Sun, 01 Jun 2008

Tech Projects Update

I've been on a tech-projects update kick recently. Not only did I upgrade the disk in my laptop a couple days ago, I also ordered the parts I needed for two other tech projects.

First, my good friend Gavin was moving and he didn't have the time nor inclination to fix his Apple 20" display, so he generously offered it to me with the warning that it was potentially on its last legs.

Also, I have an "800Mhz G4 iMac (Flat Screen)" (that's precisely what Apple calls it) that I've been wanting to install OS X 10.5 "Leopard" onto. In particular, I want to dovetail that computer onto the network backup scheme I've got going between my laptop and my Drobo. This computer is essentially my home "server", which runs Apache, MySQL, and a few other open source tools and utilities. Problem is, Leopard only installs on computers that have 512MB of RAM and a 867Mhz G4 processor or better.

Apparently the failure rate of the 20" displays are high enough that there's a cottage industry of replacement parts you can buy from companies like And as far as the 800Mhz G4, there's a neat utility called Leopard Assist which overwrites your CPU settings stored in Open Firmware with 867Mhz to fool the Leopard Installer into thinking your computer is faster than it really is.

Sure enough Leopard Assist allowed Leopard to begin installing, except I was reminded that my G4 iMac only has 384MB of memory-- 64MB in the user-installable slot, and 256MB in the "factory installed" slot. Drat. So, I ordered 512MB of RAM from for the user-installable slot.

Well I installed the inverter board, and the 20" display went from half-dim and partially usable, to not usable at all, which was a painful discovery after putting in all 27 some screws back in and reassembling the whole thing.

Taking it all back apart and putting the old, broken board (incidentally you can see the capacitor that gave up the ghost which spewed all its guts on the circuit board) back in confirmed that in fact, lcdparts shipped me a defective inverter board. *sigh*

But my tech projects sense of accomplishment was not all for naught... I still had the RAM upgrade to perform... My 144-pin SO-DIMM (which stands for "Small Outline Double In-line Memory Module") had arrived from, so I could still achieve one of my goals!

So I open up the box, and what's inside?

A packing slip that shows two parts-- the one part I ordered, and another part, a 168-pin DIMM. And what's in the box is... yep-- a 168-pin full size DIMM. ("Small Outline" RAM chips are used in laptops and constrained volume computers like the iMac and Mac mini)


So back to the drawing board... Until I realized that the factory installed memory module takes the kind of RAM wrongly sent me. So I pulled out my torx screwdriver set, took apart the iMac, pulled out the 256MB memory in the factory slot, and installed the mistakenly shipped product. I had hoped to have a 768MB Leopard box, but 576MB will do the trick too.

At least Other World Computing sent me the right hard drive and upgrade kit, as that's the only tech project that went off without a hitch this week.

Khan Klatt

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