Monthly Archives: July 2013

A month of many Macs

iMac glass panel

The 500 GB hard disk in my friend’s circa 2008 24″ iMac started making ominous clicking noises last week.  Anticipating its near future death, we took a full backup and ordered a bigger 1 TB drive from Amazon.

Apple never ceases to amaze me with the variety of ways they find to hide fasteners (and make upgrades and repairs to their equipment nightmarishly difficult).  In the case of this iMac, one needs to remove a glass panel held on with magnets to gain access to the internals.  The panel can be removed with a couple of these fancy suction cup tools but I prefer to do it ghetto style with a couple of sink plungers.

After pulling off the glass panel, removing around three dozen screws of at least eight varieties, and unplugging several needlessly fragile connectors, the display panel can be removed and the iMac’s guts are exposed.

iMac Guts

The actual hard disk swap is a walk in the park.  Reassembly brings one extra reward.  The combined effect of the glossy LCD display behind the glossy glass cover is a fingerprint magnifier that exceeds the capabilities of the world’s finest CSI labs.  It took six [expletive deleted] install/test/remove/clean cycles to get a smudge free display.  Thanks Apple.



The philosophical ramifications of old age present themselves to me in a stark, and bitter confrontation with my neighbors. I live in a home for the elderly on Long Island. The morning hallways are filled with the jellied flesh of those who died in one of many pitched battles with the neighbor hood youths who will break a finger off to get at some dime store ring that one of the old hags stole from a catatonic during a marathon bingo game. Yes, there is entertainment the staff brings us outside during one of the countless over 90 degrees days that make up life after the apocalypse. Yes, the pale rider has started his ride through the sky of our lord. But back to bingo, we play in a field abandoned by all life, except the junk yard dog who awaits his last victim, before he falls into the heat and expires. With this cheerful ambience we play the game, a game without number since  no could hear them being called out anyway. We are somewhat hard of hearing but no matter. The game is for the staff who watch the heat cook, and implode brains. The screams fall into the dead air, and people who never went out of their way to help any one during their youth, now beg for water, for relief. As the day wears on the surviors are brought back to their apartments to hunt for rats and the dead litter the ground. A sight not unlike a Mathew Brady photograph from the civil war. I crawl up the stairs and grab my bowie knife ready for a night of home invasion………….

Six hacks from 5 grams of Sugru

If you’re not familiar with Sugru, you should be.  It’s a moldable rubber compound that can be formed into any shape and cures at room temperature.  Sugru is amazing stuff.

Sugru comes in little 5 gram pouches in various colors (which can be blended together to create new colors).  The contents of each pouch needs to be used pretty much immediately after opening so I always try to batch my hacks/repairs to utilize a full pouch.  This might be my personal best–six objects improved with one pouch of Sugru!


This otherwise lovely set of fish plates had rough, scratchy bottoms.



A few rubber feet later, problem solved!  Tip:  after forming each rubber foot, place the object right side up on a piece of waxed paper and press lightly to flatten and level the feet.  The waxed paper will peel off easily after the Sugru cures (around 24 hours).


Same problem and same solution for this nice Spanish platter.


Now what to do about about an otherwise perfect place to keep a bedroom clock radio?  (The problem is that it isn’t possible to see the “alarm off” button without getting out of bed and kneeling down.)


Well, let’s just add a nub of Sugru to the Off button and feel it instead!!

There you go.  Six objects improved for an investment of a few minutes time and under a gram of Sugru each.


Blowing a pull string through conduit

I learned a nifty trick the other day.  If you need to run a pull string through a length of electrical conduit, there’s a faster, easier way than pushing the string through with a fish tape (the way I’d been doing it for a very long time).  Use a shop vac to blow the string through.  One advantage of this technique is that you can quickly get the string through very long sections of conduit.

You’ll need duct tape, a couple of baggies and some pull string (you can get the fancy pull string if you like but any lightweight poly cord also works fine). 

Cut a hole in big enough for the shop vac hose in the closed end of the baggie and tape it around the hose. 

Cut another hole just slightly larger than your pull string and insert one end of the string in the baggie and pull it out the open end. 

Now make a “kite” to help the air carry the pull string though and attach it to the string.  For small diamater conduit those disposable foam air plugs work great.  For larger conduit, you can use a pingpong ball if you have one handy or a little parachute made from another baggie. 

Insert your “kite” into the conduit and tape the end of the baggie around it.  Insert the shop vac hose into the blower fitting and turn the vac on.  The baggie should form a relatively airtight seal around the conduit and the string will carry through the conduit as you feed it into the baggie.  If the string doesn’t travel all the way through the conduit, pull it out and adjust the size/material of your kite.

When you’re ready to pull cable through the conduit, don’t forget to pull another length of pull string at the same time so you’re ready for future pulls!