jeff on 18 May 2008 15:12:46 -0700

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[PLUG] how to freak out your laptop

Dell Latitude D531, Xubuntu Hardy, VMplayer

I'm minding my own business, messing around with a Win XP VM, when all 
of the sudden it becomes totally unresponsive.  I thought maybe it 
needed to catch up with itself, but no, it was foobed.

Up top I notice that the caps lock and scroll lock lights are blinking. 
  I know I saw something recently about that but I have the retention of 
an infant.

Even Xubuntu was locked.  Ctl-alt-backspace was silent.  Ctl-alt-F6 
stared at me too.  My most recent standby, ctl-alt-PrntScrn REISUB, also 
failed me miserably for the first time.  This puppy was LOCKED.

Manually powered off, rebooted, went back about my business and ten 
minutes later, the lights were blinking again.  Same thing one more 
time. At this point, I had maxed out my sense of humor.

I powered down again, then rebooted and went in search of the cause. 
Every solution I came across, regardless of Dell system, seemed to 
involve questionable RAM.  I've had the blinkin' laptop for a few 
months, I don't play basketball with it, and I've never had a problem 
with it.  Something told me it wasn't the RAM.

The laptop did not lock up for the remainder of the evening.  I had 
stopped using VMplayer.  I suppose it could be any number of things but 
the only difference yesterday was that I was running my (radio) scanner 
and controlling it in VM via the serial port.  From what I've read, that 
shouldn't even begin to be a problem.  Anyone ever hear anything like this?


While I'm doing things to my laptop that even Dell can't do, I wanted to 
ask how to push it further.  The laptop only comes with one serial port. 
  Most of the scanner control software I've seen is written to use 
Com1-4, with a few venturing above that.  I can make this work on a pc 
with additional port cards but not so with XP in a VM.  I have a 
serial-usb adapter cable but I'm guessing the software won't see it 
because it's not written to output to usb.  I tried defining COM2 as a 
usb but it didn't see that either.  [the radio world tends to run a long 
way behind computers]
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