Canon S90

S90's image is on the left, the SD850's is to the right

After several years of trusty service (the first few months were a battle, but that’s besides the point), I’m replacing my PowerShot SD850 IS with something a little more advanced. Since I’m not ready to take the plunge into the world of DSLR, and didn’t want something terribly large, the S90 fit the bill. Simply put, there are too many things to love about the S90. It’s small (though slightly larger than the SD850), has a fast lens, has a large (for a ‘point and shoot’) sensor, and has a control right around the lens.

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Wood Hard Drive Case Mod Part Four

Now for the fourth set of images for this project. I finally found some stain that I liked, and hence went to town staining the wood case. The stain is a gell stain, which I’ve never worked with before. Since it was old (found it in a bunch of old wood working tools) I was surprised it was any good. It says to apply liberally and wipe off after 5 to 10 minutes. Due to it’s age, leaving it on that long would result in it drying too much, a very bad thing, but nothing a little water can’t take care of.

The case all fits together now, but the mounts for the hard drive are causing some problems that allow it to power up but Windows will not recognize it. What is happening is the little converter board that plugs into the hard drive gets tweaked and the data connector loses it’s connection. This will require redrilling mounting holes in the bottom aluminum plate, this time I’m going to use the drill press and hopefully that will be the end of the project.

-John Havlik

Wood Hard Drive Case Mod Part Three

Onto the third set of pictures for the wooden external hard drive case. As of now all that really needs to be done is to stain the wood. Since I don’t have the stain I want to use at hand, that part is not complete yet. Since the last set, the attachment mechanism was figured out. Turns out wood glue works good for tapping wood for M3 screws. The activity and power LEDs were mounted together, and the polycarbonate window for them was placed in the case.

-John Havlik

Wood Hard Drive Case Mod Part Duex

Here is the second set of photos from the external hard drive case mod. I ran into a few problems, some out of haste, but oh well. The wood also decided to warp due to the increased humidity that accompanies Minnesotan summers. Anyways, like last time the photos are in the gallery after the break.

-John Havlik

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Vostro 1400’s 5.1 Surround Sound

Believe it or not the Vostro 1400 does have built in 5.1 Surround Sound and can drive analog outputs for such a setup. The plug-order from left to right on the front of the laptop is front (green plug), center/sub (orange plug), rear (black plug). After plugging into the ports, go to your control panel, and open up the SigmaTel Audio panel. Under the “Jack Setup” tab right click on each of the jacks (which each should have a green check mark over if you have plugged something into them). In the pop-up menu select the appropriate setting. Then back in Control Panel go to the Sound Panel select the Speakers/Headphones option/device and click on the configure button, select “5.1 Surround” in the Audio channels list. Continue on through the setup and when done everything should work in full 5.1 surround goodness. Naturally, the on board sound isn’t as good as the sound from my X-Fi, but I don’t have the 5.1 breakout box for the X-Fi yet. Dell’s choice to place the audio jacks on the front of the Vostro isn’t the best of design choices as they get in the way of the keyboard a little bit. However, it really isn’t that bad.

I really wish all laptop manufactures would standardize on a common docking station interface which would consist of a PCI Express x16 connector plus an express card interface located in the port (plus power of course), which in the base station would allow for full sized x16 graphics card to be installed and either a normal PCI, x1 card, or express card to be installed as well, plus 4 or so USB ports on the dock. That way you can game with the laptop when docked (Geforce 9800GT anyone?) yet get the power benefits of having an IGP while mobile (I really enjoy my 5+ hours of battery life with the normal 6 cell battery).

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]