Brandon Konkle
Brandon Konkle

Principal Engineer, type system nerd, Rust enthusiast, supporter of social justice, loving husband & father, avid comic & manga reader, 日本語を勉強してる。

I’m a Software Architect with more than 15 years of experience creating high performance server and front-end applications targeting web and mobile platforms, & today I lead a team at Formidable Labs.



A car, a critter, and a computer. . .

It’s been an eventful weekend!


Friday, on the way home from work, my Focus broke down and I had to pull over on the side of the highway. I recently replaced the battery because the original one from 2002 has been giving me trouble and finally died. Everything had been running fine until Friday, when the engine cut out with a muffled thump and the odometer began displaying dashes. The rest of the electrical system worked fine. Dad was kind enough to go to U-Haul and rent a car dolly to retrieve the car and work on it during the weekend. Thanks, Dad! We were afraid that is was a failure of the powertrain control module, which would have been a very complex repair.

While we were waiting for Dad, Barbara rescued me from the side of the road and as soon as I got home I started researching online. I found a post from someone else who’d experienced the same problem just after replacing their battery, and they found that their battery terminals were covered in corrosion. They doused the battery terminals with baking-soda water, and it started up just fine again. I went ahead and mixed up some baking soda water, and headed out with Barbara to meet Dad at the car.

Sure enough, some corrosion had already built up on the terminals. We poured on the baking soda water, and it frothed up into a light green foam. We rinsed it with some clean water, and then Dad went to start it up. It fired up without a hitch! Praise God! We were extremely excited that it wasn’t something more serious. Dad checked the battery wires afterwards, and found that some of the extra wires leading from the negative terminal were loose, so he tightened them up. Most likely, I hit a bump and some of the corrosion slipped underneath the loose wires, disconnecting the power from the powertrain control module.

I felt terrible that Dad had gotten the dolly and drove all the way out there, but he said that it wouldn’t be a complete waste - he could still use the dolly to get their broken down van into the garage to be worked on. Thanks again, Dad, we really appreciate your help!


On Saturday morning, we began hearing a scraping, scratching noise in between our walls. It was only for a moment, and then it was quiet again, so we assumed that whatever it was had found a way out. Unfortunately, we were wrong. On Saturday night, the scurrying continued much louder than before, and we heard faint squeaking along with it. The sound would travel around on our bedroom ceiling, occasionally making a metallic chime as it smacked into a vent or something. The noise made it impossible to get a restful sleep, and it continued to scrape away throughout the night, as if trying to dig through the ceiling! We’re working on getting our apartments to send out an exterminator… we don’t want whatever it is having babies and invading the house, or dying and stinking up the apartment!


As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend, I decided it was high time to destroy the motherboard on our desktop computer. :-) While updating to the (Ubuntu)[] Intrepid Ibex release candidate, I became annoyed that the desktop computer didn’t support booting from a USB-drive like it was supposed to, especially because a new tool in Ubuntu makes it so easy to create a USB install image. I decided to try updating the motherboard BIOS. Unfortunately, ECS, the manufacturer of the motherboard, made the mistake of not including ethernet support in the later versions of their BIOS for the board. I flashed the BIOS, and not only did USB booting still not work, now ethernet was shot. I rolled back to several previous versions of the BIOS that I found, but none of them restored ethernet, and finally I reached a version of the BIOS that didn’t support the processor I’d installed. So, in effect, the board is dead.

I’ve learned to always back up the original BIOS before flashing, and I’ve also learned not to use ECS boards anymore. I can’t believe they left out ethernet in the newest versions of their BIOS! I’ve ordered an Asus board from Newegg, so hopefully I’ll have a much better experience with their product.

All in all, it’s been a crazy weekend! Hopefully the week will be downright boring for us…

I’m a Software Architect with more than 15 years of experience creating high performance server and front-end applications targeting web and mobile platforms, & today I lead a team at Formidable Labs.

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