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July 31,2008 (PutItBackTogetherThursday)

In Tuesday's installment of this iPod repair series, we showed how to take the iPod apart.  Today we will show how to swap out and upgrade the various components. 

Our cool red "special editions" U2 clickwheel came from the folks at www.iDemiGods.com.  They were recommended to us as the place to go for hard to find iPod parts.  The new motherboard came from our friends at PowerbookMedic.  We used them when we upgraded the processor for our G3 laptop.  These guys really know their stuff when it comes to Apple hardware and their support staff is awesome.

We learned quite a bit about the construction of the iPod during the disassembly process.  In trying to remove the motherboard from the frame, we noticed there was a thin silicone film on the clickwheel area (red arrow).  We realized that this gasket was probably to provide some protection... [More] - iPod reassembly

July 30,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

One of our readers, Michael S of NY, sent us an email commenting "Here is one view you won't see with your telescopes."

We agree!  This amazing video clip of the moon passing in front of the earth was made by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft from 31 million miles away.   While this vantage point is familiar to all X-Files extraterrestrial visitors, it is the first time for us here the magazine.  Definitely "WowUsWednesdays" worthy. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau

BTW, as a little "Thank You", Michael... pick your favorite, we'll have it out to you today.


July 29,2008 (TakeItApartTuesday)

Yesterday we showed how to open the video iPod.  Today, we  will take a closer look at how we took apart the insides.  With the back of the iPod opened, it was easy to see all the padding around the disk drive.  Clearly Apple designed the unit to survive a few bumps.

The first step to the iPod's disassembly was to remove the drive.  To access the drive, we removed the various foam and rubber paddings on and around the drive.  The blue rubber ones just slip off, but the foam sheets were attached using double-sided tape.  A razor blade was useful in lifting the tape without damaging the foam.  Lifting the drive up revealed that the drive was connected to the iPod by a thin ribbon cable.

The drive cable may be disconnected by flipping up the brown latch on the motherboard and sliding the cable out.  The battery cable may be detached in a similar manner.  A small flat-head screwdriver made flipping the latch... [More] - iPod Disassembly cont'


July 28,2008 (MakeItWorkAgainMonday)

We purchased a broken 5th-generation video iPod on Craigslist.  The seller let us know that the CPU board was fried because he spilled liquid on it.  We were able to confirmed that the battery, screen, and clickwheel were all in good working order, but the iPod would hang when trying to play any music or video.  Sounded like a perfect opportunity for a RainyDayProject.

Since it rained most of last week, we spent some time repairing and upgrading th broken video iPod.  We took the iPod apart and installed a new CPU board, changed the click wheel to a red one, and replaced the drive with a larger 80GB unit.  This week we'll post the results of all that work.

Today we'll show how to open the case and remove the internal hard drive.  Later on in the week, we'll go deeper into the disassembly of the unit until the entire iPod has been completely taken apart.

The first step to opening the case is to work from the clickwheel end.  Prying around the screen end would likely result in a cracked LCD.  The case is held together by... [More] - iPod Disassembly


July 27,2008 (WeekendEdition)

Those of you who came by for the "sale" last week got some nice bargains.  We got rid of some good office funiture at some great prices.  This weekend, folks here stopped by IKEA and picked up some new items for their workspace. 

As with all things IKEA, assembly IS required.  Putting desks and shelves together are pretty easy.  Filing cabinets, on the other hand, are a different story.  Carolyn thought it would be "fun" to see just how long it takes to assemble one of these units.  We started the clock and off she went.

IKEA instructions are all in pictures, no language localization required.  Carolyn thought it best to lay things out before diving in.  The holes for the guides and rails are all pre-drilled.  This made the process a lot... [More] - IKEA file cabinet


July 26,2008 (WeekendEdition)

After two weeks of dry weather, the RainyDayGarden was desperate for some rain.  What's the saying? "Be careful of what you wish for?"  Well, we had four days of heavy intermittent thunder showers last week.

Everything received a much needed soaking and they all perked up when the sun came out this morning.  The rain gauge had registered closed to two inches of rain just from yesterday's late day shower.

Once the sun had warmed things up, the garden came alive with activity.  Buffy and Eliot quickly got tired of chasing the bees and butterflies and curled up... [More] - After the rain


July 25,2008 (FineArtsFriday)

“Imperishable Beauty: Art Nouveau Jewelry” has just opened at the Torf Gallery of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and it is a lovely, delicate exhibition. While these things may have been jewelry when they were first made, they are works of art now, and have every right to be in a museum.

The Art Nouveau movement did not span many decades (two and a half, three at the most), but its lines -- or curves, to be more accurate -- are with us still. The idea behind the movement was to get away from the Edwardian (whites and diamonds) and Arts and Crafts (blocky and solid) ways of looking at the world. The jewelry in this exhibit, most of which are... [More] - Art Nouveau Jewelry


July 24,2008 (TechTreasureOrTrashThursday)

What does one do with a huge projection TV when it is no longer worth fixing?  Is there anything good which can be salvaged from it before being put out to pasture? Our problem is a 55" unit, which was professionally delivered to our second floor office back in the day, that is now just taking up room.  So we did what any good DIYer would do, we decided to take it apart to see if there were any parts worth scavenging.

The back panel houses the mirror, which reflects the image up to the screen.  The panel is well attached but not too heavy, and could be lifted by one person (once all of the screws were removed).  With both the top and bottom covers off, the entire inside of the TV was now exposed.

The screen, electronics, and lenses are the three main components of the projection TV.  It was pretty amazing how much fine powdery dust had accumulated inside the cabinet.  We decided to vacuum the exposed areas after repeatedly getting... [More] - Projection TV disassembly


July 23,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

We got a few emails about this guy Glenn who rebuilt the engine of his Porsche Boxster S.  He started the project because the cylinder head had developed a crack.  Just that accomplishment alone is worthy of a "WowUsWednesday" mention.  Not only did he fixed the problem, but the entire disassembly and reassembly process was meticulously documented!  Some of the videos are now posted on YouTube.

Most of us would pay the $5-7K for the new engine and have a trusted Porsche mechanic do the work, but it is nice to know that even a Boxster engine rebuild is a possible DIY project for somebody :-)  Glenn is considering putting together a detailed manual for those interested in tackling a project of this size.  Contact him for more info.  [Permalink] - rebuilding Porsche engine


July 22,2008 (TechProjTuesday)

The Video iPod Repair project will get underway now that we have finally assembled ALL of the pieces.  We could have done the circuit board and clickwheel replacements without waiting for the drive, but we didn't really want to keep opening the iPod up and taking it apart.  If there was one lesson we learned from working with small connectors is they break when you disconnect them too many times.

There is actually nothing wrong with the drive or the clickwheel in our video iPod.  We thought since we were going to open it up and do some major surgery on it, we might as well up the storage to 80GBand add a little flare to the unit.

The first thing we noticed when we got the drive was the connector is different than the drives we used for our laptop upgrades.  The connectors are on the back instead of on the edge of the drive.  We look forward to taking the iPod apart to see... [More] - iPod Repair Project


July 21,2008 (MobileAppsMonday)

Some of us were mobile application developers way back in the Apple Newton days.  When the iPhone SDK was released, those of us who are still around jumped at the opportunity to do something fun with computers again.

Apple has done a great job with the development tools, sample codes, and training videos which come with the SDK.  However, there is nothing like having a few good books on the topic.  Because the subject is so new, most of the iPhone programming books listed on Amazon have yet to be released.   One exception is... [More] - iPhone Programming


July 19-20,2008 (WeekendEdition)

There are a few places to escape the heat this weekend: the beach, the mall, the MFA.  We opted for the museum.  Why?  This is the last week the El Greco to Velazquez exhibit will be at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Organized by the MFA and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, El Greco to Velazquez examines works by two of Spain's great masters, El Greco and Velazquez, in the context of their contemporaries during the vibrant, but little-known period of Philip III's reign (1598 to 1621).

More than sixty paintings are featured, many of which have never before traveled to the United States.  The exhibition is made possible at both of its venues by the generosity of Bank of America.

There was some confusion whether we, as members of the press, were allowed to take photos.  At the press previews, the MFA had always given full access for photographing the exhibits, but we decided it was probably better to put the camera away as the security guards were unsure of the policy during regular event hours.   So if you want to see paintings and objects in the El Greco to Velazquez exhibit, you will have to stop by the MFA.  The exhibit runs for one more week, so don't procrastinate!

While at the MFA, take the time out to enjoy a leisurely lunch at the cafe or to contemplate in their wonderful Zen garden.  It will help you forget the heat, expand your mind, and rejuvenate your spirit.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 18,2008 (FirstClassFriday)

Shobu Aikido of Boston's new Somerville dojo was opened for its first class last night.  Members of the dojo have been working on the new space for a few months.  Their efforts transformed a former garage to a beautiful and serene space for study.

Aikido is a martial art.  It is not a dance.  While the practice of Aikido does not involve striking, the threat of a strike is implied in the study.  Sensei often gently "reminds" students that ignoring those threats can have consequenses.  Aikido study sometimes is more about understanding one's own openings and vulnerabilities, and working to eliminate them.  If there are no openings, there are no opportunities for an effective attack.

When one has the ability to recognize these openings, one also gains a better understanding of how to take advantage of them when they present themselves in... [More] - Shobu Aikido of Boston


July 17,2008 (GreenFutureTechThursday)

Ideas for our daily articles are not always well planned but can come at any time.  Today's subject was the result of some pretty loose associations.  It started with a conversation about our friend Leslie who is coming to visit from Bermuda.  Her maiden name is Robinson, which of course led to the mention of the movie The Graduate.  That, in turn, triggered the reciting of the famous lines...

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Ben: Yes, sir. Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? Ben: Yes, I am. Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

If that conversation was to happen today, the word would be Bioplastics.  It is a tiny market now, but with the cost of making petroleum-based plastics rising every day, the future is clear to companies such as Metabolix

The approach to making bioplatics is to use either bacteria or plants to "grow" plastics.  The "stuff" can then be extracted and used to make the things we use everyday.  However, Bioplastics is more than that.  Some forms of bioplastis are more biodegradable than its counterparts in use today.  Some are even compostable!  The renewability and degradability of bioplastics are double wins which will help in reducing our "footprint" on the environment.   We'll plan to keep our eye on bioplastics and perhaps go chat with the Metabolix folks to get their take on this emerging field.  Until then, we'll continue to recycle and reuse our plastics.  Perhaps in the future, we'll be able to add "compost" to the list. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 16,2008 (GreenGearWednesday)

Back by popular demand, RainyDaySports will once again cover yoga-related gear.  Our previous yoga enthusiast decided to take time off from writing and focus on triathalons, getting married, and other time-consuming activities.  Fortunately, we have found a replacement.  Our "Dr. May" is a real medical doctor, currently working in Texas, and an avid yoga practitioner. 

In keeping with this week's "green" theme, we decided to take a look at yoga mats made out of eco-friendly materials.  Jade Yoga's mats are 100% natural rubber and contains no PVC.  The claim is these mats are more... [More] - Jade Yoga Mats


July 15,2008 (GreenTechTuesday)

The cover of this month's Dwell is about "growing up Green."   The issue had many articles on "building a sustainable future."  With global warming, $150 oil, and a world population looking at soon to reach 7 billion, it is a timely subject.

One of the old-timers here reminded us that the technology may have changed, but those "sustainability" ideas were pretty well covered in the 60's and 70's.  To prove his point, he brought in a few books which he claims are actually worth MORE than the paper they are printed on...he is kind of a curmudgeon, but we... [More] - Green Future


July 14,2008 (GreenMobileMonday)

A seven mile commute should not take forty minutes.  However, the daily trek for one of our editors is, and we have decided to do something about it.  We have decided to investigate the various scooter offerings (gas vs electric, Vespa vs newcomers) to see if we can find a better alternative to the car for intra-city jaunts.

We will, of course, be looking at various accessories to keep our scooter from "wandering away" when we are not looking.  Our interns have already found some gear from Kryptonite and Xena which look promising.  We'll have a more detailed look at both locks next month.  If you have others you think we should check out, drop us a line.  We'll be happy to... [More] - Scooters and gear


July 13,2008 (WeekendEdition)

Salem was, of course, one of the most prosperous towns in New England back when things all started.  Over the years, it has remade itself into a huge tourist destination.  The town is flooded every Holloween, but it is also a huge draw for all those looking to mix in a bit of American history with their travels during the other times of the year.

The rest of Salem MA was just as fascinating as the House of Seven Gables.  Right across the street is the OLDEST candy store in America!  It was probably not a good idea that we went in before we had lunch, but it WAS just right across the street.

The store had a huge variety of candies.  Many of them are still made the traditional way, using traditional molds and machines.  Most of us managed to... [More] - Salem MA


July 12,2008 (WeekendEdition)

The crew took Carolyn up to Salem for her "Birthday Weekend."  Carolyn's friend Patty had once mentioned that a birthday should be a month-long event. 

Carolyn couldn't convince the higher ups at the magazine that her birthday should be celebrated for the entire month of July, but did managed to get in writing that it should span the entire weekend.  We don't know who negotiated her contract but... [More] - House of Seven Gables


July 11,2008 (PassifloraFriday)

Last August we went to a Mass Horticulture Society flower show at the Elm Bank Horticulture Center.  At the show we purchased a few new day lillies to add to our RainyDayGarden collection.  Today, we noticed that some of them have started blooming.  It was a nice surprise as we had totally forgotten about them!

One flower which we don't forget we have is the Passiflora.  This is because we have to bring this vine inside in the Fall and replant it outside every year in the Spring.  In some part of the country, the passiflora vine may actually be considered a weed as it can be invasive and crowd out other species.  This is not a problem in the New England climate as it is not yet warm enough for the vine to make it through the winter outside.

The Passiflora's complex flower is one of the big reason why we love growing this plant.  While the bloom itself only lasts for about a day or two, it is spectacular when... [More] - Passiflora


July 10,2008 (TechProjectThursday)

Our Pismo G3 laptop is a great little Powerbook.  We have upgraded its RAM, optical drive, CPU, and added more disk space.  However, it appears to have finally reached a technological dead end.  The main problem with the G3 is Leopard could not be install on it, even with the upgraded G4 processor.  Folks here acquired an old 12" aluminum Powerbook in May to replace the Pismo.  The first things we did to the new laptop were to upgrade the OS to Leopard and max out the internal RAM.  The next task on the list was to take care of some annoying problems with the keyboard. 

The seller of this laptop had indicated both the right "Enter" and "Shift" keys did not work.  We had taken the keyboard off and cleaned it with compressed air, but was not able to get it to work.  Our next plan was to buy a new one off EBay and replace the entire unit.  Since we had worked out the steps of removing the keyboard, we thought we would share some tips to make this step easier for those who need to do the same.

Before you start, know that there are three screws holding the keyboard in place.  One is in the back of the laptop (see RAM upgrade directions) and... [More] - Keyboard replacement


July 9,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

All of us Apple fanboys know the 3G iPhone is scheduled to be released this Friday.  Every gadget site is buzzing with news of "unboxing" and other iPhone related tips and tidbits.  We wanted to take RainyDayMagazine readers in a cell phone related, but slightly different direction. 

It is pretty obvious that cell phones are now more powerful than many computers from a few years ago.  It is likely they will continue to be more so with each iteration.  While we can do more with the phones, some are now incorporating them as part of a system to potentially improve health care in the poorer and more isolated regions of the world.

Professor Rubinsky and his team at UC Berkeley has developed an imaging application using the cell phone as the primary visualization platform.  You can check out the published paper here and his interview here.

The basic idea is to construct a system which can enable the cell phone to perform ultrasounds, X-rays, magnetic resonance images, and other medical imaging diagnotisc.  The possible applications range from detecting tumors to confirming tuberculosis infections to monitoring developing fetuses.

We hope they start doing some work using the iPhone SDK.  It would be cool to see the Tricorder as one of the bundled apps in a future iPhone release :-) [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 8,2008 (TechTuesday)

Since we got so many emails asking for more examples, we decided to post few more from our RainyDayGarden series.  These were all shot this past weekend using the Casio EX-F1 on a tripod.

We also got a lot of email suggesting additional video ideas.  Many of them we have thought of already, some were too odd to attempt even for our intrepid interns, still others were down right illegal in most states.  However, we thought seeing more ideas would not be such a bad thing.  So if you have an idea for a video, drop us a note with the subject line "Shoot me, baby!"  We will select three of the best ideas.  One for each frame rate (300, 600, 1200).  The winners will get something fun from our pile of stuff.  The contest ends at the end of the month.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 7,2008 (1200fpsMoviesMonday)

The RainyDayPhotography folks had access to the Casio EX-F1 digital camera this weekend.  We had heard about this camera's unique high speed shutter and wanted to see if it is as cool as it sounds.  We spent a few days with the camera.  It was not enough time to sample all of the cameras functions, but we did get a feel for the high speed movie modes. 

The image of the bumblebee hovering next to the purple cone flower is a frame pulled out of the 300 fps capture.  Click on the images below to see the actual movies of insect (bumblebee, dragonflies) movements at this capture speed.  The wing beats are still a little blurry, but definitely WAY better than... [More] - Casio EX-F1 FirstUse


July 5-6,2008 (WeekendEdition)

There are many new digital cameras on the market and more coming every day.  Most have good image sensors.  Many have the ability to capture movies.  SLR models enable users to change and use different lenses.  However, until now, NONE of them allows photographers to do what the Casio Exilim EX-F1 will allow them to do.  Intrigued?  Well, then read on.

The Casio EX-F1's package is similar to mosty digital cameras: camera, lens hood, battery charger, USB cord, remote trigger, and software.

The body is slightly smaller than our Nikon D-40.  It has a 6MP sensor, a 12x zoom lens (36mm-432mm), and lots of... [More] - Casio EX-F1

July 4,2008 (Independence Day)

Normally, RainyDayKitchen's "FirstGrill" events start way earlier in the season.  With the trips out to L.A. and the crazy review load, we just couldn't get our act together this year.  So our first official firing-up of the grills didn't occur until July 4th.

As it has been almost two years since we first reviewed the Coleman RoadTrip and Thermos' Grill2Go, we thought it would be appropriate to take a look at how they have held up.  Now for those who may have thought that we "baby" these units, let me assure you, we have not :-)  We use them, we clean them occassionally, but we basically treat them as if... [More] - Grills InTheWild


July 3,2008 (TurnaroundThursday)

One of our RainyDayGarage readers sent us this link yesterday to a heated thread on the BimmerFest discussion board.  We have been known to poke fun at Porsche dealers in the past.  However, this story got some of the RainyDayGarage folks into a tizzy after reading it.  They said we MUST do a post about the outrageous behavior of this BMW dealership

In the thread, many different opinions were expressed by the members of that forum.  Much of it vilifying Flow BMW for the "stazi-like" behavior of the... [More] - FlowBMW


July 2,2008 (WetWednesday)

Boston got a lot of rain during the last week of June.  This meant the RainyDayGarden really got a nice wet base heading into the typically drier month of July. 

The orange day lillies started to bloom this past week.  We love photographing the lillies and took their blooming as an opportunity to play around some more with the Nikon D40.  In this outing, we wanted to experiment with the apeture-priority settings and get some experience manipulating the depth-of-field (DOF).  Using the "Auto" mode, the camera will usually pick a combination which will give the best focus for the area of interest.  This typically mean favoring speed over a greater depth-of-field. 

We waited for an bright cloudy day to minimize the contrast.  There were also minimal breeze to disturb the flowers.  By using a smaller aperture setting and thus... [More] - Aperture Priority


July 1,2008 (TechTipTuesday)

The broken iPod we purchased had its normal share of dings and scratches.  We were looking at various methods of cleaning it up and perhaps buffing out some of the scuff marks.  One of the interns happened upon this rather odd set of directions on how to use a banana (not porn related in anyway) to clean up an iPod.  We were intrigued enough to give it a try.

The steps were simple enough: cut a piece, expose some, apply generously, let sit a minute or so, wipe clean with... [More] - iPod Cleaning


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