Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Giving the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900 keyboard a power switch

Say whatever else you want about them, Microsoft has always made amazing peripherals hardware. I got their Microsoft Wireless Desktop 900 keyboard/mouse set, which is much the same as the Wireless Keyboard 850 in a kb/mouse bundle. It's no exception - reasonable price, great quality, does exactly what it says with no nonsense and stray LEDs. The keyboard is really flat and convenient.

Unfortunately they took the minimalism a bit too far. The keyboard has no power switch.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Fix Lenovo T460 failure to suspend (sleep) under Linux

My Lenovo T460 with Intel integrated graphics abruptly stopped suspending properly a few weeks ago and it's been driving me nuts. Today I fixed it.

TL;DR: For my specific issue lowering the integrated graphics memory portal from 512MB to 256MB in the UEFI firmware setup ("BIOS setup", F1 boot menu) resolved the issue.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Updating Lenovo T460 BIOS (UEFI, firmware) without a CD on Linux

Some of Lenovo's newer models come with a firmware update distribution compatible with fwupd so you can just do a firmware update directly from the shell.

This is not the case for the T460, which has a bootable ISO, or a Windows installer that ... creates a bootable ISO.

I couldn't find my USB CD/DVD drive so I landed up finding a workaround.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Nova Empire Beginners Tips

I've fallen down the rabbit hole of a p2w but still fun if you're free-to-play game called Nova Empire. Despite numerous flaws the game is entertaining and good for when you're pinned under a baby.

However, it has a bunch of traps for beginners. I'd like to share some tips. Currently as a bit of a random assortment. I'll update this occasionally.

Beware, the game is kind of addictive. I play it when I'm pinned under my cranky toddler who wants to use me as a pillow. But it's designed to get its hooks into you and get you playing more, so keep an eye on it. If you're tempted to spend money on it... well, with my software developer hat on I say "go ahead, really, do it." But with my responsible adult hat on I say "the prices are ridiculous for what you get, just be patient, it's a game". If you do want to drop some cash to support them, do it early on in the game to get to level 5 station faster and speed up overall growth.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Adafruit Gemma, Macbook and the dim red light

My partner recently picked up an Adafruit Gemma as an intro to Arduino and embedded. It has not gone according to plan - it turns out there's a known issue where on some systems the Gemma will fail to enter the bootloader properly. The green power light comes on, but the red light stays dimly and constantly lit. If the reset button is pressed it goes out for a moment then returns.

Trying to program it anyway results in an error like

avrdude: Error: Could not find USBtiny device (0x1781/0xc9f)

The issue seems to be somewhat intermittent, too. Occasionally it works on her Macbook Air. It always works 100% of the time on my Lenovo T460 (Linux). So there's something platform related...

Not a great intro. The Gemma doesn't behave like usual Ardiuno systems - it doesn't expose a USB serial port, for example - so answers are also thinner on the ground.

But I think we found something.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Updating the tomu bootloader on the tomu.im EFM32HG

I got a tomu tiny EFM32 that fits in a USB port at lca 2018. More information on Tomu.

Mine came with the serial bootloader (it presents a USB CDC ACM device). I didn't manage to get to the update booth to reflash it at LCA.

I had some difficulty getting the new bootloader on it when I pulled out recently to try to play with it, but since I got it working, here's a short runthrough of how I got it updated.

I use Fedora 28 but this info should apply for any Linux really.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Childcare management service provider Hubworks! shows us how not to deliver SaaS platform

Late this year, the Department of Education and Training required daycare services including Family Daycare services to transition to a fully-eletronic "Child Care Subsidy System" (CCSS). They supply a list of vetted and approved third party software providers to mediate between DET's CCSS and the FDC provider.

Which brings me to "Hubworks!" This company produces a hosted SaaS that amongst other things caters to family daycare services. You will be shocked to hear that this blog is not a ringing endorsement of their wonderful platform.

They managed to:

  • Produce the worst online enrolment form I have ever seen, and I've seen some truly bad web forms;
  • Have their support service ask my partner to send them her password;
  • Write me off as a parent, because there's only one "Primary Parent";
  • Trumpet on their website about all their amazing Web Based Web 2.0 with Bank Level Security while doing all this.

I reached out to Hubworks via support and internal channels months ago to raise some of these issues. I have been ignored and dismissed. My ticket has been marked "Fixed". So it's time to see if their marketing department cares more.

They've been very happy to direct me to seek support via the educator and the family daycare scheme, as "[t]his is policy of HubWorks! that we always direct parents back to the service as we do not provide assistance to families." From my experience so far, they also do not provide any assistance to the service or educators.