Technical Insanity

Have you ever noticed how adaptable this song is? Yeah, I know, I promised nothing like, well, this on this site, but hey, you might find it funny…

So here it is, I present to you, the 12 days of electronics to be sung to the obvious tune!

A 35 watt soldering iron
2 rheostats
3 555’s
4 Film Resistors
5 Ferrite Rings
6 crystal oscillators
7 pin headers
8 reels of wire
9 zenner diodes
10 power relays
11 transistors
12 schematics

So there we go, moment of sanity over, back to irrationality as I try to electrocute myself a little more. So until next time, ciao!

In every Microsoft operating system since windows 98 (It was installed as an extra, remember?) there has been Windows Update… the application. It sits there in your system tray and reminds you every 2 minutes that you have one update to install that affects something you never use, then waits for you to go get a cup of tea before forcefully restarting you computer, casually losing anything you were working on!

For those of you who follow this blog, you may have noticed this being posted before, but you may not have noticed that this is an update! When an update window is seen, the process is automatically terminated for you. This does not affect the normal updating of your computer, but merely stops it bugging you about the update, and stops it for restarting by itself. The result? When you return from getting your cup of tea you work is still on the screen of your computer with you music still playing, ready for you to continue using it… the way it’s meant to be!

This version is also developed to work with windows 7 and XP, although others should work! Requires .Net Framework v2.0 to work.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please comment on this post. You never know, it might just get added!


Download here: WAU Controller v2.2.0.1

All I wanted was a way to place the number of comments Akismet has saved me from placed in a sidebar is a form which blands with my blog. But none was available!

I was because of this I decided to write one, at this point ‘Akismet Spam Counter Widget’ was born. Yeah, original name I know, but it says what it does. Simple, to the point. Same as the widget :-)

It has two options, the first is the title of the widget, the second being the text of the widget.

The way it behaves is identical to that of the text widget, except the it replaces any instance of a token with a statistic.

For example, lets say Akismet has blocked 123 spam comments and you put this into the Info box:
Yahoo! !akismettotal! spam comments blocked!
You widget will actually display:
Yahoo! 123 spam comments blocked!

Tokens you can use are:

  • !akismettotal! – Total number of spam items blocked by akismet
  • !currentspam!  – Number of items currently in your spam box
  • !approved!     – Number of comments that have been approved. If you have no moderation, this is all non-spam
  • !unapproved!   – Messages that are not spam and that have not been aprroved. If you have moderation disabled, this will always be zero.

I would like to say thanks to How To Stuff for their post How to write a WordPress widget (how I created the tip of the week) which gave me most of the information needed to make my widget. Thanks guys!

You can get the plugin from the Wordpres plugins directory here:

Until we meet again, so long!

This application has been updated, see here.

Windows Automatic Updates. Such a small piece of software that’s meant to save you time and keep you system up to date with little to no inconvenience to the user, and yet it is all but convinient.

How often have you been working on your system and you keep getting a little window bugging you to reboot? Or been playing a game, and repeatedly minimises you game to show you this little window? How about left you machine for a few minutes to get a coffee or the like, and returned to find the system has automatically restarted and closed all your windows and lost a chunk of work?

Ok, this isn’t the perfect soloution, but it is a beginning.

This small app that is designed to sit in the system tray and show you the status of the windows update service. If this service is stopped, then no updates, but you do get rid of those bug windows.

This app gives you the ability to stop, start and restart the service, aswell as allowing this app to start with windows, so it is always there.

Detect WAU windows and automatically shut down the service
Option: Auto stop service on start (Useful as many spyware apps detect the disabled service as a threat)
Option: Change statup type (Auto -> Manual -> Disabled)

Anything else? Place sugestions in the comments!


WAU Controller v1.0

Edit 20/05/2009: Realised I didnt attach a licence to this little project, so let it be the lastest version of the GPL, which at present is v3.  :-)

Before I start this, it should be known I am relatively new to shell scripts, and while this may not be the best method by any means, it does work.

Everything needed is available here as a tarball, it should be placed in /etc/apt/ and unpacked using ‘tar -xvf source-switcher.tar’, running will get you set up. You will have to configure your sources files though!

My problem was this. I have a local repo on a machine in my house, which makes updating and installing a lot quicker that it used to be, let alone being fun to set up. My laptop however, is not always in the house for obvious reasons, and even when it is,  it’s not always connected to the network.

For this, I wanted a way of switching between sources.list files with as little user intervention as possible.

I already have a folder called ‘’ which contains a different list for each location, and this is a listing so far:

root@ben-laptop:/etc/apt/ ls -1

So I wrote this script which checks to see what repo is available, and copies the right sources.list and overwriting the one that is already there, and then notifies user 1000 (perfect for single user systems).


export DISPLAY=:0.0
sudo -u \#1000 notify-send -u normal -t 10000 -i /etc/apt/apt.png "APT Source: $1" 'Your sources list has been updated for this network!'
cp "/etc/apt/$1" '/etc/apt/sources.list'
if wget -t 1 -T 1 --spider; then
apply 'Home'
elif wget -t 1 -T 1 --spider; then
apply 'Official'
apply 'CD-Rom'

As you can see, the apply lines use the same extension as the sources files in the folder. More scripts can be added by more else statements. This also allows prioritisation. Note that if all else fails it uses the CD-Rom sources list, this should allow me to have something to install from available at all times.

Also in my /etc/apt folder I created this script, which sets up the links in /etc/network/if-up.d and /etc/network/if-down.d so that the script runs when you ‘change location’.


echo 'Setting up links...'
link /etc/apt/ /etc/network/if-up.d/source-swapper
link /etc/apt/ /etc/network/if-down.d/source-swapper
echo 'making main script executable...'
chmod +x /etc/apt/
echo 'Installing dependencies...'
apt-get -y install libnotify-bin
echo 'should be done :-)'

A few things that should probably be noted. First is that the setup script will need to be set executable. If you decide not to use the setup script, make sure you manually apply its changes. The only other thing that have is the ‘package’ icon. That should be places in the apt folder as /etc/apt/apt.png, if you decide to place it elsewhere or which to use another image, you will need to adapt the script accordingly.

Here is the package icon. I got it from here:

There are more themes turning up that are officially from microsoft that are fully signed, meaning you don’t need to modify you windows XP install to use them, but were made instantly available to everybody for various reasons.

So here they are!
XP Styles

Download them here

1) Unstyled
I’m sure you’ve seen this, if this is what you are going for, did you know you can disable the themes service and save a little memory? Not a huge amount, but it might help depending on the system…

2,3,4) Windows XP style
Yup, they’re the default themes, included for completeness. Blue, Silver and Olive green… original names eh?

5) Embedded Style
Provided as part of Windows XP Embedded.

6) Zune Style
The official microsoft Zune Style, but has been made into a zip instead of the msi that is provided directly from MS. This is a free download available to all.

7,8) Royale Style (MCE Theme aka Energy Bliss) and Noir
This was provided with windows XP Media Centre Edition only, but has been extracted so it may be installed on any XP edition. This package also provides the Royale Noir style, thanks to

Note: The download from here has been updated by comparison to that from

I hope these are useful, to install any of these these and styles, unzip into ‘<Windows Directory>\Resources\Themes’, for example, on my system it is C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes.

There are some really tallented people out there that have made some brilliant remixes to the song “Still Alive” which occures at the end of the game “Portal” from Valve. Partially to bring them together, and partially to make sure they dont go missing, I have put them together here. If you are the author of one of these tracks and would prefer me to link to it insead of hosting it, please get in touch (via the comments) and we will sort it out!

All this work has / should have some attribution to John Coulton, for his brilliant work on Portal.


Title: The Device Has Been Modified v2 (A more polished version)
Artist: Victims of Science

Title: The Device Has Been Modified
Artist: Victims of Science

Title: Portal Beatz
Artist: (I have no idea!)

Title: Triumph
Artist: MFE / Jonathan Coulton

More to come…

With the idea of finding some boot roms, for some NIC’s that lack them, Ive been raiding a box of old computer equipment. As I didn’t have that much time I grabbed every chip that was in a socket,  below is what I found!

Type Manufacturer Model Qty Notes
eprom ISSI is27hc01045 2 128K (1 megabit)
eprom STMicroelectronics m27c256b 3 256K (2 megabit)
eprom National Semiconductor nmc27c256q25 1 256K (2 megabit)
eprom Macronix International 27c256-15 2 256K (2 megabit)
eprom Advanced Micro Devices am27c512-150dc 1 512K (4 megabit)
eprom STMicroelectronics m27c512-15f1 1 512K (4 megabit)
eprom NXP Semiconductors 27c256-20fa 1 256K (2 megabit)
FM OPERATOR TYPE L 2 Yamaha ym3812 1
Single-chip Floppy Disk Controller UMC Corporation um8388 1
Programmable Peripheral Interface NEC upd8255ac-2 1
Many-Time Programmable Flash Silicon Storage Technology, Inc sst27sf512-70-3c-pg 1 512K (4 megabit)
CMOS EPROM NXP Semiconductors 27c256-20n 2 Notes
Static RAM GoldStar gm76c88-10 1 8,192 X 8 BIT
CMOS FLASH Winbond w29ee011-15 1 128K (1 megabit)
EEPROM Winbond w27c512-70 1 64K (512 bit)
EEPROM Winbond w27e257-12 1 32K (256 bits)
CMOS STATIC RAM Winbond w2465-70ll 1 8K X 8
CMOS Flash Memory ATMEL Corporation at49f010-70pc 2 128K (1 megabit)
CMOS Flash Memory ATMEL Corporation at49f020-90pc 3 256K (2 megabit)
Graphics Color Palette ETC tr9c1710-50pc 1
Quad 2-Input NOR Gate Motorola sn74ls02n 1
8-Input POSITIVE-NAND Gates Texas Instruments sn74ls30n 1
Quadruple 2-Input POSITIVE-NAND Gates Texas Instruments sn74ls00n 1
Quadruple 2-Input XOR Gates Texas Instruments sn74ls86an 2
Manchester Encoder-Decoder Seeq DQ8023A 1 IEEE 802.3,Ethernet Rev 1, TxC cycle 100ns
CMOS DRAM Hynix Semiconductor hy534256as 8 256k x 4 bit – 70ns
CMOS DRAM Samsung km44c256b-7 4 256 x 4 bit – 70ns
Clock Generator – Dual Frequency Generater Avasem AV9194-46CN20 1

Above: Identified components. Part IDs are links to datasheets. If there is no link, I couldnt find the datasheet.

I have eight chips (Ok, so three are the same) which I can find no information on, any help appreciated!

[1st] (Qty: 3) 20 pin DIP Chip reads:
NMBS     9146

[2nd] (Qty: 1) 20 pin DIP Chip reads:
OTI068 850167-243
INC A9202 501A

[3rd] (Qty: 1) 28 pin DIP Chip reads:

[4th] (Qty: 1) 28 pin DIP Chip reads:

[5th] (Qty: 1) 28 pin DIP Chip reads (I know this one is a samsung) :

[5th] (Qty: 1) 28 pin DIP Chip reads:

I also got a stack of other eeproms, but the are all OPT (One time program) so they are useless to me. Im not binning then though, I have a project in mind. Well, 2. But an extreme voltage overload is only funny whilst you have 2 eyes.

So, if you have any datasheets that match the chips in the table above or you have any info (the data sheet would be amazing) for the chips listed as unknown, please send them to me!

I have the 30GB model of this brilliant little player.

The sound quality is good and the battery life is brilliant. It does not, however, play OGG, FLAC or SID files. It is because of this that I decided that I would like to run rockbox on it. This seemed like little more than an idea when I first looked into it, as there was only the beining of a project page open about it.

However, things have changed! It would appear that it is not too far off. There is a replacement bootloader and rockbox has been booted on one. It is not yet functional, but this is a very big step towards that.

I would liketo say a big thanks to everybody that has worked on Rockbox, not only the main application but the porting og it to various devices. It is something that, for the moment, is way more advanced than I am able to do.

I will be keeping an eye on this, I might soon be able to abandon restrictive MP3 for the open OGG Vorbis format.

I’ve picked up a Victorian mantle clock. I know nothing about them, except I love clockwork movements.

It does have 1 small problem…. it doesn’t run.

The movement has “(L.T.M)” stamped onto it around the rim of the face that is covered by the case. “9150” is also visible there as well as on the pendulum and the back of the movement. “45” is also present on the back of the movement.

The movement itself is run by a “going barrel” so that tension on the train is not lost during winding. This not only keeps the clock ticking, but improves time accuracy. The design is a generic design, used my many manufacturers, so no clues there. As the dial shows by the single key hole, it has no chime… Good!

On the bottom of the case, the number “105” is clearly visible in the cement.

The face looks like an enammeed tin, due to its opacity, with painted roman numerals. There is some inscription on the back of the dial, but it looks like the bezel is holding it together. There is no way that that is going to be seen, shame, my curiosity is going to nag at me now.

I have been reliably informed that it looks like it was English made, due to some decent work on its construction, Bonus! The number “9150” and “45” could lead me back to the manufacturer of the movement (sans case, hands and dial), or maybe the jeweler who fitted the mech into a case etc. the 105? A serial or case type, although unlikely. It has been sujested that it was scratched there by a pawn broker to identify to him who sold it to him, nice eh?.  L.T.M could be the clock maker.

I have been informed that it is really hard to track this kind of thing, so I’ll probably do some googling, but I don’t hold much hope.

I know the case is slate, other than that, this is all I know about it. Any more information would be great!

The DVD is only there as a size guide.

Updated 12/11/2008: Added a few more chinks of info courtesy of DrJeep

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