TideLog Archive for March, 2010

As the Laptop Doctor of my firm, Kitamura Computers, it’s my job to look after my patients. I make sure they all get operated on, stripped down, and rebuilt to factory procedures. Here’s the patients currently in Dr. Tidosho’s IT surgery right now:

Patient 1: Tiny A360 1.1GHz 14″ laptop

This machine came to me, and she’s almost perfect! I’m an ex-Tiny engineer, and did the job for nearly 6 years, servicing many, if not all of Tiny’s range, and I’ve never seen an A360 as perfect as this one in nearly 4 years. They’re nearly 10 years old! This one was in someone’s loft for years, and has been very well preserved. The only damage is to the vents at the back.

Specs:

Pentium III 1.1GHz Coppermine CPU

512MB SDRAM

DVD/CD-RW Combo

30GB HDD

Original Tiny branded Windows XP install, complete with OEMInfo branding and recovery partition

Fault:

There isn’t one, really, apart from a dodgy keyboard. A few keys don’t work at all, and the Shift keys seemed to be stuck, and StickyKeys kept activating on boot-up, resulting in all icons highlighting. I washed the keyboard using my tried and tested method, it stopped the Shift problem, but didn’t fix the failed keys. I borrowed the keyboard from a preserved Tiny A440 I’ve had for a few years, so I could put all updates and software on.

Status: Awaiting new keyboard before being sold.

Patient 2: Compaq Presario 2500 Celeron (Upgraded to Pentium 4) laptop

This machine is in lovely condition. It’s almost like it was used only a few times. It’s been in our store for years at our storage in Warrington. The screen is smashed, and needs replacing. I’ve stripped and rebuilt it, and the inside of it is mint. No dust, nothing. All screws factory tightened still with thread glue. I’ve upgraded the CPU to a Pentium 4 from a Celeron, to increase its value when I finally sell it. This lil thing’s going to be worth something!

Specs:

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz CPU (Upgraded from crappy Celeron!)

40GB Toshiba HDD

15″ Quanta TFT screen

DVD-ROM drive

ATi Mobility graphics

Fully working brand new original battery

Status: Awaiting new screen, and Windows installation.

You need to be really careful with Compaq/HP machines. If you replace the screen on one, MAKE SURE you replace it with the EXACT same model that came out. There’s an EEPROM chip that stores the characteristics/geometry of the screen, and if it’s not right, the screen won’t work. You need a Compaq Utilities disk, that’s SPECIFIC to the machine, to reprogram the EEPROM to the screen.

Patient 3: Acer Aspire 5040 AMD Turion 64 laptop

This one’s come to me from a dear friend of mine, Lindsay Wootton. She’s broken the screen by leaving her glasses on the keyboard, and closing the lid. It’s really bent and smashed the screen badly, bursting some screen surround clips, and shattering the backlight (her glasses didn’t survive, either!). The machine also kept shutting down, due to overheating, but I cleaned the heatsink out, and the computer stays running. I’ve stripped it down completely, and vacuum reworked some switches that were worn (the trackpad button switches are soldered to the motherboard, and all power/hotkeys switches) and cleaned it all out for her, renewing thermal paste, and thread glue on all screws, to keep them tight.

She’s one of those chicks that loves Messenger, and Limewire, so I’ve had to clean the usual spyware and toolbars off it for her, using an external monitor. She had Norton on, and it allowed it all on, so there goes to show just how good Norton ISN’T!

Specs:

AMD Turion64 2GHz Mobile CPU

512MB RAM

80GB HDD

DVD+/-RW DL drive

Status: Awaiting new screen ready for fitting. I’m also fitting her a new keyboard, the impact has caused a few of her keys to fail, plus a new screen surround and lid. These 3 items I’ve got in my company laptop graveyard (we have literally thousands of laptop carcasses!) so they’re easy enough to source. Literally, locally sourced parts!

Acer laptops sometimes scare me, they’re very cheaply made, and once all screws are removed, fall apart VERY easily! And I’ve done hundreds, following Acer service literature!

Patient 4: Advent 7039 AMD Athlon64 3000+ laptop

I’ve done literally hundreds of this range of laptop built on this chassis, having worked for PC World when they were in the market, and at Kitamura, as can be seen from our forum. The Pentium 4 variants, and AMD. But, none of them surprised me as much as this one. It was bought along with an Advent 7036, a P4, and they were both perfect after I’ d serviced them.

Then, the day I was going to sell the 7039 to a customer, the screen processor failed! The screen just goes white. A perfectly working screen, rendered useless, unless I rework a new chip or PCB on to the screen. It’s a Quanta that uses heat soldered ribbons to interface to the LCD, and they’re a bugger to do. It’s now just sat under my office desk, with my 7036, which still works and gets used as a DJ machine, waiting for a screen!

Specs:

AMD Athlon64 3000+ CPU

512MB DDR RAM

40GB IDE HDD

Pioneer DVD-/+RW drive (upgraded from combo)

ATi Radeon Mobility 9100 graphics

So, there you have it. An insight into one of the things I take great pride in. Laptop repairs. I’m not like your average British, Pakistani or Indian cowboy rip off shop. I’m professionally AND self taught, follow all manufacturer service documentation, and take great care and pride in each and every machine I service. I actually do put a lot of these rip off merchant jobs right. I get machines in with long screws where they shouldn’t be, circuit assemblies not seated or screwed in correctly, machines with thermal paste missing, screws and covers missing. They go out of my care perfect!

Kitamura Computers is a different company to the rest of them. I named the firm after Kassie’s dear friend Ryoko Kitamura, who sadly passed away tragically in 2005. They’d known each other for 12 years, and I dedicated the company to her. Every machine that comes in has the care and dedication to the job that I’ve been campaigning for in this industry for many years. I’m sick of immigrant Pakistani and Indian people, coming into this country, Brits too, and making a mockery of the IT repair industry, and the British people, ripping them off, and doing a shoddy job, thinking because they’ve built a computer they can do it all. It’s taken me many years to get as trained and professional as I am. I’m nearly 25, and have been doing computers since I was 9. And I’ve always taken massive pride in it, even as a child. I studied, and studied, and then practically performed the job.

And I’m bloody good at what I do. And British. I can proudly say that, and have about 300 happy people to back me up from over the years, neighbours, friends, and family, plus other colleagues from all the firms I’ve worked for, both good and bad.

Now I’ve got my lovely girlfriend Kassie backing me with Kitamura, she’s better in IT than I am, at 30, she’s very experienced with Linux and Mac, and has taught me extensively, and pulled me out of tricky situations, and being Japanese, has a lot of playfulness and charm. We also have Ryoko’s spirit looking over us. We’re a concrete firm, and I’ve watched many cowboys finally hit the dust since we were established. Good riddance to you all. It’s about time decent friendly experienced independent technicians like me survived, rather than immigrant ripoffs, and massive conglomerate monsters like PC World, who don’t really care about you, just money. It’s nice to be able to walk into an independent shop, be looked after, and have a laugh and cuppa at the same time. I did it myself with Bob Gorton, from Radiovision in Little Lever. He was my local repair guy, and we became good friends up until he retired, and sold his business in 2000. He also taught me a lot about professionalism. I probably wouldn’t be as professional as I am without him, instead sucked in by cowboys like PC World.

Kitamura Computers is a mixed firm. British, so we’re local professionals, with a sense of humour and a strong sense of Japanese charm, professionalism and friendliness. Your machines are in caring hands with us!

Plug my own firm, on my own blog? Why not? Self marketing is its own reward!

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I reported a while back that Microsoft had dropped the Hardware Assisted Virtualization (HAV) requirement for XP Mode under Windows 7. They’ve now rolled out the update, on their XP Mode pages. I’ve set it all up on my M670SU, and it seems to run pretty stably, but there’s a few minor default settings that seem weird:

1. VirtualPC is set to only have 256MB RAM by default on the XP image, and it’s slow as treacle, even on this Core2Duo CPU with 2GB RAM. I increased it to 768MB.

2. The VHD file is set at 126GB Expanding (My HDD is only 60GB!!) and I’ve haven’t yet figured out how to decrease it. You could easily overlook this, and then have your machine start acting weird as it runs out of space, yet VPC won’t bother!

3. The graphics will only go up to 16bit colour, using a crappy S3 Trio emulated card. At full screen, the title bar and window looks washed out, with colour loss and banding. Come on, Microsoft, the Trio is friggin’ ancient!! I wish it’d use my nVidia 8400 built in card, it’s WAY more powerful!

4. The virtual machine Hibernates instead of shutting down when you close it. This has to be changed to Shut Down, as you can’t change settings while it is Hibernated.

Other than that, it seems fine. I’m currently setting up VirtualBox to do a side by side comparison, because VPC doesn’t feel as fast as VBox does. XP Mode automatically shares your PC’s drives, so you don’t have to set them up manually like in VirtualBox. Here’s the installation window:

It then sets itself up, and displays the main XP desktop, which seemed to take longer than it should. If it performed this slowly on my dual core system, imagine how slow it’d be on a single core Pentium 4! I haven’t tried it, nor do I want to!

There’s been a lot of criticism of it on forums like Digital Spy, and news sites like the Register. People saying that VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation are better. They are right! The only snag is VMWare isn’t free, whereas VirtualBox is. I like XP Mode, it is useful for people using Windows 7 who don’t want to manually install a virtual OS. Then again, XP Mode is officially only intended for business use, and not personal.

But, to me, it feels slower than it should. My Core i7 rig runs it lightning speed, but the graphics are still emulating that awful S3 tripe. My i7 has the latest ATi HD5700 based card, for God’s sake!

If Microsoft call *this* a “selling” point of Windows 7, they’d be wasting their time. It feels like it was something they came up with at the last minute. Hang on, it WAS!! My advice to any business is, use VirtualBox! VirtualPC has been lacking and lagging behind the market for some time, mainly with USB support, they’ve only *just* caught up, but even this version feels rushed, and thrown together. On an older machine that meets the Minimum Win 7 requirements, you’re SURE going to FEEL it!

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I’ve seen it many times in my PC repair life. People replacing laptop keyboards just because the keys are sticky, or a couple don’t work. 99% of the time this can be fixed, it’s a tried and tested method I’ve used hundreds of times. Here’s my method:

1. First, remove the keyboard from the laptop. Refer to the machine’s service manual, or ask me for help. I’ve dismantled many laptops, hundreds of times, and am professionally trained. DON’T force anything, you’ll often make the job much worse for yourself.

2. Clean the keyboard ribbon connector. The contacts on the keyboard ribbon connector can get worn, and dirty/full of dust. Clean it with some contact cleaner, and lint free cloth.

The next bit’s the bit where things can go wrong if done wrongly:

Cleaning the keyboard

3. We’re going to wash it! Yep, you heard me! The trick here is to soak it for just the right amount of time, for me usually about 30 minutes, in SCALDING hot water, swishing it about vigorously every 10 minutes, dunking it in and out of the water. DON’T do it forcefully, you’ll bend it. DO NOT add soap. It can dry in between the contact sheets if not washed out correctly, resulting in “stuck key” syndrome. Some soaps will also damage the key contacts. Plain water has done me just fine.

Many “technicians” or geeks will tell you you should remove all the keycaps, this IS NOT TRUE, you can damage the fragile keycap retainers, and some keyboards have proprietary ones. The keyboard will be just fine with all its keys on, and they’ll also get a good washing.

The reason we don’t do it for too long is the chassis of the keyboard, some are made of steel, and this can rust. Aluminium ones can, too.

4. Now, you should see just how much gunk your keyboard has accumulated, floating in the water! Hair, dust, bits of food (eating at your computer? Did no-one tell you your computer doesn’t need feeding?), coffee/tea/cola remnants (I see this a lot from liquid ingress rescued machines, I often bring them back to life, using special chemicals and equipment on the motherboard).

5. Rinse the keyboard with fresh water. Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter.

6. Now, we need to dry the keyboard, but not too hot. First, hold the keyboard lengthways in both hands, over a bath, or outside, and shake it up and down equally, turning it over frequently, to remove excess water. Once all the excess water is out, place the keyboard on top of a radiator. Put the radiator on full if possible, and leave the keyboard there for about 4-5 hours, turning it over every half an hour.

This trick won’t always bring every keyboard back, especially if it’s an old one that’s suffered contact failure, but it’s useful to get any sticky keys easy again, or any dust/dirt that causes problems out. It has brought failed keys back to life for me. Usually, it’s sometimes the ribbon connector to blame, cleaning this THEN the keyboard can rejuvenate it. Clean inside the motherboard connector too. I reccommend a specialist like myself do it, as they are easily damaged. If ruined, it can mean a new socket, or even motherboard.

Laptop keyboards aren’t normally the best, they need regular maintenance, and can’t take as much of a hammering as a desktop keyboard. I’m always telling my co-partner Greg to stop hammering his laptop, and customers’ machines. They respond to gentle touches, and if they don’t, they need cleaning or replacing.

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Today was an experience I’ll never forget! We went up to Runcorn at 2pm. I was wearing Hopwood’s red Adidas branded kit today, as it was a proper match, so I had to wear the same colours as the girls. The pitch was huge! It’s a full size pitch used by amateur teams in full matches, and was something else! Stood at one end of the pitch looking towards the other, the field seemed to go for miles! The changing rooms were really big (that *might* have been because I had one to myself, as usual! The girls were in their own!) and a lot more luxurious than the ones at the public pitch in Birmingham.

I got to meet the other ladies team, who called themselves the Warrington Wasps, wearing a yellow kit, with black shoulder strips, like a wasp, coincidentally! What a team of cuties! There’s a cute babe on the Wasps team called Antonia, she’s got to be the cutest petite footie babe I’ve EVER seen! 5ft 1′ tall, brown hair, blue eyes and lovely tanned legs! Sorry Lisa, you’ve got competition, and she might sting you babe!

I was going to be scared as soon as I saw this team of ladies in their vicious looking waspy kit, but they were really friendly, and seemed to like the fact I was the only guy in the whole match. The Hopwood babes and myself went and had an hour’s training and warmup with Rikku, while the Wasps had theirs with their Captain, who, like Rikku, was a gorgeous redhead, but from Ireland! Wow,  Canadian AND Irish redhead babes are so sexy, and the Irish accent is something else on a woman….

Rikku was referee on this match, and was wearing a blue kit, looking really cute! Her red hair goes well with any colour! I’m so glad she went red! The match was really good! Disappointingly the pitch actually wore me out too easily, because it was so big. Pitch condition was excellent, as proper pitches are well looked after. Our pitch in Birmingham is on a hill, at the bottom, and always gets really messy after heavy rain. I was slightly disappointed, as I did have to use more energy running up and down the pitch, and thought I might have had a bit more stamina. I’m not really a fast runner, but am quite powerful. Like a bus, power not speed! Rikku pulled me over and told me not to go for it too much, that the girls would give me chance. They did, and must have sensed that I was the trainee, because all of a sudden the game seemed to slow down, and I didn’t feel so worn out once I took it easy. It might have just been me overanticipating things, and getting overwhelmed.

Strangely, we seemed to swap goals after half time, and I hadn’t realised, until Rikku was running alongside me waving her arms, shouting for me to go the other way, which baffled me, as no-one had told me, and they don’t usually do this tactic in football! That error aside (I blamed myself and Rikku for not telling me) everything was great! We won 1-0, and at the end of the game when the final whistle blew, it didn’t feel like it’d been 90 minutes.

After today, if I don’t lose a stone in weight, I’ll be surprised. I must have run about 20 miles in total during today’s game, it feels like it, and it certainly will tomorrow! My legs are going to kill! The Warrington Wasps are a great team of hot footie chicks, they’re actually just a new social team, but were bloody brilliant, I enjoyed the game with them today! I actually told them I’d like to do it again, and I think there’s a few think I’m cute! Aww, shucks!!

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I get this one a lot, both in forums, and personally at work. People posting threads, saying, “My laptop keeps shutting down after 2 – 10 minutes”. The default response to this is usually, “Oh, just blow compressed air into the vent, to blow dust out”. I’m sick of keep putting people right!

Well, here’s Dr. Tidosho’s advice, on his own blog. You’re wasting your time, for several reasons:

1. You’re just blowing the dust back into the machine, ready for the fan to suck back in, and spread all over the heatsink, where it’ll be compressed into a thick blanket, that CAN’T be moved by compressed air. See 2. below.

2. The dust has probably built up so much, and had the fan blowing air on it for so long, that it’s become compressed into a thick blanket. Compressed air won’t remove it. 99.9% of the time it’ll be sitting between the fan and heatsink, so by blowing air in all you’re doing is shoving it back into the fan, in a big chunk, which can cause it to become stuck, jamming the fan, making the problem worse, as the bearings will burn out, as well as the heatsink getting too hot because the fan isn’t even running pushing ANY air through. This can damage the CPU over time, as when the computer shuts down on its own, it means it’s at its maximum tolerant temperature, before damage is done.

Here’s what you’re often dealing with. This is from an Acer Aspire 5040 I bought as faulty:

That was between the heatsink and fan. Blowing compressed air in wouldn’t break it up enough, and the fan would get blocked.

The remedy is to take your computer down to an engineer, such as myself and my friendly guys at Kitamura Computers, where we’ll safely and profesionally dismantle your machine, and remove the thick blanket of suffocating dust, renewing your thermal paste as we go. We’ll then re-assemble your computer, to FACTORY procedures.

Only charging you a fiver, yes, just £5! We won’t rip you off, like our competitors, or damage your machine, like the “whizz-kid” neighbours we’ve heard so much about, who put long screws where they shouldn’t, and cause more damage and expense!

People think that laptops don’t need servicing, because of their compact size. In fact, they need it a lot more. There’s a lot less space for dust to escape, and it often clogs a laptop heatsink up pretty quickly in dusty houses. We see it almost every day. We wouldn’t recommend home users should dismantle a laptop, as they’re precision built, and need to be put back together exactly as they came apart, otherwise components don’t sit correctly, causing all sorts of problems. It’s better to let time served professionals like me do the job for you, safely, cleanly, and professionally.

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I knew it would happen, it was a matter of when. No, not about Jenny’s Sky broadband cap! Rikku took me and several of her drivers into a meeting, and quite sternly told us off, for speeding. I got flashed the other day when I was roadtesting our new Alexander Dennis Enviro200 down the M62 towards Manchester with Jenny, going to Bolton, as I posted here. A speed camera at an exit junction flashed me, when it shouldn’t have, as I went past the exit. Admittedly, I was doing 74mph, but Police are usually understanding of large vehicles slightly over the limit on a motorway.

Except there’s a difference between me, as her Roadtester, and the other drivers, in that I always let Riky know if I think I’ve been flashed by a camera, which I did on this occasion, as soon as it happened, and she didn’t really bother.

Until today, when she had 4 tickets issued for drivers who HADN’T notified her. One of those was my fault, as I forgot to put the speed restriction back on the ECU software of the bus in question after a strenuous roadtest, following an overhaul. Our vehicles are limited to 65mph, and the ticket was for 72mph. I’m under Rikku’s strict control in that area, if I forget, I get told off, rightly so.

I may be her bestest (intentional mistake) closest friend helping her out voluntarily in her work, but I’m still bound to the rules, like everyone else, and I hold my hand up whenever I make a mistake. It’s her operators license and company (possibly our friendship too!) at risk if I don’t. When we were business partners in my old PC Repair firm JB Computers many years ago, she always owned up to accidents and mistakes, and I loved her for it, so I rightly do the same here for her.

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A few days ago received a Polaroid TDA-03211C 32″ which was powering on to red light, but refused to continue past that no matter what. This TV is almost the same as the TLU-0115C I mentioned a while back. The power board’s main capacitor of the SMPS (switchmode power supply) was visually swollen and I decided to replace it, but that didn’t help. The power output was just fine and I could measure its output.

That left the main board 200-107-GT32XA-AH REV:A as the only component to blame.

After examining the board I found nothing to suggest where the problem might be and without a schematic I would better check for replacements before starting to debug.

Well, after a search, all 200-107-GT32XA-AH versions on the Internet had been recently sold! eBay, ShopJimmy, Discount-Merchant – nobody had it , although reportedly all of them had it at some point, some rather recently.

However, I realized there was another board in circulation, the 200-107-GT321XA-BH one. At the time of writing this it is still available for £80 on eBay from several vendors.

In my opinion, £80 for a replacement board for a 32” TV is too expensive, but I was lucky to be able to find one vendor who was selling it at a reasonable price and I decided to bite the bullet and try it. Long story short, it worked and the TV is now just fine.

Another happy customer. I’d like to think the problem with the board is something minor rather than overheating and disconnection of the SMD processor. If anyone knows or finds out what is going bad on these boards please post it here for us!

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No football today, Rikku was busy with work, she had to go sort insurance on 3 of her buses, and do 3 dropoffs and pickups. It seems my big match in a full size pitch is lingering. I don’t know whether to be scared being the only bloke in two women’s teams, or excited, I’ve seen how vicious these cutesy lady footie babes can be first hand, when Riky was running Woodhill, she was playing against a team from Cheshire, and they were vicious dirty chicks! Wahey!

Anyway, she says we’re definitely doing it next week, so I think I’ll just be excited for now, and then scared when the time comes I guess.

Jenny’s peed off, and it’s my fault (she doesn’t know it. I’m lodging with her a few days a week every other week, and if I do, she’ll kick me out!). She’s had a letter from Sky saying she’s gone over her Monthly Allowance, that resulted in a big gulp from me. Apparently its a 2GB a month (WHAAATTT?!? Murdoch, you moneygrabbing old fart!) and she’s “well over” that limit.

Woops. Jen, babe, I forgot to tell you. And it’s my server that’s eaten it. Probably about 45GB. Ow. I think I’m about to lose my sexy college friend who I’ve known for years. And my head to go with it. Followed by the rest of me. Into landfill. Because, if those Warrington footie chicks can get their claws into opponents, I’m about to see what a really pissed off Stockport bred babe is capable of.

Eeek!

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I reported a few days ago how I set Jenny up with a temporary router while she waited for her Sky Broadband Pack to arrive. When it finally arrived I used a regular Netgear engineering command to extract her user details from the Sky Router. Should you need to determine your Sky ADSL details try the following routine (this should also work with most Netgear DSL routers used by other ISPs too):

1) Launch a web browser, it doesn’t matter if the router is not connected to the ADSL line, if not connected you will see a page not found error, that’s expected and normal.

2) Next, in the address bar cut’n’paste or click on this link:

http://192.168.0.1/setup.cgi?todo=ping_test&c4_IPAddr=%26%2Fbin%2Fbusybox%20grep%20ppoa_%20%2Ftmp%2Fnvram%20%3E%20%2Fwww%2Fnetgear.cfg

(If prompted for a router username and and password then username -= admin password = sky) unless you’ve changed it, in that case, use the password you’ve set.

Next you should see a white screen with just one of text something like

Usage: ping [OPTION]… host

4) Wait about 10 seconds and cut’n’paste or click this link

http://192.168.0.1/netgear.cfg

5) This will save a text file called netgear.cfg wherever your default location for saving documents is. You should then able to open netgear.cfg with a text editor such as Notepad on a PC or Textedit on a Mac. I ‘d recommend you re-save it with a different name as netgear.cfg is also used for router settings backups.

The text file should look something like :

pppoa_username: jennynightingale@skydsl
pppoa_password: 1234567aa1
pppoa_idle=0
pppoa_ipaddr=

jennynightingale@skydsl is your actual Sky broadband username whilst 1234567aa1is will be your ADSL password. I changed Jenny’s here in this text, to protect her.

With this info you can now use any router you like so if your Sky Netgear router packs up at least you have a backup plan. Should you need to actually log into the router to change the WiFi settings, set-up port forwarding, dynamic naming service etc. the default logon is admin and the password sky. (If you need to phone Sky support BTW use their freephone number – 0800 0512595 rather than their 0870 numbers, they’re a bugger for charging, and using Indian callcentres, which, to be honest, are a pain.

The software on Sky’s Netgear router is custom, and does not allow you to connect or change settings for another ISP. This CAN be remedied, as the board in these routers is used in Netgear’s stock retail versions. You can flash stock firmware to it, and use the settings file we created earlier to connect to Sky. I must stress that this is AGAINST SKY’S TERMS, the router IS NOT YOUR PROPERTY during your contract, and modifying it against them will either result in SERVICE TERMINATION, CHARGES, OR LEGAL ACTION. There are a lot of people doing this on the Internet that haven’t researched, and are in for trouble!

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Football’s been postponed this week, because of Mother’s Day, and most of Hopwood LFC’s players are mummies, including Rikku. Jill bought her a lovely big bunch of flowers this morning, along with some new perfume, and a lovely card! We both worked together to make her breakfast in bed, too!

I went to see my mum this afternoon, as I bought her a card and some flowers too. It’s always nice to show your mum how much she’s appreciated. I’ve never taken my mum for granted, she knows I’m always here, no matter what.

God bless those whose mums are no longer with us, including my friend Greg. His mum seemed a really lovely person, and it was a shame I never got to meet her. God bless you Barbara, may God look after you for eternity.

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This week’s been quite interesting, so I’ll summarise on a day to day basis. I’m catching up late as our internet has just been fixed.

Tuesday

Tuesday I had a practise match with Hopwood, against Rikku’s social team. She has a group of 12 lady friends she has playful matches with now and again, their social tam name is Firebird LFC (given the red kit they wear) and they’re very good at football. They were all really understanding! I was playing with the Hopwood girls, and Rikku with the Firebird ladies, it was a really fast paced match, I was able to keep up pretty well, and our side won 2-1!

Being the only guy mixed in with two ladies teams, I now know what I’m in for (I think, anyway!) on Sunday. I’ve only ever watched teams play in a full size ground, so to actually play in one will be a real experience! Talk about a once in a lifetime experience!

Friday

I’ve sold Ami, I got £200 for her. So, I decided to try my luck at sniffing out some more bargains to re-sell. And got them. I’ve bought a Tiny A360+ Pentium 3 1.1GHz laptop, that I’m absolutely stunned by, in a good way! These machines are hitting 10 years old, and this one is perfect, as if it’s hardly been used! It has a 30GB HDD, DVD-CD-RW combo, and the original Tiny branded Windows XP install! It just needs a new keyboard, some of the keys don’t work, and one of the two Shift keys seems to have stuck on permanently, as when Windows loads, the StickyKeys bloop bloops its bloop (say that when drunk!) about three times, and all icons get selected upon one click of a single icon, like a Shift & drag select gesture. It comes with original power adapter, too! All for the Tiny (no pun!) price of £39, and I can get around £90 – £110 once the keyboard is replaced!

I used to be a freelance engineer for Tiny, and have done hundreds of their FIC manufactured machines, including the A360, A360+, A430, A440 and A535, and still do in my daily work!

I’ve also bought a Clevo M360C, an ex-college machine, that needs a new screen (the one fitted has stylus marks and scuffs on it), optical and some plastics. It’s a Celeron-M (JUUUNNNKK! Going to be replaced with a Pentium-M! As soon as possible!) 1.2GHz, with 512MB RAM and webcam. I need to stick a HDD in, and install Windows yet. I bought it for £39, and am hoping to sell it for £80 – £90 once repairs and installations are done.

Tonight

Tonight I’m spending a little lovemaking time with Mika, before heading off to Jenny’s later. She’s coming up to Birmingham for a bit, and I’m taking her along roadtesting Rikku’s new BU10 plate Alexander Dennis Enviro 300 later too, once the roads are clear about 1am before Jen takes us back to Bolton! Riky wasn’t expecting delivery of this bus for another two weeks! Time to see how they do at full throttle down the M62 when brand spanking new!

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I could never have imagined how hard today was going to be! In our one-to-one training hour Rikku had me doing everything we learned in all sessions, all in one go, from heading the ball through to goalie stuff, and it’s been hard work!

The match was really intensive, even the girls on my side were working me hard. I’ve never worked this hard, even in the bedroom with Kassie and Mika, and they’re quite demanding ladies 😉 Boy am I glad I didn’t have another rugby match earlier in the week, I would never have managed it! As Rikky mentioned afterwards, I’d got too used to the girls being gentle in the training, so that when it came for them to step on the gas, I wasn’t really ready! But, as she said after, that was how she intended it. If I’d been expecting it, it would’ve been too easy! Phew, women, eh? 🙂

I didn’t realise until I thought afterwards that I hadn’t had time to admire the team running around looking cute, I was working so hard! Next week is going to be hard, I can feel it, so Tuesday is going to be interesting. I don’t know any of Riky’s social friends team, or how they play.

Playing next Sunday’s match in a full football stadium is going to be a real experience, that is something I’ve never done. So is knowing who the other girls team are going to be, because according to Rikky, they are pretty good at what they do, and it’s a full on match, not a training session…..

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Footie on a Sunday, and it’s sunny, cloudless, and not sloppy and muddy! I’ve never had conditions like this since I started training before Christmas! I’ve always had to battle through a wet/muddy pitch in some way, so this should see how I perform on normal pitch conditions.

Next week, though, is my final training session with Rikku and her Hopwood team. It’s going to be a full match, with me, and Hopwood, against another team, on a full size football pitch, up in Runcorn somewhere, so I guess today’s going to be Rikky gearing me up for it. She wants me to have a test match on Tuesday with her other social friends team against Hopwood. She has a group of friends she plays footie with now and again, and they seem quite competitive.

That should be quite fun! Me, being the only guy, with two teams of hot footie babes! If there’s something every guy should try, this is it! You think women aren’t suited to football? Think again! They’re the cutest, sexiest, friendliest, yet competitive footie players you can have, and you can get turned on watching them play, in full kit 🙂 Yeehaw!!

Rikku’s leaving Hopwood in May, as I mentioned, the team Captain is coming back from maternity leave, and Rikku’s only filling in for her. Where we’ll go after this, I’m not sure, but I know for a fact she wants to DEFINITELY manage her own amateur team again….

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I’ve had a hectic few days!

Monday I had to fix our main Hyundai 52″ HD plasma, as the power supply went bang last Friday. Mika was missing out on her Sky+HD Corrie catchups, and kept mithering me, in a sweet little girl-even-though-I’m 29 voice, to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Jenny’s internet went on Wednesday morning, at 1am. She’s switched back to ADSL from Virgin, because she doesn’t use the internet as much these days, so wanted to save a bit. Virgin weren’t supposed to cut her off till the end of the month, but they did, so I had to go to Whitefield from Birmingham, pick a router up for her, go all the way down to Bolton, fit the router and set it all up. Then go all the way back to Birmingham, to pick Jill up from after school class at 4.30pm. Which I successfully managed, which made Rikku proud, and made me look ever the sweet loving dad she thinks I’ll be when I have kids of my own.

Then last night the leased Zen line Kassie had set up for us before she went back to Tokyo went down. I had to contact her to get Zen to sort it, as she set it up. We can’t use Kassie’s leased Sprint line for general internet, as that is a crucial vein for all her servers, which links us to her datacenter in Altrincham that holds servers for backups and redundant servers if our main ones go. Meanwhile, I’ve been out and bought an 02 dongle, which compared to 20MB leased fibre optic, is painfully slow!! But, it works, I can keep up on eBay, and Mika and I can keep up with Kassie on Messenger.

Then today our 56 plate B7RLE has developed a weird problem. When the engine is cold, she’ll start, without hesitation. If the engine is warm/hot, and running, then switched off, she just won’t start again. Cranking sounds perfect, speeding up as though she’s gonna catch and tick over on her own, but it never happens. Let it cool and it starts perfectly. I think it’s a temperature sensor somewhere.

Bloody buses and sensors! On a typical Volvo B7RLE with Wright Eclipse Urban body there’s ALL these:

1. Body mounting sensors

2. Body door sensors (bonnet, driver’s cab, emergency door and passenger entry door)

3. Engine sensors, including gearbox and temperature monitoring as well as all fuel/air intake sensors

4. Impact sensors for the airbag (a godsend, I’m glad THAT’s there, but they do go funny sometimes!)

This computer controlled vehicle malarky is getting slightly old, and I’m a computer expert! Today, though, is my chill day, with lil Mika. I was hoping Tuesday might have been OUR catchup day (yup, that’s the one!) but she was too busy catching up on her TV stuff! Ah well, at least I’m busy!

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Yesterday was good! I got changed into my kit at Jenny’s this time, before setting off for Manchester on the bus and tram. I was deliberately doing a Rikku trick, showing off to the ladies on my journey, and got quite a few admiring glances from some very cute ladies! If you were one of the girls on the 471 going to Bury and Rochdale yesterday, the lad in the sky blue and navy silk football kit was me!

I’ve had a go on one of the new trams, and they’re sooo quiet! I’m not sure of the colour scheme though, bright yellow? I suppose Serco Stagecoach don’t know about inconspicuous? Or is it so the drunks can actually SEE the tram when they’re pissed so they don’t end up railkill? 🙂 Trams are boring, quiet, and electric. Buses all the way! Noisy, powerful growlers that let you know they’re working hard!

I got to Manchester, and there was cute ol’ Rikky herself, waiting for me at the tram stop looking as cute as can be in her football kit, her lovely long red hair flowing sexily over her shoulders, gleaming in the sunlight, big hazel eyes looking at me in their usual aren’t-I-cute? look. Woops, got carried away there…..! I could write a book about her, spend a lifetime writing it, and never finish, we’ve got so much history. I just love her with red hair, I’ve always been used to the brunette Rikky look for the past 7 years, with her hair black occasionally. Cue more blokes and ladies (women at me and blokes at Riky!) giving us the “ooooh!”  and “phwoar!” looks as we got to her Merc, and drove to Birmingham. I should wear my footie kit permanently, I’ve never had so much female attention!

The training and match was good, the pitch was squelchy but not sloppy like my rugby match on Friday. The other girls hadn’t seen Rik with her hair red (the name for it is Radiant Red, according to her, but she looks more Ravishing!), so they were taken aback when they finally realised it was her!

Rikky and I spent our usual hour in one to one training, this time she was teaching me heading techniques, and chest control. I’m just glad she wears a padded bra and protective inserts, the speed at which she chested some of my shots would have hurt her puppies 🙁

The match was a bit more competitive than I’m used to. I think Rikky’s upped the ante a little, to see where my current limits are. She was against my side, and tackled me a lot faster and harder. I fell and slid a lot more! All in all I didn’t do so well this week, mainly due to me still aching from my frantic rugby match on Friday!

Note to self: Don’t do too much sport in a 3 day period, as a training player. It doesn’t work! If I was a pro, maybe!

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