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Friday, February 17, 2006

When Computers Go Bad

Saturday night, Daughter Dearest came in with her laptop and said “it’s doing something really weird: it gets all these pretty colored lines on the screen, then it goes black and freezes.” I held down the power button to force a shutdown, then restarted it. It got to the "Welcome to MacOS X" screen, then did exactly what DD said it did. I shut it off again, jotted down her serial number, and looked it up. Whew, all of three weeks left on the warranty! Thank God it wasn’t three weeks after.

It’s not unheard of in the G3-series iBooks (maybe the G4s too) for this to happen. It’s either the cable the runs from the screen to the motherboard (new cable) or the graphics chips (new motherboard). DD is jonesin’ for her laptop, and using mine some nights (which partially explains why I haven’t updated much this week). The bright spot is that she might get a G4 motherboard out of the deal, a nice little upgrade.

Since she had my laptop, I picked up Bedbug, an old (as in 100MHz Pentium) NEC Versa laptop running Debian Linux. Some time back, it had gone sour after an upgrade, and I’d never gotten around to fixing it. Without getting all geeky on you (that’s coming though!), the upgrade had lost the network (and other) drivers, which turned its network into a not-work. The old kernel (the central piece of the OS) was still on the hard drive, along with its drivers, so I told Bedbug to drop back to the old kernel. Presto! Well, not quite. It now realized it had an Ethernet port, but the hardware was acting like it didn't work right. It might be the cable I was using; we’ve strung it through more than a few doors in its day and it might have finally broke. I’ll try it tomorrow with a good cable and see if it does any better.

...and we got an offer to extend the warranty on DD’s computer for another year, for $148. Mrs. Fetched and I had the same thought: if it flakes out again, we’ll be way ahead on that deal. Now where’s that checkbook....

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