Back from the Dead (and ever so grateful)

In an earlier post, I described my first attempt to replace the hard drive in my late, lamented Sony Vaio VGN-SZ230P laptop.  This machine was not built to be repaired, and least not in any modular way.  Getting to the hard drive required removing the keyboard and plamrest, cutting some tape, unplugging the drive, removing, replacing, then carefully reconnecting the plamrest and keyboard and their fragile cables.  It's done and, on the second try, I had a machine that boots and has a usable keyboard and trackpad.  So many tiny screws!

Here's an important tip: When disassembling a computer full of tiny, tiny screws, lay out a very large white towel. Put the computer on the towel and do all your work there.  Put the parts and screws together on the towel; they won't roll or move on their own.

I'm not going to restore the original Vista installation.  One of the more annoying things about this otherwise beautifully engineered computer is that it just didn't like Vista.  Blue screens were common and reboots were often required to get all the hardware working.  Replacing the Sony with a MacBook Pro showed me how well hardware and an OS can be integrated.

The Fedora Project will have Fedora 15 out in a couple of months, so I'm installing Fedora 15 Alpha to see how well Fedora has advanced with all the proprietary Sony hardware on the device.


No User Serviceable Parts Inside

The hard disk in my Sony Vaio notebook is damaged, missing about 25GB.  No problem, I thought. I can replace it.  I found a good, larger drive at a great price on Amazon. It arrived the other day.

I’ve replaced drives on lots of notebook computers. It was easy.  Well, easy on Dells. On a Dell, you remove two screws, do a little prying, and the drive slides out easily on a shiny tray.  The Sony Vaio was not built to be repaired.

The first step is to find instructions. In itself, that was not easy.  Google came to the rescue with a link to the assembly and disassembly guide. Pretty quickly, I realized I was missing a required tool, a bamboo spatula. Bamboo!  I whittled one from a skewer and proceeded onwards and inwards.  Start by removing a screw from the back of the computer. Then, use the bamboo tool to unclip two tiny, invisible clips above the top row of keys to remove the keyboard.  Once the keyboard is folded over onto the screen, slide two clips out from the keyboard cable connector and remove the incredibly thin and delicate cable from its home.  Carefully put the keyboard aside. This is only the beginning. They hard drive is below the palm rest and mousepad assembly.


The next step is to remove the palm rest, in the process unlocking two different cable clamp assemblies and sliding even more delicate ribbons out of their connectors.  This is where I’ve chickened out. I can see how to get the cables out and how to unscrew and remove the palmrest/mousepad assembly, but I’m not sure I can thread the ribbon cables back into their little slots when it’s time to put it all back together.

For now, I’m undecided between returning the new disk to Amazon or holding on to it and waiting for the installed drive to die. At that point, there’s not much to lose.