Art of Proprietation

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gutting a Z61m laptop

Recently I had to gut and clean my laptop.

For about a year now, I have been having trouble keeping my Lenovo Z61m laptop from overheating. It started last springish when I was watching a netflix Watch it now movie. My Laptop squealed a little scream and then abruptly quit. I didn't realize what was happening at first and it scared the pants off me. My laptop is my biggest source of income and is pretty important to me. I had upgraded from an IBM A20m about a year earlier and it was a size able investment for me. It's the cost of doing business, but I didn't make the decision lightly.

So I was pretty elated that it restarted later. But it took me a little while to realize the laptop was overheating. I have had laptops get pretty hot, but I have never had one shutdown on it's own. When I realized what the problem was, I looked around to see how others had dealt with this and to see if it was a common problem with the Z61m model. I didn't find much, but I did find that there is a utility out there called TPfancontrol that allows you to control the fan speed manually. I reprogrammed the fan speed / max component temperature map and that helped for while. But as we got into summer, I had more trouble. I also bought a laptop fan base. The fan base allows better air flow under the laptop and uses three fans to blow air against the bottom of the laptop. In the hottest months of summer, this made the difference between being able to operate my laptop or not.

With those measures, I limped along for long time, but the problem got progressively worse. Last week, it finally got so bad that I bit the bullet and disassembled my laptop. I wasn't able to find much in the way of documentation on how to do it, but it ended up reasonably straight forward. Like most laptops, the keyboard is the key to disassembly. Once the keyboard is off, the innards are exposed.

I was reasonably sure I was going to find a fan blocked with lint or some such. I think those heat exchanger fins were at least 70 - 80% blocked. It is pretty amazing that those copper bars can conduct away heat so effectively. Because of their shape, I wonder if maybe they are filled with a heat conducting fluid.

Now that I have cleaned the heat exchanger, the idle temperature of my laptop has dropped about 10 degrees C. And even during the most demanding tasks (streaming video) it only gets up to 65 C. Previously I couldn't do those tasks at all as the laptop would quickly get up to 100 C and shutdown.

Here is the cleaned heat exchanger:

We are all pleased the operation was a success.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009


For the first time since November, we aren't brooding chickens in the house. It's a bit of a relief.

In November, we had an unplanned hatch under an Orpington hen. It was too cold to leave them outside and it began our looong journey. We had been planning to hatch in January anyway, and keeping the November chicks didn't seem much of a stretch. But then the January hatch rate was poor and we decided to hatch again in February. Now, after finally moving the last of the chicks outside, those November chicks feel like much more of a stretch.

The weather has warmed considerably in the last two weeks. The sunnier north half of the yard is free of snow. The South East facing hillside gardens are thawed and the garlic is up. We are that quickening where it all seems to change over night.

And there is mud. Nothing to complain about, mud means moisture and warm temps, growing temps, but there it is, Mud.

We are on our way.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


It's about time I got back to a post about Proprietating. Given my posts of the past year, a person would be forgiven for not knowing that the art of proprietation is about running a cooperative household.

Since we prefer short term renters, it means we have more turn over than most landlords. More turn over means more advertising and I do a fair amount of mine on the Internet. Advertising on the Internet invariably attracts scam artists. Like love and marriage, the Internet and scammers just go together.

The most common scam goes something like "A friend of mine will send you a cashier's check for more than the price and you can wire me the difference. And there will be enough left over to make it worth your while." And they want you to do it fast, before the check has a chance to clear your bank. By the time you find out their check was bogus they have picked up your money from western union and you have no recourse. Probably everything from their location to their name and story has been a lie. Maybe they only dealt with you via email. They could be anywhere. It's a simple, transparent scam, but it actual snares a lot of people. It's generally called the Nigerian check scam or an advanced fee fraud.

It's not hard to spot your average Internet scam. They are not particularly sophisticated. Invariably, they offer to pay more than you are asking or some other inducement to get you to front money in some fashion. Often their written English is poor at best. And they are going to put up some ludicrous explanation as to why they need to have you do their transaction without meeting. Something about their uncle's business dealings and maybe a family trust and how they are a British born model on shoot in Africa and on and on. And for some reason they are always putting themselves out as Evangelical Christians. Maybe they figure people will trust them more that way.

But it's really not enough to spot them. It's important to not allow them to get a toe hold with personal information. My general rule of thumb is I don't put anything on the Internet that could lead someone back to me. I don't post our postal or physical address, phone number, last name or an email that can lead back to me. All my posts go through an anonymous free email. When I do get a contact, I get a phone number to contact them at and call them rather than give them my phone number. I google their email address, phone number and any other information they give me. I don't often get a lot of information from those google searches, but any information is helpful. And when I do call, I don't call from my home phone.

Those are not fool proof rules. There are ways for a more sophisticated scam to still get through, but I have never had a scammer get close enough to get my address or other physical information before I spotted them. The one that got close was someone who used a local cell phone number to pose as a local resident. That's why it is worth finding an alternative to the home phone to make the initial contact.

The easiest thing to do is get an email from any of big players, Yahoo, Hot mail, Gmail, etc to put in your Internet advertisements. Do not put any personally identifiable information in the profile. I don't suggest making up a fake name like Susy Smith, it might be awkward to explain to your legitimate contacts. Instead, something that is obviously anonymous like John Q Public or maybe first name: Selling last name: MyBoat that matches your advertising.

It is a fine line. There are definitely people reading my ad that are uncomfortable giving out their information just like I am. There is a hypothetical chicken or the egg thing there. But I have honestly almost never run into it. My posts advertising our room for rent is well worded and is evidently straightforward enough. I can think of only one person who questioned my you first policy on contact information. With those kinds of odds, I will accept losing a potential contact rather than expose myself to a potential scam.


Sunday, March 01, 2009


I don't know when they became fashionable, but I didn't think much of those eva foam clogs called Crocs when I first saw them. They looked bulbous and short lived in garish colors. But at some point I was won over and I got a pair of yellow ones. They made me look like I had duck feet, which didn't really bother me. I figured if I wore them much I wouldn't get much more than a year out of them, but I wanted some shoes that would dry easily and come off and on easily for round the house duties. That was about three years ago.

I have been wearing that pair close to continuously ever since. I like them in the summer because to keep my feet cool and don't track dirt in the house. They are easy to kick off at the door. In the fall, I'll wear them outside unless the mud gets sloppy enough to squeeze in through the holes. In the winter, as long as the snow is crusty and not too wet, they work fine for a trip out to the wood shed or doing the animal chores. In the spring we are busting loose to get outside and a pair of bright yellow shows just screams warmer weather is coming. In all weather the crocs have a well cushioned sole and insulate my feet from cold or hard floors.

I am really surprised at how long these plastic shoes have lasted. I wear them daily year round. They are starting to be worn and they long ago picked up permanent dirt that cannot be washed away. The soles are no longer ribbed, I have worn them smooth. But they have not ripped like I thought they would.

There are lots of situations that are not appropriate for crocs. Working with machinery, or a shovel. Tramping thorough blackberry brambles or other half inch thorns that might Pierce the sole. I once found an upholstery tack embedded in the sole. It must not have been a half inch as it never reached my foot. And I wouldn't suggest mowing the lawn in crocs, not adequate protection for the feet.

I did try out some cheaper alternatives. When I saw an imitation for a fifth the cost, I did try them. I only use them when I am away, but I was disappointed in the imitators. The soles were not nearly as thick and do not provide adequate cushion. I probably won't find out how long they last since I avoid wearing them.