Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"We named the dog Indiana."

I bought a new hat, a classically styled fedora made of oil cloth. This is actually waxed cotton and it's the eighteenth century version of Goretex. The hat isn't dressy but it's certainly practical. The brim provides shade. When it's raining it keeps the water off my glasses. I hate having water droplets all over the lenses.

Number One Daughter says I look like Indiana Jones, assuming that Jones was nearsighted and walked with a limp due to a bad knee.

Given all that, this should be the prefect hat for an intrepid adventurer. So I set off to explore the deepest recesses of my Toshiba laptop. There was good reason to do so. Apparently some voodoo witch doctor laid a hex on it, or perhaps it was under the magic spell of an enchantress. On the other hand, since the kids have been using it regularly, it may just be gorfed.

'Gorfed' is a technical description of an electronic device that is not working at its full capacity - or any capacity - for that matter. It's a polite version of a somewhat more earthy, older term, but this is a family webpage after all.

Number One Son told me the computer wasn't working right. Sure enough, it wouldn't open various programs. The mouse pad was partially inoperative, and the clock indicated I was rapidly traveling both backward and forward in time.

After conversing, conferring, and otherwise hobnobbing with some fellow adventurers, the near universal advice was to replace the battery on the CMOS chip. This is the computer's internal clock and without it, bad voodoo happens. I could almost hear the drums.

I found a web page with instructions for disassembling the Toshiba, so with a jeweler's screwdriver in hand, I set off in pursuit of adventure. The first set back involved taking off the hat so I could wear binocular magnifiers. Those screws are tiny!

The battery was immediately revealed under a cover for the modem. I could see it, but I couldn't get to it. There were a few extra steps involved, like removing the battery, CD/DVD drive, hard drive, modem, memory sticks, myriad cables, and a partridge in a pear tree. The keyboard bezel had to come off, along with the keyboard, and top cover. I evicted a family of illegal Swedish immigrants, which explained all that late night singing and the rapid disappearance of my vodka. Finally, I arrived at the mother board. The instructions said to remove just the four screws holding it in place, but there were about a dozen in view. I was certain that if I chose incorrectly, arrows would spew from the walls or a boulder would crush me. Decisions, decisions.

By carefully prying up the motherboard, I was able to determine which screws to remove. The board popped out, and there, in all its glory, was the button cell battery. The damned thing has welded leads, not a clip, so I have to go find a replacement to solder onto the board!

I'm going to put my hat back on and trek off into the wilderness of Radio Shack! First, however, there was a minor plumbing disaster to take care of in the kid's bathroom, but that's another tale of adventure and mayhem.



Blogger The Donut Guy said...

Yikes! Thats why I never do hrdware repairs on laptops (other then my own) Toshiba laptops are the worst....but I guess you are finding that out :-)

8:14 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

They're sort of like cameras, George. If you can figure out how to disassemble them, the repair is usually fairly easy. The thing that annoys me is the use of all those snap-in fasteners, like a hook and socket. You can remove the screws, but these things mimic a hidden screw, and you know if you miss it you can break something.

There was one tip on the disassembly page that I liked, and that was to use a guitar pick to help separate the upper and lower case. I saw a tool on one of the tech sites that did the same thing, but guitar picks are cheap. And who really cares if you break one?

While I'm thinking about tools, get yourself a couple of chopsticks from a Chinese take out place. They're usually bamboo, a very hard wood, and they make excellent small scrapers that won't damage a circuit board or a painted part. And when they go dull, you just resharpen them with a pocket knife.

8:51 PM  
Blogger lemmiwinks said...

Ah yes, the joys of laptop disassembly. I often wonder if they have shares in screw factories!

As for the joys of plastic clip technology...Just wait until you want to get into the display.

4:24 PM  
Blogger John Romeo Alpha said...

And trying to get solder to stick to those batteries is always a good time.

12:09 AM  

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