Fare thee well, Radio Shack. Hello, Battery Shack!

The new owners of what’s left of Radio Shack want to specialize in batteries. Although this isn’t a guaranteed survival plan, it makes sense to me.

Last week, I went to one of the few remaining Radio Shack locations to get some overpriced diodes and D-sub connectors for a project. My oldest son tagged along. He asked about the store. I tried to describe it, and finally I said, “It’s kind of like Batteries Plus would be if it sold electronic parts too. And phones.”

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How to convert any ATX or microATX case to silent operation

Now that SSDs and CPUs that consume 10 watts are readily available and inexpensive, it’s possible for almost any mainstream PC to be a silent PC. You can of course buy new cases for silent-PC builds, but if you want to upgrade and save a little money while doing it, you can easily convert a legacy case of almost any age to work silently. If you have an AC adapter from a discarded or disused laptop or LCD monitor, you can do this project for less than $30. Here’s how.

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Fixing an Asus Memopad 7 that wouldn’t power on

One night my son ran down the battery on his Memopad 7 and put it away, but didn’t put it on the charger or tell me about it. The next time he went to use it, it was dead.

I tried several different tricks I found online, including plugging it in overnight to the AC adapter, plugging it in overnight to a computer’s USB port, and holding down the power button for a full minute or even a full five minutes. None of it worked–the unit just wouldn’t power on or show any signs of life whatsoever.

Finally I resigned myself to the possibility I would have to send it in for service. Read more

Read this if you have a D-Link router

Leave it to a security vulnerability to interrupt a perfectly good discussion, but it doesn’t get much worse than this. If you have an older D-Link router, it’s possible to completely bypass the authentication on its administrative web interface.

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HP Elitebook won’t turn on? Fix it in a minute flat

If your HP Elitebook won’t turn on, I have an easy fix. We used them at a previous job and I taught this trick to all of my coworkers who had difficulty getting theirs to power up in the morning. It’s easy, and takes less time than calling the helpdesk, and less time than going direct to desktop support too (which they love, I’m sure).

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Review: Insignia NS20EM50A13 monitor

My 15-inch Dell LCD died this weekend. Its date of manufacture was October 2001, so I can’t complain. I bought it used a number of years ago and paid a pittance for it. It had been acting up for more than a year, and at least it had the decency to wait until a potential replacement was on sale before dying completely.

Best Buy had its house-brand 20″ LED monitor on sale for $90, and I had a gift card with a few dollars on it, so I braved Best Buy again, and found a good low-end monitor for the money. Read more

Teleworking on the cheap

As I’ve mentioned recently, my new job allows me to work from home one day per week. They provide me a laptop to take home, but that’s it. If I want other hardware, I have to provide it.

Fortunately for me, I was able to outfit my office on the cheap.

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What to do about a router dropping connections

A former classmate and coworker contacted me with a question.

My router is about 5 years old. I have a cable modem and a router. The cable modem is fine. The router keeps connecting and disconnecting from the internet…used to happen occasionally, now happens all the time. I reset it and it works for a while, then disconnects. Is it time for a new router or do you think something else is going on?

I see two options. Read more

Ye Olde Nintendo 64

I fixed up a Nintendo 64 this past weekend. People of a certain age affectionately refer to it just as “the 64,” though to me, “the 64” refers to a computer with 64K of memory introduced in 1982. I have an inherent bias against almost anything that reminds me of 1997, but in spite of my biases, I found a number of things to like about the system after spending a few hours with it.

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