May 28th, 2004

Dancing Gir

PowerBook Hard Drive Upgrade - After Action Report

Monday night I finally dove into the machine and did Gir's hard drive upgrade. (Apologies to lightgatherer, but at least I took copious photos!) I'd already cloned the old hard drive to the new one and booted/tested it, so it was just a hardware operation. It almost felt like I was performing brain surgery on myself, except that I don't normally do that on zensidhe and redheadlass's kitchen table.

Lessons learned:
* I'm more careful than some of Apple's techs. In opening him up and comparing what I saw with what was pictured in the manual, it was clear that someone was in a hurry either when he was first assembled or one of the two times he's been in for servicing. There were 2 pieces of aluminum tape and a screw missing, and a couple of other indications of less-than-perfect workmanship. WTF?!?

* Going along with this, I learned that feeling a very mild electric current (I probably wouldn't have even realized what it was were it not for violet wand experience) when touching the case is *not* normal. I've had 2 PowerBooks (one mine, one that belongs to The Company) and both exhibited the same behavior. I figured that some component was grounded to the chassis by design. Post-upgrade, however, this doesn't happen. I wonder if it'll affect my battery life?

* The service manual suggests using an ice cube tray to store screws and such as The Machine is being disassembled. This is a brilliant idea, and totally saved my butt! I took it a step further and numbered the bins on the ice cube tray, and documented everything as I took Gir apart. This worked really well.

* When working on hardware that you've never disassembled before, be aware that there will be at least one screw for which you have a bit or allen wrench that's just barely too large to use, and one that's just barely too small. You will discover this after the machine is mostly in pieces. Mega-thanks to femetal for the late-night trip to Wal-Mart!

* Laptops are dense, with almost no empty space. No empty space, that is, except for a tiny spot hidden somewhere deep inside that attracts screws but is invisible to the naked eye. This magic spot is engineered to hold onto the screw even if the laptop is opened up and inverted. I damn near reassembled him with a loose screw in the chassis [shudder]!

The end result is well worth it. His capacity has increased from 60 GB to a much-needed 80 GB (insert Johnny Mnemonic quote here). As a bonus, the new drive is faster with a larger cache, cutting about 40 seconds off of the boot/login time! App/file loading is a bit snappier also.

By the way, does anyone out there have a connection to obtain laptop parts from Apple? Having proven to myself that I'm capable of doing my own servicing (snicker), the availability of parts is the only thing requiring me to go days without my machine should the need arise again.

Gonna go rip some more CDs now... :-) Sorry for the long, boring post.
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