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19 October 2006

Power Day

Blow my fuse, baby!

The last 24 hours were deeply rooted in the power of electricity. First of all on Wednesday evening at home our super quality electricity system blew a fuse, which left me sitting in the dark, right as I was talking on the phone. Then I came into work on Friday morning, logged into betabug.ch only to find that there had been a power failure in the housing, which hadn't worked out so well with the G3 (no, no, I'm lucky there has no permanent problem). And to round things out my new bluetooth headset acted up in the afternoon, which isn't really in the electricity category by itself, but I needed the charger to get it to work again, and the charger was of course at home...


The fuse at home left my room and the kitchen in the dark. This unusual combination of rooms to be on the same circuit is already a sign of how strange our power setup is. All power lines in the apartment have only two cables, no grounding cable. Obviously the setup was for proper three-pronged cabling, but my guess is that the contractor made some extra cash by cheating them to do the job with 2/3 of cables. The fuse board is the old fashioned kind with screw in fuses. That's fine and dandy, but it usually means that either a.) you have no fuses at home when you need them or b.) the spare fuses at home are the old ones from the last failure and you forgot to buy some. Extra note to self: It's nice to own a good flashlight [pats self on back] for moments like these. But it would be even better to leave said flashlight in a well defined place, so I won't have to search for it 10 minutes in the dark.

I then went out at 23:00 to try and buy a fuse. That's not as hopeless as it sounds, as in Greece we have kiosks (or "newsstands") that are open all night, and they tend to have all kind of stuff. The first one I went to didn't have anything electrical, the second had just ran out of the size of fuses I needed. Back home we then discovered that our fuse-board has one unused fuse, so we were able to switch around to get things going.

As for the G3, one problem seems to be that the internal battery is dead. That isn't so unusual for a machine a couple years old, I'll just replace it when I go to Germany. After the power returned, apparently the machine didn't power up by itself. I assume that is because of the dead battery, since normally it's setup to autostart in after power outages. Peter from the "Internet Ulm" club went in and booted up all the servers that didn't do that on their own (thank you Peter!), which were quite a lot. With the G3 he had the extra trouble that the power switch on the outside seems to be stuck or broken, he had to open up the box to get it going.

Then there was the bluetooth headset: I wanted to do a call from the office and had to muck around with the pairing to get the headset to talk to the computer. Despite what people may tell you, bluetooth is still a hack. The only times the G4 at work has ever crashed was with bluetooth problems. This time I went through the little dance of shutting down bluetooth on the G4, starting up the headset, then bluetooth on the G4, then checking through the "Sound" system prefs that input works. It didn't do it. Deleted and recreated the pairing, again the same dance. At one point I thought I had to do it again, switched off the headset and noticed at that very moment that I had input, so I started the headset again, when suddenly everything got stuck. The Mac user interface got unresponsive (mouse still moving, but no clicks registering), though I didn't check through the network if the machine was still alive underneath. A reboot fixed that.

What was worse was that the headset had crashed too. No little blue light flashing any more. No beeps and twingles as feedback for various long and short button presses. No reaction whatsoever. Now on 17 grams of plastic and electronics they don't give you a reset button any more. There is just a button for on/off/multifunction, and volume up/down. My line of thought was that when I plug in the power supply it usually shuts down its function, so maybe it will reset then. But of course the power supply was at home. No bluetoothing and Internet phoning for me then. When I came home my theory proved right, I plugged in the good old power and the blue light came right back too.

When I still was looking for a reviving secret key press for the headset, I went through several web searches. Apparently Motorola's support consists of a page telling you that "when you can't connect the headset to a device, you have to pair them first". Interesting. Then I found out that abc news has the Motorola H500 in the list of "worst product of the year 2006/Q3". Nice to know, even though their reasoning seems based mostly on the headset not having fit their testers ear.

Posted by betabug at 23:58 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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