Documents. Various documents. Stories. Poems. Prose. How-To's.
How-Not-To's. Technical. Reference. Hacking. Phreaking. Home-Made-Whatever's.
You-Name-It. Men In Black Suits. Silent Helicopters. Satellite Surveillance.
Fear and Loathing.
The documents in here were written by Kim (http://www.carsena-tech.net).
Couple years back, Kim used to write a monthly article for a US West
Coast based E-Zine called "Generator 21" (http://www.g21.net)
Please note that these documents are subject to international
copyright agreements and laws. The copyright is with the author.
Please obtain permission from author before reproducing any of these
FOR YOUR AMAZING READING PLEASURE
The Tropical PC - one hundred days and you are dead.
Damn! Even as I type the "A", "S" and "D" keys jam up.
Makes it hard to type. There is a furry green growth showing at the edges of the keys.
It's some kind of fungus. I remember spilling a drop of coffee down there last week. I
cleaned it out, obviously not well enough.
Now it's turned into a keyboard bound fungus farm - just one of the many fungus farms
in and around my PC. None of which I want, but there they are.
You would not believe it. I pulled the plastic cases from my keyboard and down there
near the left side keys was a mass of green and white fur. The two or three drops of
coffee I'd missed when I cleaned up the spill had fed the spores that had landed in there,
carried by the breeze to their new home inside my keyboard.
Hairy and mushy, the fur grew out from under the plastic laminations of the keyboard
circuits, short circuiting to their hearts content. What I want to know is, howcome the
electricity doesn't kill the fungus. In fact, if anything it seems to promote fungus
growth. Maybe I've discovered a new and unique way to grow mushrooms? Maybe I'll get rich
on that? Hmmmmm.
This is Koh Samui, Thailand. This is the tropics. And I tell you now, PCs and tropical
weather do not mix very well. My PC case is permanently off now so that I can keep an eye
on the dust build up in there.
If the dust picks up some moisture from the humid air here, then the fungus farms move
into the back of your power supply, onto the CPU fan, all over the plug in boards, the
motherboard and the connectors for the CMOS battery.
The CMOS/BIOS chip is particularly fond of moisture, dust and power surges - NOT! How
many times have I seen the message "CMOS Battery failure, system reverting to
defaults". In other words, your PC does not know if you have hard disks, floppy disks
or no disks at all. Your PC is lost. And if you don't know how to reset your hard disk
info, your data may well be lost also. I, of course, do know how to reset my hard disk
parameters. But many people don't know how and when they try - they wipe out whatever
chance they had of restoring their hard disk and their data. Back it up to floppy disk you
say? "Uh-huh" say I.
You know, every time I have to cross the island carrying data on floppy disks, I have
to make four copies on four disks. Why? Well, for sure by the time I get across the island
at least one of the disks has died, maybe even two, sometimes even three. Now, either I
have UFOs living under my house or up in the mountain I have to cross over and their
electro-magnetic radiation fields are killing my disks, or it's the fungus again!
It is in fact the fungus again. The same fungus that grows on your boots and leather
jackets here has quite an appetite for the surface of the plastic that we use for video
tapes, audio cassettes - and floppy disks! The tiny little spores get into the disks, the
humidity gives them food, dust particles add to the party and yes! It's fungus farm time
all over your floppy disks. Then they get rubbed into the surface material by the disk
read/write activity and lo and behold
"System cannot read from device in Drive
A. Replace disk and try again. OK - Cancel"
Another peculiar feature of almost all tropical countries is that they all seem to have
power supplies that dance. Left, right, up, down, one, two, stay in step now, left, right,
one, two, up, down. The power supply dances up and down and around and around in all
manner of variations. We here on Samui are supposed to have a 240 volt supply. It can
dance from 140 to 280 volts at any time.
In just six months in my home, my dancing power supply has eaten two UPS systems, burnt
out one modem and destroyed the timer circuitry on two motherboards. Now, once your UPS
goes down, your PC feeds on the dancing power supply. PCs and fluctuating power supplies
simply don't get along real well.
After your UPS goes, the next thing to go - from what I've seen - are the circuits on
the motherboard that deal with the system timing - the timer circuits. They burn right
out. Your PC still works - on and of. (And on and off and on and off and on and etc). Next
on the hit list is the VGA card
. PHOOT! There goes your nice new 4MB Windows
Input output? Forget it! That's next on the demon power's hit list. Right in the middle
of that big data backup
. PHWEEK! There goes your fancy new multi-port I/O card. Oh
well, back on the train up to Bangkok and buy another box of plug in cards.
Now and then I am surfing the WWW, things are fine, I've got a great connection today,
found a neat site on the Web with lots of nice girly pictures and
. ZOOT! BOING! Oh
shit no, just got an 80 volt surge down the phone lines, there goes the modem. Back up to
Bangkok on the train again. Down here on the islands this stuff is hard to find and very
expensive if you do find it. Better to take the time and take the train to the Big Mango.
On the island, the air is wet all year 'round. The wind carries with it the salt of the
sea. On a dry day the dust devils run rampant up and down the streets. Sand and grit blow
up in your face - and into the air intake of the power supply at the back of your PC.
I arrived on Samui with some 500 floppy disks of data and application software. I am
now down to about 40 or so disks, the rest bit the dust and turned into little fungus
farms. They rest now peacefully in some garbage dump up on the mountain. Data backup to
floppy disks is simply out of the question. I simply purchased myself an old 486 SX PC,
hooked it up with a network card to my main PC. I installed two 520MB Seagate disks in the
old PC and wrote a batch file to backup all my data from the main PC's hard disks to BOTH
the hard disks in the secondary PC. This system is working - for as long as the power
supply does not eat BOTH my PCs at the same time. To date, I've been lucky.
CDs do fare much better, until the dust gets into your CD drive and scratches the shit
out of the disk. So far the drive in my PC still works, but I've lost several CDs to just
Quite often the dust sneaks into the cracks around the edges of the CD case. You throw
the CD case into your bag, jump on a bike and ride across the island. The roads are
infested with bumps which work in conjunction with their friend the dust and simply wipe
the surface off your CD. I've learnt now to wipe the CD clean before I go anywhere with a
CD case in tow.
The dust is a killer elsewhere also. The dust settles on your motherboard and plug-in
boards. It settles in layers and layers like a puff pastry gone wrong. The dust sits and
attracts moisture from the humid atmosphere. The moisture builds up until there is enough
to conduct electricity then
. Yup! You got it! Short circuit time. Fried motherboard
Sometimes I come home on a moist and humid day and walk into my tiny office at the back
of my bar and restaurant and I can smell it. Oh shit, something has shorted out, I can
really smell it. So it's off with the covers and out with the dust brush. Now I just leave
the cover off like I said before, to keep an eye on the dust build up and attempt to avoid
the ensuing short circuits.
You go to the shop over in Surat Thani and buy ink cartridges for your inkjet printer.
Naturally the shop has been displaying the ink cartridge boxes in the window for weeks
under the scorching 45 degree sun. Back to the shop
"your cartridge is
dead". "Oh, that's not from our shop". "Oh yes it is". "Oh
no it's not". And so forth. Now I get my cartridges sent down from Bangkok and I keep
them in my refrigerator.
I have been finding that hard disk failures are very common down here on the islands.
Perhaps it's the power supply this time also? With regards to the hard disks which are
pretty well insulated from power supply problems by the I/O circuitry and the power supply
box, I tend towards the UFO's and their radiation fields. What else could be eating the
hard disks of Samui? Not the dust, these units are sealed. Not the power, like I said,
these units are well insulated. It's gotta be the UFOs.
Scanners, printers, plotters, mouses/mice, keyboards
all subject to suffering in
the tropical climate. I knew for years that humans often fail, become lethargic or worse
in the tropics. Delicate electronic equipment is even more subject to "going
troppo" as the Aussie's call it.
Notebooks and laptops fare better. They are designed to deal with varied environments,
moisture and shocks. But even the notebook PC will eventually fall prey to the dread
tropical climate. What can you do about it? Move out. What can I do about it? Nothing, as
I have no intention of moving out of the islands. Maybe one day I'll earn enough money
down here to rent an air-conditioned office. But I hate air-conditioning and PCs love it.
So what to do?
When you live in the tropics - get used to the weather. Avoid air-conditioning, it
causes no end of respiratory problems. So I don't see air-conditioning as a valid
solution. Your PC will survive buy you won't be able to use it without developing a
racking cough that keeps you awake half the night! All I can do now is remain vigilant,
buy myself an Iomega Zip Drive (they seem to be far less prone to fungus farm attack),
copy all files to four floppy disks each time I need to transport and purchase shares in a
company that manufactures UPS boxes. Then I could simply keep ten or twelve UPS units in
the back room and when my current UPS dies, simply replace it.
My office is full of other people's half dead PCs. I try to tell them "it's your
timer circuits on your motherboard - can't be fixed - buy a new board", or "it's
your I/O card, it burnt out AGAIN". They don't always believe me. I am loosing
credibility - the tropics are beating me again! Oh well, it was my choice to live here and
I have to deal with the many drawbacks of living on a tropical paradise island.
I know it's paradise here. But sometimes, paradise really sucks big time! Maybe I
should ditch the IT shit and go back to being a carpenter again.
A story of the cannibal island
A story of what few blessings life has to offer us. Count 'em
Buffalo fighting on Koh Samui in Thailand
to hear something really scary?
Cannibals? Sure, in Fiji there are, maybe.Shit, it tasted
just like pickled pork anyway!
Chopper runs in Bangkok
Elephants in Bangkok (no they were not pink and yes I was sober.
More or less sober that is.)
"Hey nice T-Shirt dude!". Full moon parties on Koh Phangaan
The Hash House Harriers strike again! This time it's "champagne
Mate of mine got his head smashed in by some soccer hooligans on
Mornings in Bangkok. On the way to work
PCs in the tropics
Advice for the owners of PCs in tropical regions
Search About Thomas
SEX1 Ah. The "sex"
topic. By request, I wrote about Thailand's reputed "sex industry".
And you think the traffic is bad in Bangkok? Try Samui!
How to survive in the tropics. This IS funny.
Times change. Sure they do, but it pissed Joey right off this time!
Finally, the chopper run!
in Thailand are a serious trip dudes!
troppo mate! Totally!
Like it says, up-country in Thailand on a small-ish motorcycle
of one's own desires
END OF LIST