Dodge Nitro Steering Column Repair 1

Seeing as I haven’t posted much here in a while, I’ll start things off again with a repair that I did to my 2007 Dodge Nitro today…

About a month ago I noticed that my steering wheel was starting to have up and down “play” in it, which seems to have gotten worse this past week. So, today, I decided I’d Google it in case it had already been discussed elsewhere.

Well, that payed off with this thread on What was also noted there was a clicking sound coming from the steering wheel / column — something I had noticed since driving my Nitro off the lot in April 2007. Something that I simply wrote off because it sounded like a spring clicking inside the column, which could have been normal.

Anyway, to make a long story short, here’s some images of how the repair was done (click on any image for a larger view);

Steering Column Repair - Dodge Nitro

Kiddies, go away

If you peruse the forums on the internet, I’m sure you’ve run into some loser who still thinks it’s cool to speak “leet” and/or broken english.

“How r u all ^__^” is one that I ran into this morning.

Is it too difficult to type “How are you all?” And how much help do you think you’re going to get asking questions in that form? I could see it if you were on a site for 8 year olds, talking about Sponge Bob or something, but when you get with grownups, you act like it or get ignored.

Grow up, or go away.

And that’s my rant for the day! ;)

The frustrations of Linux (UPDATED)

If Linux really wants to see itself installed on the average Joe’s home computer, it HAS to be better than it’s counter-part, Windows. As an OS (Operating System), it IS — it’s light-years ahead of the Windows architecture, IMHO. However, there is a side to Linux that is SERIOUSLY lacking — error and system messages — they SUCK large.

Now, I don’t claim to be a super-user, but I do my fair share of computing — from websites, to blogging, to programming, to just plain old web-surfing — I’ve used my fair share of computers, right on up from the TRS-80. Accordingly, I am not in the “{whatever} For Dummies” category either. I’m “above average”, as far as the general public would be concerned, simply because of the time I spend on computers. I’ve seen my share of error messages, let me tell you. So, if I’m complaining about them not being descriptive/helpful, what do you think the general public is seeing?

On to the problem…

A great analogy

It’s not mine, but I can’t disagree with it — and am passing it on.

I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back p atio and filled it with seed. What a beauty of a bird feeder it is as I filled it lovingly with seed. Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food.

But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.
Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table…everywhere!

Then some of the birds turned mean. They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.
And other birds were boisterous and loud. They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn’t even sit in my own back garden anymore. So I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.
Soon, the back yard was like it used to be ….. Quiet, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

Now let’s see….. Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, and free education and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen.

Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands.
Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families; you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor; your child’s 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn’t speak English.

Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to ‘press one’ to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than the maple leaf are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties.

Just my opinion, but maybe it’s time for the government to take down the bird feeder.

If you agree, pass it on; if not, continue cleaning up the poop!

Banned IP Blocks (UPDATED) 1

Well, today I simply got tired of wading through the crap posted by Russian guests — so I’ve blocked the entire country. While I was at it, I’ve also blocked Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia & Estonia.

Turkish universities, web hosts and Turk Telekom customers – scammers, spammers, phishing websites and server script exploiters have been blocked.

If this crap keeps up, the next to go will be China, Korea and all neighboring countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).

If you are from one of these countries (OK, not Russia as you can’t read this anyway) and are tired of seeing your list of websites that you can visit get smaller and smaller, then do something about it!

For those of you interested, here is what I have added to my blocklist;

Junebug USB PIC Laboratory

Well, I thought I’d start an Electronics section on my little blog, for those of you interested in electronics as a hobby, or just wish to read a little about embedded devices, such as the PIC Microcontroller, to gain a little insight as to how they work. So, with the need to start somewhere, let’s start off by taking a look at the Junebug — a USB PIC programmer and debugger (ICD – In Circuit Debugger), from


Click the image for a full size view


I’ve had my Junebug for just over a month now, and I love it. I also have the Inchworm+/Unicorn combo, but the Junebug is far superior, IMO.

Let’s check out some of the features of the Junebug;

PICKit 2 Compatible Programmer / Debugger & UART tool
1. USB-B connector, provides power and communication for the Junebug, Tutor & target projects
2. Programmer status Power, Target Power & Busy
3. PIC18F2550 preprogrammed with .hex
4. 18F2550 ICP, expansion & PK2 compatible
5. Tutor mode switch see page 6 for details
6. ICD programming / debugging connector (2×5 type)

Yes, the Junebug is a PICKit 2 Compatible Programmer / ICD and fully supported by the Microchip software. This means that you can use the Junebug anywhere the PICKit 2 is supported, such as MPLAB, MPLAB C18 and the PICKit 2 software.

Not only can you program a wide range of PIC products, you can also use the Junebug as an ICD (In Circuit Debugger). For those of you, like me, that can’t afford a hardware simulator, the Junebug is perfect!

Click here for a list of products
that can be programmed/debugged with the Junebug


OK, so you can program, and debug your target boards/PICs, what project or board should you build first? Well, why don’t you have another look at the Junebug — it’s much more than just “a programmer” — it’s also a complete development board suited for so many projects and applications, well, let’s just say it will keep you entertained for many, many hours, without building a single PCB.

Let’s check out a few of the features from the TUTOR side of the Junebug;

PIC18F1320 Tutor / Trainer
7. USER I/O connector U5V,RA1,RA2,RA3,RA4,RB1(TX),RB2(RX),GND
8. 38KHz Infrared detector / demodulator enable with DIP switch IR IN
9. Reset or RA5
10. CON4 A3,A4,GND socket designed for iButton® / 1-wire®, and various small parts
11. VR1 & VR2 variable resistors on RA1 & RA3 (DIP switch selectable)
12. Six multiplexed LEDs
13. Pushbuttons on RB0, RB2 & RB5
14. PIC18F1320 for user programs and software development
15. CON5 designed for buzzers, servo motors, PWM and general I/O

Yeah, I’d say that’s enough to keep you busy! Start with the LED’s — learn how to light them up — flash them in patterns, back and forth — be inventive and experiment. Once the flashing of LED’s is understood, add in A/D conversion with the variable resistors (VR1/VR2) and make the patterns change with the pushbuttons.

Still a little too basic for you? How about an IR send/receive device (such as a TV remote)? What about PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) for servos/stepper motors — want to build a robot? You could add an iButton reader to it and design your own lock. Or maybe use the serial port for communications within a home automation project. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

OK, so that’s about it for this post — I hope that I have possibly encouraged you to join the world of embedded devices, get yourself a Junebug and start experimenting! A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I’ll update this post as I add some code here so that you can play with the Junebug Tutor. If you want to check out the Junebug in more detail, or any of Bill’s other porducts, shoot over to

Junebug Programmer & Tutor

Insects, feces found in contraband cigs

Wow! I don’t know how I missed this article, back in May of ’07 — I’m just glad I quit smoking!

Insect eggs, dead flies, mould, even human feces have turned up in contraband cigarettes and tobacco seized in B.C. in the past year.

“You never know what you’re smoking,” notes Cpl. Norm Massie of the RCMP’s Border Integrity Unit. “People think cigarettes are cigarettes are cigarettes. That’s not true.”