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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Repairing My Own Laptop

Being confident alone is not enough to help you repair your own laptop, although the task you want to do is as simple as changing a CMOS battery. It takes more than confidence, knowledge of the location of the battery in the laptop and having the right tools to perform the task. A right way to start is to know what you want to do and how you want to get into the point of doing the task, in other words, what to disassembly first, second, third and so on.

Unlike a PC, disassembling a laptop is not a matter of loosing all screws and pulling all cases then you can see everything in the box. A laptop is different from the larger personal computer because firstly a keyboard in a laptop is located on top of the machine, secondly opening the bottom cover of the laptop doesn't mean we can see the laptop machine and thirdly, in order to open the bottom cover itself you need to find the unseen screws, which somehow may be located "under" the keyboard.

My first adventure in disassembling my old, secondhand and cheap Compaq Presario 700EA nearly successfully break down the unlucky machine and at one stage I thought if I could not assembly it again, then I would have had to get it binned permanently. I tried to loose all screws that I could see at the bottom cover of the laptop and thought it should be enough. I started to pull the cover but failed to open it and forced it until it nearly cracked.

I thought I needed to disassembly the screen first so that I can open the bottom cover, so I pull out all screws on the screen and disassembly everything. I still could not take the bottom cover off. Then I realises there must be some screws that still hold the bottom cover. These screws might be located under the keyboard, so I tried to pull my keyboard but I don't know how to do it. I decided to take its button off one by one. When I realised the screws were not there (which means I did another mistake), I spent more than one hour to assembly everything back to as before my work started.

Having finished assembling the laptop, I browsed the internet afterward and found the following website, which provides instruction on how to disassembly a COMPAQ laptop:


Apparently, I should not have opened up the bottom cover of my laptop to change a CMOS battery. I just need to take off the LED panel, the keyboard, the optical drive and the plate where the keyboard sits.

In total I just need to loosen about 8 screws, 3 in the bottom of the laptop and 5 under the keyboard. I don't need to touch the screen whatsoever, let alone totally disassembling the screen as I did before I learned from the website. The keyboard itself can be folded as a whole once the LED panel has been taken off. So I don't need to take the buttons off one by as one as I tried to do before.

I was lucky to be able to assembly my computer back without having any major problem when I disassembled it. I broke the button of the conventional modem of my laptop when I pulled it apart, but everything else is fine. Finding the website above has helped me fixed my laptop more efficiently and now the CMOS battery of my old laptop has been replaced with a new one. No more adjusting time and date every time when my Ubuntu start up. The lesson to learn is, make sure you know what you want to do and how you want to do it. Don't forget to learn from others.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wasting Wealth a la Mr. Abramovich

Jose Mourinho, arguably the most successful coach of Chelsea FC, resigned from the club last week after a draw against Rosenborg of Norway in the group stage of the 2007/2008 UEFA Champions League. The story of his resignation shocked the football world, because the club and Mr. Mourinho himself have tried very hard to play down any problem between the owner of the club, Roman Abramovich, with the manager until recently. However, only a day after Peter Kenyon, the chief executive of Chelsea FC reiterated that Jose Mourinho is the future of the club, up came the sacking news.

It was published that the club parted company with Mr. Mourinho by "mutual consent", in the sense that Mourinho was not sacked and in the same time he didn't resign either. By using the "mutual consent" term, it means Mr. Mourinho will be entitled to approximately 20 millions pounds pay-off, as a compensation from the club to ask him go.

Mr. Abramovich has just thrown away 20 million pounds as if that amount of money was only peanuts to him. It is ridiculous to think about some people cannot even find a single dollar a day to make a living, while in the another part of this world someone has just wasted 20 million pounds happily.

The pay-off for Mourinho is the latest example of Abramovich's "generosity" in spending million after million to buy overpriced football players and inflate the salary of players in his club. Overall he has spent over 200 million pounds to date. There are no economic nor business calculations that can be applied to explain the football club management a la Mr. Abramovich. It is just extraordinary and out of this world.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Paranoid Thinking of a Postgrad Student

There is a phase when a postgraduate student is very scared of one thing related to their project, namely losing all works they have been doing for the last couple of years, due to a problem in their computer system. The problem can be caused by a hard disk failure, or perhaps a software f*ck up and a more extreme one, somehow fire burn down the building where they have been working days and nights, due to electricity short circuit from one computer in the building. I know it sounds funny and this clearly is an extreme paranoid thinking of the student, but to be honest, it does come up in my mind.

I thought it was funny when I read the "Tales from the Road" comics of Jorge Cham (Jorge = Whor Hé), in which he revealed that one of his fans in Kansas University (if I remember correctly) always has her project back up around her neck, i.e. she wears her USB disk - containing the back up of her project - as a necklace. This sounds like taking the caution to the very extreme - I for one will not do it, however it is understandable if students do not want to lose any bit of their works especially when they are approaching the end of their project.

I myself have burnt more DVDs in the last couple of weeks than I ever burn in a year during the second year of my candidature. I usually back up my project every 3 months in the first year. I used to trust the computer system very much. I always think they are reliable and they don't often have any problem anyway.

One day, there was a leak from the plumbing system of the university, the computer where I had project was affected, it was flooded by water and needed to be shutdown, but afterward it cannot be restarted. I could not work on my project for a month. I was still lucky to be able to get the data and my project out of the computer, no data loss at all. It is unimaginable if something worse had happened. I don't want to take any gamble since then, better safe then sorry, I do my back up every month.

In the last couple of weeks, I have this strange thought of all sorts of possibilities that can make my project folder under threat. Starting from a failure in my PC, my lab mate mistakenly bin my stuffs to the university building on fire. It then makes me think that I need a way to save my data/analysis results. So I burn 3-4 DVDs in a week, while having a back up of my project folder in a USB and also another back up in an external hard disk. So, I have 3 back ups and one original folder. As if this is still not enough, I am always extra cautious when I want to cross a road, making sure I can pass safely to the other side of the road and just in case if a driver didn't see.................oh dear, terrible!

Crime Unfolded - The Story of Qian Xun Xue

Be aware of whom you sit next to in your next flight to oversea. He/she may have committed a crime somewhere and is running away to hide him/herself.

A man, who is suspected of murdering his wife, is believed to be in Los Angeles at the moment, hiding low while Interpol are chasing him. He is of Chinese origin and have been living in Auckland, New Zealand for the last 10 years. He was married to a 27 years old Chinese girl and they have one daughter for the marriage.

The story started when he abandoned his 3 years old daughter in Southern Cross station in Melbourne and the security CCTV camera saw a little girl wandering around by herself without company of anyone on Saturday morning (September 15). The little girl has been seen led by a man of Asian appearance but then the man disappeared, leaving the girl in the station. The girl was then approached by the station's security officers within 15 minutes and because she didn't speak anything, she was called "Pumpkin".

On Monday 8 AM, September 17, Police believed that the little girl and the man might be from overseas and they also believed the man was "her relative". By Monday mid-day, the Police learned that the little girl was from New Zealand and they found out she had arrived to Melbourne on Thursday afternoon or evening from New Zealand. The scenarios were formed based on several calls from public to CrimeStoppers' call line.

Tuesday, September 18, the names of the little girl, her mother and her father were finally discovered. She is Qian Xun Xue, 3 years old, lives in Auckland and the search for her mother started. The New Zealand Police were contacted and their search of Qian's mother was not successful. It was feared that "something" had happened to her mother.

Wednesday 4 PM, September 19, a body of a woman was found in the boot of a Honda parked outside Qian's house. It was feared that the body actually belongs to Qian's mother. A forensic test finally revealed she was Qian's mother. Interpol then have a case to chase a man, while the New Zealand Police have to cope some criticisms because they were thought to be a bit late in conducting a search of the car, which had been parked there when the Police and journalists visited the house two days before.

An international man hunt was then issued by the New Zealand Police, the LA Police are now working on the hunt and it will be interesting to see how this case ends in the future.