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Journal: My experiences upgrading the hard drive in a 1ghz iBook G4

Journal by silentbozo
To those who are thinking about upgrading their hard drives in 14" iBook G4s, here are my experiences:

WARNING: WORKING ON YOUR IBOOK WILL LIKELY VOID YOUR WARRANTY, AND INTRODUCE THE POSSIBILITY OF PROBLEMS EITHER NOW OR IN THE FUTURE. THESE ARE MY EXPERIENCES WORKING ON MY IBOOK, AND I CANNOT ASSUME ANY LIABILITY FOR WHAT MAY HAPPEN IF YOU ATTEMPT TO DO THE SAME.

Some advice:

1. Make sure the drive you want to use has been tested, formatted, and meets your needs (ie, is big enough, fast enough, runs cool enough, runs quiet enough, etc.)

2. Make sure that you partition your drive the way you want it, and use carbon copy cloner to make it bootable.

3. Make sure you have a large, clean, workspace, with plenty of room for tools, containers for innumerable tiny screws, some tape for said screws, your iBook, paper for taking notes, and for safely handling your old and new drives.

4. Protect your screen.

5. Have the right tools. You will need a set of jeweler-type slotted and Phillips-head screwdrivers, at least a couple of Torx and hex bits ( I have a full set of em, I think I used a 2.5 and a 2 mm, but don't quote me on it.) You might also want some plastic spreaders - I used some Bic pen caps, since the plastic is softer than my case. Don't even THINK about trying to disassemble your iBook without having a full set of tools available.

6. Download a full set of instructions. Print them out using a COLOR printer (I used a B&W printer, and couldn't make out the spots where the guy had highlighted screw locations using blue and red dots...) Also, note that there were DIFFERENCES between the diassembly process described by the author, and my iBook - notably, there were NO screws underneath magnets under the keyboard - I wasted 20 minutes prying both of them out with an x-acto knife before I realized that there was nothing there.

If you are at all afraid of:

* Scratching or breaking your screen
* Frying the circuitry of your iBook
* Losing critical screws, springs, or accidentally bending RF shields permanently out of shape or tearing them
* Completely frying your drive or breaking critical cables
* Totally violating your warranty
* Cracking, scratching, or otherwise disfiguring your case


DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS MODIFICATION - TAKE YOUR MACHINE TO AN APPLE AUTHORIZED RETAILER AND LET THEM RUN THE RISK OF HOSING YOUR MACHINE UNDER WARRANTY.

Seriously folks, it took me 1 and 1/2 hours of careful disassembly before I even got to the point where I could take the old drive out. You have to:

1. Take the feet off, and remove a bunch of screws (using your hex driver, and jeweler's screwdrivers), and carefully separate the lower half of the case from the upper half of the case. The two halves are held together with very high-tolerance plastic connectors, and you DO NOT want to take the chance of cracking these. Obviously, you want to have unplugged everything, and removed the batteries before even unscrewing anything. When you remove the bottom half, you need to either remove the springs that go where the batteries go, or tape them in place to keep from losing them.

2. Remove another bunch of screws (and like Sony equipment, the damn things are everywhere, and of different lengths and types) and remove the bottom RF shield.

3. You now have access to the bottom of the logic board and the screws you will need to remove the top part of the case. This is where you start running the risk of cracking your screen. You'll need to remove a select portion of the screws (including three that intersect with the optical drive entry), flip the iBook over, open it up, lift up and REMOVE the keyboard, remove the Airport Card (if you have one), remove the cover for memory, unscrew more screws holding parts of the shield under the keyboard, and then CAREFULLY lift the upper cover off. You must also keep from accidentally tearing cables and leads that are taped in place (you have to untape some of them to remove the cover.)

4. Congratuations. You now have access to the UPPER RF shield. You now have to unscrew more screws than you can count, and keep them in the right places, since there are more screw holes than screws, and you don't want to put the screws back in the wrong places. You also have to keep from bending the RF shield, since the alloy it is made of is incredibly brittle, and will likely tear if you bend it back and forth too much. Oh, did I mention that the upper RF shield is made in one piece, and that you have to remove the WHOLE THING before you can access either the optical or hard drives?

5. With the RF shield off, you now have access to the hard drive. Unscrew 4 screws, lift up the drive, remove the runners, carefully unhook the drive from the ide cable (not easy, the ide cable looks incredibly fragile, and the ide connector is a 1/16th thickness board which I guarantee you will snap if you exert any degree of force) unscrew the runner attachment screws usng your torx driver, attach the screws to your new drive, put the runners on, put the drive in, screw the 4 screws in, and begin reassembly.

6. Put the top RF shield back, and screw many screws back in. Reverse the disassembly instructions, and put all the many tiny screws back in the right places without losing any of them.

7. Put both halves back together and finish reassembly.

8. Test drive by booting. If you have problems, DO NOT ZAP PRAM, instead, use the graphical open firmware boot command to see what drive partitions are available for boot (hold down option on boot.) I spent an hour in dispair after I assembled my iBook (I tested it throughout with no success) before realizing that the boot process was fubaring because I had a non-booting unix partition as my first partition (I had set it up that way so I could install Linux.)

This omission manifested itself as a hang at boot which messed up the screen after I zapped PRAM, which could easily be interpreted as a logic board error. Why was I so panicked? The error on boot even kept me from booting off of my recovery DVDs, so my iBook was effectively dead. Good news, it wasn't - which I realized when I booted into Open Firmware, and everything looked OK.

Just to give you a timeline of how long things took, I started working at 8pm, and didn't stop until 12 midnight. This is definitely not a project for the faint of heart.

Here's a tip. If you value your iBook, have this process done by a professional. If you're a professional with time to spare, and the right tools, more power to you. Most iBook owners will not fall into this category, and will be FAR better off having this mod done by a trusted authorized service department.

The iBook was NOT designed to be disassembled by end users. That much is clear. Even experienced hobbyists will be challenged, and will likely put some nicks into their case during the disassembly/assembly process. If you try this mod, you might just end up with a dead iBook and a blown warranty. You have been warned.
User Journal

Journal: Ford Re-Th!nks Crushing $1M worth of EVs 1

Journal by silentbozo
I actually sent this in as a story submission - we'll see if the Slashdot editors pick it up:

Is there really a great auto conspiracy against electric cars? Greenpeace seems to think so. Evidently, despite having spent the money to import 350 Norwegian-made electric-powered commuter cars in order to fulfill California zero-emissions mandates, Ford's Th!nk unit, which was unveiled 4 years ago as a green initiative to produce community friendly autos, has decided to follow GM's lead in hunting down and destroying all traces of their electric vehicle, the Th!nk City EV. A Norwegian, Elbil Norge, has offered $1 million dollars for the cars, in order to save them from the crusher and offer them to interested buyers. Flinching from the media exposure, Ford has stated that they will get back to the public by September 15th. Will the Th!ink EVs, which were only leased, and never sold, end up like GM's cars?
User Journal

Journal: The death of Old Time Radio in Los Angeles - KNX 1070

Journal by silentbozo
Today is a sad day. After personally listening to KNX 1070 for over 20 years, and almost 30 years after they started playing old time radio shows, the KNX Drama Hour is dead.

For those who don't live in the area, the KNX Drama Hour (AM 1070) was a nightly radio program, rebroadcasting old radio shows from the 30's, 40's, and 50's. Shows like The Lone Ranger, The Jack Benny Show, Dragnet, and The Green Hornet, were all on radio long before television. They entertained, they thrilled, and sometimes (as in the case of Arch Obler's Lights Out) they scared you so badly you had a hard time going to sleep.

All this ended on October 31st, 2003. For the past week, KNX had decided to pre-empt the 9pm broadcast of the Drama Hour in favor of updates on the fire situation here in Southern California - a common practice during emergencies and heavy news times. You could still tune into the 2am rebroadcast though. However, they made it permanent on Friday, opting for a 24-hour all news program (an odd thing to do when KFWB already has claim to that title in Los Angeles.)

I'll miss these old shows, which taught me so much. A bit of Los Angeles history passed away, and although OTR programs (many of them of fairly poor quality) are still traded and sold, it's depressing to know that some kid in elementary school won't be able to discover the wonderful world of radio some dark night, scanning the airwaves for the faint phrase:

"Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger Rides again!"

RIP Drama Hour. 1974-2003.

You've been Berkeley'ed!

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