Overclocking Dell Vostro 220

Update (06-09-10): at least one report in the comments confirm stability of the hack when applied on the E7500 processor as well. Its almost one year down the road from the original hack and my E7400 is still running smoothly at 3500 MHz. I recently took the Dell apart again to fit a new Intel X25-M SSD 80 GB in it and was quite surprised at how absolutely clogged up the machine was with dust; biyearly hovering of PSU and CPU fans is definitely called for.

This particular hardware hack was performed using a modified edition of the so-called BSEL hack on the Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 processor that I got with the machine from Dell. Unfortunately only older guides for BSEL hacks seem to be floating about and most of them require use of conductive ink. Not so easy.

Basically after finding image on ocforums.com showing a 1066 MHz to 1333 MHz FSB hack performed by using tape I rejoiced; the worst thing that could possibly happen was a total Dell meltdown.

So I took the Vostro apart (they are by the way incredibly nicely build (and silent) machines) and put, I’m sorry but yes, ordinary-99-penny-postoffice-brown-tape over one of the pins on the bottom of the CPU. This tape was cut out to fit on a scientific scale by using a pair of kitchen scissors. See image.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 BSEL Overclock

Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 BSEL Overclock

Prime95 2hrs stress testing

Prime95 & Core Temp after 2hrs of stress testing

This worked when I put in back in the computer and actually allowed me to boot into Windows with a 3491.3 MHz (332.5 * 10.5) clock speed, so I decided to run a few benchmarks. First of all I did 2 hours of Prime95 stress testing (I know probably too little but the temp stabilized already after an hour so I’m not concerned) which worked flawlessly and only took the temp up to a max of 50c (measured with Core Temp) on one of the cores.

CPU-Z stats

CPU-Z stats

Then, seeing as the temperature was stable and so forth I found it prudent to put some actual evidence up to suggest that this is not total bullcr*p, tada, enter CPU-Z verified overclock, or seeing as you may find me trustworthy anywho simply have a closer look at the image on the left.

As a final little prod to make it clear that this is absolutely all in all brilliant I took an extended screenshot from PerformanceTest (nice benchmark software from PassMark; they have free 30 day trial out and that should do fine if all you want to do is ascertain the awesomeness of your overclocking adventure). In order to view the image full resolution you’ll have to click it a few times to get the fullscreen version and then make sure your browser isn’t scaling it to see the neato details. One more thing: “This Computer” represents the 3.50 GHz overclock and the other two are simply in there for you to see that not only is the CPU at this speed about 15-20% faster than stock speed but it also about 15% faster than the much more expensive Core 2 Duo E8400 (!)

CPU PerformanceTest 7.0 Benchmark

CPU PerformanceTest 7.0 Benchmark

What the above does not touch upon is the fact that the increased FSB (1066MHz to 1333MHz) has allowed everything from the (admittedly shitty) integrated graphics card to the RAM to run 10 to 15% faster. And it shows. Now.. about that solid state drive..

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‘color.get’ Micro Application

Screenshot of freeware get.color micro app

Grabbing color from video using freeware get.color

This little free application, get.color, allows you to get the html color code of the current pixel the mouse-cursor is hovering above by holding a selected hotkey pressed – simply double click the left mouse button to copy the html RGB color code into the clipboard (in the format of, for example, “#247ca4” without the quotation marks). Perfect for use when designing webpages, copying stubborn colors between different Photoshop clones or the likes of it. See screenshots for examples of how it can grab color from webpage or indeed anything you have on your screen (video..etc. perhaps with the exception of DirectX games, I don’t game currently so can’t tell you, update: user-comment from Ekkoreverb suggests that it does not work and may indeed bring DirectX games down so guess its a no luck thing)

Another get.color screenshot

Taking color from webpage with get.color

The freeware app has no installer and can be manually placed in the Window’s “Startup” folder if you like. It starts a little color-pipette icon in the traymenu which you can rightclick to edit the config file or to shut it down. Also, the default hotkey is F2, simply hold it pressed to see get.color in action

You can download the archive from here:
get.color.zip (version:2009-08-29) (thanks to Citif.dk for hosting!)

Contents of archive must all be unzipped in same folder for the freeware utility to work. The software is provided as freeware if anyone should be seriously interested in improving upon it then I’ll be happy to Open Source it. Leave a comment on this posting if you’re interested in getting in contact about get.color

Ginkgo Biloba Health Summary Posting

Ginkgo Biloba leafs

Ginkgo Biloba leafs

This post contains a wide range of links to informative pages concerning the effect of Ginkgo Biloba on the human organism. Headlines link to overview LEF.org articles on subject. Other links are all PubMed related.

Update (2009-06-25): It should be noted that the below summarized micro trials contrasts in bad way with the latest larger scale Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study that shows NO effect whatsoever on older individuals in regards to prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s  disease. Still, it is worth noting that a European equivalent of the American GEM study is currently being conducted in France: the GuidAge study final results are set to come out in 2010. If a major difference is found this is probably down to the use of clinical grade EGb 761 in the French study versus the commercial grade Ginkgold Max (Nature’s Way) used in the American study. This posting will be updated when the results are out.

Anti-Aging Effects of Ginkgo Biloba

Excerpt: “A study published in 2003 concluded that ginkgo extract improves the general mental health and quality of life of elderly adults with normal cognitive function (Cieza A et al. Effects of Gink- go biloba on mental functioning in healthy volunteers. Arch Med Res. 2003 Sep;34(5):373-81.). Sixty-six healthy volunteers aged 50-65 participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that evaluated ginkgo extract’s effect on mental functioning. The participants took 240 mg of ginkgo extract or a placebo daily for four weeks. At baseline … the characteristics … in the placebo group and ginkgo extract group were similar … subjects who took ginkgo extract saw significant improvements in their self-perceived mental health and quality of life. Participants who took ginkgo extract performed markedly better on action and reaction tests, and also reported improved mood, providing further evidence of the efficacy of ginkgo extract.” Also: “…review underscores the potential benefits of Ginkgo biloba in cardiovascular diseases”[1]. Lastly, Ginkgo seems an overall neuroprotecter: “Substantial experimental evidence indicates that EGb761 has neuroprotective potency”[2]

Anti-arthritic behavior of Ginkgo Compounds

Excerpt: “Ginkgetin, a biflavone from Ginkgo biloba leaves, was previously reported to be a phospholipase A2 inhibitor and this compound showed the potent antiarthritic activity”[1]. Even better: “Ginkgetin (10-20 mg/kg/day) strongly reduced arthritic inflammation in an animal model of rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (86% inhibition at 16 days at a dose of 20 mg/kg/day) via intraperitoneal injection, while prednisolone (5 mg/kg/day) showed 79% reduction.”, ergo, it shows better result than the stuff people are injected with once it gets really bad (while at the same time, very unlike prednisolone, protecting cells in the rest of the organism)[2]. Of relative interest is also a study showing that Ginkgo works in concert with other NSAIDs: “Results suggest that GbE may be of clinical value as an anti inflammatory and analgesic drug alone or in conjunction with NSAIDs”[3]

Cognitive Enhancement

Excerpt: “… there is scientific support for memory enhancement even in young healthy people. Following just a single dose of 600 mg of ginkgo extract, a significant memory improvement was demonstrated in a randomized, double-blind, crossover study using Sternberg’s memory scanning test. The effect lasted for several hours (Subhan et al. 1984). In [a] randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled crossover study, 31 volunteers aged 30-59 years were given multiple doses of 50 or 100 mg; a single dose of 120 or 300 mg; or placebo during the day of testing. A psychometric test battery was administered before the first dose and at frequent intervals during the day until 11 hours after the last dose … effect of ginkgo in healthy volunteers was most evident with the 120-mg dose; more apparent in the oldest age group of 50-59 years; and [most] pronounced for short-term memory … (Rigney et al. 1999).”

Extending Life Span with Ginkgo use

Excerpt: “An unexpected finding occurred in a study published in Physiology & Behavior (1998, Vol 63, No 3 pp-425-433). The study was designed to … assess cognitive function. What surprised the scientists, however, was the rats administered ginkgo lived a mean of 31 months compared to 26.4 months in the placebo group. In human equivalency terms, these results indicate that ginkgo could extend life span by 11 years. The scientists who conducted this study went into quite a bit of detail to explain why ginkgo may have produced this unexpected longevity benefit, and suggested that life span studies on ginkgo extract be initiated to confirm these initial results.”

That’s all. More Health Summary Postings are to follow and are to be updated on running basis as new findings come along.

Clean Laptop Guide

Ok, so my laptop fan is running 24/7 and even seems to be getting slower – chances are that it is being auto-throttled because of dust accumulated in the CPU vent (and maybe, as you’ll see, because the copper heatsink is basically not properly attached!)

So there’s a huge amount of guides out there that are all very professional and neat. And long. And f*cking tedious. And also.. most of the time the exact manual that -you- (read: me!) need is simply not there to be found.

Fret not – help is here to be had!!

Because you see, I have a 100% un-authorized (seriously I take no responsibility what-so-ever if your precious machine craps out because of this guide) way of cleaning up your laptop and making it dust free (true).. and sparkling new (patently a lie). Also, if you follow the most crazy part of this guide the heatsink will end up being more tightly attached to the CPU, meaning better heat-transfer which again translates to a colder & quieter running laptop!

A) find a large unobstructed space (say your bed) and take the laptop completely apart by slowly and methodically taking out first the battery and then the harddrive and then ALL the screws you can find in it.

B) Check a couple of the guides above and then realize that you’ll need to gentle take off the keyboard. And then a lot more. Be sure to NOT be violent and GENTLY loosen the connectors from the keyboard/mousepad/powerbutton..etc. before you lift off the final bits leaving the motherboard exposed. The machine is naked now and you should seriously start thinking about having grabbed a water tap to make sure you grounded yourself before you started taking the machine apart.

C) Yes, it will look somewhat like this:

Notice that all the screws are laid out in a super organized pattern around the crime scene

Notice that all the screws are laid out in a super organized pattern around the crime scene

D) Notice that all of this dust crap is stuck in the copper CPU air vent, I got a hover and cleaned it out (be sure to see the fullres pic for the dusty un-goodness):

This crap needs to go - try and hover up a bare minimum of screws, chances are you'll need them

This crap needs to go - try and hover up a bare minimum of screws, chances are you'll need them

E) Yet the fun was just beginning since I then noticed that the copper heatsink seemed oddly loose on the CPU. Basic reason was that the heatsink was attached too loosely to begin with allowing it to wobble slightly from side to side over time causing all of the thermal paste to disappear from the actual CPU core. Crap. Look and see:

There should be thermal paste -in- that square, not around it.

There should be thermal paste -in- that square, not around it. This was alleviated by scoping some of the stuff back on an applying thinly with a knife's edge - do NOT use fingers, thermal paste is probably more or less unwell from a health perspective

D) Then things got really.. special. Basically I hated the fact that the heatsink was applied with the same force that some very vague specimens shake your hand: un-freaking-forcefully. So (..) I thought: “what will make the heatsink stick closer to the CPU”? And gladly answered myself: “A tea candle”. More specifically the aluminum from a tea candle that is (I know – not smart if the aluminum breaks off and short-circuits  your motherboard or a nano-mouse runs into your computer and builds a railgun with it). See following 3 pictures for instantaneous understanding of the situation and followingly prolific happiness.

These things will combine gracefully. They will.

These things will combine gracefully. They will.

This looks dodgy but in effect it is very close to high precision engineering done by Intel. All the time.

This looks dodgy but in effect it is very close to high precision engineering done by Intel. All the time.

The heatsink actually DOES fit a lot tighter. And by tighter, I mean better

The heatsink actually DOES fit a lot tighter. And by tighter, I mean better

So. The end of the story is that I then used my elephant memory to re-assemble the whole laptop and then wrote this “guide” with it. The happy side of the story is that it runs A LOT cooler now – I can once again do basic web work without having the fan run continually. Please do remember that laptops are somewhat valuable (largely depending on whether they are from this side of the closest historical millennium or not) before attempting taken one apart.

Whether it was mainly the removing of dust or the better contact between the heatsink and the CPU that did most of the job is hard to tell. My guesstimate is 60/40.

DIY Organic Apple Chutney Guide

Revision 3: errata; added mustard powder on the spice side of things, that should be all now!
Revision 2: errata; updated and adjusted, a) spices/onions/vinegar in text and in the check list. Also b) adjusted amount of used sugar down since I found that I actually only used 2/3 of what was originally, and wrongly, written. Finally c) the cooking time was wrong; I only cooked the chutney for 35m. Everything should be in due order now.

Organic apple chutney. It is a commodity for which you normally pay around 30kr (£3 or about $5) a glass in whatever expensive organic store you choose to adorn with your cash. Now this needn’t be so if you happen to live in a area where apple trees are abundant and are prepared to put in some energy to make some yourself – follow the picturesque guide here for extra incitement to go make your own jars of chutney! Before we start though; the obligatory check list of needed stuff so no-one starts crying halfway through the guide:

  1. 5 kilo of garden apples
  2. 400 gram of brown cane sugar
  3. 300 gram of organic raisins
  4. 500 gram of onions
  5. mustard powder (or regular mustard)
  6. 800 ml of organic vinegar
  7. 1 apple corer (device to remove the core from a apple)
  8. 150 gram of ginger root
  9. some pepper
  10. quite a bit of salt
  11. a big pot to cook the whole lot
  12. a stove (not to forget)
  13. and finally 2-3 hrs to spend on the project

The cost of this whole project will be on the cheapish side when compared to the amount of delicious apple chutney you’ll be left with (around 14 regular size chutney glasses for about 60kr (£6 or $10)). If one should decide to go completely bulk order on all the ingredients the final cost could of course be brought down further.

Procuring the apples

Fallen apples

Fallen apples

First of all we need to procure about 5 kilo’s worth of apples, I simply used a mass amount that have fallen off the trees in my family’s garden (tip: have a family with a lot of apple trees in their garden, it makes things easier by far). It is October and quite cold here in Denmark so the apples are mostly fine. Those apples that are not completely ok, i.e. bruised or worm eaten, can still be used with a little extra cleaning. By using these apples that would normally be thrown out, I upped the amount of apples I had access to tremendously – since not many people are engaged in traditional food making any longer many a neighbor will be happy to have you ‘clean up’ the fallen apples.

Cleaning the apples

When you have collected the apples and washed them thoroughly the cleaning process can commence.

Apple corer

Apple corer

And. Here comes the one caveat of this guide; you need a tool like the one you see on the left; it is what is knows as a apple corer, a classic contraption invented to allow exceptionally easy removal of the apple core while leaving a maximum amount of actual apple behind!

Apples

Apples

Of course you can use a knife instead but it will be tedious hard work and you’ll have to be quite skilled to be left with the same bulk amount of apple for the chutney boiling.

So after a lot of cleaning (and meditation upon a wide array of differing subjects in life..) I was left with quite a nice amount of apples. Then almost all (being optimistic here) there is left to do is…

Cutting and cooking the apples

Now, honestly, this chapter should almost have been named “Spicing and cooking the apples” because, yes, the spices are important (and, if you count the onions and raisins in as spices they take up about 20% of the bulk volume!).

Cutting apples

Cutting apples

First of all, I acquired a suitably large knife and cut the apples to pieces, not too small, because then they’ll all end up as mush with no texture and not too large cause then they’ll take up too much volume in the pot you use. Check the image on the left (I was left with -just- enough space in the pot so a bit finer cutting is probably in order).

Then, secondarily I cut up about a half a kilo of onions for the remaining 4 kilo of apples (I weighed my apples at the end of the cleaning process; initially had 5 kilo and was left with exactly 3.7 kilo to work with after cleaning).

Then I put the whole lot on the stove and after adding 800ml of vinegar I brought the whole thing to a boil and then turned heat down to left it simmer/boil happily away for 20m while stirred with 10m intervals.

After the first 20m I added 300 grams of organic raisins and 400 grams of brown cane sugar to help sweeten and preserve the chutney, on the spices side I grated 2 whole nutmeg nuts and added 2 teaspoonfuls of mustard powder, 1 teaspoonful of pepper and 2 tablespoonfuls of salt and boiled/stirred the stuff for another 15m.

Final spices and bottling the apples chutney

Now everything was suitably chutney-like in the big pot that had 35m on the stove. Before I bottled the the material in the glasses I added 150 grams of finely chopped ginger root which was gingerly stirred in with the boiling mass before the stove was finally turned off.

Jars

Apple chutney jars

Finally the chutney was, still very near boiling temp (to help better preserve through the natural vacuum created when cooling down), added to a lineup of jars. As you can see I was lucky to have about 7 biggish jars but if you only have small jars you should probably count on having double that amount. Hurray, done! Be sure to leave a comment or two in case you decide to try this; new/tweaked recipes and ideas are welcome. Also.. commercial chutney recipes often contain 50% or more pure sugar.. this home made variety taste rather wonderful and only contains:

(0.4 ÷ 4.7) × 100 = 8,51% of sugar

…and that is not even taking into account how healthy the apples in and by themselves are. It would be interesting to experiment with taking the sugar level further down or perhaps adding cinnamon to slow the carbohydrate uptake (actually the ginger already does this and a load of other good stuff to your body). Also the overall boil time could probably be shortened to preserve a larger amount of antioxidants. Enjoy the chutney.

Hello world!

Welcome to softhacker.wordpress.com, I myself (and mayhap a few fellow haxors) will be using this space to write articles about an eclectic mix of material with a focus upon code, freedom, evolution (in broadest, Teilhard de Chardin, sense possible), future, past and possibly a few other areas (such as how to make apple chutney…). Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment in case you feel compelled.