lawless slave country
Wednesday, October 3 2007
Cheap Chinese electronics. I love them, and Ebay makes them easy to get. It turns out that air shipping from Hong Kong is cheap enough that a USB WiFi adapter flown individually from Hong Kong is still less than half the price of a similar product obtained any other way. Another great thing about cheap Chinese electronics is that they don't necessarily conform to hobbling American regulations. Music players contain no DRM (because no consumer wants DRM), and devices that communicate in the radio spectrum routinely violate FCC restrictions. Such devices could never legally be sold in the United States, but if one uses Ebay to buy them directly from a lawless slave country like China, one can live as a functional libertarian. Sure, the devices feature shoddy construction, but often I just want to extract the guts to incorporate into something else and I don't care about the cheap plastic chasses. Recently I bought a small USB hub to incorporate into the MultiPort area on the lid of my Evo N410c laptop, and the case wasn't the only thing that had to be shucked off. I also desoldered all the LEDs, jacks, and USB connectors; space in the MultiPort slot is limited, so all the devices connected to the hub will have to be soldered to it directly.
I've generally found USB hubs to be flaky. Sometimes they work, but then they'll suddenly stop working and prayer seems as effective at restoring their functionality as anything else. With this latest shucked USB hub, I'd noticed flakiness after I'd removed all the unnecessary pieces, so I'd wondered if perhaps I'd overheated its one chip (a GL850-A). But after some testing I'd discovered that the problem was the 12 MHz crystal, which only seemed to work when heated up hundreds of degrees with a soldering iron. Today I replaced the crystal with a new one and the USB hub has been extremely reliable ever since. I will have to file this information away for the future: sometimes flaky quartz crystals are the reason for an electronics failure.
Gretchen's coccyx was still bothering her today, and at some point she took not one but two muscle relaxers, at which point she seemed to be having more fun than one ought to legally be allowed to have, at least in a well-regulated society.
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