Making my new monitor work with an old docking station

After my old monitor had failed, I wanted to replace it with the best possible successor that would still work in the environment I have at home: a Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga notebook attached to a OneLink Pro Dock, both of 2014. The highest resolution supported by that docking station is 2560×1600, i.e., a 4k monitor, which I would otherwise have preferred, was out. 16:10 resolutions including 2560×1600 are no longer popular, but I really prefer having some additional pixels in height. I thus found the Dell UP3017 (product page, review). Not producing visual media but rather working a lot with text, I was not in urgent need of that monitor’s professional colour management, but the suitable resolution and the possibility to rotate the display were sufficiently convincing.

The most troublesome part turned out to be to connect the monitor to the docking station. The docking station features a DisplayPort, and is said to actually only support resolutions above Full HD over DisplayPort. The monitor came with a DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable and has, among DisplayPort and HDMI, a Mini DisplayPort input, to everything seemed fine. However, the monitor kept showing the dreaded “no mDP signal from your device” message. Searching the Web told me that besides a broken cable (which I wouldn’t have expected from a 915 € product) the problem might be caused by the computer’s BIOS, the graphics driver, and the docking station firmware. I managed to update the former two but initially didn’t succeed updating the latter (download location, README). The dock firmware update failed leaving the cryptic message “Can’t connect to Synaptics VMMxxxx DP hub IC” in a file named update.log. Meanwhile I had connected the monitor to my old ThinkPad X220t, which comes with a DisplayPort outlet, and thus confirmed that the monitor and the cable worked. The README of the firmware update software as well as a well-written third party guide claimed that the update would only work with a properly working monitor connected to the dock’s DisplayPort. OK, but my monitor+cable combination was not “working properly”, and I didn’t have another DisplayPort-enabled monitor handy.

Finally, this is how I managed: Connecting my old monitor with broken backlight to the dock over DVI convinced the firmware update to work. After that the Dell UP3017 started to work on the Lenovo OneLink Pro Dock, with 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz.

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Poor man’s Org mode time logging

I never really got used to MobileOrg, and all I really need to do frequently when I’m not near my computer is logging my working hours. Now that I found out that Vim Touch for Android works really well for me (I’m an Evil user anyway), I ended up with the following poor man’s solution:

  1. I have an org.txt file in a Dropbox-synced folder.
  2. To clock a task, I enter its title manually.
  3. I insert a timestamp with C-t (or for Vim users), which I bound with the following .vimrc entry: inoremap =strftime("[%F %a %H:%M]")
  4. When I’m back at my computer, I manually merge the (few) clocked tasks into my Org file.

Contributing to Free Software by Bug Reports

I consider myself an active user and supporter of free software. So what do I do to support free software? Well, I do contribute code to free software projects, but most of these are academic research prototypes that are only of interest to a very small group of users. For most of the software that I am using, I neither know the code bases nor the programming languages well enough for being able to contribute. Therefore, my contribution is mainly in terms of bug reports.

This page lists most bugs that I have reported so far, outside of my academic research.

Blogging from Emacs

source of this blog post in Emacs There is a reason why I didn’t blog for a year: Being a person used to real text editors, I find it cumbersome to log into a web content management system and to enter text into a WYSIWYG HTML editor that always can’t do the things I want to do. I know there are workarounds, such as calling an external editor from the browser, but still…

So why not blogging externally to the browser altogether? Having become more and more addicted to the Emacs org-mode

  • time tracker
  • to-do list manager
  • calendar
  • publishing frontend
  • address book
  • personal knowledge manager

– just listing a few of its features in the order I learnt them! – I finally found org2blog, an org-mode extension that acts as a frontend to WordPress (and theoretically any other XML-RPC-enabled blog as well).

Those who have not used org-mode before, don’t worry: You can basically edit blog posts from within Emacs in a lightweight text-oriented markup language, but have full access to HTML if you need it. Posts can be edited offline and are stored as local files. There are keyboard shortcuts for publishing a file as a draft or post.

The only shortcoming I have perceived so far is that you have to tell org2blog explicitly about the blog site you want to log into.

So there is hope that there will soon be some more posts again.

Wieder gefunden: Der Limes-Effekt

Passend zur Nichtzulassung der PARTEI zur Bundestagswahl und zur Erkenntnis, dass die PARTEI mehr denn je gebraucht würde, habe ich mal wieder zitiert, dass die wahre Kulturgrenze in Deutschland nicht zwischen Ost und West (zumindest nicht zwischen ehemaliger DDR und alter BRD) liegt, sondern zwischen Nord und Süd. Jetzt habe ich endlich wieder den Artikel gefunden, aus dem ich das habe: Wolfgang Büscher: Der Limes-Effekt. Die Zeit 42/2005.

Desktop replacement

I have a ThinkPad T61 with a 1680×1050 resolution but still can’t get enough pixels, and I want something more ergonomic than the fixed combination of keyboard and monitor that notebooks offer. Therefore, I bought an additional monitor (BenQ E2400HD, 24″, 1920×1080 = HDTV resolution, as I also use it for watching TV). In the office, I didn’t have a good experience from connecting external monitors by VGA cable. Only for 1280×1024 I get an acceptable image quality. We have monitors with 1600×1200, which I’d highly prefer, but together with my notebook I can’t use them.

So I got a docking station (Advanced Mini Dock) and a DVI cable, and to my surprise, everything works like a charm 🙂 Even with both displays switched on at the same time.