iPhone 3G battery replacement

The iPhone 3G (released in 2008) we bought in 2009 and was Cheryl's main phone until she replaced it with an iPhone 5. It became Cameron's iPod and later his phone, until finally after 5 years of continual service... the battery was dead. Kaput. Would not take a charge with any charger or cable combination.
Well used but still some life left

Fortunately, the iPhone 3G battery is more or less user replaceable, likely the last model that can say this. $11 for a replacement battery on Amazon that was shipped fast.

The instructions to replace the battery were on iFixIt iPhone 3G Battery Replacement. The instructions were easy, precise, and really don't need any modification, except allow about an hour for the replacement as some of the cable reassembly can take longer than expected.


Canon PowerShot SD550 LCD Replacement

The reason for the replacement of my LCD is, well, it cracked. No idea how it happened, but it appears this model is pretty sensitive and some investigation has shown that it's common with the SD550's and other models (and not a warranty item). I've heard that Canon has changed from the Sony screens in the new models after the SD550.

So why pay $200 for a camera shop to replace this, when there was a great reference online on how to replace the LCD at http://fivepoundsflax.blogspot.com. There were some changes and clarifications to the procedure that I've documented here.

Canon PowerShot SD550

The first and obvious step is to order a replacement part from Canon Canada's parts department at 1-888-832-4719. It was in stock, and placing the order took about 10 minutes just by giving the model number. Delivery with Canada Post Expedited Parcel was quick - 4 business days, and overnight is available if you need it.

Tools Required - Mini Phillips screwdriver, mini flat screwdriver (for gently prying and moving parts).

Step 1 - Remove the battery, memory card, and the wrist strap if you have one attached. The battery is the most important - you don't want to short anything out.

Step 2 - Remove the external screws and mark where they came from. Three screws on the bottom come out easily.
Canon PowerShot SD550 bottom view

Two screws on the left side are removed and the metal cover plate comes off. Note the orientation for reinstall, the guiding tabs are spaced differently to ensure it goes in the correct way.

Canon PowerShot SD550 side view

Three screws on the right side are to be removed. The first screw is visible, the second screw requires opening the A/V Out rubber cover. The third screw requires you to take off the plastic cover for it to be accessible.
Canon PowerShot SD550 side view

Step 3 - Take off the cover. On the right side, you may need to slightly pry out one of the screw mounts as it catches on the case. The bottom (front) cover can stay on for this procedure, just remove the back cover.

Step 4 - At the top of the LCD screen, there is a metal bar. Remove the single screw on the left side and take off the bar. Note that the right side of the bar has an indentation to align it which is how it should go back on later.

Step 5 - With a small flat screwdriver, pry away the 4 tabs slightly and lift out the LCD away from the backlight.

Step 6 - Lift out the backlight. The ribbon cable from the LCD is stuck to the bottom of the backlight, separate it gently.

Step 7 - At the top of the harness for the control buttons are two screws (don't remove the little screw on the right side, it does not hold the harness down). The rubber buttons just sit on this, put them aside. Lift up the harness to reveal the ribbon cable socket.

Step 8 - Lift up the black hinge on the ribbon cable socket, remove the ribbon. The LCD and ribbon cable should now be removed.

Step 9 - Line up the ribbon cable into the socket, close the tab. Make sure this is aligned correctly and inserted as far as possible.

Step 10 - Put everything back together in the reverse order it was disassembled.

Step 11 - If you have screws left over you've done something wrong. Curse, disassemble, and find where the screw came from. The last thing you want is loose camera innards.

Step 12 - Turn on the camera, the screen should light up and display. If only the backlight comes on (screen is white or black) the ribbon cable was not inserted fully and needs to be realigned.

Canon PowerShot SD550 screen view

Step 13 - Go take some more pictures.

The above procedure took about half an hour at a leisurely pace.

I've heard that other than very careful care, a case or screen protector will not protect the LCD of this model as it's due to flex in the case. If you've had luck with one of the 3rd party screen protectors, let me know.

[update 2007-03-17] Some of the feedback includes more than a few comments about screws getting lost. I had the same problem, and half of my repair time was combing the floor of my garage with a magnet to find a couple of nearly-invisible little screws that fell. One suggestion is to disassemble in a large flat tray, another is to use a little magnet or cup to hold the screws once removed.

[update 2010-02-25] Kudos to Dustin Beasley who filmed the whole disassembly/assembly.  If only I could have fixed it so fast... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDDOVyh4X7g

These instructions are provided with no warranty - repair at your own risk.

Originally posted 2006-07-08
Last Modified 2010-02-25

Windows XP Service Pack 3 installation error "Access is denied"

Installing Windows XP Service Pack 3 resulted in more than a few errors and an inability to finish the installation. The scenario here was on a Dell Inspiron notebook with the Dell image loaded.

Windows XP Professional had been updated from SP1 to SP2 successfully in previous years, but here Automatic Updates kept trying to install SP3 and failing. The first few attempts to install manually from the offline installation failed as well.  The key was in the error on the screen "Access is denied" and the corresponding entries in the %windir%\svcpack.log file:

0000.000: DoRegistryUpdates:UpdSpInstallFromInfSection Failed for ProductInstall.GlobalRegistryChanges.Install error: 0x5
0000.000: INF_REGISTRY Failed
0000.000: DoInstallation:DoRegistryUpdates failed
0000.000: Unregistration of sprecovr successful
0000.000: Access is denied.
0000.000: Message displayed to the user: Access is denied.
0000.000: User Input: OK
0000.000: Service Pack 3 installation did not complete. Select 'OK' to undo the changes that have been made.
0000.000: Message displayed to the user: Service Pack 3 installation did not complete. Select 'OK' to undo the changes that have been made.
The fix was found on MSKB 949377 using Method 3 which requires reapplying ACL's on the file system and registry. After applying the changes, Service Pack 3 installed without any issues.

These instructions are provided with no warranty - repair at your own risk.

Originally posted 2008-09-28


Hardware failures

If you forgive the overly long title, Cycles, Cells and Platters: An Empirical Analysis of Hardware Failures on a Million Consumer PCs from 2011 is an interesting read for correlating crash data with hardware failures.

Things I knew:

  • Brand name computers have lower failure rates than white box computers.
  • Overclocking processors will increase the failure rate. This is why they call it a rated frequency.
  • Memory failures have a high likelihood of failing again at the same memory address. I have seen this dozens of times.

Things I didn't know:

  • Memory failures and disk failures are independent.  
  • Computers with more memory have less disk failures. In retrospect this makes sense, as more memory translates to more caching and less disk I/O.
  • Laptop hardware is more reliable than desktop hardware. This is counter-intuitive of the theory of  reducing reliability through miniaturization, but advances in technologies such as hard drive platter parking and passive cooling could easily offset this. 
  • A hard drive failure will happen again. Okay this I knew, but I didn't know the statistical likelihood was so high as 1 in 3.4 for a second failure within 5 days or 1 in 1.9 for a third failure in an additional 5 days. If it fails once, replace it right away or you can guarantee a loss of data.


Free Disk Space

I was reading a story about the History of Storage Cost, incredible how accurate it is from about 1985 to 2010 for the cost per GB. If it wasn't for flood impact in late 2011 disk would be free by 2019. I'd be curious to see how the cost per TB calculates from 2012 forward.


1985 $112,979.59
1986 $63,503.84
1987 $35,694.39
1988 $20,063.19
1989 $11,277.17
1990 $6,338.70
1991 $3,562.87
1992 $2,002.63
1993 $1,125.64
1994 $632.70
1995 $355.63
1996 $199.89
1997 $112.36
1998 $63.15
1999 $35.50
2000 $19.95
2001 $11.22
2002 $6.30
2003 $3.54
2004 $1.99
2005 $1.12
2006 $0.63
2007 $0.35
2008 $0.20
2009 $0.11
2010 $0.06
2011 $0.04
2012 $0.02
2013 $0.011
2014 $0.006
2015 $0.004
2016 $0.002
2017 $0.001
2018 $0.001
2019 $0.000


Windows 8 on an ultrabook

After trying the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on an Acer Iconia tablet, I had mixed impressions. As an OS Windows 8 was good though schizophrenic - a lack of Metro apps had me in the desktop most of the time. This is where it falls flat, as a tablet it was marginally better than Windows 7 which I had already abandoned on the Iconia.

Apps aside, I have found that for business use, I need a keyboard. My productivity takes a dive from typing over 100+ WPM on a keyboard to under 20 WPM on-screen (I can barely get by with my Blackberry Torch at about 40 WPM). There's no point in adding a Bluetooth keyboard, that must makes it a clumsy laptop.

Next up - an ultrabook... something that has the weight and size of a tablet but the functionality of a laptop. Once it was available I ordered a Dell XPS 13.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation was not an issue, expanded the ISO to a USB key, booted, installed. Most of the drivers were found, only a few were missing but using the Windows 7 x64 drivers did the trick.

Connecting to the corporate network had a minor hiccup - I can't to work wireless until I'm on the domain, and I can't join the domain until I'm on the network. Usually this is easy enough, but the XPS 13 has no network port. This was easily worked around borrowing a USB network adapter.

Productivity is still primarily in desktop, but overall it works great. Office 2010 installs and operates perfectly, Chrome as my browser for anything needing Flash or other plug-ins (Internet Explorer 10 in Metro does not use plug-ins).

I have now been using it for the past few weeks, and I am on my way to Tech-Ed in Orlando. Because I'll need it extensively this week I'm holding off on moving to the Windows 8 Release Preview until I am back at the office.


Windows 8 fail

Tried the Windows 8 consumer preview on Virtual PC on a Windows 7 machine. I get funky fish, then sad face. Strange that it works on other non-Microsoft virtual platforms.