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Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to Fix the Lenovo Yoga Fan Noise & Upgrade SSD // RAM

~~Update - 1/13/2013~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After using the Yoga for almost two months, I am pleased to report that I am still enjoying it immensely. If you can afford a new laptop, definitely get this one. Also, make sure to do the hotfix listed below, and consider getting a spare mSata drive and SD card, to double (or more) your storage, and a Stand Mode Support Brace to eliminate screen wobbling while in stand mode. Here's a link to an 8GB DDR3 module, if you want to upgrade that, too.
Finally, also disable CPU throttling while in stand/tablet mode by uninstalling Intel Thermal Framework.

I first saw the Lenovo Yoga in person at CES Las Vegas in January, 2012. For a Windows 7 machine, I dismissed it as a viable candidate for best ultrabook due to its relatively larger form factor, slow SATA II interface, and increased weight. I decided 2012's best ultrabook was the 13" Samsung Series 9.

Now that Windows 8 is here (and bug-free), it's time to rethink what attributes are most important on an ultrabook. A good touchscreen is the obvious newcomer, and this alone knocks the list of contenders down to only a handful.

Next up is device orientation flexibility/variability. A touchscreen is somewhat awkward to use when a device resembles a traditional laptop (i.e. keyboard rests in front of the screen, separating you from the touch input)- the reason many hybrid tablets detach from their keyboard counterpart.

Enter the Yoga. While a perfectly respectable ultrabook in its own right, it transcends the typical capability of a laptop (or a tablet, for that matter) with its 360 degree rotating screen and thus usurps the title 'best ultrabook' by rendering its competition feeble, inadequate, and probably ashamed.

For an overly lengthy look at the Yoga compared to Windows Surface RT and the Samsung Series 9, see my video below. 

Here are the key takeaways about the Yoga:

-10 finger multitouch, Full HDMI out, USB3.0, good power plug port (it resembles a USB port), 13.3" 1600x900 IPS panel, 4-8GB RAM (1 slot, upgradeable), 6+ hr battery, .69" thick, 3.4 pounds, amazing leather feel that's comfortable for extended use, EXTRA, EMPTY SSD slot (so you can put a second SSD in)! $999 at BestBuy for the i5-3317U version.

So, I bought one from BestBuy to replace my 15" Samsung Series 9 with 16gB RAM due to the reasons mentioned above. (If you don't plan to switch to Windows 8 and want the best Windows 7 // 15" ultrabook on the market, lmk. I'll be posting it on eBay soon.)

So far, it has exceeded my expectations, and I find I use its various modes quite frequently, depending on the task (Tent Mode for watching a video or docked use, Stand Mode for browsing Netflix or reading certain websites/articles, Tablet Mode for games etc.).

A few issues to note:
-Firstly, you'll have to reconfigure the partitioning to make better use of the SSD, as Recovery + Lenovo take up ~40gB. This takes only a few seconds (lenovo has their own hotfix) but seems to have a lot of people in outrage on the interwebs.
-Next up, the battery life is not as good as I'm used to with the Samsung Series 9. Expect closer to 5-6 hours. Not much one can do about this. The CPU is reportedly unlocked so perhaps undervolting might help?
-Only 1 DDR3 RAM slot, meaning the max this guy can take is 8GB. On the bright side, it's not soldered RAM so it is indeed upgradeable.
-Sata II with ~200mB/s read/write speeds.
-And lastly, some Yogas are afflicted with a minor or severe grinding, buzzing, whirring fan noise. (Hear video below). Mine exhibited this problem, and my attempts to mediate it by smacking it only seemed to exacerbate the problem, if anything :)

With no word regarding a fix or cause for the fan noise anywhere online, I decided to attempt a diagnosis and hopefully a fix.

After removing all the bottom T4 (or T5?) torx screws, the next step is to remove the keyboard. This part was tricky. I gently pried up the top left (with metal tweezers, but one should use plastic just to be safe), then worked around the edges before pulling upwards (towards hinge) about 1/8 of an inch. Be sure to remove the ribbon cable before setting aside.

Next is to remove the palm rest after unscrewing the
marked M2 screws.

Now you can access all the Yoga's internals, including RAM, spare PCIe slot (which can take another mSata SSD), SSD, and of course, the fans.

Empty PCIe Slot
mSata SSD

To get to the fans, start by removing the black tape attaching them to the black heatsink. Next, unplug the little adapter to the left and unscrew the screws holding the fans to the chassis. Then, lift the fan module up slightly (from the side furthest from the heatsink) and wiggle free from the second strip of tape you can't see yet.

At this point it was time to narrow down the problem. Flicking each along with a fingertip, I determined the noise was specific to the left-side fan, which sits essentially in the middle of the Yoga (and sadly is the more frequently-used fan). Look at the variance in gaps between the fan's blades and the housing:
Fan is touching housing!
Plenty of space
 So, as I suspected, the problem is that the fan is hitting the metal housing! The ideal solutions are 1. replace the fan with a higher quality // better designed one or 2. replace the metal housing with a re-cut version that prevents this, or 3. add a spacer next to the fan that keeps the metal housing far enough away. Without the tools/parts/motivation to achieve 1, 2, or 3, I went for option 4: pry the gap a little wider with a screwdriver until you can spin the fan with your finger and it no longer makes any noise. Be careful not to hurt the fan blades, they are quite soft feeling.

For the record, here's a close-up of the evidence confirming the source of the noise (to open the housing first remove the second strip of black tape then unscrew the tiny screws):

So, if you want to upgrade the SSD//RAM or fix the fan noise, you should have enough info to do it. I spent about 15 minutes, which is probably less time than it would take to make an exchange at BestBuy. I'll report if the fan noise returns; if it does, I suspect Lenovo might have to do a recall // upgrade.

Hope this helps someone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tired of manually clicking all the check boxes?

Now that I have a bit of JS/jQuery under my belt, I've noticed I can do some pretty useful tricks on websites when the occasion arises.

Most recently, this entailed selecting all 800 or so of my friends on Facebook to share a Kickstarter I'm helping launch. I never promote anything on Facebook, so I decided I'd let myself do it just this once.

Anyway, here's how I did it in about 5 seconds:

1. Open the share pop-up and scroll to the bottom
2. Open developer tools and go to console
3. Paste jquery in
4. Type: 
(alternative way: 4. type: $('input[type="checkbox"]').attr('checked', 'true')
5. type: $('li.multiColumnCheckable').addClass('selectedCheckable') )

I was sharing a page I created for the electree+, an electric bonsai tree that charges electronics with solar power :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Force Gmail to share the tab with another page!

If you're like me, you probably leave Gmail open somewhere for easy access. This might not ever be a problem if you aren't working on a complex project or if you have multiple monitors (or use Dexpot properly), but I find that my Gmail tab has an annoying habit of wandering off somewhere, forcing me to chase it down every now and then.

Also, I don't know about you, but I generally don't need to read more than the first 20 words of the subject line of emails sitting in my inbox. The normal Gmail email display stretches across the entire width of the page- with most monitors, it's total overkill - I care more about the vertical content (separate emails) than the horizontal content (subject lines)... (see photo). So yesterday I thought, 'wouldn't it be nice if I could have Gmail share the same page/tab with my to-do/note-taking platform?'

I whipped up some code and have since been absolutely loving my new Gmail page. I simply added a little button on the right that will resize Gmail and display my WorkFlowy on click. You can use Advanced Page Injector Chrome Extension to have it automatically inject the code for you (so just copy and paste below!). Just change the to (e.g. asana) where it says src="http://www.workflowy". Also, if you use a Chrome Extension that doesn't automatically include jQuery (the linked one does not), also copy and paste this into your '^' rule.

Also be sure to check out my Workflowy chrome extension.

Here's the code (it even includes a keyboard shortcut CTRL+q to open/close workflowy!):

var initialSetup = function() { $('#workflowygmailbutton').remove(); $('#wfiframegmail').remove(); var button = "<button id='workflowygmailbutton'>|||</button>"; $('body').after(button); var buttoncss2 = "button#workflowygmailbutton {width: 20px; display:inline-block; position:absolute; top: -20px; right: 2px;; width:20px;font-size:23px;border:0;background-color:white;color:#4747D1; height:100%; padding: 0 0; margin: 0 auto;-webkit-appearance: caret;cursor:pointer;} button#workflowygmailbutton:hover {-webkit-box-shadow: inset 4px 4px 2px blue; opacity: .5;}"; $("head").append("<style id='dynamicStylesheet'></style>"); $("#dynamicStylesheet").text(buttoncss2); $('#workflowygmailbutton').css('z-index','9999'); $('#workflowygmailbutton').click(function(){openWorkflowy();}); var workflowy = "<iframe src='' id='wfiframegmail' name='wfiframegmail' style='display:none; z-index:9999'></iframe>"; $('#workflowygmailbutton').after(workflowy); var elstoattack = $('html'); initialPosition(); killbuttons(); } var killbuttons = function(){ $("div[role='button']").css('min-width', '0px'); rapportivewidth = $("div.nH[role='main']").width() * .22; $("#rapportive-sidebar > *").css('max-width', rapportivewidth); $("#rapportive-sidebar").css('z-index', '0'); $('.dw').css('z-index', '2') $("ol.sections").css('width', rapportivewidth); } var initialPosition = function() { windowwidth = window.document.width; newstartwidth = windowwidth - 20; if (windowwidth < 1715) {newstartwidth = 1576;}; if (windowwidth > 1714) {newstartwidth = 1891;}; $(elstoattack).css('max-width', newstartwidth); $('#wfiframegmail').css('display','none'); $('#workflowygmailbutton').css('top', '0') $('#workflowygmailbutton').css('right', '1px'); $('#workflowygmailbutton').unbind('click'); $('#workflowygmailbutton').click(function(){openWorkflowy();}); } var openWorkflowy = function(){ killbuttons(); windowwidth = window.document.width; newwidth = windowwidth * .48; if (newwidth > 910) {newwidth = 1005;}; if (newwidth < 791) {newwidth = 833;}; $(elstoattack).css('max-width',newwidth); $('#workflowygmailbutton').css('right', '46.4%'); $('#workflowygmailbutton').unbind('click'); $('#workflowygmailbutton').click(function(){initialPosition();}); $('#wfiframegmail').css('display','inline'); $('#wfiframegmail').css('position','absolute'); $('#wfiframegmail').css('right','0px'); $('#wfiframegmail').css('width', '46%'); $('#wfiframegmail').css('top','0'); $('#wfiframegmail').css('height','100%'); }; var elstoattack = $('html'); initialSetup(); window.isCtrl = false; $(document).ready(function(){ $(window).keyup(function (e) { if(e.which == 17) window.isCtrl=false; }).keydown(function (e) { if(e.which == 17) window.isCtrl=true; if(e.which == 81 && window.isCtrl == true) { $('#workflowygmailbutton').click() return false; } if(e.which == 220 && window.isCtrl == true) { $('#gbqfq').select(); return false; } }); })

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fix Windows' Snap-To Hotkeys for Spotify AND Control Transparency!

It's irked me for a while that Windows+Right/Left hotkeys don't work with Spotify. I use them all the time to reposition applications- especially when I'm at home with 4 monitors.

However I never quite hit the tipping point to motivated action for this puzzle, until I decided to make Spotify semi transparent so Winamp's Milkdrop visualizer could shine through during a social get-together at my place last night.

I found a great little app called glass2k that enables custom transparency for any window/application - however, it caused Spotify to freeze!

After searching for a while online, I decided that nobody had solved the whole 'Spotify uses a really weird window that doesn't behave normally' thing.

I'm pleased to report that I've found a way to fix Spotify up so it will work normally with Windows' snap-to functions. And to top it off, I also found a way to make Spotify transparent :)

Credit goes to the niftiest Windows program out there called Autohotkey, and community member System Monitor for his transparency script. Head on over to Autohotkey's homepage and install the program (and maybe later spend some time creating awesome hotkeys to paste text you commonly type out, such as your email address, or control music faster/easier, etc).

Once installed, all you have to do is open a text editor/notepad, paste the following, save the file, change the extension from .txt to .ahk, then double click it and you're good to go!

Consider copying it to C:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\ so it will automatically start on boot.

WinGet, active_id, ID, A
WinGet, Style, Style, A
if (Style & 0x170B0000)
 ;MsgBox, Fixing Spotify.
 WinSet, Style, 0x17CF0000, ahk_id %active_id%
 WinSet, Transparent, OFF, ahk_id %active_id%
WinGet, active_id, ID, A
WinGet, currentWindow, ID, A
if not (%currentWindow%)
   %currentWindow% := 255
if (%currentWindow% != 255)
   %currentWindow% += 5
   WinSet, Transparent, % %currentWindow%, ahk_id %active_id%
SplashImage,,w100 x0 y0 b fs12, % %currentWindow%
SetTimer, TurnOffSI, 1000, On
SplashImage, Off
WinGet, active_id, ID, A
WinGet, currentWindow, ID, A
if not (%currentWindow%)
   %currentWindow% := 255
if (%currentWindow% != 5)
   %currentWindow% -= 5
   WinSet, Transparent, % %currentWindow%, ahk_id %active_id%
SplashImage,, w100 x0 y0 b fs12, % %currentWindow%
SetTimer, TurnOffSI, 1000, On

SplashImage, off
SetTimer, TurnOffSI, 1000, Off
After you fire it up, Alt+f (f stands for 'fix spotify') will fix Spotify, enabling you to use the Windows snap commands!

Alt+w and Alt+s will control transparency of any running program. I haven't gotten Spotify to be interactive while transparent, so if you want to click on it you'll have to Alt+f it again.


Be sure to check out my other blog and 3D-printed tech accessories site, techneesh. Follow me @tristech for occasional but interesting tweets.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scallion Pancakes!

I really enjoyed living in San Francisco (albeit not as much as Ann Arbor, but that's a tale for a different blog), however, there was one aspect of life there that irked me day after day to the point of extreme agitation - I could not find any good scallion pancakes!

Attempts 2 and 3
For those of you who know what I'm talking about, I don't need to explain. For everyone else, suffice it to say that scallion pancakes are one of the most delicious dishes you can possibly eat, (when prepared properly).

Anyway, this week I decided to tackle the puzzle of learning to make them myself.

I found an article where the author talked about his experience attempting to make them on his own, trying out some recipes, then finally finding the real recipe while watching a cooking show, during which his mind was 'constantly being blown.' This sounded very promising.

After trying the recipe with unsatisfying results, I began experimenting. After about 8 iterations, I have landed on a passable recipe (read: delicious, although not necessarily the best I've ever had) for REAL scallion pancakes. (real to me is the flaky thin pancakes that are sometimes dough-y but super crispy on the outside with a lighter, sometimes spicy, but never normal tasting, soy sauce).

Here's what you need:

For the pancakes:
2+ cups regular flour
Boiling water
1+ cup vegetable oil (I used canola, but I plan to experiment with other types, perhaps palm)
1 bunch of scallions
2 eggs
Salt (do NOT overlook this last ingredient)
~30-40 minutes, although I believe the longer you let the dough sit the better, up to 24 hours (in the fridge)

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinkiang or rice wine vinegar (super important to use vinegar for this sauce)
1 tablespoon chopped scallions (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon duck sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)

The type of leavening used for scallion pancakes is not yeast or baking soda based, but rather achieved through lamination. What this means is to create the many flaky layers of the pancake, you basically create many layers of dough separated by oil.

-Boil ~2 cups of water
-Mix up your sauce ingredients to taste while you wait
-Pour the flour into a mixing bowl, then drizzle 3/4 cups boiling water into the bowl while stirring/food processing, until you get a very sticky, doughy texture. If there's too much flour, that's OK too
-Add the two raw eggs and mix well. Add/sprinkle flour as needed until you get a doughy, slightly sticky texture
-Work into a ball and let sit for a few minutes. If you can wait 30+ minutes, you will get better results. (Cover with a damp towel).
-Cut the ball into 4 equal segments. Each one will make a full pancake.
-Take a segment and roll it out into a ~8" in diameter circle. I use a floured surface to prevent the dough from sticking too much. The dough should be pretty dry at this point and very workable.
-Brush on a layer of oil (not a lot, just coat it), then sprinkle on salt and some chopped scallions
-Roll up like a fruit-roll-up // jelly roll, pretty tightly
-Now you're going to make a ball/circle of dough by coiling this snake around itself. Kind of like how a dog chases its tail. Take one end of the roll and have it be the center, then wrap the rest of the roll around itself, see photos.
-Roll this flat again into ~8" diameter pancake. Repeat the lamination with salt, oil, and scallions.
-Repeat the rolling & coiling, then flatten into a slightly smaller pancake. The wider it is, the thinner the end result. The thinner it is, the more dense your resulting pancake will be.
-Coat the bottom of a ~8" frying pan in oil, so that it is about 1/2 to 1 centimeter deep, and set it to medium-high heat (closer to medium)
-Slip the pancake in, and watch the edges until you see some golden-brown (about 2 minutes). You can peek at the bottom.
-Flip when you see the color you like, and let cook until the new side is golden-brown (about 1 minute this time).
-If you want an even texture, you can press down on the pancake or move it around in the pan. I prefer it the way you get it in restaurants- unevenly cooked.
-Remove from pan and eat!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LED Juggling Balls!

I learned to juggle for some reason when I was 13 and have (for some other weird reason reason) always thought it would be kind of cool to learn to do it with swords (or liquor bottles as a bartender for fun some night?).

While at Allgood over the weekend I thought it would be fun to brush up and try to improve a bit. I stopped by the vendor that was selling all the glow items. I had been wanting some for a while because I thought they'd be fun, could be used for other purposes (catch, poi), and would be small enough to carry around easily. So, I inquired about some light-up juggling balls. I was utterly shocked: THEY DIDN'T SELL ANY!

So, I made some. You can use any standard LED finger light bought on Amazon (or wherever) for about 50 cents a pop- and the light will last 60+ hours of continuous use.

Here are photos:
With the lights on:

 With the lights off:

Here's a video of me dropping them:

There's another video on my Youtube.

You can buy yours right here, and they will ship Priority (2-3 day).

Color Scheme
First LED
Second LED
Third LED

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to upgrade the SSD in your Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C or NP900X3B/C Ultrabook

If you'd like to see some photos of ultrabook internals (including what the mSata form factor looks like), see some of my other posts:

I've had some folks ask me how to go about upgrading their storage capacity in their ultrabook.

The simplest answer is to buy a Dockbox, so you don't have to install anything to your machine or follow this guide (which is not necessarily for beginners :)

However, if you have some time, know-how, and $$, upgrading the SSD is definitely the best way to get more storage (at the fastest speed).

Here are the steps for doing it on the Samsung Series 9 (it will be pretty much the same for any ultrabook that uses the mSata form factor SSD. The Asus Zenbook Prime uses the Apple-style form factor).

1. Acquire the tools/supplies:
  • Download the clonezilla iso from here
  • get a 2+gB flash drive
  • follow this guide to make a bootable USB flash drive with the clonezilla file you downloaded
  • get an external drive or enclosure for your new SSD
  • get a new ssd
2. backup your existing drive
  • we need to boot to clonezilla. to do this, shut down your computer, and go to BIOS by turning it on and tapping f2 (or 'del' key in some cases) until you see a (likely) blue screen.
  • in BIOS, you will likely need to navigate to where you see 'boot options' or 'boot order' to enable USB boot and move it to the first in the list. The Samsung also requires you to DISABLE 'fast boot' (on another page) and I had to disable the SSD from the boot order list entirely by highlighting it and pressing shift+1 (shift key and the number 1)
  • now you can restart with the clonezilla USB stick in the machine, and it will boot to XBoot, where you can then select utilities->clonezilla. if you can't get to the XBoot screen, try using a different USB port or ensuring you have all the USB booting options enabled in BIOS. Also, make sure you created the USB stick properly ;)
  • clonezilla is pretty simple to use. after it loads, plug in your external drive and you will see some weird text when it 'sees' the drive. press enter and follow the on-screen instructions to make a backup image of your ssd to the external. you can choose beginner mode, and note you use the spacebar to select which drive is which (your external will be where you store the image, and the 'source drive' will be the 120gB Sandisk/Samsung SSD)
  • You can save yourself a few steps if instead of using an external drive you put your new SSD in an enclosure (effectively making it an external drive) and choosing the device->device option in clonezilla instead of device->image
3. install the new SSD & restore the image!
  • After clonezilla creates the image and saves it on your external, shut down the machine, unscrew the bottom panel and look at my photos for removing the insulation tape to get to the SSD. pop that sucker out and slap in your brand new one
  • Assemble, put the USB stick back in if you removed it, and this time do 'restore from image', obviously selecting the image file from your external as the source and the new SSD as the target
  • Undo whatever you changed in BIOS, remove the flash drive, and boot right back to where you left off, but with your new SSD!
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them below!

Here are some photos for your reference:


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to Make a Collapsible LED Light-up Bo Staff for under $30

*****UPDATE: 3/5/2013******
I've dramatically improved the strength and sleekness of the design, and I also made the staff compatible with the $1 finger LEDs from Amazon.
See a new video here.

And you can now buy yours (DIY kit or full staff) directly on my site, techneesh!

I had about 15 people come up to me over the weekend (at Electric Forest // Rothbury) and ask me where I got my LED staff and how much I paid for it. It seems I'm not the only one frustrated that there's only really one LED staff on the market and it costs about $180!

So, here are instructions to make your own collapsible LED bo staff for about $25!

Building requires about 15 minutes time, a trip to Home Depot, and the custom translucent pieces I made (you can buy them with the button below and you will get them in 2-3 days).

1. Gather the following supplies:

(from top to bottom, left to right)
  • 2x 2' long 3/4" thick PVC pipe (pre-cut at Home Depot) - $1.39 ea/
  • 3x Glow Wands (can find at Sears, Home Depot, Amazon, etc) - $2-5 ea/
  • Electrical tape (whatever colors you prefer) - $3 ea/
  • Translucent endcaps, middle, & connectors - $19 - I made these myself, click the button below to buy them and I will ship out USPS priority (so you will get them in 2-3 days :)
2. Remove the LED + battery assembly from the glow wands, and secure the batteries in place with electrical tape:

3. Place the LED inside my translucent connector pieces and assemble them like this:

4. Wrap the PVC in whatever tape you'd like, or paint it whatever color(s) you wish:

5. Now pop in the endcaps and connect the two PVC pieces with the middle piece!

6. Congratulations! You now have a lightweight, collapsible, awesome-looking LED staff you made yourself for under $30 :)

Here's what it looks like in the dark:

For extra stability, you can use some extra electrical tape to secure the middle piece to the PVC. Most glow wand LED lights will last 60+ hours with continuous (and bright!) lighting :)

Please let me know what you think in the comments!

If you'd like me to make the entire staff for you, fill out this form and I'll ship it out within 48 hours!

Color Scheme
Base Color
Middle LED Color
Endcap LED Color (for both tips)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

LED Light Staff (3d Printed Bo Staff w/LEDs)

I've been looking for a new form of entertainment at music festivals (aside from the music) and decided Bojutsu might be fun. I came up with an idea for a 3d-printable, collapsible, reconfigurable led staff a couple weeks ago and have since printed some pieces for it.

Here is a prototype segment printed with PLA using the Makerbot Replicator.

See this post for how to make your own collapsible LED bo staff!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Toothbrush Holder Cup

My new apartment has a metal cupholder (with holes for old-school tiny toothbrushes) attached to the wall. I turned that into a usable toothbrush holder with this :)

Grab the stl here:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cat Litter Trap

Admittedly, I have been looking for excuses to put the Makerbot to work since I got it... nonetheless, I think the outcome justifies the effort for the most part~~

Useful objects for physical tinkering often are pretty easy to design - so far my experience really has been:
1. imagine a useful plastic component
2. model it in 10-30 mins in sketchup
3. print it
It's pretty awesome.

Anyway I've been in the process of moving into a new apt, and thought it would be nice to have a barrier from the cat litter box to the main floor. Here it is:

Looking forward to getting in a replacement (non-warped) build plate next week...