using both sticks of RAM causes errors in memtest, though each stick is fine by itself).
  • I re-installed Windows XP on my gaming PC, since it turns out some of the old games I have (on disk) require SecuROM DRM to work. Good thing I kept those old drivers handy.

I mentioned last time that the SSD was complaining about errors. Well… I don’t know why but apparently Apple SSDs don’t work properly with SMART unless you’re running macOS. Both the MacBook Pro’s original SSD and the MacBook Air’s SSD come up with errors under Windows/Linux yet report as fine under macOS.

Woody is dead. Long live woody!

05 April 2020 by Lincoln Ramsay

The server originally started out running on a Northwood Pentium 4, hence the name. Since then, it’s been a VirtualBox guest on my gaming PC, and for quite a few years now, it’s been running on a HP 8530w laptop I got while working at Nokia.

Ever since my son bought his own gaming PC (back in January), the MacBook Air he had been using has been unused and I had been eyeing it off as a new host for woody. more…

How to disable notification (and location) requests in Firefox for Android

24 July 2019 by Lincoln Ramsay

The internet is awash in articles explaining how to disable notification requests in Firefox. But none of them bother to point out that the settings they mention don’t exist on Firefox for Android.

I eventually tracked down a config item that gives you the same effect.

Go to the URL bar and type about:config.

In the search box, type dom.webnotifications.enabled.

Click on the item and toggle it (to false).

Congratulations! You will no longer be prompted to enable notifications on Firefox for Android.

Location requests

Go to the URL bar and type about:config.

In the search box, type geo.enabled.

Click on the item and toggle it (to false).

Congratulations! You will no longer be prompted to share you location with websites on Firefox for Android.

The time my phone almost died

26 November 2018 by Lincoln Ramsay

I love my phone. It’s a Sony Z3 Compact. I can’t stand the way phones keep getting bigger, so my next phone will most likely also be a Sony Compact phone.

Apparently, the Z3C has a well-known design flaw. The frame flexes more than it should, and combined with the heat the system can generate, it loosens the adhesives and allows the front screen to lift up. This happened to me, but it was a small lift (top corner) that didn’t really impact on my use of the phone, so I put off doing anything about it.

About a year ago, I asked about it on XDA and someone gave me some pointers. Apparently it’s not very hard to replace a screen. Still, I’d never done this kind of thing before so I waited. I had noticed an occasional visual glitch that I took to be related to the lifting screen but it wasn’t a bit deal.

About 3 weeks ago, I managed to drop the phone onto the floor and the adhesive decided that it had had enough. The front screen practically came off the phone. It was time to do some fixing. more…

Remove the Jira notification badge

10 August 2018 by Lincoln Ramsay

I use Jira at work and there’s this really annoying thing…

That unassuming bell icon. As it appears here, it’s inoffensive and something I can happily ignore. But every time Jira sends me an email, it also puts a badge on this icon. Worse, making it go away mean clicking it, waiting for the page to load, then clicking on a tiny “mark as read” link.

I’m not the only one it has annoyed. There’s a Jira issue here: JRACLOUD-69724

Not being content to just ignore it, I went ahead and created my own workaround. It’s a userscript that removes the element from the page.

Get it here: remove_jira_notifications.user.js

I have only tested it on the specific, hosted Jira I use at work (not the same site being matched by the script – you’ll need to set that appropriately for your Jira), and only with Firefox 61 on Linux using Tampermonkey as the userscript manager.

Update 20 Aug 2018

I found some pages that load elements after the page has finished loading so the script handles that now. And it removes the same element on Confluence pages (the link is slightly different).

Update 10 Oct 2018

JIRA changed from a link to a button element. The script now handles that (as well as the old link, just in case).

Update 17 Dec 2018

Confluence changed to a similar system to JIRA (but with a div instead of a button).

Update 10 Mar 2020

Confluence moved the navigation to the top and changed to a span, and it gets added twice now.

Update 13 Mar 2020

JIRA moved the navigation to the top and changed to a span, and it gets added twice now.

The time my computer almost died

04 August 2018 by Lincoln Ramsay

I have a 2011 MacBook Pro. It’s old, but it’s also good. Until very recently, no newer models could take more RAM (I have 16GB, mostly because the incremental cost over getting 8GB was so low). Newer models do have higher res screens, but I really don’t care. One place where newer models completely fail is in the storage department. The new 15″ MacBook Pros may finally be interesting to me but I currently have a 13″ system and those ones did not get the same upgrades.

My computer came with a 128GB SSD and a CD drive. Within days of getting the machine though, the optical drive was removed and an Optibay put in (with the optical drive relegated to an external enclosure). I put in an extra 500GB of storage for a tiny fraction of what SSDs cost at the time.

Over time, the amount of things I could fit on the 128GB boot volume seems to have gone down. There has been a gradual movement of things to the hard drive (besides the obvious long-term non-speed-dependent things that started there). The computer is still mostly snappy, but some things are slower just because they rely on files on the hard disk.

Anyway, everything has been great with my setup for a very long time. That all changed a month ago. more…

Random MAC address on an fake ASIX USB ethernet device

22 June 2017 by Lincoln Ramsay

I have 2 USB ethernet adapters at work. They are cheap chinese things. I’m pretty sure they are the same thing this guy examined in detail.

They had been working just fine for quite some time but today, one of them broke. I don’t know what happened, but I suspect there must be some NAND used to store configuration that has gone bad. The primary symptoms I can see are that some of the USB things are different (eg. serial number is now 1 instead of 2) and most annoyingly, the MAC address cannot be read.

The main problem this causes that on every insert, the device is given a random MAC address so I can’t associate permanent network settings with it anymore. But since it does show up slightly differently to the working adapter, I can fix it with a udev rule.

Before it broke, it came up with MAC address 00:90:9A:9A:A9:39 and (through a udev rule) was assigned the name eth4. That udev rule no longer works so I had to make this rule to set both things in one go.

# This fake ASIX USB ethernet device is broken and forgets its MAC address
ATTRS{idProduct}==”772a”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”0b95″, ATTRS{serial}==”000001″, NAME=”eth4″, RUN+=”/usr/bin/macchanger -m 00:90:9A:9A:A9:39 %k”

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