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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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in which the universe is filled with suck
children of dune - leto 1
One of the bigger issues with being a liberal arts girl is that I have no actual decent training in how to fix my own computer. Left to my own devices, I actually *would*--witness the fact that my laptop is the first computer I've ever owned that I didn't disassemble at least once to see how it works, vacuum out, screw random things in, and then put back together. That's also my idea of fun on a weekend, but beside the point.

Yes, for those playing the home game, there are very few pieces of electronics I have not taken apart to gawk at and attempt to fix--witness my Adventures With Large TVs (DOES THIS SAY X-RAYS? IS THAT BAD?), Adventures With VCRs and Screwdrivers (AKA OOH LOOK AT THE THINGS INSIDE SPIN AROUND WHILE I STAB STAB STAB WITH A SCREWDRIVER!)(ALSO THIS ACTUALLY WORKS!), Adventures in Installling DVD-RW (OOH IT DOES NOT FIT! I SHALL MAKE IT FIT!) etc etc etc. It's an unfortunate circumstance of having a lot of interest, easy access to tools, and zero actual talent.

However, a laptop isn't a desktop, where I'm comfortable spreading a blanket and breaking it down into its component parts before putting it back together. Hence my power jack, which now requires new and interesting wiggling to make it power John the Laptop, must be fixed by someone not me.

Not that I did not spend six hours last night trying to get a short education in Soldering the Home Game and Epoxy: Friend or Foe? Or you know, find my freakish proprietary Dell jack on sale and fight the urge to buy it immediately and figure out how to nail it to a motherboard later. And if I figure it out before Monday--oh yeah. I'm so going to become Junior Amateur Engineer Girl.

You know, I can actually *feel* the horror of most of you right now. Please breathe.

The problem is, my warranty ran out a month ago, which is an issue, and two, Dell's solution, from what I can find on the boards, is to just make me buy a whole new motherboard. Which is approximately the cost of say, buying a whole new laptop (and yes, I was on Dell's site last night checking up on price). And that kind of makes me bitter? But then I look at John and remember how much I love him, and then breathe.

After hunting out what seems to be aluminum tape for fiberglass--or what I call, metal duct tape (everything is duct tape when it is sticky and holds things in miraculous ways)--I managed to tape the adapter into the back panel at a carefully determined angle that allows it to power up after wiping one of my batteries last night. It's very--something. I really dont' want to say what it looks like, but it makes me sad.

Anyway, googled up laptop repair in Austin, hunted down the first that looked reputable, started asking questions, and discovered that no, they couldn't fix it and referred me to another people, who seem okay and from pictures on the site, several are disturbingly attractive. I am now fighting the humiliating urge to take them my computer and then seduce one on top of the counter while murmuring sweet nothings about my speakers in their ear.

This cannot end well.

Anyway, assuming that I take it in Monday, I'll be out a laptop until either Friday or the next Monday (I actually can feel the withdrawl tremors starting just thinking about it). I'll still have access to Brian, my desktop, and I'm doing another full backup of John onto my external just in case, but there's a possibility I won't be online very much due to withdrawl, sulking, and hysterical crying. Or with my luck, Brian having a tantrum and breaking down to spite me.

Seriously, is it too late to go back adn get a degree in something involving computer repair? Engineering? This is far too stressful.

Notes before Monday:

1.) Back up entire hard drive.
2.) Move all music to ipod
3.) Consider selling self to anyoen willing to keep computer running.
4.) Cry a little and promise John anything he wants to never do this to me again.

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(Deleted comment)
Ok, I used to work in computer repair? This happens distressingly often with laptops, although this is the first time I've heard it happen with a Dell - usually HP or Compaqs have this problem.

Unfortunately, I can tell you that this is a relatively hard problem to fix. One of my electrical engineering major buddies felt comfortable soldering the power supply back on to the motherboard, but yeah, it's a hack to do so, they're not really designed to be fixed, which is a bad design. Most repairshops are probably going to tell you to replace the motherboard rather than solder your motherboard and have it fail later. As a workaround, you could look into getting an external battery charger and a spare battery, but again, this is less than happy. Out of curiosity, what exactly is the problem, and what exact model do you have?

Inspiron 6000.

I bought a new battery and a new adapter just to be sure and test it, btw, so.

I noticed I was having random moments of power shifting between battery and AC power. At first I thought it was the adapter, so I bought a new adapter. That was not the problem. To get AC power, I had to jiggle the cord around into position in the slot. The slot also feels loose. Anyway, Thursday, seriously started being difficult to keep AC power going. I looked up the problem everywhere and ran into other people with the same issue and the same idea--the DC jack on teh motherboard is loose. So Dell's solution is a whole new motherboard, which Christ, can buy a new laptop for that, but another few sits linked off of Dell forum brought up the idea of just replacing the jack itself. The company recommneded specializes in fixing Dell computers and has the jack, so if that is the problem, it should be repairable, as the recommender said they did that. Otherwise, basically, strip down this laptop and sell it for parts, and buy a new one. Or learn to solder. Actually, come ot think, my sister solders. Hmm.

Taking apart things and gawking at the contents is wholesome fun for the whole family. I approve.

Yes! HUGE FUN! *bouncy*

Did you call Discount Electronics? They are the only folks I call to repair my laptop. www.discountelectronics.com They also seem to specialize in Dells, which would be a plus for you.

Hmm. I wish they had something on their repair rates on their site. Are they expensive?

Possibly I have contemplated keeping old electronics just to take them apart before throwing out. *happy glow*

*smug* My VCR ran for months stripped of its cover, safely above Child's reach, with me poking it every so often to make it keep running.

Good times.

oh dear, this sounds strangely familiar. I had an illustrated guide to soldering ready to go before I was advised that maybe I should leave the jack repair to someone who had more engineering knowledge then simply "SHINY." Ah, but it would have been fun.

*sighs* People spoil our fun sometimes.

*sulks* Professionals. *sighs*

You may be interested to know that I was having exactly the same problem with my Acer laptop a couple of months ago; the thing wouldn't charge the battery or receive power from the cord without jiggling the jack connection. Oddly enough, the problem turned out to be the power cords... both the one that came with the laptop, and the extra one I'd gotten a while back from Radio Shack. I thought the Acer folks were messing with me, trying to get out of fixing it, but sure enough, the replacement adaptor they sent me has worked without any problems ever since.

So, this may not be the case with yours, but it's at least something to hope for, yes?

I have a policy of dissecting all dead electronics before they get to go to the dumpster.

This happened to my roommate's Dell laptop in college. Turned out that the port in the back had somehow warped. I'm pretty sure she didn't need a whole new motherboard, just a new power port (though it takes just about as long to replace).

But I will say that Dell laptops tend to suck in general. Another friend of mine, wileecoyote8, has had her laptop from the school for three years. Over the three years, every piece of hardware has been replaced (screen, case, harddrive, motherboard, keyboard, touchpad, CD Drive, processor, etc).

It's not really that Dell laptops suck (although, I've seen a lot of problems with the Inspiron line), as that laptops are finickly mofos. Apple laptops have problems too, as do HPs. With the Inspiron 5100-5140s (I'm guessing that's what your friend has) what you run into is overheating due to the P4 processor, which then proceeds to cause other components (motherboard) to basically melt. This is often compounded by dust/lint in the fan - I've seen some that looked like the lint catcher in my dryer. It can be checked, with greater or lesser ease depending on the laptop. Using compressed air does help, but after a certain point, there's giant dust bunnies that won't clear.
Keyboard replacements are somewhat common due to wear and tear, I just had my LCD backlight replaced, case.. what did she do to it?, touchpad - moderately unusual, CD drive, common. Moral of the story, get an extended warranty with a laptop.

Once I took my desktop apart to vacuum it and couldn't get the heat sync back in... all of my computer geek friends offered unhelpful advice like, "Susan, you're a German major - what were you thinking??" To which I replied, "Hey, I watch a lot of scifi and medical/scientific shows. And it was dusty! And... I was bored!" Eventually I got it back together through the power of determination and staying up really late.

*hugs from my laptop (named Rodney) to yours*

You know, i get funny looks from people when i tell them i name all my computers. (the current laptop is called Plumblossom, the desktop Max)

My mother had a computer at one point that was so decrepit it was christened "That Stupid Useless God-Forsaken Piece of Junk With the Tiny Screen". The name was actually written on it in marker. Cue more funny looks from anyone visiting my mother's house.

Also, much love for your use of the bodgering skills and the Gaffer [/Brit] Duct Tape. Remember: it's like the Force - it has a Light side and a Dark side, and binds all things together. *nods sagely*

I suddenly have images of a two or three year old Rodney taking electronics apart to gawk at the insides.

And I'm glad I'm not the only one who names computers. My new desktop is Rodney. =)

It's beginning to happen to me too! AGAIN! I feel like it's my laptop destiny. It's what went wrong with my first one (HP) and with this new one, a Toshiba, only three months in. They replaced the motherboard under warantee, and now, a year and a half later, it's beginning to happen again. WOE! I can't afford a new one!! It should last longer than a year and a half, dammit!!!

Huh-not just me then. My power supply-maybe-blew on my computer and I went to CompUsa to get a tester, which they didn't have. They gave me the -hey bring it in and we'll test it for you spiel, to which I was like 'but,but, I want to do it myself'.

I have a burning desire to build my own computer.

Me too! God, that would be so much *fun*.

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