Friday, January 23, 2009

Moving blog

I’m moving my computer related blogging to my new blog at Your PC Needs. I’ll keep the older stuff here as it would be a pain to move all this stuff.  I tried it once and the formatting would be messed up and it would look more sloppy than it already is(LOL). Thanks for coming by I hope you visit my new blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Free Geek Box

Free Geek of Providence is starting to distribute Free Geek Boxes in order to the logopublic. First you might say what is Free Geek Providence? They do a better job of describing themselves. Here’s an description from there website:

Free Geek Providence is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to addressing the digital divide by providing computer training, redistributing computer technology and providing volunteer opportunities to our community while maintaining relationships with responsible recycling partners.

For a small donation you can receive a Free Geek Box. What will it have in it? From what info I gathered from the website it’ll usually have a Pentium III,256 MB RAM, network card and some other options available at an extra cost(minimal). For an operating system they loaded with Xubuntu (Linux based) which is free. For more detailed information you can check them out the Free Geek Providence website.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dell Latitude disassembly – LCD cover

I was asked by a friend to replace a lid cover to his Dell Latitude D600 notebook. In my previous post I I covered removing the keyboard and hinge cover. This was the first step in removing the lid cover. His was a bit scratched and the hinges were in poor shape just barely hanging on. Also the locking latch was not lined up correctly so it wasn’t staying shut. The tools you’ll need are the same as before. A small Phillips and flathead screwdriver are essential.


Here we have the left hand hinge which looks in pretty sorry state. It was very loose and there was space between the hinge in the case. This wasn’t going to last much longer.


Here’s our Dell with the keyboard and hinge cover removed.



First thing I did was disconnect the LCD display connector from the board.


It has a small ground strap and a wire connected to the LCD.


First I unscrewed the ground strap and then disconnected it. It has small handle to aid in pull.


Now I move on to the hinges. The left hand side has two screws and the other has one.


After the screws are removed it should lift right out of place.


Now I’m removing the frame around LCD display. In this case I’m just replacing the lid cover. This would a good reference if your replacing the actual LCD screen too. There are 4 screws along the top edge and 2 in the bottom corner.



After the screws are removed you can then begin gently prying the lid cover apart. I used a small flathead screwdriver. B gently when using this as you could damage the the plastic casing. They do make plastic tools to do this which I do have on order.


I now have the frame off.


Remove the screws holding the LCD display in place.


Lift and remove display. It’s that simple. To assemble just go in reverse order. Here I’m replacing the lid so I just lifted it out the old one and into the new one. I reassembled it. It was easier than I thought it would be. This took me about 30 minute or so. After I put it together and rebooted. It worked great. Thanks for coming by


Source: Dell Latitude D600 Service manual

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dell Latitude D600 keyboard removal

Keyboards on laptops take a lot of abuse. Not only from constant use from spills, IMG_3510dirt, pet hair(and human) and keys popping off. Keyboard replacement is a common repair. On a PC it’s easy to replace. Go to your local computer store. Pick up a new one and come home and plug it in. On a laptop it’s not as simple but still easy if your a littler mechanically inclined. Here is how I took apart a Dell Latitude D600 keyboard. They are not all the same but I thing it would be a good example. All that you may need is a small Phillips screwdriver, small flat head screwdriver and a delicate touch.


First in this case you’ll have to remove the center plastic cover just above the keyboard. You lie the screen flat. In this case Dell provide a small notch on one side. Insert your small screwdriver there and gently start prying it apart. If you using a normal steel screwdriver use care as you can easily gouge break the plastic. There are plastic ones available I’ve found on Ebay.


This piece was held in by plastic hooks and snaps in place. Gently pull and pry the piece out. This piece was getting replaced anyway but still I tried to be careful not to damage anything else.


This Dell had two Phillips screws along the top edge holding the keyboard in place. I removed those.


I lift up along the back edge of the board. It was held in place along the bottom by some small hooks . Gently wiggling it out I see that a small ribbon is till attached to the base unit.



There is a small pull lever that aids in pulling this out. Gently pull this out and your home free.


This is the keyboard from underneath. You can then replace the board with a newer one. It took me about fifteen minutes to this task. To reassemble you just go in reverse order. It’s not as hard as you might think. As a word of caution. Like any other work you do in a computer be careful of ESD(Electro Static Discharge). You can use a wrist strap or touch any bare metal on the unit or elsewhere around your work area to rid yourself of static. Well good luck and hope this might help someone in the future. Next up will be replacing the lid cover to this same Dell Latitude D600 so stay tuned. Have a great day.

Sources: Dell Latitude Service Manual

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dell Latitude gets a boost

IMG_3507 A friend of mine asked me to upgrade his memory in his laptop. The patient is a Dell Latitude D600. It had been running with 512mb of RAM with Windows XP Professional. He decided it was time for a boost. I thought I’d show here just how easy it is to upgrade your memory in your laptop.

First step was purchasing the RAM. A common question for computer is what kind of RAM (or memory) do I get. With all the different types of RAM out there and not to mention the technical jargon it can be confusing. I don’t even understand many of them either. My favorite place to purchase RAM is If you you go to there website they have a memory configurator which helps you out. They have a manual method which you look up your make, model of your machine. They also can scan your computer which takes any guess work out of the equation.

The parts and tools needed:

  • RAM – Crucial Part # CT12864x335, 1GB 200-PIN SODIMM 128MX64 DDR PC2700
  • Small Phillips head screwdriver IMG_3501

Obviously you need the Dell Latitude D600 too. The first thing you’ll have to do is locate where the memory goes. Well you flip over the Dell and it’s located in one of the secret compartments. Dell was nice enough to mark the door with a “M” just to side of it. It’s the 2” x 3” door just off center. It’s just located beneath the COA sticker in the picture . Located on the bottom is a small screw. Now is when you’ll get to use your Phillips screwdriver.


IMG_3504 Once you open the door you’ll see your two banks of memory cards. Gently pull the two tabs alongside the memory bank.


Lift up and pull it out.


Insert your new new memory chip. Don’t worry they are notched so it only goes back in one way. Reassemble in reverse order. After all is put back together I rebooted the computer to make sure everything went well. It now has a healthy 1.25 Gb’s of RAM. This only took about 15 minutes to do. Next up will be removing the keyboard so stay tuned. Thanks for coming by!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

PC shuts off randomly

For a few weeks now my computer had been just shutting of randomly. I would IMG_3497lose video but fans and hard drive would still be running. At first I thought it was a quirk.  Unfortunately it didn’t get any better. When it did happen I’d have to manually shut off PC (unplugging it). Wiggle wires inside and and usually would boot back up fine. At first I thought it may be the video card being overheated. Then the other thought that it was a power supply problem. Either overloaded or something else. It happened today and I finally got off my butt changed out the power supply. When I pulled all the plugs out I noticed that the 4-pin plug were singed black . Obviously I found my problem. I had pulled and reseated this one before and I had never noticed the discoloration. So my lesson for today is do a thorough check when reseating stuff. Don’t get impatient like I did and not examine a little closer. Hopefully this will solve the problem.

Hardware Specs:

  • HP Pavilion A705W
  • 250 watt power supply(old)
  • 450 watt power supply(new)


Monday, January 5, 2009

PC World Previews Windows 7

Denny Arar shows some of changes in Windows 7 which Microsoft is promoting windows_7the leaner meaner aspects of the upcoming operating system.  I haven’t personally used Vista much so I can’t comment too much about the complaints about it. It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft responds to the criticisms of Vista.


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Saturday, January 3, 2009

History: 40 years computer mouse

The mouse is almost as old as I am. Ughh! Anyway I found this story of the history 3066976918_bbeba2eace_oof the mouse interesting in this article by SolarLife at NowPublic .  What made it more interesting is that Rod Holt has commented on the story. You might say who is Rod Holt. He was Chief Engineer and Vice President of Engineering of Apple during the Apple II era.  An actual tech celebrity! Anyway what makes this particularly amazing is the stunning photograph’s they used in the story(like the one to the right). Yep that’s my mouse from my Macintosh Classic. Ok it a shameless act of self promotion but what the heck.  Well have a great weekend and I’ll talk to you later.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Learning Linux

In my upcoming adventures with Free Geek Providence I’ll be encountering the Tux operating system installation of a Linux based Xubuntu. To be honest I’ve only touched upon Linux as far as usability and real world testing.

I have tried some of the more popular ones like Ubuntu, Kubuntu. Xubuntu, Puppy Linux and Backtrack. Some have more of a learning curve than others. For someone used to a windows environment it can be intimidating. Terms such as KDE, Gnome, terminal server, command line, can be baffling to the new person(as they are to me to be honest). My goal is to try and weed through the jargon and understand Linux better.

I’ll be back with more about Learning Linux.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I’d just like to wish everyone a happy New Year!  2009 will certainly bring new challenges ahead for me and for all of us. I wish all of you the best.