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Thursday, November 3, 2011

HTML Made Easy Html Tutorials : Html Tutorials In Web Design

So I am thinking of getting into Web Design simply because I refuse to believe it is that hard to learn. Granted, I don't want to be able to design immensely complex websites, but it would be nice to be able to help out friends, family, my small business, and the non-profit organization that I do part-time work for. I found this very helpful guide/tutorial here that with a little time and effort, anyone can understand and become a Html novice. Just one of many interests that have always sparked my curiosity. Be sure to check it out.  If you are one of those people who prefer actual paper, then you can get the book here: HTML Made Easy Html Tutorials : Html Tutorials In Web Design.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Android, oh Android...where for art thou Android?

     Well, after about a week of enjoying my new HTC Sensation 4G Android phone, I decided to return it to due to a glitch with the camera.  Well, I made an honest mistake of dropping off a FedEx Ground package in a FedEx Express dropbox and somehow my package has managed to disappear over the course of the last 3 weeks!  After several calls to FedEx that brought me to the brink of having a coronary, I have discovered that FedEx makes it all too easy for their packages to get "misplaced".  It turns out that (even though they belong to the same company) FedEx Express drivers DO NOT have to capability to scan any FedEx Ground packages that get accidentally dropped off at one of their drop boxes.  So, in essence, your package is unaccounted for until it gets scanned at a FedEx Ground location.  Which could mean it's essentially lost for a few days.
    Turns out that FedEx won't take responsibility because my package never got scanned, so it's technically NOT in their posession.  WireFly won't take responsibility, because their insurance plan doesn't cover these type of losses.  I am S.O.L because the only proof that I have is the tracking number that I have from the packing slip.  All in all, it's been one heck of a nightmare due to the irresponsibility of FedEx employees, along with a mistake on my part.  Luckily, I've had that little HTC HD2 Windows phone that I've loaded Android Froyo on.  This little phone is quite amazing.  It's almost 3 years old and is still one of the most versatile out on the market.  You can customize it like no other.  You can put Windows 7, a mobile version of Linux, or any flavor of Android that you wish.  You can either run the other OS from your SD card or install it on NAND memory.  I have not replaced the cracked screen on it, but will be taking on that project soon since I've already got my hands on the replacement parts.  I also have another HD2 that I will be replacing the USB/charging port on.
    Hope you guys learn from my mistakes when shipping out any packages through FedEx.  As for myself? I'm the type that once another business or organization leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I try to NEVER do business with that organization again if I can help it.
   As always, any comments, questions, complaints, or rants are welcome!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Android blues...

Well, I was happy for a few days when I received my HTC Sensation 4G phone in the mail.  Was it everything I had heard and more?  Yes....then,  First of all, be sure to do alot of research before updating to an Android phone.  Find out how you will be able to transfer all of your SMS messages, calendar appointments, pictures, music, etc.  Luckily, WireFly now offers free (up to 2GB) online backup.  You can transfer your contacts using a Google account as well.  This phone seemed to be totally awesome...until I noticed some issues with the camera/camcorder.  They wouldn't work.  They would give me a black screen and now they just open up and shut down immediately.  One of the drawbacks with doing business with an online company such as WireFly is that there is nowhere you can physically go to and talk to a person (or raise hell, if you wish to do so) face to face.  All communication is done either on the phone, through email, or through online chat.  I've been busy moving to a new apartment as well so I haven't had alot of time to be on the phone for about an hour waiting for someone to help me.  I did get the Gold insurance through them so I don't expect I'll be having much trouble in getting a replacement phone.  The other HTC phone I got for $40 on the other hand, is running without a glitch! The irony!  It ended up being an HD2 Windows phone.  It was quite easy to load Android Froyo 2.2 on it using a custom ROM.  It runs amazingly fast.  From what I've read, even though this phone is about 2 years old, it is still one of the most popular because you can run Windows (which by the way is coming out with the updated OS, Windows Mango soon), Android, and a smartphone version of Linux.  Everything runs quite good on it, including the WiFi hotspot.  I'll have some pictures and updates to the status of my Sensation 4G soon.  As always, comments, suggestions, questions, and rants are welcome!

Samsung R480 take apart

Well, I had another interesting task of taking apart a Samsung R480 notebook/laptop.  In this situation the customer thought the case was broken since someone had dropped it.  Luckily for him, upon opening the laptop, I found that some parts just had to be realligned and I reinforced them with some E6000 hobby epoxy.  I didn't find that many walk through videos on the Internet for taking apart this laptop so I at least wanted to provide some pictures to show my work for anyone who would want to undertake a similar task.  I've found that Samsung laptops are quite easy to work on so you shouldn't have a hard time doing this.
For this project I used:
  • Laptop screwdriver set
  • Plastic spudgers (find 'em here).  These come in handy for opening various electronics
Here are a few pics:

I started by removing the battery and the cd rom.  There are some silver screws under the battery and that are visible once you remove the cd/dvd rom as well.

<There are a couple of other screws to remove.

<Now flipping the laptop over, we have to release the tabs to remove the keyboard.

 Once you release the keyboard tabs and gently pry up the keyboard, you should see the attached keyboard and touchpad ribbon cables.  Carefully disconnect these as follows:

Now that we've got the keyboard out of the way, we can proceed to prying open the case.
Once you have the casing open, you can proceed to disconnect the wifi wires and the lcd cable from the motherboard.
Now you can proceed to remove the hinge screws that hold the lcd/bezel/screen assembly onto the base.  Start off with the one on the right.  It's hidden away underneath a USB board, so remove the screw for the board and gently pull the board out.

Now remove the right hinge screw and then proceed with the left one.
Be sure to keep all of your screws in order by labeling them and setting them up in a way that will help you remember how to put which ones back where you got them from.  In my case I simply label a sheet of notebook paper and use scotch tape to attach the screws.
 You shold be able to remove the lid/screen assembly away from the rest of the laptop now.  We have to pry open the bezel as well.  There should be six little rubber "feet" that keep the lid from closing down completely onto the base and damaging the screen.  Remove these little rubber feet and you'll find some screws that you must remove.
I'm using the spudger tool again to pry open the bezel around the screen.
Once you've pryed open the bezel, the metal hinges are exposed along with the screws that hold 'em in place and the plastic hinge covers.  In my case, I had to readjust those plastic hinge covers, reenforce them with E6000 epoxy, retighten the metal hinge screws, and reallign the wifi antenna wires as well as the vga camera cable. 
 <The metal hinge screws
                                           Plastic hinge covers>
<VGA camera cable.

Closer look at the VGA camera cable.  
 I hope this picture walkthrough helps somebody out.  Again, any questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome!  : )

Gateway 610....finished product

I finally got to finish that culprit of a pc, the Gateway 610 media center pc.  I took some pics of a few steps and procedures.  If you guys ever need any advice on how to undertake a similar project, just shoot me an email.  I can honestly say I feel good about accomplishing something like this.  I hope the customer is satisfied with it.  This pc does have something good about it.  It's sound is awesome!  I guess all that power the little subwoofer is pulling isn't just for show.  I've had this pc running an online radio service and have been having it on full blast rocking out to some Red Hot Chili Peppers and some Guns N Roses.  Some of the tools and materials I used were:
  • Heat shrink tubing
  • Heat gun
  • Spray paint primer and paint
  • Philips and flathead screwdrivers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder, flux, and metal braid
  • Electrical tape
  • Plastic cable clamps (to hold down and anchor the wires)
  • E6000 hobby glue/rubber cement

The culprit...Gateway 610 ALL-IN-ONE media center pc

The source of the problem.  This VER. 0.0 PSU is underpowered for all that the pc has to offer.

Here is the replacement PSU.  I know, I's ugly and bulky.  Well, that's nothing a little elbow grease and some imagination won't can't fix.

Here's another look at the replacement PSU.

Here's a look at the back of the 610 Media PC with the old PSU, subwoofer, and back panel removed.  That's the little subwoofer on the left.  It actually sounds very good.

Took the PSU apart.  I prepped the case for painting by sanding it down and using a paint primer.

 Some pics of the painted PSU case.  I chose
a nice glossy black color.
 Here you can really see the nice look of the glossy paint.

Here is the PSU taken apart and I am getting ready to cut and solder the wires together.

I had to recall my old soldering skills.  Not too bad for not having done this in a while.

Here, I used the heat shrink tubing to protect the solder points.

Using the heat gun on the 3/4" heat shrink tubing.  This bigger tubing was used to conceal all the wires.
**Use extreme caution when using a heat gun**

The following are pictures of the finished PSU put back together:

Here, I jimmied the power connectors from the Gateway 610 onto the connector for the PSU.  Do you see how they split up the 20 pin connector into 2 connectors? The 4 pin 12V power connector is at the top.

Here, I'm securing the connectors with a little E6000 hobby rubber cement.  It's not something that's permanent but it will hold up pretty good.

The final product:

Hope you guys enjoyed this little novela and the pics.  I have to give credit where credit is due.  I could not have done this without a wonderful step-by-step take apart guide that I found here.  I also have to give recognition to my favorite electronics parts store EPO (Electronics Parts Outlet).  They've been a staple in the Houston community for electronics enthusiasts as myself and for hobbyists.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 I come!

Woohoo! My HTC Sensation is finally coming in tomorrow! Can't wait to get my techy hands on it!  I also came across a good deal on another HTC (not quite sure what model it is yet) with a cracked screen that will be my guinea pig.  I'm going to repair the screen and root the OS.  I'll post some pics and a mini review of the Sensation when I get my hands on it.

Gateway big can of worms

Finally talked to the customer today and they decided to go the economic route and have me put together a custom external PSU for their Gateway 610 ALL-IN-ONE pc.  I'm actually going to enjoy this little project and going to try to make it look as clean as possible.  I'll post some pics tomorrow and keep you guys updated.  I'm going to use a spare PSU we had around the shop that's rated at 170W and is super quiet.  I've actually had it powering the Gateway for about 1 1/2 weeks now and ran multiple apps, videos, and internet radio on full blast and it's not even luke warm and still quiet as a mouse.  I'm actually surprised that this generic PSU is this quiet.  Of course it doesn't have a heavy load since the Gateway cannot really be upgraded anymore than it is.  I went today and bought some heat shrink tubing and some plastic wire clips in order to try and keep the wires in order.  Hope the final product is as good as I picture it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

ATTN: iPhone Do-It-Yourselfers....

Just thought I'd share a little walk through/tip that I wrote up for a website that I participate in.  This is for all you do-it-yourself gurus that don't mind taking a chance at frying an expensive piece of electronic equipment that is probably broken anyways.  Hope you guys like it.  As always, any feedback or comments would be much appreciated.

HP Pavillion DV6000/DV9000 series warning....

As always, through customer interaction, it's come to my attention that the HP Pavillion DV6000 & DV9000 series notebook PCs have a crucial problem that can seriously affect the performance and even the life of your laptop.  This customer brought in his DV9815nr laptop because the optical drive wasn't working.  Upon troubleshooting it I noticed that one of the USB ports was also malfunctioning.  Hmmm...probably a bad connection on the motherboard and a DVD drive.  The customer didn't want to spend too much so I advised him to just not use that particular USB port and use an external DVD drive.  Well, then I noticed that his WiFi adapter had stopped working.  In fact, his PC wouldn't even recognized it.  It was if it wasn't even installed, when indeed it was and, upon further testing, it was working properly on other laptops.  Upon doing research I found several forums and blogs on the internet that stated that this was a well known issue by several users and HP themselves!  Why didn't they issue an announcement or a recall to all their customers?  What really got me was that I actually called HP and they advised me that this particular laptop's warranty expired a in 2009, and that even though this DV9815nr was under the DV9000 series of laptops that had an extended service plan issued, this "particular" model was not covered.  Even though it has the same symptoms of the recalled laptops!  I don't get it!  Why are these companies so difficult?  I just had to give the customer the bad news and tell them to just provide a temporary fix by using a usb wifi adapter.  Eventually, this laptop's motherboard will die.  Ridiculous customer service on HP's part.  They know they have a defective product out on the market, yet they won't take appropriate measures to keep their customers happy?  Tsk tsk HP...shame on you.  Anyways, if you guys have one of the laptops mentioned, just email me and I can give you some advice or some numbers to call HP and DEMAND a new laptop!  Sometimes the only way to get things done is to raise a little hell.

Decisions...decisions...part 2

I finally made a decision when it came to my phone.  I decided to go with the HTC Sensation 4G.  I've been wanting to get in on the whole Android thing anyway, and it just seemed that Blackberry wasn't upgrading their OS enough on the Bold 9900.  I hope I don't get screwed with the whole way Tmobile manages my new data plan or how I get my emails (which is one of the things Blackberry still does the best).  I went to my local Tmobile store and tested both the MyTouch Slide 4G and the HTC Sensation.  They have basically the same internal hardware so it came down to the aesthetics and my preferences.  I'm going to make the transition to virtual keyboard and go with the Sensation.  It will probably take some getting used to but I can't wait to get it.  I went through just because I get a better deal.  With 1 year of protection and the phone, it came out to under $200.  At any Tmobile store it would have been well over $200.  I've dealt with Wirefly before and haven't had any issues so far.  The only drawback is that I have to wait for it in the mail, but I've managed this long with my dying Blackberry 8900.  I'm sure a few more days won't kill me.  I'll keep you guys posted on my thoughts of the phone when I get it and test it out for a few days.  I'm especially excited about the WiFi Hotspot/Tethering feature that this phone has.  Could it be possible that this could replace my DSL at home?  I guess it will depend on how using that feature will affect my data usage.  I'll keep you guys posted.

A little bit more soap boxing...

Remember me ranting on how the cell companies basically manipulate words with their advertisements of "unlimited" data? Here's an interesting article that I came across.  This guy seems to share my feelings and thoughts about how the telco companies are basically short changing us on these plans.  Although, some of the comments at the end do make a good point.  The companies don't limit the amount of data, just the speed.  What a gip, when is a company gonna come out with a truly unlimited data plan? Great speed and unlimited data.  Hell, if it came at a decent price, I'm sure people would jump on it.  Just don't lie to us or try to play on words.

Gateway drama continues....

Well, in regards to my issue with my customer's All-In-One Gateway 610 Media Center PC....they are, how do you say, "SOL" in a matter of speaking.  I hate it when companies knowingly have a defective product out on the market, but yet fail to properly inform their customers and take the proper steps to correct or recall this product.  Gateway knows there was an issue with this PCs PSU (Power Supply Unit) and didn't recall the product.  Turns out the combined 100W limit on this PSU is not enough for everything this PC can handle so even if a replacement is ordered, it will fail eventually.  I did manage to find a REV: 01 of this PSU, but I don't know about ordering it because it has the same 100W/180W max rating as REV: 00.  What if I order it, install it, and it craps out on the customer 3 months down the road?  Anyways, I'll let the customer decide whether they want to order this Revision 01 PSU or just have me rig up an external PSU for their PC (which by the way has been working wonderfully for the past week now).  Just goes to show you folks, ALL-IN-ONE PCs may look nice and sleek, but eventually it WILL break down and if one thing fails, then it will be much more labor and $$$ to fix it.  Whatever happens, I always try to put myself in the customer's shoes and have them leave the shop feeling as satisfied as I possibly can.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I went yesterday to a Tmobile store to take a more hands on approach in the search for my new phone.  First let me start by saying that "We The People" are getting screwed by her majesty the Telecomm companies.  What's this about "unlimited" data....oh, but not really.  Ha! What a gip!  What happened to the days when "unlimited" meant just that...un-freakin-limited??!!  And then they try to screw the uninformed consumer with the different pricing strategies that they post in big colorful banners.  Wake up people!  It's either get screwed up front with the price of the phone or get screwed over the next two years on what seems to be a decent rate plan but oh, what's this? They tack on an extra $15/month for phone for the next 20 months?!  It ends up being just as much, if not MORE expensive.  It's ridiculous, but like always, it's a "choice" we have.  We want flashy phones and pseudo-unlimited data, then they can charge whatever they want if we are willing to pay.  Simple law of supply and demand.

Anywhoo....let me get off of my soap box and get back to what my post was originally about.   I'm down to 3 phones.  The Crackberry 9900, the HTC Sensation, and the MyTouch 4G Slide.  I wasn't even considering the Blackberry because of the price but after holding "my precious" in my hand I have to say that it planted a seed in my brain!  The touch response is smooth and fast.  It still has the durable feel of my old Blackberry with the wonderful touchscreen feature.  Of course the HTC Sensation and the MyTouch are also wonderful devices and, from all that I've read, are basically the same device internally.  I am so tempted to go with an Android phone just to get to ROOT it and submerge myself in all that is Android.  Alas, I'm still undecided but will keep you guys posted as to what I finally decide to go with.

**While writing this, I came upon some disturbing news.  According to this article BB will be switching from their BB OS to something called "QNX".  So basically, if you buy one of these devices with BB OS7, you'll be buying something that's DOA.  What a gip!!  Android, here I come!**

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time for a new phone...

The time has come to upgrade my cellphone.  I have to once again, dwell into the lions' den which is the Tmobile stores and upgrade my account since any changes to my rate plan would automatically extend my contract.  I think I'm gonna opt for the Pseudo-Unlimited Data Plan and an Android phone this time.  My Blackberry (or Crackberry, as it's known in some circles) has served me so well but I've had a sort of hex with these wonderful phones.  My 8900 is giving me the WSOD (White Screen Of Death, don't laugh, it exists) and won't even let me talk on it for more than 5 minutes without it locking up.  I really want the new 9900 touch screen and 4G but I'm not quite ready to dish out almost $350 for a new phone just yet.  I'm trying to decide between one of the new HTC Android phones.  Might be the new MyTouch 4G or the HTC Sensation.  We'll see what happens.

The hunt continues...

Just got off the phone with AscendTech (the company that I ordered the PSU for that Gateway 610 media center pc from) and it seems that their return policy is not so bad.  They even offer refunds and give 30 day warranty on all their parts.  Unfortunately, they don't carry the REV: 01 PSU for that particular pc model.  Onward and forward in trying to locate that PSU and see if the customer wants to pay the difference in the price for the newer PSU.  If not, my only other alternative would be to custom build an external PSU for this pc.  I think that would negate the benefit of an All-In-One PC though, don't you?  I'll keep you posted on my findings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Well, this is discomforting...

  Well, I hate to put this up as my first post but it's come to my attention (and this isn't the first time) that Gateway PCs suck! LOL  I was working on this customer's All-In-One Gateway 610 media center PC that had a faulty power supply.  Diagnosis was fairly easy, so I ordered the part.  It came in last week, I installed it, it powered on so I did all the appropriate Windows updates and cleaned her PC up from some malware and annoying tracking cookies.

  Today she calls back that it doesn't turn on anymore! WTH?! Of course I tell her to immediately bring it back in so I can take a look at it.  Guess what? Dead PSU once again! So I did some research and it turns out that this particular model has had various issues with bad, underpowered PSU.  (According to some forums I encountered here.) The culprit is a Delta Electronics PSU, model: DPS-185JB-1A  REV: 00.  It's only rated for 185 W MAX output! There's no way that an all in one only uses this much wattage.  There is a REV: 01, so I'm gonna see if I can get a replacement from the company I ordered it from.  The only other solution is to create an external PSU for this ALL-IN-ONE! Kinda ironic, I know! According to all the blogs and forums, Gateway has been useless on this matter.  This won't stop me from contacting them tomorrow and see if they have a viable solution for me.  I also found something about there being a REV: 01 version here, so I'd like to get one of those to see if it fixes the issue.  I'll keep you guys posted.