Archive for hardware

Replacing a Laptop Hard Drive

I have purchased several Dell Latitude D630s for folks here in the office, and without fail, eventually the hard drives on these have to be replaced.  I am replacing one now, and thought it might be helpful to someone out there to see pictures and get a walk-thru.  It is very easy actually, and I am fairly confident that anyone can do this.  For better pictures and guide, check out the quickguide online.

This is a 250GB, 72KRPM replacement drive, part number 341-7743 from Dell, by the way.

1.  Back up all data and make a note of all programs that will need to be reinstalled.

2.  Shutdown your laptop and remove all power sources (not a bad idea to remove even the battery).

3.  Make sure you have a small Phillips screwdriver and that your laptop is securely lying upside down.

4.  Remove the two screws from the top left portion of your laptop.DSCF1626

5.  Carefully pull out the hard drive.

DSCF16206.  Remove the single screw that attaches the hard drive to the bay.

7.  Attach the new drive to the bay and secure the same screw.


8.  Put new drive and bay back into the side of the laptop.


9.  Reattach the new drive to the laptop with the same two screws taken out minutes ago.

DSCF162510.  Turn laptop right-side up and and boot laptop with an OS disk in the CD Drive and begin formatting your new drive.

I told you anyone could do it!


Installing a New Tivo Hard Drive

So, I had this really crappy week a while back where my ipod, my Tivo and my laptop all died on me.  The ipod I fear is toast, as the connector won’t connect to a pc anymore no matter what I try.  It is two years old, so I think I will have to suck it up and buy a new one.

The laptop needed a new battery, easy to buy and fix.

The Tivo though, that was interesting.  It basically started spontaneously rebooting itself.  If you have ever had to sit through this, you will understand how quickly this becomes painful.  After several calls to tech support and trying different variations on a reboot. . they determined what I already knew to be true, my hard drive was gone.  Their recommendation, a refurbished unit for $160.  A new unit, with about 160 hours of space, is about $299.99 . . . so I figured I would look around a bit and see what I could find on my own.

I did find a couple of sites that sold replacement 160GB drives for about $100, so I decided to give that a shot.  Since it was a hard drive, I figured even if my Tivo never works I can reuse the drive in one of my PCs.  I purchased my drive from DVRUpgrade since they are somewhat local for me, and did the swap last night.  My Tivo was still working on getting all of the programming last night, but it appears to work just fine.  The swap was simple, made even simpler by the Torx driver they sent with the replacement drive, and their instructions are right on the money.

I am still bummed about the iPod, but at least I won’t have to miss any more of my favorite shows.  I have missed Grace, Brenda, and Dr. Brennan, not to mention all the new greats like Leverage, Lie To Me and Dollhouse!   Thank goodness for Hulu.

A Big Move and Lots of Learning about Networking Fundamentals

I have been trying for a couple of months now to find good links and helpful information on what it takes to move a company, specifically the data center, as that is what I am responsible for.  As I move through this process though, I realize that I need to do a lot more than move some servers and routers. 

The past two days have been spent meeting with cabling companies trying to get a handle on what we need to get the the phones to ring and the computers connected to the internet and our servers.  It seems I need a cabling company to come and wire my building.  What they do is run all the wires from our server room to the rest of the building, but there is a bit more to it than that. 

There will be a demarcation point where the T1s will be dropped, I am most likely installing a T1 and a PRI, and the companies that drop those will only do that portion.  From there, I need to extend the demark to the MDF in our server room.  Because we are moving into a large warehouse, I also need to have them create an IDF and run fiber from the MDF to the IDF. 

While I am learning on the fly, I am finding it hard to find helpful articles on the web that explain this all.  Most sites focus on telephony or data networks but don’t explain how it all fits together.  If anyone out there knows of sites that explain all of this well I would love to see them.  I plan to share all I learn here, and hope that I expain it in a way that will make sense to me and others when I am done.

HP Laptop Trick

It has been too long since I posted, but I need to jot this little jewel down before all the learning I did today makes me forget this stupid, yet effective trick to bring a laptop back from what appeared to be a meldtdown.

My HP Pavilion laptop got stuck, so I powered down and tried to reboot, but I got all lights, but no display. Rebooted again, same thing, and I also noticed that my cd drive wound up but HD seemed to be out for the count in noise and in light indicator. Oh boy, figured my HD was toast and I would have to get a replacement. Went to HP support site where it said:

Test the AC adapter
Follow the steps below to determine whether the problem is related to the AC adapter or your notebook system board.

Remove the battery and disconnect all external devices from the computer.

Hold the Power button for several seconds, with all power sources removed. This drains residual power from the system, and may correct many problems.

Connect the AC adapter to a wall outlet and plug the other end into the computer.
Press the Power button to start the notebook PC.

Thanks HP! This worked like a champ and I am now happily blogging. Woohoo!

Firewall video and software – Systm and IPCop

I was surfing around looking for tools to help me learn more about networking and TCP/IP packets and I came across Systm.    It is a DIY show for geeks that has a bunch of shows on how to setup “geeky” stuff, like a home NAS and Media Center and yes, Firewall.  So after listening to the show on firewalls I decided that my very next project will be to setup an IPcop firewall system at home for testing and learning.  I understand from the show and by looking online that there are many people out there using it, so I should be able to setup it up and get help and learn a few things as well. 

Now if I can just dig out a complete system from my closet at home I will be all set. . .

Treo 680 with Exchange E-mail Configuration

I had to setup my first Treo 680’s today for a couple of our new sales guys.  It wasn’t too difficult, but the instructions I was given by our AD Admin were a bit off so I wanted to document the steps here for the next time I need to setup these up.

1.  Install the SIM and batter and charge the battery.

2.  Call the support number to initiate the phone number.

3.  Install the Palm Software (via a disk in the box) on the user’s desktop.

5.  Connect the device to the desktop.

6. Setup e-mail by going to Mail, Menu, choose Microsoft Activsync from the provider drop down  and continue filling in the information as you get it from your e-mail administrator.

Hard Drive Fun & Vista Service Pack 1

Hard Drive Fun 

I read an article today over at TechRepublic about how to build and configure an external hard drive enclosure that was really well done.

Greg Shultz not only goes through how to set one up, but he also explains how to properly set the jumpers on the drive, and what the different settings mean.  I enjoyed this article quite a bit, and thought that the information was pesented in a way that was very easy to understand.  I will be purchasing one of these for myself.

Vista Service Pack 1

I am installing it right this minute for the first time, so I will post updates here as I go today.  Hopefully this SP will fix all my issues with Vista (yeah right, and monkeys may fly out of my butt today).

Ok, here is the update, it took me about an hour to update my PC early in the morning.  It went smoothly and I had no download or update problems.

I have not seen any improvements or changes, other than now everytime I remotely connect to my servers at work I get a security message.  Nothing seems faster, it still takes MINUTES to open my network connections, and basically all annoyances are still present. 

I will be installing spk 1 on my laptop today, that may be a better indicator, as I use it much more often than I do my desktop.

iPhone and Exchange

It only took a few days to find what I needed to know about Exchange and the iPhone.  I guess in all fairness, I was not looking super hard, but still it seems like it was hard to find information about this.

Anyway, it seems that ActiveSync will not be available until June for the iPhone.  That is not a big deal to me, I have a Blackberry.  But, for our graphics guy here who just got his cool new iPhone, it is a bit disappointing to have to wait so long just to check his work email account.

According to a blog by Peter Cohen over at Macworld ActiveSync, which is software that is used by Exchange to push email to mobile devices, will be released in June during a major software update.  We are already using ActiveSync here to push e-mail content to our Treo users, so I know this will work, but JUNE?  Wow.  I wish I would have known this when my user first came to me asking about whether or not he should get an iPhone.  Again, sure they are cool and all, but come on, if I am paying that much for a “smartphone” it darn well better be smart enough to deliver my mail.

Ah well, June it is.

Wireless Network Standards

I have to setup a wireless router here and wanted to do some reading while I wait for my items to arrive.

I found a decent beginners article on the TigerDirect Site that has some pretty good information, includging a nice breakdown of the differences between the four standard protocols; 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n.

802.11a – Bandwidth up to 54 Mbps
Due to a higher frequency range, this standard may not have as much distance as other options. Was created about the same time as 802.11b

802.11b – Bandwidth up to 11 Mbps
Uses the 2.4GHz radio signal, which is common for other devices such as microwaves and wireless phones, so it may have trouble with interference from other devices.

802.11g – Bandwidth up to 54 Mbps
Uses the 2.4GHz frequency, but supports more users and has a greater signal strength.

802.11n – Bandwidth up to 300 Mbps
Uses the 2.4GHz frequency, and supports more users than 802.11g and has the best signal strength of the 4 options.

It is also important to note that 802.11g and 802.11n are backward compatible with 802.11b.

How to Recycle Old Computer Parts

Each company I have worked for has had the same problem with inventory, what to do with old electronic equipment when you  no longer need it.  I have been allowed to take home many old computers and parts, but there is usually still a surplus even after the scavengers have picked away at the piles.  So what is an overcrowded tech to do with all the leftovers?

I was recently contacted by an organization that will take just about anything, and try to refurbish it for schools.  Refurbish?  Recycle?  That sounds great, but I was guessing that it would take a lot of work or lots of telephone calls or be a hassle somehow, right?  No!  This company is easy to use, easy to contact, and a pleasure to work with.  We even got a note about a month after our first donation telling us where our old parts had gone and what they were doing now.

If you are in the Chicago area you too can use PCS for Schools.  If not, check out their website for other locations and companies like them in other cities.

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