August 12, 2006

Apples and Oranges - Fixing my computer!

A few months ago, sometime in April, I noticed the hard-drive of my laptop starting to make noise. Occasionally when it was very hot it would begin clicking and clacking away in the laptop body, and would sometimes lock the computer up, forcing a restart. I wasn't really sure what the problem was at the time, but because the computer always started back up, I wasn't tooooo worried, and I also figured that I would have it checked out in California when I was back for the USGP. Turns out, it was more dire than I thought, and by June it was freezing regularly. After one particularly bad episode, which forced me to reinstall the operating system, I decided I needed to take action. With my travel schedule being so hectic at that time, I didn't want to leave it with a shop in Spain, and I also didn't want to be caught out without a computer - because it's my gateway to my friends, my music, and the world! I ended up trying to baby the machine as much as I could, and we limped home to the USGP together - intact but wobbly.

As much as I love Mac's, I must confess I was disappointed to have a hardware failure, but all machines have their limits and I'm extremely good at finding them! Maybe this happenned because I rode a rigid chopper for so long (no rear suspension) and the vibration had some kind of negative effect. Regardless, I needed to fix my machine!

The Patient:

I'm not a computer specialist by any means, so the first thing I did was bring it by Evan's place for a prognosis. We decided it was most likely a hard-drive failure and started making plans to extract as much data as we could from the bad unit. This proved problematic, as the computer had some issues and would stop working in the middle of the data transfer, and Evan had to do it "manually" and sort through all my folders until he found the corrupted one. Turns out my problem files were part of the promotional media cd I got from Camel Yamaha earlier this year.

The Doctore at work:

While on another errand on the Peninsula, Evan and I swung by Fry's Electronics to buy an aftermarket hard-drive. It is always a headache going there and dealing with the "customer service", but we persevered and left with what we thought was a 100GB HD. The next couple days were a blur, and we didn't get around to attempting the swap until almost a week later. It was at this moment that Joann, Evan's wife, pointed out that we had, in fact, brought home a 60 GB drive. Arrrrggghhh! The seven digit part numbers between the two drives were off by one. ONE! That meant another drive back own out of the city to Fry's to (hopefully) make an exchange for the right drive. Frustration aside, it was a good time to hang out with Evan and just try to relax a little bit. Once we got to Fry's, I spotted one of the neatest limited edition cars made in the last few years. Could this be the future MotoLiam mobile?!?

Even here at Fry's, I found some motorcycle influence. . . . or is it the other way around?!?

I gave back to "sponsors" of the sport by picking up some Full Throttle Energy Drink while I was there. "Mr. Empty Pockets hammers his credit cards picking up the supplies he would need for an extended stay in Europe once again - this time armed with more knowledge!"

Another hour's drive and we were back at Evan's. I proceeded to get right down to business. Step one, establish a relationship with the client - or lay the client down on the table. The blue tape is upside down, so the small parts will stick to it, and I also made sure to do everything in order. That made reassembly that much easier because everything was laid out in groups and I knew when and what to do. The battery, Ram card, and keyboard come off first.

It's a little tricky getting the top, faceplate off. I don't suggest using Harley Special Tool #1 (or the Ducati Special tool, either). Be patient and she'll work with you.

If you take the blue pill, everything will be normal again. If you take the green pill, you may not remember as much. . . . .

Clearly, the Superdrive (CD/DVD burner drive) dominates the internals, and look at the size of the heat sink!.

Here's a closer look at one of the bigger circuit boards. I love this kind of stuff! (but on someone else's machine, not mine, hahahaha)

After the swap was made, and everything was reconnected internally, it was a small matter to bolt everything back together. Ahhhh, proof of completion. Actually, it took another ten hours to re-install all the old data into the new hard-drive, and insure that everything was working perfectly. There have been a couple hiccups, but nothing serious since the change was made - thank goodness! While I was in the machine, I also changed the RAM, upgrading from 512 MB to 1 GB. It's that much faster and better now.

Ahhhhh, I'm soooo much more at peace now that my computer is fixed. I named the new Hard-Drive, Silver, so that I can yell, "Hi-yoooo Siiiiilveeerrrr!"

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