Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Decent online monitor calibration tool

While I don't doubt that an external calibration tool is better for calibrating your monitor, I came across one online that yielded good results for my Dell 2009W 20" Wide Screen LCD's:

Another MacBook hard drive bites the dust

I've had my MacBook 2.16GHz for just under two years now, and I've just had to replace the hard drive for a second time (mind you, this time not under Apple's warrantee).

With most laptops, this would not be much of a surprise to me - after all, most laptops tend to take a beating, and this type of failure is somewhat normal.  The thing is, this laptop is used almost exclusively for testing; it sits on my desk 340 days of the year without moving - the power cord is tie wrapped to my desk even.

If my friends are reading this, they're probably thinking  "Steven is on one of his anti-Apple rants again," and while that might be partially true, the point I'm trying to make (or the myths I'm trying to dispel rather) is simple: MacBooks are not more reliable than Dell, HP, or Lenovo laptops.   They all use almost identical drives, mother boards, video cards and RAM (the RAM I pulled out of this recently was Samsung).

That being said, my experience with this particular MacBook is that it is actually significantly less reliable than other laptops I've owned.  My general feeling is that it suffers from a heat dissipation problem.  The vents on this unit are few and small, and under most of my use, the fan has to run at what seems to be full blast. When I compare this to similar Dell laptops that I've owned/used, they seem to have way better ventilation, and as a result, the fans seem to run less frequently.

Good thing new drives are cheap!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dell 2009W's Finally Arrive

I had previously written about the new Dell 2208WFP 22" Wide Screen LCD's that I had purchased and immediately sent back due to their blinding brightness and poor colour quality.  After nearly a month of waiting, I finally received my 2 Dell 2009W 20" Wide Screen LCD's.  My Dell rep informed me that the delay was due to a warehouse changeover in the USA (whether I believe that or not is unimportant).

Now that I have my new panels, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about them.

First are foremost, they are a significant improvement over the 2208WFP's.  That being said, I don't feel that the colour quality is as good as the Dell 2007WFP's that I have at my office. Also, the colour noticeably changes with the viewing angle, and they look slightly washed out even dead on.  My overall opinion is that Dell is cranking the brightness of their panels to increase the advertised contrast ratio, with colour quality suffering as a result.  But for the price, you can't go too wrong, and the quality is still higher then a lot of panels on the market.

My biggest complaint so far is that the stands don't seem to go high enough.  At my office I have an Ergontron DS100 Dual Monitor Desk Stand that holds the monitors noticeably higher then the highest setting on the height adjustable stands they ship with.  I'm going to need to offset this with a screen platform (aka: phone book).

Overall rating: 3/5

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How to change the temperature scale on a Honeywell T6575 Thermostat

[The complete documentation can be found at]


This was bugging me for a while - the thermostat in my condo was configured to display in Fahrenheit.  I had removed the device figuring there would be a jumper or dipswitch on the back, but I had assumed incorrectly.  It turns out this device contains an EEPROM for storing configuration data.  Getting into the setup is relatively straight forward.


  1. Change the temperature set point to 10C or 50F.  If it will not go this low then the minimum set point has been modified - you can access setup by selecting the lowest your device will go.
  2. Wait about 3 seconds until the room temperature is displayed
  3. Press and hold the UP and DOWN buttons until tS is displayed
  4. Press  UP once to show the current setting, press UP again so that it changes to Celcius.
  5. Press DOWN to commit your change.
  6. Continue pressing DOWN as you cycle through the available options (db, OP, uC, uH, CO, CL, HL, ES, rt) until you reach rT.
  7. Press DOWN once more and the unit should return to the current room temperature display, this time in the scale of your choice!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mac OSX 10.5.2 Freezing Intermittently

I've been having an issue with my MacBook (you know, that computer I hide under my desk most of the time) where intermittently, the UI will freeze up for a period of a minute or so and then return to normal.

I came across an article detailing how to reset the PRAM and NVRAM that seems to have resolved the issue.

Resetting PRAM and NVRAM
  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
  3. Turn on the computer.
  4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.
  5. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
  6. Release the keys.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Windows Search 4.0 Released .....and searching finally works!

I've been dealing with Outlook 2007's search problems since installing it way back then.  Most frequently, I'd search a keyword; the search pane would fill with information, and then disappear leaving me with "No results found." I can replicate this problem on every workstation in office, as well as my home workstation.

Well, Microsoft has announced the RTW of Windows Search 4.0 as of Tuesday June 3, 2008 and my preliminary tests look promising.  So far, all of my keyword and "from:" searches have worked as expected with no clearing of results.