Sunday, April 23, 2006

Late night Anatomy : Playing Dr. Hannible with my gadgets

Lately, I've been getting urges to dissect things; computer things to be more specific.

First involves an unsuspecting DVD writer and the second my first ever notebook that has always been a favorite item to show off at exhibitions or lectures involving gadgets.

My DVD writer has always been giving me trouble since I've got it a little under two years ago, during a visit to Singapore. Not only did it cost me about $120, it was very picky as to what DVDs was appropriate to play or write to.

For example, the first disappointment came when I was unable to write to any of the cheap "Melody branded DVD +R"” I had bought (25 stack). Then there were many accounts of (pirated) DVD movies, that I had to go back to return, only to find that it played well on the player or on my notebook.

Finally, just a few weeks ago, it completely stopped reading DVDs of any sort. At first, it seemed a little spin with a cleaning disc would do the trick, but that wasn't the case.

So I decided to rip it apart to see if I could get more personal with its inner workings as well as clean the laser by hand. I'll let the pictures speak for them self.

dvd001 dvd002 dvd003 dvd004 dvd005


Finally after putting it back to together, the result hadn't changed. While it no longer played DVDs it was happy to play CDs. This was abou the time my brother was also visiting from UK and wanted some DVDs written before leaving, so I ditched it and bought the same Sony DVD writer (newer model of course) for half the price, locally!

The decision to dissect my sony vaio notebook was really sudden and was purely because I "just felt like it"”! Actually, I've had put away my vaio, a much loved device, not to mention my first of the kind, for some time now. It has always been an inspiration and a triumph for the only OS - GNU/Linux that could make use of a crippled notebook that only worked for about 3 months, before the hard disk along with its controller failed. That is why, I always took this gadget along to captivate the audience of a notebook that had no permanent memory, with no apparent use, suddenly coming to life by using a floppy containing a few kilo-bytes of ether-boot code that enables it to boot off GNU/Linux completely off another machine lying on the network.

Sony (and apple) has made it difficult to remove their devices by packaging it ever more tightly. Unlike most notebooks, the vaio that lay before me, did not like anyone tampering with it to install a hard drive or even expand its memory. But tonight, I was feeling comfortable to finally remove a device that was never meant to be removed.

vaio000 vaio001 vaio003 vaio002 vaio004


vaio005 vaio006 vaio007 vaio008

It was a highly sweating journey through the process from dissembling to assembling. Though I was able to put it back together, removing the unwanted hard drive and making the device even lighter, reconnecting the touch-pad cable onto the motherboard proved impossible under the circumstances. I was working under limited space between the 3 millimeter thick cable that was supposed to just sit under a small plastic lock. Unfortunately I had broken one side of the plastic lock while snapping it out with my fingernails.

Other than that, the notebook worked as before and the following day I bought a 5-port USB that made it easier to plug in the USB floppy, thumb driver for extra memory and a USB mouse simultaneously.

Which device will I dissect next? Stay tuned.

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