Lappy Surgery

Hello all!

So, the Hampton Roads area is once again getting hammered with winter weather that this place is just not accustomed to.  It got so bad, they even shut the bases down early! As a result, I found myself with a little extra time on my hands. What else to do but update my website?

Today, I have a little story about my travails into amateur computer repair. I spent a decent chunk of Saturday elbows-deep in my Alienware M11x laptop. I’ve had this little guy since the spring of 2010, and I’ve become quite attached to it. The M11x was an interesting experiment on the part of Alienware…introduced not long after the company was acquired by Dell, the model appears to have been an attempt appeal to gamers who would normally lug a net book with them. I guess the appeal wasn’t that great, as the model was discontinued in 2011 and Alienware has not fielded a laptop smaller than 14″ since. For me, though, it has been a god send; infinitely more portable than my old Area 51m, my Lappy MkII, as I’ve come to call it, has literally been around the world with me. To my dismay, however, it had developed a bad case of asthma. The cooling fan was dying a slow death, and finally went kaput entirely during our recent trip back to Indiana. A quick check of the internet revealed that a new fan could be had for $30. The catch was that I would have to almost completely disassemble the thing to get the old one out and the new one in. Armed with a nice tutorial video on YouTube and a little “liquid courage,” I dived right in. This was the result after about 45 minutes of work with a screwdriver:

Lappy MKII is in pieces!

Lappy MKII is in pieces!

Once I got to this stage, making the fan swap was fairly straight forward, as was the re-assembly. After plugging the battery in, I crossed my fingers, held by breath, and pressed the power button. I was greeted with….nothing. No lights, no beeps, nothing. Lappy MkII was dead as a doornail! Fighting down my sudden panic, I rushed to my office to scour the interwebs using my desktop, trying to figure out what on earth I could have possibly done wrong. After finding a few terrifying forum posts about fried motherboards, I finally stumbled upon a post that suggested someone with a similar problem check to make sure that the cable connecting the circuit board containing the power button to the mother board was seated properly. With that glimmer of hope, I once more tore my hapless laptop apart to get at the offending connection. To my relief, I found that the plug connecting the two boards was, in fact, loose. Fully seating it, I reassembled the computer a second time (I was starting to get pretty good at it by this point!). Now came the moment of truth. Holding my breath, I once more hit the power button. This time, Lappy MkII fired right up, and all was right again. Overall, I’m glad I undertook the repair. My Alienware is now running as quietly as the day I got it, and I only spent $30 and an hour and a half on the fan swap. Now, my little computer friend is ready for another couple of years of service.

Well, that ran a bit long! Until next time…

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