Archive for the ‘Computer-related’ Category

How to: Create greenbar spreadsheets

January 28th, 2013 1 comment

green_bar_paperCall me old school, but when I look at spreadsheets, I tend to favor the line contrast provided by the classic greenbar look from the days of the dot-matrix printer. In this how-to tutorial, we will go over how we can recreate this look with modern spreadsheet software without going about it line-by-line.

To begin, open a spreadsheet software like Excel or Libreoffice and follow the instructions noted in the caption.


Go straight to the picture portion for the tutorial aspect of this how-to. The writing that immediately follows is meant to explain the inner-workings of the MOD() function and the row() function that makes the highlight every-other-line in a spreadsheet trick work. MOD() function is a mathematical modulus function that will return a value of either 0 or 1.  The row() and column() function will return the current row number or column number, depending on which one is called. The combination of these two functions MOD(row(),2), will take the current row number, divide it by 2, and yield either a value of 0 or 1, which will trigger the conditional formating to select one or the other.

Because Microsoft products are supported by Visual Basic, whereas Libreoffice is of C++, Java, and Python lineage, there may be variations in the programming syntax. I hope this program toggling trick is useful for your highlight-every-other-line on a spreadsheet exercise.

greenbar step 1

Select all of the cells by clicking on the cell on the most upper-left hand corner of the table.

greenbar step 2

All cells in table selected.

greenbar step 3

Go to Format->Conditional Formatting

greenbar step 4

Enter into the input box the following formula: MOD(row();2). Try entering MOD(row(),2) for Microsoft Excel.

greenbar step 5

Change the background of the selected range if the mod(row();2) condition is met.

greenbar step 6

Voila! Greenbar galore.


How to: Replace the battery on a Palm Vx

September 25th, 2012 1 comment

IMG_2389.JPGWell, it’s been nearly one year since the last posting. In order to keep this website updated, current, and competitive against the other DIY websites providing esoteric and useless information, the time has come once more to hit the writing board.
Once upon a time, at the turn of the second millennium, anyone who’s anyone in the business world carried with them a contraption called a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). For the hoity-toity Executive, probability was high that they carried a Palm Vx – the flagship of the Palm PDA line-up. As is the nature of portable technology, its battery has a limited lifespan. In this posting, we will cover how one could go about replacing the battery of a Palm Vx in order to resurrect it of all its glory.

The following tools are highly recommended in the dis-assembly of the Palm Vx: A pair of heat-resistant gloves to protect the hands while handling the PDA ($3); A heat gun ($12); A new lithium-ion battery for the PDA ($6); Four clamps ($1); A lot of time on your hands (Priceless).

IMG_2393.JPGFirstly, use the heat gun and heat the outside perimeter of the PDA from the back side (the side without the LCD screen). Excessive direct heat could damage the plastic and LCD screen. Make sure you do not cook the front-face of the PDA.





IMG_2394.JPGThe Palm Vx is held together with a bead of hot-melt adhesive along the outside edge of its form factor. When heat is applied, the adhesive will become viscous and workable; it is when it is in this gluey state that you would insert a sharp, flat metal object to pry the two halves of the magnesium casing apart.





IMG_2395.JPGA Close-up shot of the hot-melt adhesive location.






IMG_2397.JPGRemove the harness attached to the receiving port on the board and gingerly pull out the battery.






IMG_2399.JPGReplace the old battery with the new, and throw a tad bit of tack/two-sided tape on the battery to keep it from flopping around.







Place the back cover back onto the device and clamp down with beefy paper clips; but pad with a gasket to keep the metal surface from scratching against one another. I applied more heat upon replacement to reactivate the head-sensitive glue.







Voila! An ancient Palm Vx brought back to life.






How to: Fix a heat sink anchor clip on the motherboard

December 30th, 2010 3 comments

While resurrecting a slew of over-the-hill computers from my computer graveyard, I came across an interesting challenge that’s inspired me to catalog the repair. The heat sink to the North Bridge chip popped off because an anchor holding down the spring dislodged itself from the motherboard. I looked online for ways to replace the anchor with the least amount of effort, but couldn’t find anything that didn’t involve soldering. As much as I enjoy removing the entire motherboard from the chassis and soldering electronic components onto a board coated with anti-flux, I opted for an easier, albeit less scientific approach. I hope this post will be helpful to anyone who comes across a similar challenge.

I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the repair method depicted will not be sanctioned by anyone who’ve had the slightest training in basic electronics and logic design, and much less the manufacturers of the motherboard. I’ve tested the hardware after the repair and everything appears to be in working order (hardware and software). Personally, this ghetto repair method was justified for a computer ten-years past its prime.
Note the location of the missing clip and its non-missing twin on the upper-right-hand corner.Heat sink. Spring harness. One dislodged anchor.Visualization exercise.Gently coaxing the anchor back into its seat.Run a small bead of Super Glue between the plastic washer and the motherboard surface. I squeezed two drops and let the capillary action absorbed the glue into the seam.Post-glue observation.Slather on thermal grease between the chip and the heat sink.Take a moment to ponder why they charge so much for grease.Smack on the heat sink and lock it down to the anchors.

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GMap xml parser error

April 10th, 2010 No comments

From time to time, I like to fiddle with the Google Maps API to help me better visualize our world. While working on a project this morning, I learned that the GXml.parse() function used in combination with the markers[i].getAttribute javascript will throw an error if it encounters an ampersand in the xml list. Long story longer, the problem was identified when an entire xml table was not being displayed on the map, and the bug was traced back to the xml, and not the javascript. I’m sure there are ways to validate the input to ensure no special characters exist that will create issues with the program, but that will have to wait for the next revision. For now, just be wary of special characters in your xml data fields if your stuff doesn’t work.

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