Monday, March 23, 2015

How I Killed My Computer. Or Not.

Maybe it's a story of the Cobbler's Kids having beat up shoes, or maybe it's just a bit of a joke I played on myself far too early one morning.  If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

I settled in at Stupid O'Clock one morning.  Had my coffee in hand.  It was a solid hour or two before sunrise.  The skies weren't even purple yet. 

Look out the front window and all I saw were the neighbor's party lights on their doorway glowing in the pre-dawn gloom.

They really should switch to LEDs if they're going to keep them going all night, but as far as I am concerned, they're pretty and I won't say too much about that.  After all, there's a neighbor a block away who has a permanent holiday display going.  She swaps the Easter Bunny for Santa or for firework like sparkly bits depending on the time of year, and I do appreciate it.

Especially at a quarter past five in the morning.

My own house was quiet.  The kitchen light was on after I finished with it, as it is the only light in the house.

I start up the two computers.  The windows machine is off doing tasks until I need it for graphics work later.

My older machine, by about six months, is a Dell.  Beast of a machine.  A Dell Precision M4500 if you are curious.  I think the case of it is carved out of granite since it would work as a projectile in a theatre of war.

Yes, that solid.  I got it used off lease, and paid less than a cheap tablet computer is today.  Since it's an i7 processor, it's going to be around for quite a while.

Ok, I like the thing.

They threw a copy of Windows 7 32 bit which had me scratching my head.  i7?  32 bit?  Nope.  I've run a couple different operating systems on it and I have settled on running mostly Xubuntu Linux at the moment, with Windows 7 64 bit in a dual boot, if I want to slum on Windows.

The thing is that it's pretty stable, and great hardware - especially for the chump change I got it for.

I don't expect problems with it at all.  Chugging along at breakneck speed, I was doing my thing.  Opening windows, consulting with friends and business contacts, and basically going through my normal morning routine.

I was in the middle of doing something specific.  Looking into a Project Management position with a local company when all the sudden...

I saw the shutdown window pop up.


Then SNAP!  The power relay shut down.  The computer turned itself off.  The room was silent, or what passes for it in noisy South Florida.

I pressed the power button.  Whirr went the cooling fan.  Fweep went the DVD burner.  Blink went the LCD panel.


Uh oh.  She's dead, Jim.

Immediately I panic.  I'm thinking, I'm down a computer, the one I depend on for all my professional correspondence.  All the data is on the servers, I don't have to worry there.  My pictures are safe on The Chip. 

DamnDamnDamnDamn WhaddamIgonnaDo!

Delay.  I stood up and made a second mug of coffee.   I was midway through the normal morning crap, sun was now just coming up.

I figured that I would take the high road.  I got out the screwdriver.  Maybe it is a heat issue.

South Florida gets dust from the Sahara Desert.  The winds come from the East here, drop dust, as well as pick up sand from the beaches in the Bahamas and our own beaches.  The sand eventually drops out all over everything.  You have to wash the car fairly frequently to get rid of the sand and sea salt.

So the fan in the laptop?  Could that be the issue?  Get the vacuum.  "Hey Kevin, I'm running the vacuum, the Dell Died.".

I fill him in. 

First I pop the bottom off the machine.  Professional or Business grade machines, even laptops, are designed to be repaired by us end users.   The monkeys behind the keyboards.  If you know what you're doing, you can really upgrade the machines. 

One screw removed later, the bottom is off the machine.  Hmm, fan's clean.  May as well run the vacuum through it.  Very little dust.  The heat sink was cool.  Can't be a heat issue. 

I delayed more thinking about the mystery.  May as well vacuum the house.

I cleared a chihuahua worth of dog fur out from next to the emergency water in the laundry.  Crappy housekeeper that I am, there are some pockets that this 6'4" frame doesn't get to easily.

After telling Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) that all is well, and the vacuum is stowed, I settle back in.

One screw and the bottom is back on the laptop.

I flip the thing over and plug the power back into the back of the machine.

I hope I hope I hope this works.

Wait.  It's not freaking glowing!  Is it that simple?

Yep.  I'm going to take a bullet for comedy. 

All that grief.  It turned out that I didn't plug in the power brick. 

Blue light came on on the power plug and the Dell whirred back to life!

Sometimes, you get the gator.
Sometimes, the gator gets you.
Sometimes, the gator gets your shoe.

I think the the gator got my shoe on this one.

Moral of this story?  Watch what you're doing in the morning before your coffee.  You may make yourself crazy when the laptop snaps you off!

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