Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back To The Lab

Laptop On The Blink
I have recently been thinking about the fact that my Toshiba Satellite was the cheapest laptop in Radio Shack, and was on sale, as if they were trying to liquidate the things...
It is a amazing to think that for $150 a laptop can be assembled, with all the individual parts having been manufactured and then put together and shipped, etc.
So, I was kind of prepared at some subconscious level for last evening, when I turned on the thing, to listen back to a recording that I had spent about 30 hours on; and the little yellow lights never came on, and then the white light (which basically tells me that the thing is plugged in) didn't come on after I re-plugged it in; in an attempt to "reset" the thing. A lot of computer problems can be remedied by just shutting the thing off and turning it back on...I guess, kind of like a person being "born again."
There had been some foreshadowing...
The previous night, as I was in the kitchen while the song that I was working on played on "infinite"* repeat in the bedroom (something I do because an idea might come to me about what might sound nice in a certain spot) the circuit breaker in the panel on the wall was tripped, shutting off the laptop and the rest of the electricity going to that particular room.
I reset it, but couldn't help wonder how something that was sitting undisturbed could suddenly cause a spike in current sufficient to trip the circuit breaker.
Then, as it was Wednesday night, and it was getting late, I decided to stay in and work on some things, even though I was down to less than 3 dollars in cash.
I was on my way out to run to the grocery store, in preparation for spending the night in, when I ran into another resident, a woman who was in her work uniform, whom I had spoken with a few times, mostly upon the subject of how it is to work a job in a city full of skeezers.
"Are you going out to play?" she asked.
"No, I thought I would take the night off, even though I feel guilty."
"There's a lot of people down there. I just came from the Quarter and it is packed; with the French Quarter Festival going on and everything. You'll probably make some money down there..."
This made me feel even more guilty, but I told myself that during a 3 or 4 day "festival," there can indeed be a lot of people in the streets, but that wouldn't mean that they are spending money. A lot of time that happens on the last day of it, especially if they had seen you out there the previous nights, but had not tipped you (more guilt).
So, had I gone out and made good money, I would have been returning early the next morning with perhaps enough money in my pocket to fix the laptop when I would have turned it on to discover it dead.
I do feel a resolve to go out and busk and even play when I don't really feel like it; just to get the money to recover the thing.
My electronics background tells me that the problem is the power supply.
I had been sleeping with a song playing on an "infinite" loop* which could easily have caused the thing to heat up, especially if it wasn't sitting so that it had adequate air flow through it.
Now that I think of it, the bottom of the thing has little nubs that raise it about an eighth of an inch off of whatever surface it sits on, and I had positioned it on the corner of my bureau, so that the screen would be facing me when I was at my microphone, and that might have blocked the vent...
This is a chance for me to consider the rhetorical question of "What did people do before laptops?"
Out of habit, I frequently made motions towards the device, to check something in my dictionary, or to even use the onscreen calculator, before stopping in my tracks with what will be my mantra in the next few days in my mind: "Oh, yeah, that's right; the thing is fried..."
*infinite until a part fries
My next step is to plug a known good power adaptor into it and hope that solves the problem (for under $20) before opening the thing up to inspect the power supply inside, which hopefully is a part that just screws in and out and can be found cheaply online.
There is no way I'm going to take it to a computer repair place and have them tell me (for a $60 "diagnostics fee" that the problem is a $10 power supply which they can replace for me at $27 for the supply, plus a $50 labor fee) what I basically already know. I'm sorry, the days of technically knowledgeable people making obscene amounts of money for doing almost nothing are over; unless they want to prey upon those who know absolutely nothing about electronics.
I might have to buy a screwdriver and maybe try to borrow a volt meter from someone, but I am 90% sure that the power supply threw the circuit breaker in the house when it started to fry, which probably saved it from totally frying, and then it hung on by a thread until last night.
I'm not stressing out too much, as I'm pretty sure my data is safe, and this will make me appreciate the thing more if and when I get it back up and running.
I had just recorded a pretty interesting piece of music, and now it might be a few weeks before I can hear it back.
I now go to run my quarter mile, come back with some cat food, and then, yeah, be at the Lilly Pad a bit early on this "people are everywhere because of the French Quarter Festival" occasion.
I had some good money nights a year ago during the event, which is street music oriented. I will be on a mission to fix the laptop this year; for now it is back to the Sacred Heart computer lab....

1 comment:

Alex said...

Look for a Dell Latitude running Windows 7, on Craig's List etc., you should be able to score one for $200 or less - it's the exact same thing I'm typing on now and I'm really happy with mine.