Clickety-clickety-clickety-krrzz-krrrrrrrz-clickety-clickety was the sound that started coming out my wife's laptop the other day.
If you hear this sound from your laptop's hard drive then I am afraid it's end is near. It is time for a full back-up and hard drive replacement.
1. Copying data files to an external HD or another PC
This turned out to be the most time consuming part of the hard drive replacement.
I had made regular backups but wanted the latest data so chose to copy everything important manually.
Windows Explorer copy is very poor as it does not support resume, nor does it show a detailed progress. Since you are copying from a defect hard drive there are bound to be several file errors and you will need all the help you can get.
Secure Copy 2 from Pineda Networks is a better tool for the job. It is a bit unstable but free, allows resuming of file transfers and gives detailed progress information.
2. Purchase a spare identical or similar HD
To find out what hard drive model your laptop is using right-click on "My Compyter", select properties, then Hardware, then Device Manager and check the drive(s) under Disk drives.
Google for the drive model and see if it is for sale.
In my case the drive was a 40GB Toshiba MK4004. I was not able to find that exact model but a MK4006 seemed to be a replacement. There were 60GB drives available. While that would have been a nice upgrade I could not gurantee that the larger drive would work with the VAIO system restore disks.
Cost of drive: £85.
3. Install the new HD
Do not attempt at opening your laptop if you are not comfortable with screwdrivers, fiddly electronic contacts and the possibility of destroying the laptop.
With the replacement hard drive in hand you should be able to take the laptop and drive to a back alley computer shop and have it replaced for a bargain price.
If you attempt at replacing the drive yourself I recommend you to do a dry run even before purchasing the replacement drive.
Two of the screws are hidden under the (top) rubber pads. Peel them off with a screwdriver. When you put them back they will stick to the case just as before.
Don't attempt to take of the top completly because the keyboard is attached to the bottom part and you don't want to mess with those connectors. Just lifting it will be enough to get at the drive.
Unscrew one last screw which holds the frame around the frame (see arrow above).
The drive is now free to be lifted away. It is surrounded by four little rubber pads which you need to move to the new drive.
It is a bit tricky placing in the new drive with the rubber pads on the sides so have patience and be careful. Replace the frame around the drive and the screw that holds it down.
You can now close the case and put all the screws back.
4. Restore the data
With a VAIO laptop you should have restoration disks which are a quick way of putting back the operating system and any proprietary software.
I chose not to install any of the VAIO extras as I believe they only slow down the computer.
Continue with installing any previous software and finally replace the backed up data.
Don't forget to run Windows Update as soon as you can. Installing Service Pack 2 and 95 other critical Windows updates was quite the exercise.
If you at a later point need to restore data from the removed HD then have a look at external 1.8" or 2.5" USB hard drive enclosures.
Connecting via USB 2.0 very convinient as it doesn't require the opening of your PC case to connect the hard drive via a HD adapter.
External enclosures are only £10 on eBay, shipping included!
PS I have one spare screw after replacing the drive so please do a better job than me and let me know which screw is missing from the photos above!
A little baby girl is on the way.
The ultrasound operator was 99% sure... and apparently she has never been wrong before. I bet that the last 1% is to avoid angry customers.
Both mom and dad to be are very proud and happy; mom a little bit more.
Celebrations commenced with a jump and heels clicked together followed by a pink shopping extravaganza at the first baby shop in sight: pure baby.
I can't help but worry that taking care of and raising two babies is possibly double work compared to a single child.
Cue cold sweat on forehead, lack of breath and a taste of blood in my mouth.
We are in search of a new home and had been viewing several properties last Saturday. Most had been charming and it was always nice to have a chat with the owners and trying to find out the peculiars of their homes.
Last property was an "open house" viewing. An estate agent (no names) had invited many, many interested couples and families to view this property.
The house was in great shape, the fire place was lit and the previous owner was the producer of one of our favourite British TV series (his BAFTA award was standing on the coffee table).... but the previous owner was nowhere to be seen.
Instead we were met with a very
camp articulate agent who signed us into a book at the entrance and briefed us about the house in 1 minute. Then he was off to receive the next couple waiting at the door.
While walking around the house there was nowhere to sit down or relax and discuss what we liked/disliked. Everywhere you looked there were other couples talking away.
The open house viewing concept might be understandable in quite periods where any possible buzz needs to be generated to sell a property.
However currently the property market is extremly busy. Most decent properties recieve an offer that matches their asking price after a single day; often it recieves multiple such offers.
In such a climate it is terrible seeing all the other potential buyers. There were easily 15 other couples during the 20 minutes we stayed.
The estate agent was informing some other people that the property already had 4 offers at the asking price. This can only mean a fierce bidding war if you want the house badly.
Just as we were leaving the house after a very dissapointing viewing a lady stopped us, introduced herself as a newspaper journalist (was it from the standard?) and asked if she could ask my wife a few questions about the open house viewing concept.
A big grin appeared on my wife's face and she started telling the journalist just how wrong the idea was.
How important it is to have a chat with the previous owners, how it is important to feel the potential privacy and comfort of a new home, how it instead feels like being at a fish market and finally how it's all about greed and nothing about providing a service.
Photo credit Anyhoo
It is a bold statement to make but were there any finer chocolate in the world, tasting it would a be life threatening experience.
Some time ago at the Gordon Ramsey restaurant we were served truffles with the coffee. The dinner had been an amazing gourmet experience but it was the taste and texture of the truffles that left the most lingering impression.
Recently I was presented with a box of assorted truffles from L'artisan du chocolat and I immediately recognised those truffles.
Looking through their detailed "product catalog" I realised why the truffles hadn't been matched by any other brand for over 3 years.
The liquid caramel truffles contain a hint of sea salt. They do not taste salty yet the salt cuts the rich sweetness of the caramel.
Not being aware of this ingredient, the truffles create an unexplainable chocolate experience.
It turns out that L'artisan du chocolat have a large assortment of chocolate products.
Their ganaches come from many different plantations around the world and contain various levels of cocoa. You can choose between 33% from Madagascar all the way to 70% from Madong (Papua New Guinea).
All products have a beautiful finish and many are colourful and look like miniature art.
Here is a challenge for you:
If you believe you know of finer chocolate (truffles specifically) than L'artisan du chocolat ship a sample to me and I will ship a sample of L'artisan du chocolat signature truffles* back.
Alternatively let me know where in London I can get hold of your favorite chocolate.
We'll have a tasting session and if we both agree that the chocolate you provided is a more divine experience (not likely) I will capitulate and update this article appropriately.
*125g token box, approx value £8.50 excluding shipping