20160712: old fart photographer, proves cross training is better. hacker job!

20160711 laptop hack post-4875FB

20160713: 2 photos added, of repairs, inside shot & bottom cutting job.

As a person who has been forced to use a internet CAFE WITH TINY tables, the risks caught up.

Saturday, the 9th I spilled coffee on my laptop and later after drying everything I could and turning it back on it shut down suddenly and would not stay on.

Packed & ran home, I pulled the spare unit apart.

20160711 laptop hack post-4873FB1st time ever inside a laptop folks, and I am happy to say, “My solo-handed around the world sailing training paid off.

Over the next 3 days I was in and out of my computer, the spare computer and NEVER BROKE A SINGLE PIECE.

I did live up to my claim of Anonymous hacker in the end and I still have issues to deal with.

But the mother board is shorted on the big fan, so I have made a external unit and switched the wires around to make the big fan run on the little fan’s sensor & wires.

I have here some photos of the cooling radiators and I consider it an issue any owner of this computer might want to give serious thought to if like me they take the unit into the field. Or you live in a dusty house.

20160711 laptop hack post-4879FB20160711 laptop hack post-4878FB20160711 laptop hack post-4874FBThe last images is the spare after I cleaned it up, very fine slots.

Here is my external unit…… many hours of working and thinking and brain storming by myself in my room. Looking at what I had to use to  “JURY RIG” a cooling system with.

Many hours of going through the computer changing one part at a time trying it, and the putting that part back and trying the next piece…

I took this and it runs by USB plug power so I can plug into the computer itself or use a battery pack from my camera light painting kit & camping supplies.



20160711 laptop hack  post-4887FB

Yes the panel over the hard drives is cut open to let the air in. Inside is duct work by me to direct air flow and with about an hour on the laptop as I write this the bottom where the graphics chips & CPU  is at, is still cool to the touch.

I put wire screen over the hole to keep bugs out, and yesterday after 4 hrs in the CAFE it was cool to the touch and I shut it down to go have lunch. I had to open it up to fix a loose ribbon wire connecting the keyboard.

20160711 laptop hack  post-4886FBIn this shot you can see the wire running from the left smaller fan’s plug to the Right side bigger fan & the metal duct work to keep air flowing through the radiator on the left side from the external unit.

I have thanked the CREATOR, both for the strength to carry on in this event, the patience to have done the job, and for a tiny vision dream of a jury rig system, ugly to look at but working on something needed for another person. So yes, if I continued I would have a working possible system for a while.

I also said “THANK YOU” to the local Saint, {La Senorita de San Juan de los Lagos} to me it is “LUCI”, I asked it’s name some weeks ago. While I am forbidden by my vows to ask for It’s help because of the church connection I can not stop it from lending a helping hand”. Therefore I feel I must say thanks in respect in the very least for been in the neighborhood.

_MG_4889FBYeah, I an arrogant here, but yes, there is is on my tiny table running Vanderhoof Photo blog on screen, as I got ready to publish my story.

I should also as for a moment I am being spiritual, I send am email to my son, my intent to see if he remembers it was my lap he sat on as I worked on the Mac system when he was 6 months to 3 or 4 yrs old and got him is own computer…. I’m a Dad and he is my only child, some day I would love for him to remember why he told me to never stop trying to get him back from the kidnappers.

anyway, here is my running laptop as I opened it up, yes, that Anonymous Tux with Smiley is my marking.

20160711 laptop hack post-4875FBas you can see there is dust, but no water/coffee marks as I opened it up. Noticed my tools and workshop!!! Just where you want to do such delicate work, yes…. oh, yes the spare is on my bed. where it got disassembled because this was cooling down still. About 3 hours after the accident at the CAFE, the pieces of laptop shot was taken. Out at sea, you didn’t have time to cry, TILL AFTER THE JOB IS DONE.

20160711 laptop hack post-4877FBthe big fan unit

20160711 laptop hack post-4876FBthe smaller unit, which runs.

So the moral of the story is “Don’t Give Up!” Keep Trying!” Learn All Kinds of trades & tricks to survive, you never know when or WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO DO to survive.

While I did not pull the motherboard out if the running unit, the circuit board holding the big fans had to get removed every time and was replaced & the small board under the mother board it plugs into was also replaced… each exchange was worse…… you got me folks, I don’t program, dyslexic, but the spare clean board did not let the either fan run??

And my keyboard is is telling me, a strap wire is loose…

Going home later to fix that again……

Lovingkindness Energy to All,



Four More for the PHOTO Give-Away

In no special order…….

Stream, So Cal  Mts. 2014

Stream, So Cal Mts. 2014

Bird Sanctuary at Salton Sea, So Cal. 2014

Bird Sanctuary at Salton Sea, So Cal. 2014

Star trails, Big Meadow, Sierra Nevada Mts. 2014

Star trails, Big Meadow, Sierra Nevada Mts. 2014

Joshua Tree in Red Rock Canyon, Mojave Calif. 2014

Joshua Tree in Red Rock Canyon, Mojave Calif. 2014

So, there they are, four more photos for the winner to select from in my First PHOTO GIVE-AWAY.

Just so they are all in one post here are the two from last night.

LAMI Tall Ship in the dark. LA Fog Series 2015.

LAMI Tall Ship in the dark. LA Fog Series 2015.

Kiddie Ride, LA Fog Series 2015 I don't know the colors and towering cranes in the background made a nice mix of light. Moon above the ride.

Kiddie Ride, LA Fog Series 2015 I don’t know the colors and towering cranes in the background made a nice mix of light. Moon above the ride.

I’m not sure if you can put photos in the comments. So maybe a link to a photo while I try to figure this out. All else fails anyone leaving a comment will be the entries.

Creative Shooting,



They said it could not be done……..opps, too late.

They said it could not be done!

ASUS G751JY-DH71 up and running after changing the SSD partition. ASUS said it could not be done. Still going 45 days later. Screen shot date 20150131

ASUS G751JY-DH71 up and running after changing the SSD partition. ASUS said it could not be done. Still going 45 days later. Screen shot date 20150131

So, yes! If you read my earlier post about Working Smarter, I talked of getting a new laptop. I live with my Dad. He’s 90. Got a nice place, nice view. We respect each other now. Not always that way…..non-violence can change even the very stubborn. I’m sure we BOTH CHANGED!

But I still am activist-creative-artist-businessman.

However there is place here yet to setup a graphics workstation, so I bought a powerful laptop.

When I chose the ASUS G751JY-DH71, I thought I was getting a 256GB SSD.

Now FIRST OFF, ALL I knew about SSD drives was what I read for about an hour before deciding on the SSD. One comment that kept coming up was that the SSD slows down as it passes 55% full. OK, so, SSD, Solid State Drive, no moving parts like in a platter hard drive. Yes, things move, no I don’t know what. Electrons are moving in and out of memory chips. The chips wear out with use. So does your sectors on platter hard drives. I have read other documents that say this slowing down isn’t necessarily so. The SSD drive in my laptop looks more like a RAM chip than a hard drive. There are several companies developing SSD drives. An SSD drive, they say is 1000 times faster than a standard platter hard drive.

I am not an expert, I just have this habit of learning everything I can about equipment I run in a business. As a kid I took things apart, and yes, I did start fixing a lot of stuff. At 9 yrs. old, my Dad bought an apartment building. As one tenant explained to my Dad. “Peter is the Manager, You are the owner. I need the manager.”

OK, so 1st computer was an IBM compatible 8088. Did not like DOS. Was not worth the trouble. 1988

6 months later, January 1989, I bought a screen printing business. Needed to do graphics at home. Heard of computers doing stuff.

Talked to my brother, he told me of MAC. Bought a MAC II with 2mb RAM & 80mb hard, 13 inch color MAC monitor, keyboard, mouse and a 300dpi LaserWriter II. $7500. Had so much fun, I still do graphics. Just like photography more and now I get to do both.

1989, I was in Quincy, CA. The middle of a National Forest.

It was a 2 hour drive to a real electronics store in Reno Nv. Then 2 hours back. I learned what made things work and what to do to keep things running. Bought a lot of spares. Even after the business shut down, I had the system up and running.

So I did a bit of research into getting this laptop, (I have NO place for a desktop machine. I’m trying to figure out my extra screen as it is calibrate-able. I do some big files.) I figure I need a SSD drive about 250GB based on the programs I run or will run in the near future.

So when the ASUS G751Y showed up with a C drive of 95-97GB. I’m like, Opps, that’s not going to work.

So I look through the User’s Manual, no help. Look on line, no help.

It’s Fri. night. I’m leaving on a camping trip in the morning.

Shoot off an email to ASUS. Shoot off email to brother and son. They might know since they do computer IT.

OK, Backup the drive. Make Rescue drive. Now we play. I start looking around. Disk manager, dumb logic. I’ll just delete the D drive first. See what happens.

Well….I copied files over to the C drive. As I got to 50+ GB it slowed down. Not good. At 93-95 GB it just froze up.

Failure. Shut it down.

Go camping.

Monday night I get home from work. Check email on old computer. ASUS replies “that what I want to do, can’t be done.”

My brother and son both don’t have any idea what to do without starting over with a clean drive.

So I figure I will look at it some more, got an idea. I’ve deleted the D drive, but the partition info still exists in the SSD drive itself. Standard erases the location info from the System Directory, but generally does NOT change the data on the drive.

You need to run a program that erases “Blank sectors”. Since I had to erase all the stuff I copied as well. I decided to use the Windows System Recovery Program to do a complete wipe of the C drive and reinstall the software.


When the computer was done. I was right. It did Not reinstall the partition. I had a 226GB C drive. My external Seagate USB is showing up in the D drive. E & F are the 1TB platter drive partitioned into 2 drives.

OK, once again I move files. In this screen shot the C drive is WAY over 95GB and still running.

ASUS G751JY with modified SSD C drive. Now at 226GB with 75% full.

ASUS G751JY with modified SSD C drive. Now at 226GB with 75% full.

As you can see, I have folder with 151 GB of files in it. I had to use Photoshop to make the screen shot, so yes things were working.

Send ASUS a copy of the screen shot.  I deleted the folder and began loading all my programs, some like Adobe I did earlier so I had something on the computer to work with.

I started using programs, setting up my workflow. I let Lightroom catalog all my digital photos from the past few years. I started downloading programs off the web, installing programs, and running them ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

I wanted to make the computer work, so I could see what would happen. At one point I Hugin running to make panoramas and got pissed that there was a weird color shift happening. So I loaded the files into Photoshop panorama preset and let it run. I don’t use Photoshop to make panos very often any more. Files are Huge and do strange shapes.

So yes 2 programs making panorama photos at the same time. (Each was crunching I think 13 post-processed jpegs. Photoshop will do Raw, but Hugin will only do jpegs.) Needed to do same files to see what was the issue.

In the 1st screen shot at the top, you can see the Photoshop pano file info. In Photoshop, the Photoshop window calls it a 13GB file size. In the properties as you can see it is a 5.85GB file. At the bottom you can see I have several programs up and running at the same time. All programs need RAM and scratch disk space. I have “Save”, “Download” operations go to the E drive, leaving the SSD open for the operating system and programs to use. If I need to I can put files on the SSD for the extra speed and backup later. Removing them when done. For now, I have a working computer as a graphics workstation in the form of a laptop. I have been using this computer under working conditions for month and a half, while there are the occasional lockups, day to day operations are running smoothly.



Yes, my whole life I have been doing this. “Ah, Peter, that won’t work.” me, “Why not?”

So, while I don’t recommend to do this to YOUR COMPUTER! If you are like me and need a laptop that does run FAST and POWERFULLY, kind of like a desktop model, for graphics. Then you might need to know this.

And remember, when they say it can’t be done! “Ask Why Not! Investigate! Try new things!

Sometimes it can be DONE!

Creative Shooting everyone,



Work Smarter, NOT harder! Let you computer do it’s job!


Red Rock Canyon, Mojave, Calif. Photo by Clive Alcock

Red Rock Canyon, Mojave, Calif. Photo by Clive Alcock

I’m back, down with recovery from a hernia operation.
Next six weeks or so I’ll be under doctor’s orders not to pick up much weight, max. 10lbs!
Boss said “Work or Quit!” I quit, my health comes before Jerry’s golf games or profits. (I knew it was coming, six months of having the hernia and nothing changed in my job work load AND he told me in Nov. he would not give me 1-2 days time off for recovery.)
So I was working for Minuteman Press Gardena for the past 7 and half years and to my frustration and amusement in all that time, the owner of the business did not want to hear what I knew about graphic computer workstations, needs for running programs or maintaining the system. Jerry watched the computer crash many times, he would just walk away. He would see me and hear me tell him many times that “I was waiting for the computer to think!”, in other words I was “sitting on my butt, doing nothing because the computer was over loaded.”

I have been working, using, maintaining, computer graphic workstations since 1989. While NO expert, I have been taking computers apart, reading about them, and using them for a long time under working conditions. My brother has been doing computer IT since 1985ish (currently at Northrop Gruman). My son has studied computer engineering and builds his computers buying the parts instead of buying pre-made kits.
Now at this point I can hear you all yelling “Talk to the computer IT person!”
I did! Six years ago, he walked in with a NEW computer, I asked, “How much RAM?” His comment, “Enough!” Never a question about what was needed to run the station. Had the same problems.

4 years ago I told him that the C drive was full. He put in a D drive and walked away.
For you non-tech people here is the problem, Almost ALL the various programs you use on a computer, (PC, MAC, UNIX, LINUX, etc) use a Temporary file on the MAIN C drive. Adobe Photoshop let’s you change the scratch file to a different drive. I have yet to see any other programs that will let you do this EASY, and I have seen that most programs DON”T let you do anything at all.
So, with no room on the C drive, your computer crashes, programs run slow or not at all, you can only have a few programs open. If you go to print, the PRINT QUE has no room to Spool the file. Windows will if sensing a shortage of RAM, make Virtual Memory to help out, it uses the C drive for the Virtual memory, opps, nothing there again.
I told him a few months later when he came in, it was still an issue.
Server crashed 2 years ago, (I made a backup drive just before it crashed!) told IT again of the problem. No change. 6 months ago, IT made comment of having ME write him a note of what programs I use so he would know what to save when he upgraded the system. Windows 98 is the operating system…..no program on the computer other than FireFox was newer than 2 years. WinZip a program I would use every month, Jerry doesn’t want to buy it! So every month I uninstall it, and re-install it so that it gives another 30 days trial. Loss of time 10 to 25 minutes depending on the state of the computer and what was being worked on when I needed to unzip a file. 12 months times 15 minutes is 3 hours lost time/wages! I was only being paid $15 per hour, so that means he only threw away $45 per year for a program that costs $30. Been doing that for 7 and a half years!!!! Sure it was less of a loss, when my wages were less. BUT time lost is the same, problem too that $78 per hour computer rate has been the rate since I came to MMP in 2007. Add it up, 10s of thousands of dollars lost in potential income.

Are you seeing the pattern?? I spoke to the Franchise Area Manager. Again, numerous comments on my past experience and comments of computer problems. He sold  Jerry a bootleg program that we spent 2-3 weeks trying to get running and finally just bought the program. Losses, 10-15 hours labor, customer put off and delayed. A new area manger came into the area a few months back. When I told him of Jerry offering “Work or Quit!” in direct violation of the Family Medical Leave Act and that I was moving on anyway, but wanted to show him how the MMP Franchise was losing money for the independent owners. Instant responsive was to accept, but he never talked to me about it. When I answered the phone on the last day on the job, Caller ID told me who it was, he paused 10 to 15 seconds before asking for Jerry. Paused again when I asked who was calling. A definite willingness to NOT learn! Have not heard from the Executive V.P. in New York. Used my Linkedin.com account to email him a few days ago.

So if you are in business for yourself, or want less frustration at the job……Look at what you are spending money on. I spent 30 minutes a day opening and closing programs. Nothing more. That equals 10 hours a month! $15 per $150 per month in the garbage, $1800 per year! My NEW ASUS ROG G751JY-DH71 laptop cost $2500 plus program upgrades, in less than 2 years he throws away that much money, in ONE action. THINK of what he is losing by ALL THE THINGS his under-powered computer system is costing him. Now think of this, MMP Gardena charged $78 per hour for my time on the computer, 10 hours per month is $780 of un-realized profits, $9360 per year lost!

(Look for a blog post coming on what I did right out of the box to this laptop that had ASUS saying it couldn’t be done and my showing screen shots of the computer not only working after I CHANGED IT, but also coming close to the limits I was worried about. yep brand new and near limits)

I know from running businesses that if you are throwing money away You will not be in business very long unless you have a lot of money to lose!

So stay tuned!

I’ve been out shooting Southern California (40,000+ images), talking to experts, reading 100s of books, connecting on other blogs and forums. Joined the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Camera Committee and I am Editor of their monthly newsletter Focal Points. Changed my profession to full time photographer and going to make a Go of it.

If you live in the Los Angeles County area and want to discuss my coming out and showing you my laptop vs your cheap great deal computer, so you can see what it means to your work flow and labor hours, contact me and I will make arrangements to do consulting for you. Otherwise find a computer IT company that Analyzes what you intend to do with the computer equipment. Desktop systems are Less expensive, more versatile, more powerful. I have to use a laptop for now, but am researching my desktop system I will build in the next 6 months to a year.



Happy Shooting!