iPhone 4S Battery Replacement Using iFixIt.com Repair Kit

I have an iPhone 4S which I love. It is a little over two years old and the battery was starting to go. It would do fine for a while, but then suddenly drop to close to no charge or shut itself off.

I am planning to upgrade to an iPhone 6, but that is still a few months away. Since I use my iPhone 4S for just about everything, I decided to replace the battery myself.

First, I checked iFixIt.com. iFixIt has numerous guides on how to fix/replace things like iPhone and tablet batteries, cracked screens, and even the Xbox 360 “Red Circle of Death”.

iFixIt had a guide and a fix kit for replacing the 4S battery. The fix kit included the battery, two screwdrivers (super small Phillips and Pentalobe), a pry tool, and little Phillips head screws to replace the Pentalobe screws if you want to. Pentalobe screws have a head that is kind of like a star and can be a pain, though I had no issues.

Fix Kit

Pro Tip: iFixIt sells the battery by itself or as part of a fix kit with all the tools you would need to do the job. They are the same price. Get the battery with the fix kit. You may already have tools that can do the job, but getting the fix kit will ensure you definitely have the right tools to do the job.

Next, I went to YouTube and watched four or five videos on how to do the battery replacement.

Do this.

No, seriously, do this. Check YouTube for how to videos for any repair job you are going to do.

One of the videos I watched was by High Tech Dad. This saved me a HUGE potential problem. At the 7:25 mark a tiny clip that goes under the battery connector and held by one of its screws pops out. High Tech Dad didn’t notice for a while:

Little Black Clip
Other videos mentioned this tiny clip as well, but High Tech Dad’s experience really called it out to me. I knew I had to be ready for it when I replaced my battery.

When I received the fix kit I rewatched the videos again so everything was fresh. I then put down a white towel to work on, since some of the parts I would be dealing with were so small I wanted to see them easily.


I took my time doing the replacement. Because I was ready for the tiny clip I had no issues with it at all. Removing the old battery took a little prying due to the adhesive used, but I just went slow and it really was not a problem.

Old Battery

It took me around 10 to 15 minutes to do the entire battery replacement. Again, watching the YouTube videos first was not only helpful, but necessary. My iPhone 4S is doing great now with the new battery.

Non-Fiction Reading and Listening List Added

This year I am adding The Non-Fiction Reading and Listening List to my reading list. In the past I have given special mention to non-fiction books, but I have never kept a full list.

The Non-Fiction Reading and Listening List will include books I am defining as ones with a focused narrative. This include autobiographies and biographies, history books about a specific time or event (not just a list of dates) and books around specific current events, such as “Flash Boys”. It may also include books with a unifying subject though not a true narrative such as “The Tipping Point”, but that is still pending.

Also, the books on the Non-Fiction Reading and Listening List will not be eligible for Book of the Year, which is awarded to novels only. Any notable non-fiction books will receive a Special Mention at the end of the year.

How I Created a Tutorial Video: Optional Step of Setting a 16:9 Aspect Ratio When Capturing Screen Video with SnagIt

In my earlier post How I Created a Tutorial Video Part One I mentioned an optional step of setting the aspect ratio (width and height) of the SnagIt capture frame. YouTube uses an aspect ratio of 16:9 for wide screen (4:3 for square) so I wanted my capture frame – basically the section of the screen I was recording – to be as close to a 16:9 aspect ratio as possible.

YouTube can definitely handle different aspect ratios, and most editing programs can manipulate videos into fitting a certain aspect ratio. The tutorial video I was creating was very simple and I knew if I captured it as close to 16:9 as I could it would look good and save me some steps in adjusting it in editing.

The first step I took was to set the capture frame that would record the area I wanted. I estimated a frame that looked close to 16:9 aspect ratio:

Estimate Aspect

I made note of the first number which is width in pixels. In this example it was 1020, but can be any size.

I then escaped out of the capture and went to 16:9 Aspect Ration Calculator online. I plugged in “1020” (width of my estimated capture frame) and it calculated what the height should be to have a 16:9 aspect ratio would: “574”

Aspect Calc

Now I knew I needed my capture frame to be as close to 1020×574 as possible. I launched the SnagIt capture frame again and set my frame:
Final Aspect

In this example, I was able to set my frame at 1020×574. I have done other captures where I calculated the aspect ratio and the capture frame was not exactly at what the width and height should have been, but it was close enough.

With the aspect ratio set, I recorded my tutorial video.

There are other ways to set aspect ratio for your capture in SnagIt, but this was a very simple way that I wanted to share.

20 Years of Book Lists and Book of the Year

As is my New Year tradition, today I select which book I read in the past year as my Book of the Year. This is a book that I read for the first time in that year, though the book did not need to be published in that year.

I realized as I was making my selection that I have been keeping my book list and selecting a Book of the Year since 1995, making this the 20th list and the 20th Book of the Year.

In a word: Wow.

I look at the lists, see what I selected for Book of the Year, and it brings me right back. Not only to the books, but to what was happening in my life at the time. Like all life, some bad things are recalled, but luckily many good things are too.

I started the lists on pieces of paper and 3 x 5 cards. I still have all of them. It’s been fun keeping this list, and motivational as well. It motivates and inspires my own writing, while also prompting me to read more (going for 40 novels read in 2015).

Last year I added novels I listened to on Audible to the list. This year I may add non-fiction books, but I am trying to decide criteria around that. For example, in 2014 I read two great books on Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. However, they are reference books. I would consider a true non-fiction book something like Seabiscuit (which is amazing). Also, if I do include non-fiction, I don’t think I would include them in the running for my Book of the Year, though I may select a best non-fiction book separately.

A fun problem to have, and I will post again with what I decide.

Finally, my 2014 Book of the Year goes to The Peripheral by William Gibson. 2014 was a great year for books, there were fifteen nominees for Book of the Year, and it was really a toss up of which book it would be until I read The Peripheral a few weeks ago.

Please see my The Reading and Listening Lists Featuring My Selections for Book of The Year page for my thoughts on The Peripheral, my 2014 reading and listening lists, and see what the other nominees for Book of the Year were.

The Peripheral by William Gibson


I just finished reading The Peripheral by William Gibson. With only two weeks left in 2014, it is definitely a top contender for my Book of the Year.

A return to far future science fiction for Gibson, it is a murder mystery with a time travel element to it. Gibson also keeps the future tech coming, all of it feeling possible and probable.

This is another book that is very easy to drop spoilers for, so I do not want to say anything more about it other than that I highly recommend it.

Coming Home by Jack McDevitt

Coming Home

Jack McDevitt is one of my favorite writers. The first book of his I read was Moonfall. A standalone novel about an asteroid that will shatter the moon, it was edge-of-your-seat exciting. I was hooked on McDevitt from that point forward.

The next book of his I read was Deepsix. This is the second book in the Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins series. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. They are fantastic. This is the book where I knew I would read everything McDevitt wrote. Many of the books are around the Omega clouds, space traveling destructive forces that will attack any planet where it finds structures with right angles. This is because right angles do not exist in nature, someone had to make them. Very cool, exciting books.

McDevitt’s other series is the Alex Benedict books. These take place thousands of years in the future. Alex and his pilot Chase travel the universe looking for relics. Some human, some may be alien. Coming Home is book seven of the series. Another home run by McDevitt, it is a nominee for my Book of the Year.

Coming Home has two major stories in it. One is Alex and Chase looking for Apollo-era relics. The other is a continuation of a storyline that began in book six of the series (Firebird) about the rescue of passengers on a starship stuck in trans-dimensional space. I don’t want to say too much more due to possible spoilers, other than I really enjoyed it. Also, if you have not read the Alex Benedict series yet, I would recommend at least reading Firebird before reading Coming Home since they tie into each other so much.

Please check out Jack McDevitt. You will be glad you did.

McDevitt Books
My Jack McDevitt Book Shelf.

How I Created a Tutorial Video – Part Two: Editing Video in Premiere Pro

In Part One of this post I discussed how I captured screen video and “live” narration audio using SnagIt. In this post I will give a high level view of how I used Premiere Pro to edit the video.

First I created a new project in Premiere Pro. Then I imported the video I had created into Premiere Pro through the media browser. I then dragged the video from the media browser area into the Source Monitor area above:

Media Browser

When I was first learning Premiere Pro, the Source Monitor was a little confusing to me. I had used other editing programs where the video clips are dragged right onto the timeline. You could splice them from there, move them around, change start or end points, and so on. It took some watching of how-to videos on YouTube for Source Monitor to really click for me.

With the original video in Source Monitor I began to playback the video, marking the start point with the “Mark In”. I continued playing the video until I came to a point where I make a mistake or said “Um” too many times. I rolled back to before the point where I had messed up and marked the end point with the “Mark Out”.

Mark In and Out

Between the Mark In and Mark Out point, I had a clean piece of the original video that I wanted in my final video. I dragged that to the timeline.

Drag Timeline

I then started playing back my original video in the Source Monitor again, finding the next start point for the next piece I wanted included in the final video. Basically, I rolled passed where I had made a mistake, added a Mark In and rolled until the next mistake. As before, I rolled back to just before the mistake, added the end point with a Mark Out and dragged that piece to the timeline. I repeated this process over and over until all the clean, mistake free pieces of the videos were in the timeline.

Tip: When you click the Mark In or Mark Out in the Source Monitor, they will be placed at exactly where the playback head is when you click them. For this video I did not need to be very exact, but for other projects you may need to be. Playback the video to about the point you want to add a Mark In or Mark Out and hit stop. Then using the scroll wheel on your mouse, you can move the playback head forward and backward in 100th of a second increments. When it is at the exact point you want, click the Mark In or Mark Out. The points are now exactly where you want them.

With all the mistake-free clips extracted from the original video and placed in the timeline, I then created a start and end credit. These were .JPG files with some text indicating what the video was about. I made sure they were 16:9 aspect ratio to match the aspect ratio of the clip and dragged them to the start and end of the timeline. Though they are .JPG image files, Premiere Pro knows to treat them as part of the video. I also added a very basic fade effect between the credits and the main video.


From the timeline, I played back the final version one last time to make sure everything looked and sounded okay. I then exported it into a final .MP4 video, which I uploaded to YouTube.

As I mentioned, this was a high level view of how I edited the original video. There are many books and many Premiere Pro how-to videos on YouTube that go into a lot of detail. There are also other editing programs, such as Sony Vegas or even Movie Maker, that could have edited this video just fine since it was very straight forward. I used Premiere Pro since I have Adobe Creative Cloud. I really like it, and though I still have much more to learn, I can definitely recommend it.

How I Created a Tutorial Video – Part One: Video Capture With SnagIt

Recently I did a post on resolving a spell check issue that I was having in Dreamweaver. Included in that post was a short video that stepped through the resolution.

I captured the video in SnagIt. It has many functions similar to Photoshop, including being able to layer images over each other and saving in .png file format. It can also do video screen capture. This is the first time I have used the video screen capture functionality, and I think it came out very well. SnagIt retails for around $50.00 and I highly recommend it.

In preparing to do the video I first setup what I wanted to capture. I created a Dreamweaver file with some misspelled words:


Next, I wanted to record the audio live, so I setup my Meteorite USB microphone. This way I could talk through the steps as I did them. I could have added narration later, but since I knew this would be a very short video, recording audio on the fly was fine.

I launched SnagIt, confirmed that video capture mode was selected and clicked the capture button.

SnagIt Control

Using my mouse, I set the frame that I wanted to capture in the video. I selected a big enough area so that all the steps could be easily seen, but not so big that there would be a lot of unused or empty space.
Set Capture Frame
There will be a subsequent post on how I set the aspect ratio to be 16:9, the standard aspect ration of YouTube videos. Since it is an optional step I did not include it in this post.

I was now ready to record the video. Since I was recording the audio live, I confirmed that microphone audio was set to On, then clicked REC.

Record Ready

I recorded the video, talking through the steps as I did them. If I made a mistake (and I made many), I let the recording continue. I would pause my commentary for about 20 seconds, then redid the part I had messed up. Since this was a short video I knew any mistakes could be easily edited out.

Once I was done recording, I saved the video as an .mp4 file. I watched the .mp4 file to confirm that it looked okay and the audio had been captured. It was fine and I was ready for the next step: editing.

Editing in Premiere Pro will be covered in Part Two.

Adobe CC Dreamweaver Spell Check

I have been using Dreamweaver to write the posts for my site. I like much of its functionality, especially snippets. One piece of functionality I could not get to work was spell check. I looked at Help and checked online, and though it appeared I was doing everything right, spell check would not run.

Finally, I stumbled across the issue. Spell check did not seem to want to run in Live view. When I changed to Design view spell check ran fine.

Since I had so much trouble finding what the problem was, I decided to do a little YouTube video that stepped through the problem and its solution.

Pinot Does it Again

I have posted previously about the great Vine artist Pinot. Yesterday he posted this Vine of a train coming out of a tunnel. I think it has a Hogwarts Express feel to it.

The use of light in this one is amazing. The light changes on the train cars as they pass out of the tunnel. Also, the lighting of the ground and rocks around the tracks are changed by the passing train, including the light coming from the windows.

This is definitely one of my favorites.