Vivitar Foot Repair


So I got this Vivitar 285 flash last year, and it’s been working great, except for one thing… the little plastic foot is no match for the weight of this thing. Eventually, it broke. Argh… To be expected though.

I found a replacement metal foot on ebay for $6.99, and I watched some YouTube video that explained replacing it. Here’s the thing though… after I watched a damn advertisement, and then a 9 minute video showing how to do the replacement, I decided that I’d help people of the future by presenting the same info in a good old no-nonsense way, with words and pictures!

Broken Foot

So here is our broken foot. Thin, old, cheap plastic. No good! Grab a tiny screwdriver and remove the foot. Don’t lose the screws, they are tiny! (Also, you will need them later!)

Remove Foot

Here is the broken one still attached, next to the new one. On the original unit, there are 4 wires. Two of them (white and green) go to the test button. You don’t need these! You just need the black and red wires. The button on the new one will work just fine with only the black and red attached.

New Foot

The black and red wires are short, so don’t cut them, you need to desolder them. If you don’t have a good soldering iron, and some soldering wick and a solder sucker, find someone who does. (Maybe your local hackerspace?) I did cut the white and green ones, and put a tiny amount of tape over the ends, just to be totally safe.


Solder the black and red wires in place securely. It appears I put the black on in the center. I’m not sure that it matters, but YMMV and I make no guarantees. (See where I put the screws? Right where they belong, because they are so damn small I was afraid of losing them!) Also, don’t put the foot on backwards, as that would be stupid. (Disclaimer: I’m not even sure you can put it on backwards. I just like disclaimers.)

New Foot

With the soldering done, put the foot in place, put the screws in, and put the batteries back in (you did take them out before you started, right!?) and test it!

OK, there’s your short guide to replacing the hotshoe foot for a Vivitar 285 camera flash. Hopefully you read this in less time than it took me to watch that 9 minute long YouTube video.

(And yeah, the fact that this is a post about photography that has terrible photos is not lost on me. Apologies…)


Is Matt’s Phone Broken?


Keep checking back for updates!


Email Lives!

Hey Pete, didn’t you hear? Email is broken! Yup, it’s been broken since 2003 at least, if not longer…

I like email. I like that when I create an email, it is saved on my own device (computer, phone, etc.) and then a copy of it is sent to someone else, and it doesn’t matter what kind of device that person is using, or what services they are signed up with, or any of those other crazy things like in the bad old days.

Remember when Prodigy users couldn’t email Compuserve users, or whatever the hell those other long-gone services were called? (Walled Gardens or Silos is what they were sometimes called.) To some degree, I feel like the Internet created this level playing field where everyone had to learn to get along and all be (somewhat) compatible. An email address is such a low barrier to entry… like a phone number. Imagine if you had to know if your friend used Verizon, or AT&T or some other company before you could even call them. (I know, you damn kids all use Skype or GTalk now, so again, you won’t see my point here.)

You can have an email address and not (appear to) be associated with any specific service or company. If you push people towards your Twitter account. You are reliant on Twitter. They control your identity and your messages, to some degree. It’s usually the same with Yammer, or any other system which might be used by some people to replace email because they think email is broken.

I’ve got emails that are easily more than 10 years old that I can go back to and read. They are on my own computer, and they are backed up. I can’t even get to Twitter messages I created just 3 years ago, because they won’t let me access them. There are probably solutions to this, but I don’t think Twitter is interested in any of them, as they don’t really help their bottom line. Companies and the services they run disappear, they get shut down, they die. Email is this “thing” that can’t really be killed even if all the companies that make email products die. It sort of reminds me of HTTP, a set of standards everyone has to adhere to. (Quick, look for the “HTTP is dead!” folks, I’m sure they’re out there…)

IM is another thing… I’m pretty sure that by default Apple’s iChat does not log messages. I’ve had the experience (more than once) of an iChat user telling me to resend the message I sent 10 seconds earlier because they closed their chat window. I know there are ways to fix this, but again, IM comes with the “people on this network may not be able to talk to people on that network” problem, as well as the idea that the messages are nothing you’d want to save… unless you want to do a lot of work to figure out how to save them.

Maybe I’m mostly happy with email because it works for me, and I’ve gotten used to how it works. It’s not perfect, but for now, it’s still much better than many of the proposed alternatives… It’s been around for nearly 40 years now, which makes it older than most of the people who seem to think it should die. But hey, can you blame them? Those damn kids are always trying to take over.


DIY PowerBook Repairs

As PowerBook (and iBook) users know all to well, those damn power adapters can go bad. Well, mine finally got to the point of not working. So for the last few weeks or so I’ve been without the use of pbox, our lovely old PowerBook G3 Wallstreet.

I looked on ebay and at some of the 3rd party suppliers of power adapters, but because I’m what you might call frugal, and a hacker, I took matters into my own hands, and in my own hands I put some tools. Pliers, utility knife, wire cutters, and some duct tape. Ah, there’s always room for duct tape…

So now the power adapter works again. I did managed to lose a tiny resistor in the hackery of it all, but as the saying goes “We got power!” I mean, what could that little resistor be doing anyway? Sure, there is a chance I might get an electrical shock when checking email, or launching Firebird, I mean FireFox, might cause it to burst into flames. Oh well, such is the price you pay for attempting to keep up with the fast pace of technology on a limited budget…

Flaming PowerBook warning label


Email is broke?

Whew, missed this last week, as I was out, but it seems people think that email is broken, or at least email is somehow having some sort of problem. I wouldn’t really know it if it wasn’t for the hype from everyone else. I’ve had no problem getting my mail. I don’t have a huge increase in spam. I seem to be getting my mail fine, and sending it fine. What’s the problem?

Yeah, I know, I don’t use Windows, and if I did, I’d be using Mozilla products rather than IE and Outlook anyway, but I think the real trick is, I don’t really know people who use those things. Ok, I know people, but obviously I’m not their friend. By that I mean, I don’t seem to be in their Outlook address book, or in their IE cache, or whatever is required by the latest MS flaw-ware that allows Windows to go nuts like a disgruntled postal worker on speed.

I remember a few years back when there was some virus that emailed everyone in your Outlook address book, and at work everyone was getting it except me, due to the fact that either I’m a loser with no friends, or my friends use good software.