Awesome Refreshed Computers

My lovingly restored PCs. I can’t keep all of them! Lots of Macs, but Windows does happen.

MacBook Mod – Two Tone Black And White Keyboard

I love MacBooks. Recently I gave in to temptation and got myself a white one, again. 😉 It’s been a while.

One of the keys was broken when I got it.

Missing, to be exact.

Whoever took it did a through job; the key itself, the mechanism underneath, and even the tiny rubber cone from under the key was missing. That’s the bit that pops the key back up after it’s been released. It takes force to rip it off; can’t really happen by accident. May be a child’s revenge on daddy? 😉 That would be my guess.

In any case, the machine was in nice condition except for that bit. OS X 10.7 Lion ran smoothly. It also had a decent optical drive, a rare thing in the Mac world of slot loading coaster makers.

How to get an “UP” arrow key, along with the rubber bit underneath? On an other notebook it would have been a keyboard replacement. However the keyboard on a MacBook can’t easily be replaced. It’s sealed inside what Apple calls the top case unit, which includes the keyboard, the touchpad, the power button, and all plastic areas surrounding these bits. Everything you see from the top when the lid is open (except the screen). That’s big part and well expensive. A bit overboard for one key. On the other end of the spectrum there’s a site that sells single keys. Unfortunately they don’t include the rubber bit, so that was out.

In the end I decided to get a keyboard. Not to replace it, that’s impossible, but to harvest the keys and the rubber off of.

Then I had an other dilemma. These keyboards were made in two colors; white, obviously, and black for the high-end models. Price for either part is the same. The question was, “Do I just fix it, or do something more?”

It looked like fun to do so I went with the black keyboard. Interesting point to note that none of the dealers were in a hurry to point out that the keyboard itself can’t be replaced inside the top case unit. That is unless you’re a magician or have plastic molding equipment.

I’m a fan of Vasarely, the master of optical art. What he created was 3D spaces and illusions of shape and movement on a canvas, circa 40 years before computers were around to do it.

I think he’d chuckle if he was around to see these pictures.

I’ve replaced the better half of the keys.

It’s unique for one thing –

It also creates the illusion that the rows of keys form an arch when it’s looked at from an angle.

I hope these pictures illustrate my point.


Anyway, that was fun. Oh and it was gone before I had to a chance to advertise it. I can re-create it any time though. Use the contact form on the main page if you want your own unique MacBook. Any black or white MacBook is great base material.

The labor is 3000 yen, and the new keys are 3000 yen as well, for a total of 6000 yen.

The possibilities are endless; have a look below.

Sony Type F VGN-FS22VB ~ Beautiful 15″ Notebook (SOLD)

“Wow this looks like new”, is what I thought when I first got it. It exudes quality.

It’s called the Sony “Type F” VGN-FS22VB. I guess they couldn’t just call it Leslie or Pikachu, but that’s a lot of letters and numbers. Plus I can’t help but wonder how they came up with those exact 3 letters. Anyway, the brilliant 15.6″ widescreen with high contrast and solid, dark blacks had me hooked. So kind to the eyes. It also came with a docking station that has more connectors than a suitcase full of netbooks combined.

The speed wasn’t exactly stellar, however.

I quickly maxed out the RAM, and then decided it deserves a faster CPU.

For some strange reason it only had a lowly 1.4Ghz Celeron.

I can imagine Sony staff arguing. “Let’s make a quality laptop!” “No it has to be cheap!” “Quality!” “Cheap”..”

I wish they would have made up their mind. Like all things made by a comittee it ended in a compromise; a Mercedes with a lawnmower engine. Brilliant.

Getting hold of the CPU turned out to be a major hassle.

First of all the availability was not exactly great. It takes Pentium M CPUs, the fastest of which is 2.26Ghz. I tracked various offers on Yahoo Auctions for a week, and found that a 2.0Ghz Pentiom M goes for 2500, a slightly faster 2.13Ghz for 5000, and a 2.26Ghz for 7500. When available, that is.

Therein was the dilemma. Do I get a “kind of fast” 2.0Ghz CPU, or pay double for 5% more speed? Or triple for 10% more?

After minutes of thinking I arrived at the conclusion. “Sod it”, I thought, and went for the fastest one. The dude sent it uninsured so I was a bit worried, but thankfully it turned up after a couple days. Installing it was a snap. Mind you there wasn’t any of the usual dust buildup on the CPU fans. Either it wasn’t used much, or Sony has some kind of fairy magic that prevents dust from sticking to the fan. Having used it for a couple months now, I lean towards the latter.

One last niggle was the broken power supply connector. Physical damage, last owner tripped on the cord probably. (Tip: get a Mac notebook with a “magsafe” connector. Those are immune.) Luckily the socket wasn’t fixed on the motherboard, and was relatively easy to replace. There was just one replacement part available on all of the Internet… luckily it worked. I found I tend to attract the correct stuff to make PCs work. 😉
P.S. Just for a laugh I did ask for a repair estimate at the Sony store in Nagoya. They wanted 15800 yen just to take a look at it. Then they’d quote for the part on top of that. I guess they’d rather sell new stuff than do repairs.

Price: yen including shippingSOLD

Hours spent: 6+

Difficulty rating: 40% – the challenging part was getting hold of the CPU


PS. A useless bit of trivia: when researching this machine I found out by accident that VAIO stands for Video Audio Inter-Operation. I hope it doesn’t require an operating room.

Apple eMac 17″ – A Practical Style Statement

I love restoring vintage Macs, and this eMac was an adventure.

Back in the day it was the budget alternative to the high-end LCD panel-sporting “lampstand” iMac G4. The “e” stands for education; originally it was only available for the education market. Same speed and spec but as the iMac G4, but with a traditional display instead of the then-new LCD, it’s price point was hard to argue.

I loved both the colorful round iMac G3s and the LCD iMac G4s, and the eMac looks something like a bastard child of the two. Fell in love with it and had to pick it up at the Hard Off (what a name!) recycle store when I came across it. Crossed fingers that it’d power on when I got home. They said “dengen hairimasu” which means it doesn’t explode in colorful fireworks when connecting the mains. No information beyond that. I was hopeful. 😉

It did power on, and got into an archaic OS X, I think it was 10.2. It was stable surfing the net, so I got down to business.

First of all it required a DVD drive to allow installing a newer OS X, so I naively started to install a DVD Writer. I was expecting the bottom case to come off as with iMac G3s. Not! It was the most difficult optical drive replacement I’ve ever done. Have to remove the cover (while being careful with the power-button on the side), speakers, main fan(!), motherboard (!!), screen control circuit (?!?) and finally the hard drive to gain access to the optical drive.
I imagine the optical drive was the first component they started with at the factory, and built the rest of the PC around it.

It was fun in a strange way but I never want to do it again. I guess it explains why there are so few upgraded units around, and why these are routinely tossed out when the optical drive dies.

It deserved more RAM and I went hunting on Yahoo Auctions. 2 of the 3 modules I bought worked, and RAM memory was upgraded to 768Mb.

Then I’ve spent some time on the Internet tracking down a model specific Mac OS 9.2.2 install CD. The standard CD does not work, as I quickly found out.

Wiped the hard drive, repartitioned it, and installed Mac OS 9.2.2 and then OS X 10.4 Tiger using the newly installed DVD Writer. As a final touch I made Mac OS 9.2.2 available for use with “Classic Mode” under Tiger.



  • Hours spent: 8+ (lost track)
  • Difficulty rating: 100%


  • Runs “Classic” applications natively or from under OS X 10.4 Tiger
  • Rock solid performance under OS X
  • Syncs new iPhones, iPods, iPads
  • Great for office work, audio, DVD playback and copy


Now it’s gotta go. Desk real estate is precious, want space for the next one.

Specifications and upgrade options

Price is 11000 as advertised/ask!
No shipping abroad unless you pre-pay me in cash (figure that one out, Nigerian scammers).


Call Sandor on 080-3073-0096 

Email Sandor at “sandor[at]” (replace [at] with @)

Use Contact Form to Message Sandor re:eMac 17″


You may find this interesting. Amusing even.
The Original Specification Sheet from Apple (covers all eMac models)

Apple PowerBook G4 “Onyx” (SOLD)

I got this this 15 inch Apple notebook from a gaijin-san who’s moved back home. It is one of my favorite PowerBooks, a titanium-clad model, codenamed Onyx.

It still has use value, so I decided to give it the TLC it deserves.

After cleaning away the muck on it I took out the original 20 GB hdd, the 2x256mb RAM, and put them on Yahoo Auctions. Maybe someone can use them. I wanted to be more respectful to a PowerBook that’s still going strong, and showing no signs of the typical PowerBook faults (broken hinges, faded screen, etc).

Shockingly I pocketed 1000 yen. 😉 Small change compared to what I was about to spend. I splashed out on a ridiculously expensive 512mb PC133 RAM module, the largest of its kind. The top of the line stuff is always expensive, even used.
I was crossing my fingers really. There’s no way to check compatibility before buying. That’s why I only bought one.

It did work, as I later found out. 640Mb (512+128) of RAM at the ready, I prepared a 40GB hard drive which I’ve pulled from a dead NEC laptop.

Instead of putting it in the target machine straight away I decided to get tricky. This PowerBook is 550 Mhz. That means OS X 10.5 Leopard won’t install on it. Apple set the minimum speed at 867 Mhz for Leopard. (I think it must have been the marketing guys.)  Luckily I have a Power Mac G4 desktop, a legendary 933 Mhz “Quicksilver 2002“. I hooked up the laptop hard drive using an adapter, and Leopard installed without a hitch. Updates all done, I moved it back to the notebook, which booted without issues on 1st attempt. Office 2008 and various other bits installed it’s now one of my daily used Macs. Lucky!

Once in use I got hold of an other 512mb PC133 RAM module to max the RAM out. This time it cost even more. Ouch. Well, it’s worth it anyway.

The last touch was the wireless network module. I bought one some time ago for stupid money on Yahoo Auctions. Then I put it in my eMac. Which – as I later found out – was kind of pointless. I seldom run around with a desktop. 😉

Current configuration is 1GB RAM, 40Gb HDD, Wireless and CDRW. It’s fine for browsing the net and daily office tasks. So much more rewarding than a Windows PC. Macs are just more smiles for the buck. 😉 I’m happy I got great results for the time and money invested.

Update 2011-11-19: My last Macintosh LC is gone! Oh my gosh for hours I’ve been without a classic Mac environment in the house. PowerBook to the rescue! Mac OS 9.2.2 installed without a hitch from the internal CD drive. That’s a good workout for the slot-loading disk muncher; that’s a pass as far as read testing goes. Now with Classic back in place I can enjoy stuff from the Macintosh Garden again.

Update 2011-11-22: Ah it’s gone. It was good while it lasted. Waved a teary goodbye and put the eMac back on my desk as the Excel 2008 PC. I’ll have to install Classic on the eMac sometime.

Who Am I?

Hi, Sandor here. Thanks for visiting. Computer trouble in Japan? You've come to the right place!

I am 34 years old, and have been fixing computers since 1994, since before I finished high school. Then I got a degree in Computer Science, had my own PC shop, worked at a top laptop maker in England. Then I came to Japan; it's what I always wanted to do.

I pride myself in providing the best service possible and by being honest about my work. I now service all of Japan by a simple mail-in system. Use the "Contact Me" tab on the top menu to get in touch.

Contact Me


Sandor is the best! If you are someone, like me, who needs to have computer stuff explained ‘like you are a 6 year-old’, then you have come to the right guy! I was having trouble with my wireless modem hookup and also needed to upgrade my RAM memory….Sandor very carefully explained what I needed to do, he even found me some videos on YouTube to help me along. If he thought my questions were silly, (and believe me, I’m sure they were!!), he was very polite and made me feel not so naive in the ways of the computer. Thank you so much Sandor…..I will share your name and this site with anyone who needs the help!! Debbie Kuroiwa, Nagasaki City, Japan

Hey Sandor thanks for the Mac advice and for getting me the hard to find parts for my iMac G4 so quickly. You really saved the day. Thanks again. /RF/ Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

Hey Sandor: Just a quick note to say thanks for diagnosing fixing my computer so effectively (and so cheaply). I am writing you from my computer now, and it is still running strong! Much gratitude.

Doug Colbert from Anjo, Aichi, Japan

As a truly satisfied customer - I heartily recommend the services of Sandor to anyone having PC related issues. Of all the people I have dealt with regarding PC related issues in Japan – he is the best. Not only is he an expert in his field – but he aims for the most cost effective solution. I have truly benefitted from his good advice & constant updates and genuinely admire his integrity. What more can I ask for ?

Anirvan Mukherjee ( Vice President - Nomura Securities Ltd, Tokyo )

Hi Sandor! I must to say, we have never met as good computer expert as you are! You were the first, who solved our problems as we wanted to, as we needed to. Your work was always quick, professional and practical. And: you never wanted to organize our computer liking yourself! :-) Since you moved to Japan, we all the time hope, some time you will go back to Hungary!

Ági and Gábor from Budapest, Hungary

...He worked well within the team and his attitude and performance was of a very high standard. He was a very honest and reliable member of the team.

Neil Chauhan, my former boss at Rock Direct, UK

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