Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Upgrading an IDE compatible DVD-RW...

This one's for the Piemer:

First off- the gameplan:
The idea is to pull the cover of your computer off - and pull out your CD drive to replace it with something better. Here's a good site of what you should probably buy:

-See, about $20.

There are two kinds of disc drives. One plugs into your computer's motherboard with a cable called an IDE. It's an older kind of cable - but still in a lot of computers. The newer ones use a SATA cable. And they can get more expensive - $40 or so. Mine was still only $20 and it's a SATA. I understand that Lite-On makes pretty good ones too. You don't have to buy the one above - the key thing is that you buy one that is an IDE- not a SATA. Check the reviews if you want to get picky.

If you look at the back of this disc drive - you'll see why you need to be IDE:
Hopefully you can see the line where it's pointing to the IDE/PATA connection. The SATA connection is dinky and kinda "L" shaped. So if you buy the wrong one - you'd know it.

Notice also the 4-pin power connection. You'll need to worry about those two plugs. The stuff on the left is just fancy - and I don't think I'd even plug it in - unless it's obvious where it goes.

Secondly - the process:

Removing the case:

Since your case is exactly like mine - this should be easy.

You'll see four little screws holding in the two side-plates of the computer. You'll want to remove all four and take off both plates.

This is the plate most nerds take off - because this side faces into the motherboard (not the back of the motherboard). It will just slide out.

Locating the Drive, Power Converter, and Connection to the Motherboard:

Here's the target. Think of where the disc drive opens from - this is the whole thing. In my picture, it's a lighter gray box with two wirings coming out of it. The banded wire that's red is my SATA. And the other bundle is my power supply. See- only two wirings to worry about.

Here's a closer look at those two wires. Instead of the red (kinda looks pink in this photo), you'll have a wide band of wires. (Look at the picture of the drive from Newegg up above- see how wide the IDE port is?) But the other colored bundle will plug into yours just like mine. That's your 4-pin power. Most of those power harnesses are white, though. Mine is just black and fancy looking because I actually had to buy another power converter.

Which is what this is. See the box with the slots in in and a whole bunch of wires coming out of it? That's my power converter. Yours will be slightly smaller and probably have white ends to the bundles instead of black ones like mine. When you wire things - it's a good idea to get those zip-ties. Loose wires can foul things up if the fans can move them. Also - anything that has fins on it is going to be hot. (I recommend you pull yours apart with the power off - I screw around with mine while it's on all the time - but that's because I'm an idiot.)

Switching out the disc drives:

If you look closely in this photo - you'll see two tiny screws that hold the drive in place. You'll have to take out the two on this side and the two on the other.

Then you'll have to flip up the plastic tabs on each side (3 per side) and slide the front cover off. It's not too tricky. With the front cover off and the side screws out - you can unplug your disc drive and slide it out.

This would be a good time to use some computer-cleaner. It's usually compressed air with some type of nonsense that will freeze your hand and turn white if you flip the bottle up-side down. Tetraflourethane is the common chemical - but they're using other ethanes now. Anyway- you can find this stuff at Lins or anywhere. You'd probably want to pick some up while you're waiting for your Newegg part. You can spray anything with it and it won't hurt it. It's made mostly for the fans and fins. When they get older, they build up dust and don't cool as well. So blast away!

Once you slide your new one in - you'll have to plug it in. Mine plugs in as seen above. Yours will be different - mainly because you've got an IDE port instead of a SATA. See those two red bands? That's my DVD burner and my hard-drive. (I've got two empty slots under those two that are filled.) The big ASUS band that's black and blue is the old drive that you had in this computer. It's an IDE drive. So yours will clip in to a longer slot like the blue plug I've got now. You'll probably have a few slots. If there's more than one - you'll probably want it in a #2 or so. Typically your hard-drive is in the first slot so it can more easily boot first. -Sorry, lost control of the nerdliness. One other thing to notice in this picture, is that the band in the blue plug actually has a plug half-way down the band. It's reflecting light and has the tag attached to it that says ASUS. These bands used to have one plug that would connect to your motherboard, and then TWO other ones (sometimes called the slave and the master, or the slave and the primary) - anyway, where you're only plugging one drive in - just use the two plugs on the ends of the band. Skip the middle one.

(The easiest way to make sure you've got things plugged where they need to is to just use your old wires. You don't have to use the new ones unless you notice a vast difference [some of the 40-wire bands are now 80-wire for better speed]. The power cable will probably have a plug along the middle of the wires. Really, either of them will work. I think I've got a couple drives plugged into the same power bundle in mine right now.)

Piecing it back together:

When you're connected to the power (remember the photos above?) and your motherboard, you should put the front plate back on and slide up your drive to where you want it before you tighten your side screws. Make sure all loose wiring is taken care of.

I'd turn the sucker back on, and make sure you can read a cd before I'd put the whole case back on. There's a chance you may have it plugged in wrong or so. It's better to check before you put all the cosmetics back.

So after that, just put the two sides back in, and screw them in the back. Don't give the old drive to the duffer - it has a laser in it that can be focussed for longer-distance destruction. (Ask Alex Chamberlain about popping balloons with a CD laser from across the room.)

Finally - the burning:

By now you should have an operating DVD burner (it does CDs too- it's kinda implied now) for your computer. There might be a disc that it comes with that will install the software. (Each new piece of hardware has a "driver" that tells the computer what it is, and how it works. So the driver for your DVD burner will need to be installed.) Sometimes Windows XP will just find the driver it needs, and you're sweet. Other times, you've got to put the disc in. No big deal.

After it's done installing the software (it will usually ask you to restart your computer once or twice [this has to do with the booting - something called the computer's bios]), you should be able to burn. It might come with a fancy burning suite or it might not. Either way, you should be able to right-click the drive and tell it to set-up to burn. Or most likely - just plop an empty disc in there, and it'll know what to start. Drag, Drop, Click "Burn". And you're done.

Oh - one side-note about burning discs. Most of the music ones are done with a "close" option set automatically. A disc might not play in your DVD player or your CD player if it hasn't been "closed". It'll work on a computer - and seem like it's burned fine, but it won't work elsewhere. Closing is like sealing the disc - meaning that you won't add any more to it. Even Re-Writable discs can be closed - then they can't be re-written to. So keep an eye out for that if you start having problems with them playing in different places.

Ya! Reedee Romp.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who's the nerd that...?

So since I'm still partly living a college lifestyle, I happen to be awake at 1 in the morning. Typical, really. But don't worry- I napped after church from approximately 2:30 to 9. So I'll be fine.

Anyway, the point of this blog is to complain. It seems ridiculous to me that the nerds who created Blogspot have not created a comment notice. Meaning that someone may comment on a picture of mine from two months ago - and I'll never know it unless I sort back through prior rubbish. Needless to say, all the questions we ask in comments are really lame (Beth, yours in particular come to mind). Why? Because the person you ask the question of will probably never notice it. And if they do - are they supposed to comment back on their own blog (which is a weird concept) or comment on the blog of the commenter (assuming they have a blog) answering the question and seeming all too unattached to whatever the subject of the commenter's blog?

Read that paragraph again, and it will make sense. If you must - grab napkins and scribble down "Blogger A" and "Blogger B" and try to imagine the typing interaction. Visual aids.

So in retrospect, I'd like to announce a cyber-service project to everyone who reads this. Which is: go back and read through the comments of your lastest 3 blogs. I've commented on some of them, and since you won't know it - here's your flashing red light.

As for those of you who will actually fulfill this odd request and happen to find nothing, go ahead and feel excluded. That just means that I didn't find anything cyber-gnarly enough to the point where I felt the need to comment. Or it could mean that I just don't look at anything you write.

So due to the programming and internet protocol nonsense that we as lazy Americans (the one's who don't visit each other, but just sent a quick note on occasion) put up with, I surrender to the point of assigning each of you a task. For those who are quick to forget, I repeat the cyber-service project: go back and read through the comments of your lastest 3 blogs.

And being the author of this idea, I hereby declare myself immune to any such requests from any of you. As with playing tag in elementary school - there are no "touch backs".

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An update.

So, I realize that it has been an entire month since my last tid-bits. And so an update may be appropriate. Mind you, most of the immediate fam has seen me in the last couple of weeks, as I had a factory shut-down break from work.

Alas, as we all continue our semi/psuedo busy schedules, it behooves us to write. And so I do.

Firstly, work: I've been dipping in and out with stranger hours as I realize what tasks need to be done. I don't like it when I have nothing to do - so I try to create and plan ahead. Today, for example, I finished defining a test matrix that we will run in about a week. It will confirm some of the correlations that I've been working on in the past two months. Bungee stretches and bar bends. Also, I designed something out of 1018 alloy steel (heat-treated and cooled to Rockwell 50 hardness) which I tenderly call a "hook release". Our bungee sled had been released with a ball-bearing a groove (like an air-hose), but that would slip on occasion, and scare the daylights out of us. We have blocks in place for such an occasion, but we wanted to re-design the release - in a way that we could view the fatigue of the steel. Anyway, that became my errand, and it's getting priced and fabbed this week. I'm guessing it'll run them $2000-$3000, but I could be off. Other than that, I've just been doing some analysis of the data we get, and a few cosmetics of it so we can present it to the big wigs.

This is called an MDB (Movable Deformable Barrier) impact. This picture is actually for a curtain airbag - but you get the idea.

Secondly, school: I'm still debating whether to plan for an escape this December with my bachelor's (technically it'll be a bachelor's of Mechanical Engineering with a Computational Emphasis and a minor in Mathematics) or to continue on to a master's. I think it will most likely be a decision I make this upcoming semester. Which means, I better study and take the darn GRE. I've nearly completed my FAFSA, and I'm wondering how much school I can afford, since I've spent more this summer not living at home.

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Big Blue the Aggie.

Thirdly, spending: I just bought a digital keyboard (not for a computer, but a digial piano keyboard) so I can keep up my fun. I know there was talk of snagging one for my birthday - but since I already have one coming, scratch that. I wouldn't mind a cheap printer, however. So there's a tip.

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This is the one I have coming. I think it'll work alright for me.

Fourthly, wife: I was recently hounded by my bishop - who also happens to be the institute director, about dating girls just so they know that there are good guys out there. I think nearly every card has been played to try to motivate me into a marriage. I'm not dating anyone at the moment, mind you I'll be taking a damsel to listen to Elder Hales this weekend. The funny thing is, one of my buddies called me up the other day, just to catch up - and he gave the typical casual nonsense topics, which at the college level include the topic of dating/marriage, and he seemed to think that I sounded like it won't be long for me. Weird. Mamma Sweet says this is the year of the ring for me as well. We'll see.

I'd have to die my hair.

That being said, I figure you know enough of what's going on with me.