Ventage Computers

As you might know, I’ve been working on computers for awhile. And for the most part I never dump old systems unless they stop working. Did do some housecleaning over the summer, found a few systems that had died. Caused by rust and ‘melting’ foam. Over the weekend I dug out my old Atari 800XL and hooked it up. Worked pretty good, it does have sticking keys… What I found interesting was taking the machine apart, this thing was built like a tank, solid and heavy, not like modern computers..

Basically I can take keyboard apart and clean the leads.. Another weekends project.

Finding a TV to connect the computer was more difficult. I needs a old tuner. Lucky for me the flat screen in my office is older and has a turner..

Having worked in a Atari repair center, I had a demo cartridge and test cartridge.

DNS Blocking

Had a user bring us a Windows 10 HOME computer that wasn’t able to get on the internet using Wifi or Ethernet. After toying around with it for some time here is what we notice.

  1. Would receive and IP address from DHCP server, but no Internet access.
  2. Could add a new port, usb ethernet, gets IP but still no Internet.
  3. Went through Google search finds to reset network, still nothing.
  4. Removed all the ports, drivers etc.. Still, nada

We found it odd that the computer would get an IP number from server, but then not do anything else with network. We found the user had install AVG anti-virus, took some work to remove without internet, but finally won over. However even after repeating all the steps above, no Internet. Checked resources and system apps, couldn’t see anything that stood out..

We figured it was a typical virus that ransomware the system, but none of the normal flags popped up..

So we finally just reinstalled the OS, oh we did try recovery, that failed. After the reinstall of course everything worked fine. A bit more digging and we found out this ‘issue’ is called Gateway or DNS blocking. Nasty beast. Anyclues how to get around it without rebuilding the whole system?

Keyboard Tester

Nice perk of my current job is that we are allowed to spend time creating time saving programs. Within reason!

After getting an unusual number of reports of broken keyboards we decided we needed a quick easy way to test keyboards. Using mostly Apple iMacs, that is what we wrote the program for. BUT it works pretty good on windows as well (numerical keypad has issues though, but useable).

Spent less than a day creating the DIY Keyboard Tester using LiveCode.

Keyboard Tester Mac: diykeyboardtestermac

Keyboard Tester Windows: diykeyboardtesterwin-exe

 

Thumb Drive – Data Recovery

After a small mishap, a user couldn’t read data off a thumb drive.  Of course EMERGENCY!

broken_td

Disassembled the thumb drive and under closer review I noticed a bend in the connector. Using a meter I toned out each of the four pins and found that none were connected to board. Noticed when the connector is bent, the internal wiring inside the jack break. Unsure if that is good or bad, but it could keep the board from shorting out when/if plugged into a computer.

usb_ports

Being careful to wire ground and 5+ volts correctly, I wired up an old usb cable from an old keyboard. (Test keyboards with [keyboard tester] and the ones that fail cut off their USB cables and go in parts bin.) Being very careful not to short any wires, solder cables as shown above. The solder pads for the USB connector could delaminate from the board, so follow the traces to a point you can solder to. Being very careful not to overheat anything!ds

td_wired

When I plugged the thumb drive back into computer, the drive was mounted. JUST long enough to copy off its contents. (Pretty sure I had a cold solder join on the chip.)

— Before you plug repaired thumb drive in, make sure you are ready to copy data off, you may only have one chance. —