IT Again…

Last Summer, I had an incident with my laptop that I chronicled here. Since then, I’ve been a good kid. Every now and then I’ll pull the keyboard to blow out the CPU fan with canned air. Incidentally, canned air is the most terrifying thing in the world to kittehs. Even more so than acid water. As I’ve done this, the interval in which I have to blow out the cooling fan has become smaller and smaller. This morning, the laptop overheated and bluescreened on me. *sigh…*

I decided that it was about time that I more fully open up the machine and get better access to the CPU fan so I could more thoroughly clean the dust out. I figured that a deeper cleaning was in order. So, I got out my tiny screwdriver, turned on my task lights and tore into the poor computer. Some of the Toshiba Satellites have been made so that you pull the keyboard, and the top panel and then you have access to the fan. This is how Jennifer‘s Satellite is put together, actually. But my computer is put together in an awkward format so that it has to be torn down to bare pieces and the motherboard has to come completely out of the case in order to fully access the stupid fan! So, I had the lappy in a million pieces all over my sewing table and design desk.

I didn’t realize I would have to separate the heat sink from the CPU until this point. Crap. I don’t have any of the dielectric goo that you’re supposed to smear between the CPU and heat sink. Well back in the day, I used to just slap a heat sink right back on a P-II processor with whatever was left of the old grease. Maybe that would work here too. So, I cleaned out the fan very thoroughly and reinstalled it. I tracked down every screw and replugged every pigtail. Once I had every component reinstalled and had checked the whole thing over three times, I powered her up. The computer booted up and everything seemed great for about three minutes until it overheated and shut down. Crap. Heat sink grease. These earlish AMD dual-core, 64-bit processors are renowned for their heat production.

Having no car, since Jenni drove our only car to work, I had to either find a ride or walk to the local computer supply store. I called my brother who has not been working for a little while, and he agreed to pick me up and run my errands with me. We made it by the supply store and the cute little Asian girl helped me out. She apologized that they had no static bracelets or alcohol swabs, and showed me two different variations on dielectric grease. I opted for the allegedly better one. While we were out, we caught some texmex fast food, ran by the p4wn shop, and the insurance office.

Once I made it back home, I again reduced the lappy to bits and pieces, but this time I douched the CPU, GPU, and heatsink with denatured alcohol on a cotton ball and applied the gray goo. Again, I reassembled everything. Holding my breath, I didn’t lose any screws. Whew! By this time, I was getting pretty good at disassembling and reassembling my computer. When everything was all put together again, I took a deep breath and powered on the computer. It hummed to life normally and I began to check settings and files and make sure I hadn’t lost any data in the last crash. About three minutes in, around the time that I realized that I did not yet hear the cooling fan, it overheated and shut down. Again. Crap. I forgot to plug in the damned cooling fan.

Tearing the computer back down to bits and pieces went remarkably quickly this time. I was becoming a pro and wondered if I should start doing this for a living. When I had the machine into a million pieces again, and had removed the motherboard once more, I found that I had indeed failed to plug in the cooling fan on the last reassembly. The heatsink was nice and toasty from one end to the other, but the fan had not moved air across it. Practically smacking myself on the forehead, I plugged in the fan and reassembled the computer at record speed. Of course, my brother had decided to hang around for a while. He was getting quite the giggle out of my antics. But, but, I neeeeeed my computer!!! And, it doesn’t work like this:

Once the laptop was all one piece again, I hit that power button again. The computer hummed. Lights came on. I waited. I heard drives spin. I heard beeps. The monitor produced no sign of life. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After waiting a few moments with no life from the display, I powered it down yet again and laid my head down on the keyboard, fighting the urge to sob or throw the stupid thing through the closed window. I couldn’t swear that I had gotten the monitor plugged in on the last go-together, so it was safe to assume that I simply had not plugged it in. So the computer came apart again. All the while I thought about how normal people pay someone else to do this. The monitor wasn’t unplugged per se, but it wasn’t exactly fully plugged in. I’m not sure how I managed that, but there it was. I plugged in the damned display and screwed the damned computer back together.

I said a quick prayer and took another deep breath. I held it this time. I pressed the power button and clenched my teeth, still holding said breath. the next few seconds were an eternity as I braced for whatever should come next with Murphy’s Law. But, the lappy blazed to life with the Toshiba spash screen. OH HALLELUIAH, PRAISE JESUS!!!!! My ears were serenaded with the sweet sweet sound of the Windon’t startup jingle. By this time, the day was about shot and I hadn’t done any of the work that I really needed to. But, my computer is back together and running better than it has in some time. Ironically, I think that I can just as effectively spray out the cooling fan through the underside of the keyboard now that I’ve seen what I’m working with. Someday I’m going to pay someone else to do this crap though.

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4 thoughts on “IT Again…

  1. Toshibas. You either love ’em or hate ’em. One word of advice, though…if you’re gonna disassemble something like that, keep an old egg carton handy. Makes a VERY convenient place to drop those pesky nano-screws that require an electron microscope and a fifth of Jack to find.

  2. As followup to “instinct’s” comment, that’s why I just spent 3 hours working on my roomie’s pc and didn’t swear once, Not a single time… OK, a few times. Not more than five or six, honest.

    Good job on the laptop, btw. I’m just gonna use mine as a target when (I mean IF) it dies.

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