A change from IBM & Denver: Isilon & Seattle

Today I accepted a job with Isilon in Seattle. The change is a lateral move working on a performance team. My official start date is November 16th. I haven’t yet told IBM of my departure — I’m waiting until late October before doing so. My last day at IBM will be November 15th but I’ll be off on vacation the week prior. Or at least that’s the plan. We’ll fly up for a weekend in mid October to scout out a place to live (likely an apartment in the Belltown or Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods).

We’re sad to leave Denver but excited about new opportunities in Seattle. B has already applied for jobs at the Starwood properties up there (W, Westin, Sheraton) and will likely be broaching the topic with his manager sometime this week as it is likely that any interested Seattle properties will be contacting his manager and we don’t want it to be a surprise. We’re crossing our fingers they don’t just let him go like Compass Bank effectively did.

B and I have decided to bring back our move-to-Denver slogan for the move to Seattle: It’s all part of the adventure!

September fill-up

I filled up my car again yesterday – looks like a new monthly routine for me :)

This past month I made a trip up in the mountains to visit Meghann and Peter – terrible gas mileage on the way up (23!) but pretty good on the way down (120). I’m guessing it was this trip that threw the dashboard measurement so out of whack with reality. Still, 45mpg isn’t something to sneeze at!

And of course, now that we have a second data point, we need a table!

Date Miles Gallons Cost $/mile Dashboard MPG Actual MPG
2010-08-05 500.7 10.104 $26.42 $0.053 50.7 49.55
2010-09-08 467.6 10.309 $29.47 $0.063 50.7 45.36

A geek and his keyboard

Simply accepting the death of one keyboard and the failure of its backup was simply not an option, so I started off this morning with my trusty screwdriver.

I opened up the bottom of the dead keyboard and studied its innards. From top to bottom the keyboard consists of:

  1. keys
  2. translucent rubber layer
  3. flexible transparent layer with printed circuit
  4. flexible transparent buffer layer with no circuit
  5. flexible transparent layer with printed circuit
  6. 3 large white plastic structural pieces
  7. 1 PCB

Given the simple structure it is apparent that the PCB is the failing component of the backup keyboard. The PCB design and rev number differ between the two keyboards, but I thought swapping them out would be worth a shot. Fortunately the physical structure of both keyboards is identical. Unfortunately swapping them didn’t work and examining the circuit layers (#3) it’s obvious why: they changed the circuit layout to the PCB.

I went with Plan B which was determining why those specific keys on the dead keyboard were dead. One look at layer #3 confirmed that all the dead keys are on the same circuit. Bringing out my trusty multimeter I discovered a break in the circuit to the PCB. But how to fix that? The transparent circuit layers are on a plastic layer so even if I had my soldering iron here in Denver, there was no way that was going to work. The dead gap wasn’t all that large, just a couple of millimeters, I just needed something to bridge it. A small piece of wire wasn’t optimal as it wouldn’t be flat and it would be hard to secure. Then the light bulb went off: aluminum foil. Conductive, easily trimmed down to the right size, and flat. Throw in a small piece of scotch tape and a few minutes later I have my first hardhack:

And thus far it works beautifully. As a bonus I moved layers #3-5 and #7 to the shell of the backup keyboard so I get the pearly white keys of the backup with the tried-and-true workings of the original.

I’m a bit concerned that the failure of that one circuit is simply a foreshadowing of things to come with different circuits. By the looks of the backup keyboard’s circuits it’s clear that the degradation isn’t from use but with age (which makes perfect sense anyway). We’ll see how long my hardhack works and if there are future failures elsewhere. Who knows, by the time I’m through maybe I’ll have a completely rebuilt keyboard full of aluminum foil.

The effective lifespan of a Microsoft Natural keyboard: ~13 years

I’m sad to report the demise of my Microsoft Natural keyboard (not the Elite, or the Pro or the MultiMedia – the original circa 1995). I turned the computer on today and the keys 67yhnujm no longer work. Given that I’ve had it for minimum of 13 years, it’s had a good run.

Never one to be left unprepared I went to the basement and brought up my spare. Yes, I have a spare Microsoft Natural keyboard for just this circumstance. I love the keyboard so much that when I heard they were no longer making it and replacing it instead with the much inferior Elite, I purchased a spare. It’s been in its box for a good 8 or more years. (Don’t ask about the lengths I’ve gone to keep an original Logitech TrackMan Marble working, it’ll just make me sound obsessive.) Anyone who spends as much time in front of a computer as I do will completely understand about the attachment to specific input devices. The rest of you will call us freaks.

I plugged in the spare keyboard, gently caressing the plam rest, and marveling at the perfectly white keys only to discover that there’s Something Wrong with it. Yes, my backup keyboard failed. Upon certain key combinations the keyboard starts sending escape sequences. Suck a duck.

So now I’m left typing on a crappy Dell keyboard and trying to figure out where to go from here. Looks like I need to crack open both keyboards and see if I can’t merge the two together to make one workable version.

And here I thought I was set for another 13 years…