Mac Mini surgery

My late-2009 Mac Mini has been playing up for a while, running Mountain Lion, so just before Christmas I decided to try and get it working thinking it just couldn’t cope with Mountain Lion.  I got a Lion USB stick and tried to install it – but on boot up the computer threw a tantrum because the hard drive was failing.

Disk Utility wasn’t able to repair it so I wrote it off; until a spare 2.5″ 200GB drive was given to me for nowt.  It only had a 160GB in it already, so this was an upgrade regardless.  I also remembered I had a couple of 2GB SO-DIMMS spare from when I upgraded an old MacBook Pro – so that’d double the memory in the machine too.

I found a video guide to upgrading on MacWorld/YouTube:


and set about to opening it.  I didn’t have a putty knife, so I improvised – using a Stanley knife which did the job fine.

Opening the Late-2009 mac Mini
Opening the Late-2009 mac Mini

It makes a worrying crack sound when the catches come away, but it came apart with no troubles.

Case separating
Case separating

Once it’s prised apart, just lift the base (which all of the computer is attached to) out of the case carefully.

Separated
Separated

I detached the antenna but the cable for the front one (which I later found out is the bluetooth antenna) detached in the process.  The rest went according to the video, and I put the “new” hard drive in along with the replacement memory.

The new hard drive.
The new hard drive.

Lion installed fine, and then I upgraded it to Mavericks.

After resolving most of the problems in the next section it’s working well – quicker than it was on Mountain Lion, even with Mavericks on.  Admittedly I’m not pushing it beyond some basic streaming – as it’s just a box for under the telly.  I’m not sure Mavericks is wise for a late-2009 Mac Mini in heavy use.

Problems!

I had a few problems after re-assembling the Mac Mini…

Aerials…

…in the sky.  Great song, if a little spiritual for me…  Anyway.

Somewhere along the way I’d managed to detach all the antennas from the main board, in addition to the damage to the bluetooth antenna joint.  This meant the wifi wasn’t working properly, I opened it up and re-attached them all.  It’s quite a small connection, so the slightest knock will cause it to disconnect.  The one below is the bluetooth connection.  The wifi aerials are to the left of this (two connectors).

Bluetooth connector
Bluetooth connector

Wifi was working but the bluetooth range wasn’t much beyond right next to the MacMini.  That wasn’t a big deal, but I did think i should have a go at fixing it.

Detached antenna
Detached antenna

The cable held in place by tape wasn’t doing the job, so I borrowed a soldering iron and set about trying to repair it.  I can’t say it’s the tidiest job…

Bluetooth antenna re-soldered
Bluetooth antenna re-soldered

…and it also hasn’t worked too well.  The range is about 1.5 metres, so a bit useless for using the bluetooth keyboard on my sofa which is beyond that range.

I’m wondering if the solder is bridging points it shouldn’t be, though I’m not sure how that would matter on an antenna, as it isn’t about forming a circuit but just getting the signal beyond the machine’s innards and to the top of the machine.  Does anybody know if that’d be an issue?

I may revisit it at some point – either to clean up the soldering job or swap antenna cables for the back wifi that isn’t broken.  For now I tend to use my MacBook Pro and screen sharing if I need to use a keyboard.

Turn it up…

…Bring the Noise!

On one of the occasions I took the Mac Mini apart again I forgot to re-attach the soundboard which has to be detached to get to the innards.  This manifested as no sound and the Mini complaining that it could’t find any devices for sound input/output.

Sound board connection
Sound board connection

Thankfully as the first step after cracking the Mac Mini open it took around a minute to open it up again and reconnect it and close it up again.

Sound board reconnected.
Sound board reconnected.

Putting Christmas away

I decided to test the time-lapse function out on my Sony A7 while putting away my Christmas decorations. Here is the result (about 32 seconds).

Alkoholfrei and diet donners

It’s coming to the end of the first weekend of my Dry-A-PhLong month for Cancer Research UK.  So far I’ve had £40 of donations to my JustGiving page – so a good start; thanks to everybody who has donated so far. I’ve also sampled a couple of alcohol-free beers and tried my hand at the Hairy Dieter’s Donner Kebabs.

The Drink

On Friday I had a couple of firsts.  Coke Life (the green-canned lower-sugar Coca Cola) made from liquidised elf, to make it more Elfy. It’s alright actually – nicer than diet-Coke and Coke Zero, though more calories.  I’d have it again.

Erdinger's Alkoholfrei
Erdinger’s Alkoholfrei

The second first (hmm) on Friday, was Erdinger’s “Alkoholfrei” beer.  It was really pleasant – fairly wheaty like Erdinger’s Weisbeers and it had a good beery-taste to it.  I only had the one (rest of the night was cordial and water) but I’ve got three more in the fridge as Tesco had a four-for-£6 “deal” and I figured I was likely to like it as I’d heard good things about it before.

This evening I tried Bavaria’s Alcohol-free “Premium Wit” which turns out to be more to my tastes than Luxury Comedy.

Bavaria Premium Wit
Bavaria Premium Wit

It’s another wheat beer, but much later than the Erdinger; I think it’s much closer to Hoegaarden than the Erdinger.  It’d be a great alcohol-free choice for summer I think; I found it really refreshing.

The Food

I got The Hairy Dieter’s second cookbook from Santa for Christmas and I’ve got about half-way through putting page markers in on recipes I want to try.  I’ve already tried the five-minute pizzas (tortillas, passatta, cheese, pepperoni, season and grill) which was brilliant, and for New Years I made the jerk chicken which was also great.  This evening I tried the Diet Donner Kebabs.  They were delicious, however I’m not sure I’ll make them again – my food processor found it very difficult and much as I love the nostalgia of the smell of Scalextric, I’m less enamoured at it coming from my food mixer; clearly it was struggling with the meat.  I’ve put a couple of them in the freezer for the future though – so at least I will get to have them again; they went really well with some chilli sauce and the Bavaria Premium Wit, actually.

The Mithering

If you haven’t already, please support my fundraising efforts and donate a quid-or-two on my JustGiving page.  Thanks!

New Year, New Connection

I started the migration of my Broadband from Zen to Plusnet a couple of weeks ago – to make sure it was sorted before my employment officially terminates, so I don’t have to pay for the Zen connection.  Well, today the Plusnet connection went “live” – albeit a day early and with a minor hiccup.

I’ve been impressed with the communication from Plusnet – nice and clear emails and text messages with progress updates and clear instructions with the router they provide which arrived earlier this week.

This morning (barely morning really – my body clock is a bit skewed after New Year’s celebrations so I didn’t sleep well and then woke up late) I opened my laptop and there was no connection.  I checked my router and it was an authentication failure.  I tried the bt_test_user@startup_domain username and received a BT IP for DNS – so clearly I’d moved from Zen’s LLU equipment to BT Wholesale’s equipment.  Next up I tried bt_test_user@plusnetdsl.net and that had the same result, so BT were all setup for me to connect, but trying the Plusnet details for my own account failed.

The router from Plusnet is a TG582n, with TR.069 used to automatically configure it.  I swapped my old TG582n for the Plusnet one and saw it established a connection to Plusnet, which it would be using to pull down my connection details – sure enough after about 5 minutes it was populated with my new details but wouldn’t connect.  The same thing would happen at Zen if a connection was activated early – everything is set up up apart from the username and password on the ISP’s systems.  A couple of minutes on live-chat via their website on my iPhone and they added the details and I connected without a problem.

Early impressions continue to be good – a nice and fast response to an initial problem and the connection is working fine and at the same speeds (sync’d about 100 kbps higher than Zen, but it’s daytime so I expect it to drop a bit in the evening).

Plusnet connection summary
Plusnet connection summary

I watched the Bojack Horseman Christmas Special on Netflix to test it out, and no problems there – so altogether I’m happy so far.  I’m paying £2.50 per month for an unlimited Broadband service plus £12.99 (paid annually up-front which saved me a few quid) for the phone line which is due to migration on the 16th.  Total of £15.49 a month.  Not too shabby as the equivalent (500GB limit, rather than unlimited) from Zen would have been £48.04 a month, though I could probably have shaved a tenner off that by going for the 200GB service as it’s more than enough for me.

 

January Dry-a-Phlong

I’ve signed up for the Cancer Research UK’s January 2015 Dryathlon, so will be starting the New Year sober for 31 days.

If anybody fancies supporting my fundraising efforts check out my Just Giving page here: Dry-A-Phlong

If you’re feeling brave you could sign-up yourself at Cancer Research UK, or form a team with me.

Anybody have any recommendations for alcohol-free beers?