Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Hacker Life

I like the word hacker. It tends to describe me but not in the conventional meaning of the word. I don't crack computer software and access the inaccessible. Yes I have tried but my results were dismal failures. I lack the knowledge, trade - craft or whatever it is that makes a hacker a cracker. With me it's just repetitive hack hack hack but no crack. I've seen dogs chasing their tales that are more successful than me. So, yes I am a hack and the verb for hack is hacker but not to mean what it usually means.

I decided I'd try my hand at network computing. Using my old PC that I'd given to mother who gave it back in disgust, I removed windows and installed Ubuntu. So far so good. But, what do you do with Ubuntu if you don't have an internet connection? Not much that's what.
Ubuntu is a freeware version of Linux. OK, so Linux is a freeware version too, of Unix.

Anyway, I bought a wireless router on ebay and thought I'd connect my modem to the router and then use the old PC, now set up in the garage to access the net. Either you don't understand what I'm saying or you can hear the sounds of hack hack hack in the air.

I've been trying to install the wireless router on my PC (relatively new one) but found that PC wouldn't recognize router no matter which configuration I tried, hack hack hack, the EZ installation program on the CD just gave up. I tried using the Windows XP built in function to detect wireless modem even when it was connected by wire...hack hack hack without success.

I tried updating the drivers that came with the installation CD and that opened up another can of hacking worms. Having downloaded the drivers I couldn't find out how to install them.
Windows Help tells me to get windows to first detect the new hardware and then the drivers will install...hack hack hack...back to square one.

So, just to give myself a break,  I tried fixing wifey's car which refuses to start even after having a brand new battery installed ..hack hack hack sounds in the air again and I replaced the alternator with a new one (new as in direct from the auto wreckers yard) only to find car died after a jump start...hack hack hack...
maybe it needed a different alternator so I fitted a second one, again from the same impeccable source as first one without any success.Car is still immobile, router is sitting in drawer doing nothing much.

Now you understand the life of a hacker.


Jeannie said...

This is why I had my son. My second son could do it too but even he finds it easier to just ask his brother. The kid seems to just KNOW stuff. If he doesn't, he knows how to find out. He really shouldn't be stuck working with his Dad.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

See if you can find the device drivers at the wireless router's manufacturer's website or hunt for it at Save them to a disk, burn them on a CD, or a USB flash drive.

Go into Windows XP "Control Panel" and click "Add new hardware" (after everything is plugged in, of course). The computrer will search for new connected devices. If Windows detects something it doeesn't have the drivers for, it will ask if you would like to search the web for the drivers or install them from disk. Select install from disk, and select the location you have the drivers stored on after downloading them from the manufacturer or

For wireless networking, a wireless router alone isn't going to work unless the computers connecting to it have wireless cards (like a laptop) or a wireless network adapter (Linksys / Cisco makes an inexepensive USB wireless network adapter that works like a dream) and from there Windows will be able to locate the wireless signal from your router (and possibly your neighbors routers, if they don't have them firewalled, hehe).


For the car, an alternator isn't going to start the car if it's fresh off the shelf, as the engine runs it charges up the alternator.

When you haqve a car that runs, the "shade tree mechanic" way of checking to see if the alternator is good is to disconnect the positive cable from the battery while the engine is running. If the engine keeps running, the alternator is good (but rapidly losing its charge without battery flow, so don't do it for too long)

So the problem may lie with the starter, and perhaps (hopefully) only the starter solenoid itself as starter solenoids are cheap to replace (unless they're integrated into the starter itself)

Without knowing what kind of car (make / model / year) it is, I don't know how much trouble you'll have getting to the starter solenoid.

When you try to start the car, does it make a clicking noise? Try to turn over but just not start? Or does it do nothing at all?

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

May also be something simple like the distributor cap rotor that sends charge to the spark plugs.

But if the battery and alternator are good or good-ish, it could be starter / starter solenoid related.

If it starts but doesn't stay running, it's either alternator related (runs the battery down) or spark plug distributor related (engine isn't getting fire)

Lexcen said...

Beamish, your advise is much appreciated. Will be hacking away further today to see if I can overcome my ineptitude. Didn't think of the solenoid or the distributor cap as the cause of the problem in the car. Didn't consider putting drivers on CD instead of folder on PC. Will get back to you.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

I come from a long line of do-it-yourselfers. I don't like to pay for work I can do myself, at least with computers and cars.

Hopefully your starter solenoid is a seperate component not built into the starter itself, but that's something somewhat phased out by the newer car philosophy of "if a DIY consumer can't fix it, they have to take it to one of our mechanics so we make more money."

Anonymous said...

See, this is the point where I'd start a new painting.

Lexcen said...

Jen, maybe I should stick to painting.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...


I know more about cars than computers, and just my luck they're putting computers in cars now.

I usually mess around with computers and learn operating systems by trial and error (mostly error). By the time I do "master" an operating system, it's obsolete.

I long for the days of DOS...

Lexcen said...

Beamish, I've given up on the car because the replacement of the starter means getting underneath the engine, undoing the spark plugs and with special sockets required, it's just a bit too much trouble for me.
As for computers, I've been frustrated since XP OS and the newer OS's that are supposed to be easier and more intuitive just piss me off.

Anonymous said...

I admire the determination, Lex.

When it comes to being a hacker, I'm even further down on the spectrum.

techtard hacker whiz

I'm on the left.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Under the engine likely means the solenoid is built into it.

Grumble grumble Ford grumble grumble. They're the ones that started the "make work for our certified mechanics" craze.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

"Let's put essential electrical components closer to the ground so water from the road and leaks from the engine can get inside them and destroy them so our mechanics will have work."

I hate engineers.