alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
Does anyone know how to add items to the contextual NEW menu that you see on right click? At present, it does not give me the opportunity to create a new ODT or ODS file dirctly in a folder, though some sorts of files can be created, for example txt. I have tried following the instructions at, but that did not work. Then I looked at how .rtf is handled, and added a second item to the ShellNew key. The extra value is ItemName, something that all other filetypes that can be directly created in folders seem to have. The value for that in .rtf is: @%ProgramFiles%\Windows NT\Accessories\WORDPAD.EXE,-213 but I do not know what is the environment vvariable needed for Libre Office, so I used: C:\Program Files (x86)\LibreOffice 3\program\swriter.exe in the vain hope that it would be workable. I have no idea what to do to determine what number, if any should be appended. Unsurprisingly it doesn't work. It was a very slim chance. Maybe an error message would have given a clue, but there wasn't one. Any ideas anyone?
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)

I am learning to use KiCad with increasing speed, and it is certainly good to have a FOSS cad system that is available for Windows and Linux.

So far so good. However, the mapping of schematic to layout has problems.

Taking the example of a diode, the schematic (drawing) symbol looks like an arrow with a bar across the sharp end, with a connection at each end. One of the possible physical shapes for this can be SOT23, a shape used by several different components, including transistors, mosfets, and double diodes. The standard numbering of the three connections on a SOT23 goes, unsurprisingly, 1 2 3. A normal single diode connects to numbers 1 and 3, while 2 is unused.

Mapping the connections from the symbol to the physical shape requires that the pin numbers match, so if a diode is to use a standard SOT23 shape, its connections would have to be numbered 1 and 3. However, if the diode is to have another physical shape, then pin numbers 1 and 2 might be needed, or maybe even 2 and 3. A single schematic symbol would not work for this approach – but one of the intended strong points of KiCad is that one can concentrate on the schematic until that level of theoretical design is dealt with, and only then consider the detailed physical shape of the parts used. If a different (but similar looking) schematic symbol had to be used for different shaped parts, that level of simplicity doesn’t exist.

The alternative is to have separate layout shapes called, for example, SOT23-diode, SOT23-mosfet, and so on. If there is ever a need to change the dimensions slightly, for example to accommodate a change in soldering process, then all these separate footprints will need to be edited. Meanwhile, back at the diode, with a system like that, the diode connections would be labelled A for anode and K for cathode (don’t ask), and the diode footprint library would have pads labelled A and K.

Most electronics CAD systems have a third type of element, often called a device. That is a file that maps which connections on a schematic symbol match with which connections on the layout footprint, so that for any type of component there is just one schematic symbol, and for any layout footprint shape, there is only one of them regardless of how many different types of part use it.

I am still trying to decide whether there is a logical way to use KiCad, or whether it is (very reluctantly) necessary to purchase an upgrade to my existing EDWIN software in the foreseeable future. Edwin is good, but CAD software is usually very costly, so I am using a version from 1999 which will only work on Windows 7 using the virtual machine, and which I have so far failed to make work under WINE.

alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (pic#91180)
My Vista laptop will no longer access other computers n the same workgroup. I have checked everything that seemed obvious to me, including:

-Netbios is enabled over tcpip
-The problem continues when the firewall is switched off
-Can ping other computers by IP address, but not by name
-net view gives an error saying that the list of workgroup comuters is unavailable
-Internet access works fine
-All the appropriate options are switched on in the network and sharing centre
-All other (non vista) computers share files and directories correctly.

The vista machine:
- can ping internet sites by name
- has an IP address in the right range
- has the computer browser service running
- gives an error message when I try to access already-mapped network drives

It did work up to about 2 weeks ago, but either I ran a windows update, or changed something else minor that did not seem contentious, and it stopped working. I haven't got any restore points earlier than a couple of days, so no help there.

Since then, in an attempt to fix the problem, I ran a registry fixer on it. over 800 errors were reported and fixed, though some were trivial. The same procedure resolved a master browser problem that prevented a Win XP machine accessing the workgroup, for which no other attempted solution had been effective. However, in that case it could not access even it own shared directories via network places, until I stopped the computer browser service, and it was iffy after that. The vista computer lists its own network shares, but none from anywhere else. The vista computer indicates its own network shares, but none from anywhere else.

I ran SP2, and whatever that may have fixed, it did not fix the network access problem.

Has anyone got any ideas?
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
My large laptop computer has been unco-operative in some ways. Minus one point for the hardware, for Linux, and for Windows.

The ethernet connection failed a while back, and because the only way to have a hope of repairing it would have required complete disassembly, I decided to use the wireless networking instead.

I now find that the Ubuntu 8.x installation won't work with the wireless card, though it is supposed to have drivers that support it. The card is an intel 3945ABG.

Ubuntu probably does not enable the card, because it never reports finding any wireless networks, and when I set it up manually, it reports zero signal strength.

Under windows, there is the expected signal strength, but accessing the workgroup on windows networking does not work reliably. I have discovered that the problem is with the computer browser service. If any other computer on the network is elected master browser, all is well. If this one is elected master, then it can't access the workgroup at all.

If no other computer is switched on, it is the master and cannot access its own network shares via the workgroup icon, though it can do via the network neighbourhood links that it stores.

It accesses the internet OK, though.

I also notice that an extra protocol has been installed, presumably by an update I failed to switch off in advance: Microsoft tcp-ip version 6, in addition to the generic tcp-ip protocol. Disabling the version 6 does not solve the problem. The properties button is greyed out when tcp-ip V6 is highlighted, and the normal tcp-ip properties are accessible for the generic tcp-ip protocol.

DHCP is provided by the wireless internet router.

A temporary solution has been to disable the computer browser service. In principle I could set up a domain controller, but I don't want to be obliged to have one particular computer running at all times. It is a waste of electricity if I am not using it specifically, and in summer I could sometimes do without the extra heat.

Has anyone any idea how to address either of these software problems? I am not keen to dismantle the computer just to try to fix the network port because: 1) There is a small but real chance that it will cause further damage. 2) The repair may not be possible anyway. 3) It will take the best part of a day to do sufficiently carefully, with no repair manual.
alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)

At least, I think it was the dual boot linux install that caused the problem. The drive is no longer visible under Windows, and it did work just before I installed Ubuntu.

Because I had to replace the hard disc in my laptop, and reinstall everything, I reserved 20G for another OS, and installed Ubuntu in it.

Yesterday, when I wanted to write a CD of slides I had scanned for use at Oxonmoot, I discovered that the cd drive was not listed in Windows file mangler, nor inthe device manager. I have run out of bright ideas about how to fix it, except reinstall windoze and don't dual boot. That would be another 2 days wasted, AND I'd lose linux on this machine. I had been hoping (gradually) to migrate away from Windows, at least partly.

What I have found out/tried so far:

  • The CDROM works fine under Linux, and wrote the needed disc OK
  • The CDROM is listed as the second boot device, after a USB floppy drive I haven't got, but if I leave a bootable CD in it, grub loads linux unless I take other action. I am not sure if it is even possible to boot to a CD. I need to test that, but I doubt it.
  • Searching for problems with Win XP losing ythe cd drive, I found mentiion of a registry key under current control set, with an upper filter value. I removed it as instructions suggested, and now Windows lists the linux partitions as unformatted drives, but still does not see the cdrom drive.
  • I first tried restoring windows to an earlier configuration with the system restor functin. The earliest one available, when the cdrom was definitely working, did not restore the functionality.
  • I also tried fitting a cdrom drive that works in another computer, but that made no difference. Hardware failure is pretty much ruled out.

Can anyone figure out what I can do to make it work again?

alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)

The cause of the very slow "save as" dialogue box is clear at last. It appears that, when you click on the pulldown box on the "save as" box, Microsoft Office insists on making a connection with every network drive that is mapped. That doesn't waste too much time if the only mapped drives are on a server that is never switched off, but in a network where shared directories are mapped on a peer-to-peer basis, and not all computers are switched on all the time, this is not viable.

The solutions proposed by Microsoft are not to map the network drives, or, on the assumption that they are on servers that might have a slow WAN connection, mirror WAN servers locally. Then there are workarounds like running a script on startup to map only those drives that are present at the time - which won't help much here because machines get switched on and off at need.

Open Office does not seem to suffer from this problem, so Hibernia has three obvious choices:

  1. Live with it, now she knows what the problem is.
  2. Unmap all shares, and go through "My Network Places" to get at any share she wants.
  3. Use Open Office.

I would use the last solution if it was my computer this was happening on. It does happen on mine, but I rarely use the "Save As" dialogue, preferring instead to right click and create a new empty document with the correct name in the directory where I want it, then open the new document so that it will always save where I expect it. However, because I am insufficiently rich not to care, the laptop I bought earlier in the year is set up with Open Office - saving an extra cost of over half the price of the computer. Because Open Office can open and save to MS office file formats (though I doubt it translates any macros that may be present) and can also save to pdf, I my decide to change to that on this computer. The only macro that runs on startup is one to add a button to save in PDF form, and that hits me with a series of dialogue boxes when Word opens because it has not been signed by an authority that MS trusts, so switching to OO as the default might be best, assuming there is not too much consumer resistance from Hibernia.

She was very iffy about Firefox for a short time, but now would not wish to go back to Internet Exploder.

alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
Late Monday morning I had a call from Lamorna, whose friend had a computer problem. I had fixed said friend's internet connection some time back, just after her husband, who did the tech stuff, had died of a hospital infection a long time after going in for something relatively routine.

This time I managed to find out that the virus report from the scanner was a false positive, and replace the antivirus program with one I trust more, and which incidentally doesn't slow the computer down so much.

Now I have partly caught up with my work, and just emailed to my customer the printed circuit layout for an 868MHz wireless transceiver for remote control. Now I have to return to the question of the transformers which get hot, for the same customer. Rats, I also have a web page to design for another customer and some work on a high voltage circuit for a third. If nothing takes longer than it should, I ought to be almost up to schedule, even with the stuff I got behind on last week, by Wednesday mid afternoon, in time for some as yet unscheduled product evaluation work for yet another client that has an office in Milton Keynes.

Being a freelance, there is too much to do or too little. Well, I've got to pay for the holiday in Japan, so right now too much is better...


alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)

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