Monday, 25 July 2011

My Whirlpool Fridge freezer leaks from the freezer section...

Well, it used to!

I've got one of those American style side by side Fridge freezers, and for the last couple of years(!) something has been leaking in to the bottom of the freezer, and leaving a big block of ice. Eventually, the ice block is so large the water starts leaking out of the bottom of the door.

It's all caused by the drain hole becoming blocked with ice. This drain hole normally allows the water produced by the frost free mechanism to drain out of the bottom of the freezer in to a pan in the bottom of the unit, where it then evaporates.

In a particularly hopeless bit of design, this hole easily becomes blocked with ice formed from the draining water.

It can be fixed however, by the use of a bit of copper wire. Remove the contents of the freezer, undo the screws holding the back panel and remove it (you may need to remove some shelf supports so the panel can come out). At the bottom you will see the blocked drain hole, and this needs unblocking. I used a hair dryer and hot water. Eventually all the ice will have melted, and you can now insert the copper wire. I used a bit from some household wiring (2.5mm T&E). You then need to poke one end down the drain hole for a few centimeters, and then let the other end hang or lightly wrap it around the defrost element, which is a black heater bar running across the bottom of the cooling element. This is what defrosts the fridge, as every 8 hrs or so it warms up and gets rid of the frost on the cooler - and this where all the water comes from. The copper wire transfers some of this heat down in to the hole, keeping it defrosted, allowing the water to escape!

Ta Da. All done. Reassembly is the reverse of dismantling.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ubuntu Preferred Application - Photo Manager F-Spot vs Shotwell

I've been using F-spot to manage photos for ages, and my Ubuntu box defaults to using it even with the latest releases (with Unity). However, I just created accounts for the children on the machine, and wanted those accounts to use Shotwell instead. So, I have both installed, but one account must use F-spot and the others use Shotwell. Could I find the instructions on how to do that? Nope. Well, yes, but only after a lot of looking.

There is a preferred applications options in system settings, but this doesn't cover the photo manager - which it should.

In the end I found an option in Nautilus (that's the Ubuntu/Gnome File Manager), so if you go to nautilus/Edit/Preferences/Media tab, you can find options to set various default applications. The one you want is Photos!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Tesco sherbet lemons have CHANGED!

Bought a couple of packs just now, hoping to find the not-at-all-like Barratt's Sherbet Lemons of past purchases, but no, they are now just like Barratt's Sherbet Lemons.

What a disappointment. I really liked the old ones - crunchier and fizzier. And more yellow.

Shame on you Tesco's.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

More good customer service

We recently had a new bathroom fitted, and had bought all the bits ourselves, with the fitter (next door!) doing all the real work. Anyway, one of the taps handles on the very expensive (£126) tap unit on the bath kept working loose, and repeated tightening later eventually stripped the thread of the grub screw hole. So, I phoned up the people who we bought it from, explained what had happened and could we have a new handle please. A couple of days later a COMPLETE tap unit arrived FOC. Yes, the whole £126 worth.

Thanks Victoria Plumb, that's excellent customer service.

Unity, or, what happened to my Ubuntu

So, bit the bullet and installed the latest Ubuntu with the new Unity UI.

Firstly, the install had a failure right at the end - I think maybe my fault. I did it from the LiveCD rather than the usual upgrade and dismissed some windows I probably shouldn't have, and I lost a lot of settings and installed applications. To be honest, it was only an hour or so of reinstalling apps and I was back to normal, but still a pain.

Anyway, to Unity itself. So far, and contrary to what a lot of people are saying, I've been getting on OK. It has quite a few rough edges, but on the whole it seems to work OK. Some things take a bit longer to do than before - finding apps needs to be improved - if you don't know the name of it and it's not on the launcher there a quite a few button presses to get to the right place. Some things are a lot easier - I like the workspace switcher, and the mechanism for selecting which window of an app you want. I just out that middle button on the mouse launches a new instance of an app from the launcher, which is very useful.

On the whole, some way to go to make it really useful, but not a bad first effort given the short development time.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Attaching old hard drives

I have a draw full of old HD's ranging from 4-80GB. All from old PC and repairs over the last few years. I was thinking of getting a caddy so I could plug them in to check what was on them, but found an even better bit of kit. It's simply a USB cable with an adapter on the end that plugs in to SATA, 2.5 IDE or 3.5 IDE drives, plus a power supply. So I can plug the two cables in to the bare drive, plug in to the USB on the PC - Linux auto mounts, and hey presto, I can get all the old data off, and shred as necessary.

A very well spent £10, from Ebuyer IIRC.

Friday, 25 February 2011

HandBrake and DVD::Rip

Up to now I've been using DVD::Rip to rip DVD's for playback on my media streamer. It's worked fine, but have had various sound sync issues, and for the life of me cannot get H264 encoding to work.

Now I'm using Handbrake, which is pretty good. Not quite as friendly as DVD:Rip (or maybe I'm just not used to it), but have been able to encode to H264 (via x264) which means that's the way I'm going for the moment.

LibreOffice vs OpenOffice

Just installed LibreOffice on my Ubuntu box, and have been very pleased so far. Certainly starts up very quickly when compared to OpenOffice. Did it via a PPA rather than a package install, all worked well. Used the instructions here Ubuntu Wiki

Not seen any issues yet, but I'm not a heavy user. The better MS compatibility should be a boon, and the further away from Oracle's grubby mitts the better!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Getting old Inventel Wireless adapter to work on Ubuntu Linux

I've had an old Inventel USB adapter (UR054g)hanging around for a while, and previous attempts have failed at getting it to work in Ubuntu. I think this was supplied when we first had a LiveBox from Freeserve (bought by Orange - may be wrong was a while ago)

However, latest effort has gone very well! I'm using Ubuntu 10.10, and the following process seems to have got it working. The device is auto loaded by Ubuntu when you plug it in, but the important step is to make sure you have the correct firmware that is loaded to the stick when it is plugged in.

I used the instructions from here...

which basically boil down to download the right firmware, in my case the chip inside is a isl3887usb, so I downloaded from, rename the file to isl3887usb and copied it to /libs/firmware (you need to do this as root).

You can find out the chip used in the device by using lsusb in a terminal, and one line shows something like :

Bus 002 Device 008: ID 1435:0427 Wistron NeWeb

I then used the device ID 1435:0427 in Google and found out it was the isl3887usb.

Restart the driver by

modprobe -r p54pci
modprobe p54pci

Add hey presto, it all starts working.