Thursday, February 28, 2013

Comedians - Don't Do This

We have a new comedy club in Des Moines called Jorker’s. I had a couple weekends without definite plans, so I thought I might check it out…but then I checked their schedule. You want to know the fastest way to make me not want to watch you as a comedian? Make this face:

 All I can think is that there is going to be a lot of angry yelling. I don’t know, maybe that is not what you do but that is the first impression that I get from your photo…and I had more than enough of yelling comedians in the late 80s/early 90s with the likes of Sam Kinison, Gilbert Gottfried, and Bobcat Goldthwait.

 You might be really funny…but I can guarantee that my desire not to listen to someone yelling all night trumps your humor. The funny thing is that I know that at these guys are not really screamers…but I initial response to these photos was so repellent that I can’t overcome my desire to not go to these shows.  My reaction probably would not have been nearly as visceral if there had only been one over-weight, bald, bearded man making this face but two was too many.

I know, I know - don't judge a book by its cover...but I read a lot and I am really good at judging books by their covers.  I am even better at judging albums by there covers.  If you don't take the time to pay attention to the cover details, chances are that the innards are going to be equally mediocre.  That doesn't mean that it has to be an amazing cover; but a well thought out, well executed, and consistent design offers a pretty darn good insight into what lies inside.  Comedians - please do not make this face in your publicity shot, it will make me not want to see you...even though I know that it doesn't match your style.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tips for Disassembling Your iPhone 4s

Sad Broken Screen
A couple weeks ago, I (with the help of my dog) broke the screen for my iPhone 4s.  Unfortunately, it is still about 4 months until I can upgrade at the cheaper price ($99 vs $600ish).  The LCD still worked, the touch screen function, everything on the phone was just ugly and sometimes hard to read.  More annoying than an actual problem.  Maybe I am cheap (sometimes) or maybe I am lazy and hate switching phones (definitely) so I decided to check into fixing my phone.

I did a quick search and found that you can order just the glass for $10 - including a micro tool kit and the cost of shipping.  I also knew that my brother had replaced his screen on his iPhone 3g several times.  My brother and I are pretty handy with electronics and small items (feel free to insert a penis joke here) from our pinball experience.  Google revealed that there were also plenty of articles and youtube videos of people taking apart their iPhones (please note, I didn't actually read or watch them yet...I was just checking the possibility).

I thought myself, "How hard can it be?"  I ordered a screen and wrapped my broken screen in a layer of clear packing tape to hold it together for a few days until my new glass arrived.  A few days later, I head over to my brother's place to disassemble and fix my phone.

Tip #1 - Don't

Do not take your iPhone 4s apart.  It is a much more complicated process than on older models.  It can be done...but the whole process is tedious and frustrating.  It starts off easy enough - you remove two pentalobe  screws from the bottom of your iphone (and your screen kit even came with the pentalobe screwdriver for this).  These screws are small but if you've ever had to wear glasses you are probably intimately familiar with this size of screw - not the easiest to handle, but no big deal.  Then you slide off the back...and Fuck!

Tip #2 - A Clean Environment

Not even the smallest screw that you will have to remove
The inside of the 4s is much, much, much more complicated than the 3g.  Seriously, my accolades to the people that produce are amazing.  And I can't say that it is not well made and designed to stay together.  Those 2 screws you previously took out of the case?  They were largest of 4 or 5 sizes of screws that are contained a large factor.  Here is a picture of one of the screws sitting on a penny.  It is barely bigger than Lincoln's nose...and that is not even the smallest screw.  It would help to be in a place where there are not kids, pets,  or distractions.  If you drop one and you have to search for it on a hardwood floor, it is nearly impossible to find straight on...but hold a flashlight parallel to the floor and you might be able to spot the elongated shadow.  If you drop it on carpet, I have to think you are out of luck.

Tip #3 - You Need More Tools

Some of the screws you will need to remove
Your kit came with a screwdriver for these tiny phillips-head screws. It isn't too bad taking these screws out,   but a miniature screwdriver that was magnetic would help a lot putting them back in (the one in the kit isn't). There are also a couple flat head screws that need to be removed and your kit doesn't come with a flat head and the screws are so small that almost any screw driver you have at home will be too big...we ended up having to use the edge of a razor blade to get these out (couldn't find any of the old eyeglasses repair kits that might have worked...might, they might still be too large for these screws. There are a lot of screws...more than I would have guessed by a  factor of 3.  There are even screws that screw into screws.  It is literally a ridiculous amount of screws They are hard to see and hard to handle (especially to re-install), I would recommend having an offset tweezers to help you hold the tiny screws and a table mounted magnifying glass to be able to see what you are doing would be a nice touch.

How my hands felt
Tip #4 - You Need Smaller Hands

Even with all these helpful tools, your hands are still too big and disassembly/reassembly process is awkward for your human sized hands.  Even after you get all the screws out, you still need to remove all the shields over the electronics and unhook all the ribbon cables between the various components...and once again these things are tiny.  I normally think of my hands as slightly smaller than the average person and maybe not nimble but at least functional...but working on this phone made it feel like my hand was an over-inflated balloon with polish sausage fingers.  These was some serious Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum feelings on my part.

Tip #5 - Don't Buy Just the Glass

So remember at the beginning where I said that I did a quick search and there were tons of articles and videos on disassembling your iPhone...but that I didn't actually read or watch them?  Well it turns out that you can't replace just the glass screen.  The glass & LCD screen are permanently epoxied together...if you try to remove them, you end up destroying your LCD.  You can buy the glass & LCD as a unit for about $40...but I only bought the glass.

This is useless without the LCD attached
Sadly and a little angrily, I stared with disbelief at the pile of parts that used to be my phone.  I could order and screen/lcd combo but it would take about a week to get I had no choice but to put my phone back together as it was.  This is trickier than it sounds because all the electronics fit in the case very snugly.  When I was about halfway through reassembly, I realized that one of the ribbon cables was slightly snagged on the underside of the screen.  This caused the ribbon cable to be about two millimeters short from connecting to the circuit board...with frustration, I had to take everything back apart and start the assembly process over.

Finally, once it was all back together (well mostly...a couple of the shields were not replaced due to being a huge pain in the ass)...we go to slide the rear cover back on but it will not fit snug down all the way.  Some component is sticking up just a little to high.  I am pretty sure it is the loud speaker/mic unit but I am too tired to care.  We try to force the cover back on but it applies too much pressure on the electronics and causing the phone not to work at all.  Removed cover and adjusted the pressure on components but didn't want to start taking things apart again to fix the slight bulge.  I am totally sick of the project by now and decide the cover will be slightly crooked.  And of course after removal a couple of times the super fine screws pretty much just strip out.  Fine!  The cover will held on by packing match packing tape on the front!  If I am going to have a ghetto phone, might as well go all out.

Tip #6 - See Tip #1

I figured this project would take 20-30, it took over 2 hours and was just a totally frustrating experience.  I was amazed that my phone still worked once it was back together.  Can it be done?  Yes.  Should it be done?  Probably not.  It would have helped and been much less frustrating if we actually accomplished something...but it would still have been a huge pain.  I wouldn't recommend it.  I don't want to take it all apart again, I am just going to keep using my ghetto phone for a few months until I can upgrade for cheap.  Actually, junk phone is kind of growing on I know when I do get a new phone, I will appreciate it that much more (and maybe have enough incentive to actually use a protective case).

PS - if you are going to make portable gadgets with glass screens, you really need to make them easily and cheaply replaceable.