It's that time of year again when I look back over the goals I set myself over the previous year and decide on some new ones for the year ahead. I’m a little late posting this year but I was suffering from a winter cold.
What I intended to do in 2017:
Lose weight – Failed, I managed to stay the same for most of the year only to gain weight for Christmas 🙁
Continue work on STM32 development – I have done very little
Clear out Garage – A few large items need to go and are still there.
Build a new PC – I managed to do this one. About time too.
Finish Back Yard – The last step is still waiting to be installed.
Buy a new kitchen bin – It didn’t happen.
Cook something new – I cooked some duck legs and served with a plum sauce.
Eat more healthily – I ate more healthy things but ended up eating more.
Perform more data backups – Can always use more.
Read more books – I still have a shelf of unread books.
Plan Free time – Limited success.
2017 was perhaps a year to forget. Work was busier due to retirements and changes in staffing levels and increasing workload. Getting home from work tired doesn’t result in productive evenings.
What I aim to do in 2018:
Lose weight – I have some trousers I would like to fit again.
Continue work on STM32 development – I had a new board for Christmas and I need to do something with it.
Experiment with CPLD – I found a cheap development board I want to play with.
Clear out Garage – The last garage fridge failed so it can now due a full clear out.
Go 4k - It might be time to buy a 4k TV or computer monitor.
Finish Back Yard – The step will be installed at long last.
Eat more healthily – Less chocolate, fat, carbs.
Perform more data backups – More off-site backups too.
Read more books – I have a shelf of unread books waiting to be read.
Plan Free time – Make time for things I want to do.
Reduce Netflix use – Spend evenings away from TV
Tackle the Rodent Problem – The rats have returned to my loft 🙁
2018 has many of the same goals as for 2017. The 3 I would like to achieve are losing weight, clearing out the garage and reading more books. If I can manage these 3 then I might find some of the others get done as a result.
I finally reached the point where I needed to fix my Laser Printer. My Kyocera FS-1030DN has been serving me well for years and whilst the print quality is as good as they day I bought it I have had a problem with the page alignment. I have been loosing the top and bottom of pages which has been irritating.
Just fixed mine tonight with the help of Google Translate and a german printer forum...
The cause is small piece of foam rubber tape on the registration clutch solenoid, which gets slightly sticky with age and affects the timing of the paper mechanism.
If you're reasonably comfortable dismantling stuff (and reassembling successfully!) it's not hard to fix. It helps to get the service manual, which has nice diagrams of how the parts can be removed - Google "fs-1020d service manual".
Lift out the "process unit" (toner and drum).
Remove the top cover - 2 screws.
Remove the thumbscrews from the rear to get at the option slots.
Remove the right side cover - about 6 or 8 plastic clips (service manual shows where).
Disconnect the 12 cables from the engine board (the one with 12 cables 😉
Remove the engine board - 3 screws.
Unclip a few wires and remove the light-grey plastic cover (1 screw).
You'll now see 3 solenoids (coils with metal levers attached; mine had the coils wrapped in blue tape). Top right one is likely the main culprit, but probably worth looking at all of them. Take the solenoids off one at a time - 1 screw each.
There's a small piece of 0.5mm foam tape that's supposed to stop the solenoid from clicking too loudly when the magnet pulls the lever in, and it's probably very gooey. I scraped off the goo and replaced it with some foam tape I cut down thin with a razor blade. You could probably just omit it altogether or cover the goo with some adhesive tape.
Reverse to reassemble - good luck!
Well I tried out the method described and it worked a treat. I did indeed have sticky residue on the solenoids which I cleaned off. I reassembled the unit and ran a few print tests.The following pictures show the results, before print on the left, after print on the right.
How long this secondary issue has been present I am unsure. Over the summer I had been using the machine but turning it off after use as it was keeping the room a little too warm. I probably didn’t notice the idle issue as I wasn’t leaving it idle. Any occasional occurrences of problems I attributed to the old CPU.
The current workaround has been to disable the C-States in the BIOS. It appears when the system is idle it is going into a low power mode but for some reason this isn’t happening correctly. At this time I’m unsure if this is related to the BIOS itself or Fedora 26 running a 4.13 kernel.
I have upgraded both BIOS (AGESA 126.96.36.199b) and kernel over the past few months so I will have to test again when one of them changes. Next week Fedora 27 is released, it will likely ship with a 4.13 kernel but 4.14 should follow shortly after. A BIOS with AGESA 188.8.131.52 might arrive before the end of the year.
For the time being I will settle for a little additional power usage and no crashing.
This week I finally decided to send away my Ryzen 1800X CPU for a warranty replacement. I had a CPU made early in the production cycle (2017 Week 12) and it was affected by the “Performance Marginality Problem”. Once it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be fixed by a bios microcode update a warranty replacement was always going to be an option.
Sending away the processor was going to be a hassle as the machine would be offline for the duration. The awkward first step was removing the heat sink to read the serial number and production date from the top of the processor. With this step done and the heat sink remounted I was able to continue using the machine until I was ready to send it away.
The steps for the RMA were straight forward. Fill in a form on the website with my contact details and the serial number of the processor. Within 24 hours I had a response, quicker than I had expected. Due to the weekend I could only arrange to post off the processor on Monday morning (Following the packaging information instructions supplied). Being in the UK my processor was sent to the Netherlands, DHL shipping and handling paid for by AMD.
Two days later I was emailed to say my processor had been received and checked. The RMA was approved. It took another day to receive a notification that a replacement was on its way and I received it a day later. In all it took about a week, the replacement I received is from 2017 Week 37. It appears the problem is solved. I am impressed with how smoothly the whole RMA process worked.
This is not a post about carving a face into a pumpkin or preparing some form of scary costume. It is about my planning to avoid Halloween entirely.
Halloween for me normally involves getting home from work, turning off the lights and pretending I’m not home. I don’t want to be giving out free sweets to strange folk knocking at the door.
I do buy in a sweet stash for the emergency situation of needing to fend off marauding freeloaders. But since pack sizes are shrinking I’ve had to spend more to have a suitable supply.
This year poses the additional risk of needing to put the bins out. This leaves me out in the open and vulnerable during the process of multi bin recycling. The outside light will be on alerting the opportunistic sugar hunters to my presence. A waste pre-sort will reduce exposure time but I’ll have to move quickly and remain alert.
Next will be my activities for the evening. TV is a no as the excess light washing around the curtains is a give-away that you are in allowing the hordes to pillage. I need to move to the back of the house where I can have the light on without raising curiosity. I have a quick dinner planned, minimal noise no fuss. I have a project that I can work on quietly. A low backlight on the kindle wont be noticeable from outside.
Hopefully I will make it through the night with the sweet supply intact.
In a week where McVitie’s announced that a box of Jaffa Cakes would contain 10 rather than 12 cakes, I wonder how much longer ‘shrinkflation can continue?
Bottles of Coca-Cola have changed from 2l to 1.75l, Toblerone has bigger gaps between chunks, segments of a chocolate orange are now concave. Just put the prices up and leave the size/volume/shape alone.
There is going to be a point at which a product cannot be shrunk down. What then? Should we hand over some money for some empty packaging? Ultimately the customer will decide to either purchase the product in its smaller form or switch to another product.
I was at one point buying a premium brand of orange juice in a 1.5l bottle. This would just about last me a week and all was well. Currently the same product is 900ml, this does not last the week unless I consume less per serving. I don’t want to shrink the serving so I either buy a second 900ml bottle increasing my overall spend or switch brands. I switched to another brand and once again have 1.5l to drink.
Recipes are going to become a problem at some point. Look in a cookery book and it will tell you to add a tin of something or 500g of something else. The recipes were written with items being sold in quantities and sizes that have remained the same for many many years. If I have to open a second package to make up the shortfall I am likely to increase waste if I have no other use for the excess.
Only time will tell. I’ll be on the lookout for the next thing to shrink, but at the same time I’ll be on the look out for alternative brands to switch to.
Over a year ago I wrote up some notes on setting up an ARM development environment. Since then a change has occurred. Low Level libraries have been made available for the STM32F103. These should fit between the HAL library and the code I was writing. How well the Low Level libraries work is currently an unknown. I haven’t found the time to investigate. The tool chain should largely be the same. A few additional includes may be required to add the Low Level libraries. I hope before too long to try them out to see how they compare to my current method.
I finally decided to perform a backup of my new Ryzen PC running Fedora 26. Normally I wouldn’t leave it too long between backups especially if I have made significant changes. My new PC presented me with a little bit of an issue, I couldn’t run my backup software.
I tend to use Clonezilla to take/restore system images. I’ve used it for years and it has been working well for me. That was until I tried to boot it on my Ryzen system. It was hanging with tpm_tis and tpm_crb errors.
The arch wiki states that “Support for TPM 2.0 is still incomplete (both on the kernel and in userspace), and no known work flow for TPM2 exists at the moment.”
It would appear that I had enabled the TPM option in the bios and I have TPM 2.0 hardware.
Like most people I receive various marketing offers via email. Mostly these get filtered out as spam. There are a few I tend to look at, one of which is for the supermarket offers. If I am doing a weekly shop it’s nice to know ahead of time if there is an offer I want to look out for.
Recently there have been offers relating to my loyalty card. To get certain offers I need to click a link in my email to activate them. Fine, it proves to the supermarket that I have read their email and seen the offers. It also increases the likelihood that I will visit the store and spend money with them.
The supermarket should know when I activate the email offers and should also know by use of my loyalty card when I do my shopping. So why on earth do they send an offer though in the early hours of the morning on the day I do my shop when I only activate email offers later in the evening?
I have missed out on an offer due to a badly timed email. Knowing I have missed out creates a bad feeling between me and the supermarket. Supermarkets should be building a loyal customer base and not irritating them.
This month I gave up on waiting and ordered the remaining parts for a new PC. The build process was as easy as expected. Having learnt my lesson of having to maintain a system over many years; I took my time when routing the cables around the case. The result is one of the tidiest case layouts I’ve ever put together. Less obstacles means cleaner airflow inside the case and less noise.
PWM fans are a must have item. This new pc has 9 fans in total all connected up. It is quieter than my old system with 5 fans. The difference is having fan headers on the motherboard to support additional fans with a PWM signal to control the fan speed. Slower fans means less noise. When they spin up under load I can hear them more but at idle I hardly know the system is on.
Now the negative. Why must everything be covered in LED’s? My motherboard can put on a light show in all the colours of the rainbow, why? I intend to be looking at the screen not inside the case. I’ve not colour matched my components, I chose the best specifications instead. The obsession people now have with the look of their pc internals is staggering. Manufacturers are now adding features just to make them look better. I don’t need my RAM slots to be illuminated. How much additional cost is this adding to my motherboard? LED’s don’t cost a lot but the time and effort that must go into routing the traces around the PCB won’t be insignificant. Luckily I can turn the main lighting off in the BIOS. I just have to contend with the remaining illuminated buttons and status indicators scattered about the board. I wish it had a stealth mode with them all off until it actually had the need to display an error message.
There still needs to be some tweaking done to the system to get it settled in but it’s an upgrade that should last me 5+ years all being well.