Monday, April 10, 2006

Terminated abnormally.

I realized the other day that my old template looked like it was from about 1999. Not that 1999 was a bad year (it was probably the last time I coded anything completely independently), but since I was back, I figured it was time for a new look.

Changing my template made me remember why I gave up and left it the way it was last time.

I am not doing that again any time soon.

Moving on to the fun stuff.

My beloved laptop is back, after an absence of nearly a week. It needed a new motherboard, despite being less than a year old.

See, my birthday was back in February, but I work with kids, and they have a week of vacation off in February, that just happened to coincide with the week of my birthday. Now that I'm a manager at work, I knew for damned sure that a time-off request for that week would never fly; considering that I worked twenty extra hours that week to make sure everything was covered. So I had planned from the start to take a week off in March to celebrate my birthday. This worked out much better for all concerned.

I did however take the actual day of my birthday off; my boss is nice enough to allow that at the least.

Anyway, I took a week off in March, and invited some people out to the homestead to celebrate with me. The guest list was pretty typical me: nearly all guys. It included Jay, Vinnie and Mike, Joseph, Lawrence (who lives in England and who I see every five years or so), Cecil, and my close friend Elizabeth and her boyfriend. I also invited my roommate Rabbit, who I like, and didn't invite my roommate Chris, who I hate. Naturally, those that had to travel (which was all but Jay and Elizabeth) couldn't make it. Well, no, Vinnie and Mike drove out, so it wasn't a complete loss. I wasn't expecting most of the rest to visit - which is probably for the better. An event with both Jay and Joseph at it would probably be a poor idea.

The entire month beforehand, I agonized over what I wanted to do. Back in December, I had become obsessed with downhill skiing, after trying it for the first time. I desperately wanted to go skiing again, which would make the sixth time in the season. Jay, who has been a skier since small times, and Elizabeth and boyfriend were on board with the idea, as was Rabbit (who snowboards). Vinnie told me in no uncertain terms that he would never, ever ski, and being me, I figured that left sking right out.

I had a long talk with Vinnie, and he finally told me, as he so often does, to stop fucking worrying about making everyone else happy, because he was coming up here to visit with me, and if I wanted to go skiing, that was just fine by him. He'd gleefully check out hot guys and get drunk in the lodge, and laugh at me if I broke something.

Once he said that, I immediately called up Elizabeth and we planned out a place to stay for everyone, and the game was on. Vinnie and Mike came up a day before we left for the mountain, to stay with me as they always do when they visit. We stayed up late the first night, drinking decent red wine and playing video games and gossiping.

When we finally went to bed, I put my laptop on the floor - right-side-up and mostly closed. Usually I just leave it open and set it on its side. I was pretty toasted, and I had a half a glass of red wine sitting on my bedside table. It was close to the edge, and in a position where it could fall on the laptop, and the thought occurred to me that it would probably do so at its earliest opportunity. Being lazy, I shoved it further back on the table and went to sleep, once again being stupid and ignoring that voice in the back of my head.

The morning dawned bright, warm and sunny, and having two extra male persons in the room made it way too toasty for me to sleep. My bed's close to my windows, so I reached over and shoved open the closest window, which just happened to be the one over my bedside table.

What I forgot was that a few months ago, I had stuck a bottle of soda in the window. Well, maybe in the window isn't the right term; I have double-hung windows, and it was sitting on the top of the lower sash. I had been sick, and I stuck it up there so it would stay cold. And promptly forgot about it, in typical french fashion. When I shoved open the sash, that fell into the wine glass, toppling it over, where it broke right next to my laptop, spilling some of its contents on the top and onto me.

I hurridly tried to sop up the wine, but still ended up with a fragrant laptop for my troubles. It had been on at the time, and once I got the wine off of it, it was still on, but there was no video. I turned it off and prayed that nothing had gotten inside - it didn't look like it, but I wasn't sure, 'cause the entire thing still smelled like the bags of empties my hated roommate likes to leave in the kitchen.

I waited a few minutes, turned it on, and again, no video. I turned it off, repeated, and this time got nothing. Since I don't have too much respect for the phrase "no user-serviceable parts inside", I set about taking apart my laptop to see what I could see.

A small amount had leaked inside, and gotten on part of the internal frame, but the motherboard looked clean. I wiped up the wine, checked out everything else, and put it back together to try starting it up again. It failed, I needed to leave for the mountain, so I left it to dry over the weekend, determined to figure it out when I got back.

When I got back, it still wouldn't even come close to booting. I called Jay and asked for advice, which is usually my plan when my computer woes outstrip my IT knowledge. After talking to him, I completely disassembled the thing, and sprayed down the motherboard with some water. I was horrified when the water running off of it was pink.

I left it to dry for a day or so, and tried again. FAILURE. I was pissed at this point. I could still smell wine from one of the vents on the side, so I sprayed some more water in there and waited a day. That must have gotten the last of it out, because the next time I tried starting up, I was greeted with my desktop, which is currently a night shot of my favorite skiing mountain in the world.

I was overjoyed.

Until the screen went completely black and the computer went unresponsive.

This prompted me to creatively swear, and restart. I also went through some of the troubleshooting stuff on Dell's website, and discovered that it was booting just fine. Great. So now who knew what the hell the problem was, because it was happening randomly, both inside and out of Windows.

I put up with this for a couple of weeks, and finally got fed up. This decision was in part influenced by the fact that the warranty expires the end of this month. Since I value my sanity and low blood pressure, I chose to not call Dell tech support, but instead email them, describing the problem and steps I had taken to fix it. By now, I figured something on the motherboard was fucked.

My suspicions were confirmed when I received an email a few hours later from Dell, without the usual "Have you tried this? What about this?", but instead, instructions on what to do with the box that would shortly show up on my doorstep so that I could ship the laptop to them for repair.

I put off sending it in for a few days, because I am pathetic and can't bear to part with my beloved laptop. It came back this morning, with a brand spanking new motherboard.

I am a happy motherfucker.

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