Introduction: Computing Hints or Ideas.

About: Bytesize articles instead of a trilogy in one post.

Just some thoughts or suggestions I have put together. Just a few. more coming.

Step 1: Retro.

If you think using your computer is too much of a challange, then use these instead..

Step 2: Can Not Use Usb or Wireless Card?

(i.e raspberry pi) No problem. just use a wireless access point. Generally you can use a gui (point and click interface. Some wireless access pointss sypportt the use of the command line also. great for server and such where you do not need a gui interface.You can use telnet to configure the unit.

As I said, telnet is a very useful tool. It is used for talking directly with hardware, such as upgrading, controlling, plus other duties to routers and other hardware. My situation was that I wanted to talk to a wireless access point from a system that was text only. That’s right you have to use the command line as there was no gui web browser to access the unit. Did not really see any information about accessing the unit from the command line in the manual. so for grins, I tried to telnet the unit to see what would happen.

eddie@oedt01:~$ telnet
Connected to
Escape character is ‘^]’.

AP11G login: admin
Password: ******

Atheros Access Point Rev
AP11G wlan0 -> ?
List of Access Point CLI commands:
add remoteWbr                      — Add a remote Wireless Bridge
config wlan                        — config wlanX
connect bss                        — connect to bssX
del acl                            — Delete Access Control List
del key                            — Delete Encryption key
del remoteWbr                      — Delete a remote Wireless Bridge
find bss                           — Find BSS

Only listed just a few of commands. Wow!!  What a gold mine of commands. Just what I wanted to be able to use. One advantage of using an access point is that you do not have to use a usb port. No hardware to configure on the computer as long as you have a working wired ethernet connection. anthing you can do from the command line can be put into shell scripts. That means you can automate control of the unit. Try telneting into your personal router and see what is going on.

Actually if you want to use the acess point as a nic, you need to set it up as an access point client. You will need the mac address and the ssid of the access point you want to connect to for setting up the ap client.  great for connecting network between two houses next to each other where you can not lay cable or use ethernet over power options.

Step 3: Easy on the Usb Ports.

Use power supply extensions instead of the usb port to power your external projects. You can get extensions for the back of the pc or even a drive bay. Do not forget the socket covers for safety.

Step 4: Motherboard Reuse.

Not sure you want to get into electronics. Use an old motherboard with breakout cables. If you make a mistake and your project crashes and burns.  It is no big loss..

Step 5:

Need a server keyboard shelf. Before going out and spending money, think about using a few old hangers to make your own. I usually remote into this server.

Step 6: Spare Parts.

Never hurts to keep a few parts especially for extremely old computers.

Step 7: Paperclip.

Open cdrom trays.
Test power supplies (professional use only as you could get electrocuted to death if not connected properly) Schematic of power     supply required to find right pins to use. Do no just connect to any two points.

Do not connect the paper clip if power supply is connected to power!!!!!!!!!!!!

Step 8: Compact Flash.

Great for kiosk machines. I use them in robots to decrease footprint and also to save power. (ide to compact flash adapter required.) Also nice if you need to test an ide port without having to carry around an extra drive. We are using them also in the robots we build. You can also get other formats such as a laptop version and even a version that supports memory cards.

Step 9: Camcorder/webcam.

Camcorder or your web cam attached to a different computer can be a great tool when taking apart systems. You can review the video if you are stuck when putting the unit back together.

Step 10: External Quick Hd Connector.

Great if you want to back up, test, or prepare a drive. I prefer the ones with both ide and sata connections.

Step 11: Bench Testing Rig

Never hurts to have a bench testing rig to easily be able to swap out motherboards and other parts for testing.

Step 12: Small Portable Drive.

Great for convenient backups. Some of the drives may not support long filenames used on newer systems.

Step 13: Memory Card Adapter.

Memory card adapter for getting data from cameras and other devices. Get one with support for varied cards.

Step 14: Keep Documentation on Computers and Add-ons.

The way companies are buying each other out and closing web sites. I would get as much information as you can about your equipment. That includes schematics and jumper settings. You still have a chance to get at those old documents see:

Step 15: Cool It.

Use the canned dust spray to locate failing parts . Sometimes parts work fine till the system gets warm. Spray the suspected part. If the system keeps going you have the failing part.

Step 16: Crossover It.

Sometimes in an emergency, you need to connect two computers together, but a router is not available. Either use a cross over cable or get a handy crossover adapter.

Step 17: Ethernet Over Power.

Ethernet over power is a great way either to connect an extra computer to the network without running cable or trying to set up wireless. Plug in and go.  I especially like them, for use when I need to do something in the garage such as look up technical information so I do not have to go in the house dirty..

Step 18: Internet On-line Help.

Put all your computer notes/source code/config files in a blog online. That way you always have access to something special you have done. Makes the notes easily repeatable and accessible. Most blogs will let you keep certain posts private or hidden if you want to.. If you do decide to publish your notes, then lots of people can benefit from what you have done. This actually could apply to more than just computing.

Step 19: Clip Heaven.

Just a little cable organizing.

Step 20: Camera Adapter.

have a digital camera without a threaded hole for a tripod. No problem.

Cut a two inch piece of pvc .
Cut a channel in the pvc wide enough for the camera.
Drill a quarter inch hole half way across and the other side of the channel you cut.
Place pvc section on the tripod and use a nut to hold the section on the tripod.
Insert camera.

Step 21: Arm Architecture Vs I386.

Use Arm based devices to save room and electricity.

Android tablet
Nslu2 converted to a Debian server.
Arm based router running DD-WRT.
Raspberry pi to be a light usage desktop.

Note: You may need to click on the picture to see all the devices.

Step 22: Laptop Spash Protector.

Say your at a bus stop and a it has just rained. There is a big puddlle in the street. Car comes by and drives right through the puddlle so that you and your laptop get spashed with water.  Goodby laptop? No if you use this idea.

Recently I need some of those plastic cutting boards. I carefully cur open the bag and removed the biards. Then as I was just about the threow the plastic away, I said to myself how can I reuse that. Idea! the pastic cover could go over laptop inside the laptop bag. The laptop would now have additional protection!

Step 23: Reduce Cable Clutter.

Had a print server and a switch right next to each other, but I was using a 5-6 foot cable to attach them together. I did not want to cut the good cable and I did not want to go out and buy a specialy ethernet cable at the store. I did have a cable that needed repair. so I took the good cable from the switch/print server and put it where the bad cable was. Took the bad cable and cut it to length and added a new end. Two birds killed with one stone sort of.

Step 24: Ethernet Patch Cable in Plain Sight.

When I worked as a tech, seemed I always needed a patch cable for testing a connection. Tried to avoid carrying a whole lot of stuff. Turned a working patch cable as part of the attire. A patch cable is now part of a bolo!

Step 25: Repurpose Your Equipment.

Before you chunk that working computer for junk, consider using it as a web server. Openbsd has a built in web server and will even run on an old pentium one computer Slackware 14 (latest version) will still run on a Pentium 1-233.  makes a great server also. Netbsd another distro that can be installed from floppy with the help of the internet.

Step 26: Cheap Screen Protector?

Clear plastic tape has been used for an inexpensive screen protector for a long time/.

Step 27: Free Electronic Parts.

Harvest the parts from your dead equipment. Generally passive parts like the power connector do not go bad. Here we liverated the power connector for another project. may not seem like much, but befroe you know it you are saviang some real money. you did not have to spend at the electronics store. You might even be able to reuse the pcmcia wireless card for an old laptop.

If you reuse something you already have, you do not have to pay for shipping as you already have it.

Step 28: Batteries and Test Equipment.

Make sure you have good spare batteries for your test equioment.

Step 29: Extention Cables.

Nornaly you think of extention cables for power. But I have found extions cables for your desktop reduce the need to go beind the computer. Usb and parallel cables is what I use most. Havig the cables just saves you so much time and hassle.

Step 30: Instructables File Saving

For some reason, the Instructables website sometimes does not want to save the name of a file you want to download correctly. Here is a very quick video on how to get around the issue. You just need to learn a bit of mouse finesse and then do a save as.

Step 31: IT Crowd Internet.

Very easy to make your own IT Crowd clone.

External wifi host > wireless access point > wifi router > clients.

the internet = wireless access point > wifi router

Step 32: Cheap Sorting Box.

Buy eggs in bulk, then you will have some part sorter boxes for free minus the cost of the eggs.

Step 33: Cheap Mouse Pad

You can get press board for about a dollar a sheet. Needed a mouse pad
so I cut out a portion of an existing sheet, added a picture, and viola a mouse pad