Repair your iPhone, but be careful

Last week there was a great article in Popular Mechanics about the trade-offs in upgrading your smart phone to the latest and greatest model. Eric Limer nailed the shortcomings of current ~$1K pocket computers: battery life and repairability. While screen size, slimness, and biometric advances garner all the press, the longevity of these expensive devices falls through the cracks.

About a month ago my iPhone 6 started going dead in the middle of the afternoon, requiring an immediate charge on location or in the car. I went to and ordered a replacement battery. Subsequently, while waiting for the battery to arrive, I developed a problem with the Lightning port. I had to hold the cable, or place a pen under it with a weight on top of the phone to get it charged. I went back to iFixit to order a Lightning port assembly.

When I had both parts, I read over the instructions for replacing both battery and Lightning port. The battery procedure was rated “moderate,” with the difficult part being the removal of two 3M-style adhesive strips that the battery is mounted on. The Lightning port replacement was rated “difficult.”

iFixit is a great resource for parts, tools, and explicit instructions accompanied with photos. They also support the “Right to Repair” legislation efforts in many states. This effort started out as the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act, but has expanded to include most electronic devices as well. The maker of my iPhone opposes this legislation.

Preparing for my repair, I grabbed a couple ice cube trays (shallow ones are better for retrieving tiny screws;) a tray– or in my case a tupperware top, to catch errant screws. Also my 3.00 reading glasses, Meade LED lighted magnifier, and a tabletop magnifier. The final touch was a full can of beer to hold the iphone top open while you disconnect the various cable connectors. I chose a Jacks Abbey Harponius Union IPL. You should have at least two beers on hand: one to open the iPhone; and one to hold it open while you reconnect the same cable connectors. I followed the instructions for opening the iphone and removing the battery. The great hidden feature of iFixit is the crowd-sourcing to be found in the comments to each step. Don’t neglect to read these! Had I read all the (20!) comments for step 21 I might not have needed to pull out my heat gun to soften the one broken adhesive strip.

Anyway I removed and replaced the battery successfully. Then I proceeded to remove the Lightning jack / headphone jack/ microphone assembly from the iPhone. Everything came out OK, but putting the new part back in… There are a few items to transfer from the old assembly to the new: the headphone jack gasket, rubber microphone cover, and antenna interconnect clip. The big issue is plugging in the new antenna connector. (Like a smaller version of a wifi adapter cable.) This is step 21. The 10 comments are essential. Unfortunately I broke my antenna connector after an hour and a half of trying to connect it. I then cut the old antenna cable a 1/4” from the end, and stripped a bit with my knife. I fired up my soldering iron and dropped a bead on the twisted wires. The hard part was cutting a piece of electricians tape small enough to cover the join. The old connector slipped on easily.

All in all a successful repair! But not without drama, and it did take me a whole night. But the lesson here is to read all the comments on a site like iFixit. They will give you the real deal on the feasibility of the operation.

Quickbooks? or Spam?

Just got this Spam? virus? 10 minutes after getting a supposed Federal Reserve Bank notice.


The forged From field purports to be from, But looking at the header, the mail seems to have originated at:

And see that “proceed the following link?” Points to a zip file at:

I don’t think I’ll click.

FIOS WCB3000n MoCA Extender


I just installed one of these: Best solution for extending FIOS wifi in a large home. It uses a coax connection to extend the FIOS Actiontec router, so you do need coax cable near the spot you’re trying to cover– perhaps a TV in the kitchen or a bedroom. Just plug it into the cable, and reboot it a few times, and you’ll see the main router’s SSID appear with 4 bars. It uses MoCA (Multimedia over Coax) to extend your wireless signal at full strength. I guess it can also use wired ethernet. Really great device!

Mac Malware Comes of Age


Anyone who supports computers today has had some experience with unwanted OS X applications, which claim to help the user, but are in reality hoax programs that solicit money from their victims. The most widespread of these has been MacKeeper– a supposed utility which resides in the Taskbar, and does little beyond asking for a registration fee.

A new generation of unwanted applications and plugins proves Mac malware has arrived. TuneupmyMac, Conduit, Search Protect, and Vsearch are the culprits I’ve removed numerous times this week. They are likely the tip of the iceberg.


While not as onerous to remove as the typical Windows trojan, an entity like Vsearch has multiple plugins and Launch items to find and delete. As you can see in these screen shots, Avast Free antivirus was helpful in identifying some of these.

The days of going without a Mac Antivirus are over!

Beware the Cryptolocker!


You know how we techies are always telling you to backup? Now ransomware is no joke. Targetting small businesses through socially-engineered emails, this kidnapware issues a big box popup demanding $300 for the return of your docs. And it means business, in that it traverses your user folders searching for doc, docx, xsl, xslx and so on… You know–STUFF! Then it encrypts them with AES. They claim they will provide your private key to unlock these files, although I wouldn’t trust them based on the history of Sirefef (Zero Access,) the FBI virus, and so on. Generally, you pays your money, and you gets… nothing. (Note the screen above is the graphic that appears after the virus was removed.)

Luckily, this small business was backing up to Carbonite. But that presents another dilemma: Carbonite was running for some hours overnight, backing up the encrypted files. They provide something like the last 12 revisions, but not through the simple “Restore my Files” tray app. Carbonite techs are on the case, and I expect a call from them in the next day or so. Any company would be wise to employ both a cloud and local backup that offers versioning for their most important data.

This particular variant left QBW company files alone, and didn’t bother with the 2 sample JPGs in Pictures. But let me reiterate, if you run Windows and you’re not backing up everyday, you’re playing Russian Roulette. Literally.

Dell (Near Mint)


Repurposing this Dell e1505 for my friend Deborah. She’s a writer who needs to create extensive footnotes and bibliographies. On her Windows laptop, the Zotero plugin was causing Firefox to drag. Or something was dragging. Anyway Linux has a standalone Zotero app:

IMG_2106  IMG_2105

I’m hoping this rig buys her some time, and maybe makes a Linux convert!


UI Faults


Trying to start Norton Power Eraser in Safe Mode on an infected PC with an old 15″ monitor. Do you think “Yes” or “I Agree” is before or after “Cancel” or “No” or “Close Window” when tabbing through the buttons. Neither did I. Anyways finally got this to run in regular mode after TDSSKiller.

Zero Access

If you’ve seen this screen on your Windows PC, you’ve been hit up by Zero Access.


Zero Access, or Sirefef trojan takes over your screen and asks for at least $200 in– not cash, but a debit card. I usually delete the virus manually, and then scan with a couple cleaners and rootkit tools to remove traces of this scareware.