Tag Archives: DIY

Impressing Myself with a Hardware Fix

As prosmised, I will tell a tale in which I impress even myself!
A few days after setting up my computer I tried to plug in my flash drive. As I pushed the drive in, the USB plug slid backwards into the case. To clarify, it means that instead of looking like this:

It looked like this:

I opened it up and soon saw what was happening. The USB hub, as I learned it was called, should look like this when secured properly to the case:

The hub is held in place by those washers and screws. As you pushed on it, the hub was sliding past one of the washers like this:

My first plan was to tell Newegg that this case was broken, which was double-annoying because it had been a replacement for the first broken case I’d been sent. One of my friends, who may not have understood what I was trying to explain to him, said that this didn’t sound like a manufacturing problem so I needed to deal with it since they probably wouldn’t replace it. I still don’t see how this could be anything but a manufacturing problem, but I went about trying to deal with it anyways. First I chatted with a customer service representative at Newegg, who said that I could send the case back and then they’d decide if I got a new one. I’d already built my computer in it, so I really didn’t want to have to take it all apart and then go another week without it. I decided to call Rosewill, the manufacturer, in the morning. In the mean time I set to trying to fix the problem, in case they couldn’t or wouldn’t send me a new one.

The real problem was that the shaft that the screw was in was chipped, as you might be able to tell from the following picture.

Since that plastic was chipped, the screw didn’t sit in straight, so the washer wasn’t covering as much of the hub as it was supposed to, and that was allowing the hub to slip right past it. Another friend suggested I try to wedge something in there.

I asked, “What would be safe to use? Like a coin or something?”

“Noting metal preferably.”

Oh of course nothing metal, I thought, but then what could I use instead?

“Oh. So like cloth?” I asked. In my defense, it was now 1AM and I’ve never done anything like this before.

He said, “Hmm plastic?”

I admire his patience. Why hadn’t I immediately thought of plastic?

After several tries with some random plastic objects nearby I asked, “Is super glue a bad idea?”

My friend responded, “As long as it only touches the green part of the board and not the silver or brown parts.”

I have a really bad super glue track record. I always get it all over everything and my hands. So, I decided to keep trying with other plastic objects, but nothing worked. Then I had an idea.

“Does it matter what kind of plastic?” I asked.

“No? Are there different kinds?”

“Like does it need to be hard like a pen cap or can it be softer like a watch band?”

“Either is fine.”

I sacrificed an old watch that had run out of batteries. I put the screw through one of the holes on the band, then screwed it back in like that. I put my flash drive into the slot and pushed a bit. It held! I cut the small part of the band off, fixed the front panel of the case back on, and went to sleep.

The next morning I gave Rosewill a call. I did my best to explain what was wrong. After several minutes the man said they’d send me a new front panel. The best thing that could’ve happened! I wouldn’t have to take apart the machine, I could use it in the meantime, and I would get only the exact part that I needed. Oh, but it gets better. When it came in the mail I got another surprise. The new panel had USB 3.0, where my old front panel had USB 2.0. What? Awesome! USB 3.0 is faster than firewire and all the fancy, new computer have it. Boy, am I lucky! I unplugged everything from motherboard that connected to the old front panel and had to figure out how to plug everything back into the motherboard with my new front panel. I did it right on the first try. Yeah that’s right, I know how to do this kind of stuff now. I felt so accomplished to have done all of that completely on my own. Here’s the new panel on the case with the old panel next to it. I’m still trying to decide the most artistic way to mount the old panel to my wall.

This is the inside of my computer, which I’ve named Topher Clocker. Did I explain this already? The type of motherboard I have is called T-Overclocker, but the box it came it makes it look like Toverclocker, which is a ridiculous word. That silly word does, however, translate quite well to Topher Clocker. Cute, right?

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Laptop to Desktop. Plus the Hardware

I had a hard and fast plan to get a laptop a few weeks ago. I was looking at 14-15in laptops for about $700. The more I looked at laptops the harder it was for me to pick one. They all seemed fine, but there were so many choices it was paralyzing. My brain was like, “This seems good for me. Oh, but so does this one. And this one looks nicer. Oh, but it’s more expensive. But looks are important to me. But should it be? Well, it is. Even if it shouldn’t be. But what about this other laptop? It also seems good for me. I guess I should also look at this other brand. Oh, they have a lot of different laptops!” It was like that. Endlessly. So I came to the conclusion that I would wait until my computer died to get a new one. Putting off the inevitable seemed like a good plan.

I commenced conversations with plenty of computer-savvy people while continuing to search the internet for the best laptop. Ya know, so I’d be ready when the time came. Everyone I talked to had built several computers, had just built their first computer, were currently building a computer, or knew stuff about building computers. Could I build a desktop from scratch?

But, wait. I wanted a laptop. Wait again! Did I need a laptop? What an idea! What did I do remotely on my computer? Honestly, nothing. I’d gotten used to not being able to use my laptop anywhere because of the terrible battery life. Maybe I should build a desktop…

I decided. I would build a desktop and later get a tablet (probably a Surface) for when I did want to use a machine remotely. This opened up a whole new world of possibilities… and choices. Choices that were terrifying and paralyzing. I decided again to wait until my computer died.

But every day as I used my computer I would be mad that it couldn’t do things that a PC could do. I was mad that my version of Word was so bad. But mostly and always I was mad that computer didn’t have the snapping feature from Windows 7. You know, this:

So, I decided to make a leap. I watched a great tutorial from Newegg about how to build a computer. If you have any interest in  knowing what parts are inside your machine, check this video out.

From there I tried to look around, but got confused, lost, and frustrated. I asked several people for help and eventually came to a final decision. Here’s how my build is going to look. Click on the pictures to be directed to Newegg where you can look at the full specs if you like.

First, it’s going to be in this pretty case. It’s a Rosewill Redbone mid-size case. Isn’t it purdy?

I decided to go with an Intel processor. I wanted an AMD at first because it was cheaper, but I was soon informed that Intel is much better for media while AMD is better for gaming. I plan on watching a lot of movies, using Adobe Creative Suite programs like a crazy person, and pretty much never gaming, so the extra $20-30 is worth it. I got a duo core i3 chip. It should do the trick for now and I can always upgrade later.

For my motherboard, I went with this Biostar TZ77B. It has the same specs and plugs as an ASRock one that was recommended to me and is quite a bit cheaper. So, here’s hoping it performs the same. It’s got two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, along with some other great stuff I’m looking forward to using. It supports up to 32GB of RAM, which sounds like a freaking heck of a lot to me!

I bought two 4GB sticks of RAM made by Crucial. My favorite part about these is that they’re called Ballistix Sport. I laughed when I saw that. I guess sticks of RAM have a “sport” category. I may not have a sports car, but I have sport RAM!

I’m getting this EVGA GTX550 Ti graphics card for free from my friend who is a video editor/gamer/nerd. He assures me it’s a good one, though a bit old. I believe him because it costs a considerable amount more than the one I was planning on getting. Yay for friends and spending less money!

For a hard drive I got this 1 terabyte drive made by Hitachi. It rotates at 7200 rpm, so that means I’ll get good performance from it, even if it’ll get a little hot.

I’m also getting an LG Blu-ray disc player/burner. That I am super pumped about. I only own two Blu-rays, but you best believe I will watch The Tree of Life and John Carter until the laser on the Blu-ray player doesn’t work anymore. Yes, I know, lasers don’t work like that. It was hyperbole.

I bought a 19in monitor on Amazon.

So that’s what my computer will look like. All in all I spent less than $600 including shipping. Ka-boom. Take that $700 laptops I was looking at before! Take it!

Get excited for some sad stories about getting damaged equipment, ordering something I don’t want, and forgetting something important!

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