Laptop doings

well ... bum.
HP Pavilion DV2. Well… bum.

There’s a sweet old lady I help out with her computer. Just before Christmas she phoned and the problem was thus: her laptop, just two years old, was dead. Dead, in that it did everything it should except display it. The monitor was kaput.

Now I’m not, by any stretch of imagination, a computer tech. I’ve put together towers, but really, that’s more like lego. Laptop’s no, primarily because you need weency fingers and a lot of spare screws. Anyhow, I trundled her laptop up to the local computer shop and almost before I’d opened my mouth they said ‘HP? Pavilion? Oh dear. Hmm, too expensive to fix even if we new what was wrong with it, though it’s probably the GPU (graphics processing unit). The best thing is to bin it.’

Can you say ‘built in obsolescence!’

The result was that, since she didn’t need a laptop as she wrote at home, the sweet old lady bought a new tower and asked me to dispose of the ‘wretched thing.’

Now, I’m not a horder. But I’m keen on ‘projects.’ Besides, it was an immaculate HP Pavilion DV2, and if I could get it going… well, peachy. So off to Google I went.

To cut an inordinately long story short I found out that:

  1. There was a class action suit against HP for the bad design of the Pavilion series.
  2. It was the GPU that had the problem, and that most excitingly:
  3. it was fixable!

Ah ha! I thought. A viable project. All I had to do was take the laptop apart, reflow the GPU, and reassemble it. Easy-peasy, and very Maker-ish.

There are oodles of video’s on YouTube.com showing exactly how you should reflow a GPU on a Pavilion motherboard. The thing is that none of these videos agree on how to do it. The concept is that because the design was flawed, the GPU got very hot. The hotter it got, the hotter all its solder connections became until, eventually, they fail. To reflow means heating up the GPU chip until the solder joints sort themselves out. Well, ish.

There are three methods I came across. The first, which I instantly decided against, was to put the motherboard in the oven on gas mark 6 for 20 minutes – this is not a joke. The second was to buy the pro kit needed to do the job properly. That was out for financial reasons. So I went for the third: using a miniature propane torch to heat the chip. It sounded the least mad and the most affordable. So I dismantled the laptop in preparation….

Two months later I finally got the propane torch and the tube of liquid heat sink required. I dusted off the motherboard, and, with heart in mouth, fired up the torch.

Letting it cool is an anxious time, as is testing it. Nothing.

I tried again. Nothing.

Back to Google where I found a thread that suggested anybody who tries reflowing their GPU is mad, if not carted away in a straight jacket certifiable.

Grumbling and in a last fit of pique, I trotted downstairs, grabbed the big kitchen Crème brûlée blowtorch and had at the motherboard with that. There might have been some  pleading, intermingled with cursing, involved, too. Nothing. Nothing, nada, nowt, dead as a dodo.

So there you have it. Although I’m no better off as far as laptops go, it has been a fun, if fruitless, afternoon. 🙂

 

 

 

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Minchin’s ‘Storm’

I have to admit that, to my chagrin, I’ve never seen Tim Minchin live. I’ve found him on the net several times and always meant to get tickets. But he’s either not playing anywhere closer than Sidney, or I wander off elsewhere and the mists of time obscure the desire. You know what it’s like online; you click a link and BANG! the next viscerally exciting new thing appears. You know: shiny things. So, back to Tim Minchin.

“Who?” Some, with a quizzical lift to an eyebrow, might ask.  To them let me say you’re in for a treat. Tim Minchin is an Australian English-born skeptical atheist musical comedian who lives in London, and I think he’s very, very, spot on and funny.

Earlier today I visited Patrick Rothfuss’s site. That’s the Patrick Rothfuss who wrote the utterly stellar fantasy ‘The Name of the Wind’, it’s sequel ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’, and yet hasn’t got around to finishing the damn trilogy. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s a true trilogy with a story arc that won’t be complete until the end of book III. It’s rather like having some yahoo tearing off the last third of the best book you’ve ever started reading and taunting you with it. Anyway, I had a gander at his blog and though there was no news about the book, there, live as any link to YouTube can be, was Minchin’s  ‘Storm.’ As I hadn’t seen it in a while I thought I’d post it here.

So, without further ado, sit back for a few minutes and enjoy.

Apt

Maudlin

I was trudging to the shop a couple of days ago when I espied this street sign – which was odd, as I’ve walked the same way to the shop many times and the sign isn’t new. Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to live in Maudlin Court. A small pied-à-terre in Goldmine Alley would be super, but a gaff in Maudlin Court, no.

Then I thought about other places I wouldn’t desperately like to live. Depression Way in Grayling, Michigan, didn’t sound like a barrel of laughs – even though it’s just down the road from Gaylord. Depression Hollow in Smethport, Pasadena, didn’t float my boat, either….

It was lucky I had other things to do at this point in the inquiry, otherwise I’d need a good few hours with the rather apt blue light.

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…and I’m feelin’ bluuuuuue!

Most humans are diurnal (active during the day), except for me. During the winter months I could happily hibernate and sleep for England.

I also (woe, woe, and thrice woe is me) suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Otherwise known as winter blues, it’s rotten, and proof that no matter what we think we are, we are animals like every other creature on the planet. Animals with a body clock – a circadian rhythm – that gets upset during the winter months because of the limited daylight.  It’s our body clock that governs whether or not we’re ‘larks’ (those who get up and go to sleep two hours earlier than average), or ‘owls’ (those who get up and go to bed two hours later than average) and our body clocks (chronotype) are as much outside our control as the colour of our eyes, the colour of our hair, and how tall we are.

Bloody body clock! I can re-set my watch, why not my body clock, too?

Body Clock
Average Body Clock

Not knowing it was a seasonal thing, I went to see el doctore about my winter blue depression (there’s a song or twenty in there – probably with a mournful harmonica somewhere near the end). The doctor handed me a script for an SSRI class anti-depressant. Luckily for me I don’t like pills. Besides, they take several weeks to start working, you can – amongst other wonderful side-effects – become suicidal, and it’s damn near impossible to stop taking them … super! 😉

So I took to the net and found light was the answer: blue light of a specific frequency to be more exact. I bit the bullet and bought one and I can honestly say it works. I could still sleep for England, but now I’m not depressed about it. 🙂

...chasing the blues away
…chasing the blues away

 

Dark and moody Steampunk

steampunk at the Kave
steampunk at the Kave

There is an artist’s gallery on King Street
that exhibits many strange things.
Dark and moody the photographer felt
as he snapped the old Steampunk odd bling.

What manner of science was it meant to employ?
To what realm would it send its maker?
And as its fey blue light began to beat slowly,
fear became the observer’s neighbour.

It is the truth. The very next day it was gone….

Witnessed this day, 26th December in the year of our lord 2012, within the bounds of the asylum in which the photographer lives.

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Jesus wept

Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012 – Jesus Wept

So here we are. Christmas! 🙂

The St. Leonards’ Christmas decorations: situated on the vacant lot by the station and probably paid for by Colin Booth, the sculptor of ‘Jesus Wept.’

St. Leonards’ used to have proper Christmas street lights. Of course, those were the days when the council could afford them; before we found out that bankers and politicians were infallible humans, too; not to mention crooks. They were the days before ‘austerity measures’ became the new black; when you could put petrol in your car without a mortgage, and buy your weekly groceries from your local grocer.

Christmas 2012!

Sixty years ago, when the general belief was that by now we’d be living in a utopian dream and have colonies on the Moon and be settling Mars (like the wild west), did anyone dream we’d be where we are today? The dystopian fiction I read never went this route. Yes, they’d be a nuclear war followed by a nuclear winter, or, killer robots, or, a pandemic that kills all but a ‘lucky’ few. No one dreamt that the world superpowers would switch; that they’d still be starving children, a vicious re-emergence of AIDS,  ice caps melting, and a slaughter of innocents by deranged gun toting lunes…. No, that wasn’t seen. Not in any stories I read.

The picture above isn’t good quality by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still in colour. Maybe black & white is closer to the truth:

Jesus wept bleakly
Jesus wept, bleakly.

I’d guess you would weep if you were being crucified for humanities sins. After all, it’s not terribly fair, is it?

This photo manipulation is closer to the truth of this Christmas in this place. Bleak. It’s bleak, and no I’m not turning all Dickensian and Baa Humbug. It’s just the truth. And we’ve not got it bad compared to some. I wonder. I wonder if, with the way things are going, Colin Booth might not have been closer to the truth if his neon sign had said ‘Arbeit macht frei.’

—————————————————

All the above bollocks aside, I hope you have a great holiday, sincerely. 🙂

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NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo – fin.

NaNoWriMo? Failed, just short of 30k.

I shan’t batter myself, stand in the corner, sit on the naughty step, or curse my ineptitude and bone idleness. I shall just sniff and say “Meh. Next year, then.” After all, it’s not as if I haven’t ‘made it’ before. I have: several times. I’ve been taking part since 2006 when half of you weren’t even born … so there! 😉

In other news … I joined a writer’s site called Scribophile.com which, though seemingly useful in that it offers peer critique, has a very odd – and expensive – paid version that doesn’t really offer enough to warrant the $9 a month cost. That’s my view, though maybe I’m missing something.

Duotrope.com are going to start charging for their service (for writers searching for publishers) as of the 1st January 2013. I’m miffed, because I’ve only just started using it. However, if it’s as good as I think it is then $5 a month is well worth paying.

There is so much available for free on-line that it is a shock when you have to pay for something – especially when you’re brassic. I gave a little to Wikipedia last week and felt really good about it. That fact that I use the Wikipedia site everyday, and that it is my favoured go-to for info site on the net, didn’t cross my mind. Google is the same: I uses their services shamelessly, yet they’re still ‘apparently’ free. Lucky old us!

Percy, our wonderful black cat, isn’t very well. He seems to have lost his sight and is drinking a lot of water. So it’s off to the Vet tomorrow morning which won’t make him happy – poor chap. It’s odd when you consider how much we love him, and yet in some parts of the world they’d happily have him for dinner. Humans are peculiar creatures.

Ave.

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NaNoWriMo

NaNowriMo day 22

Kittens. You’ve got to love them. 🙂

What? Apart from that? Nothing happening here … move along. Oh, okay. Here’s a bit of salutary advice from one who knows. It’s better to build the world before you start writing a story in it.

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NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo days 11, 12 & 13

Where was I? Oh yes, heat and water. Writing the great novel was slid onto a back burner while there was suffering. Suffering, I tell you!

Sunday came and went with those visiting going home to their nice warm gaffs and their turn the tap hot water whilst we … well, I’ve mentioned suffering, haven’t I. To add salt and irony to the wounds of pong and shivers on Sunday night there was an advert on TV – the first time I’d ever seen it – for Worcester Boilers. An advert that … oh, watch it yourselves, do 🙂

Thank Worcester for that? I pondered the question, weeping into my soup, and decided to hold off on the cheery affirmation and thank you presents.

And then (yes, I know I shouldn’t start a sentence – and especially a paragraph – with ‘and’) came Monday morning. The same repair chap arrived along with the head honcho. There was a lot of muttering and finally the big dude called the manufacturers. More muttering and reading of serial numbers, then a request for my phone number. Odd, I thought.

“Why do you want my phone number?”
“So the repair man can call before he arrives tomorrow,” Head Honcho said, his expression indicating I must be daft.
“Umm, not today? You said it was only a fan.”
“It is, but they don’t have them in stock and they won’t arrive until tomorrow anyway. Besides, it’s under warranty.”
“Ah,” I said, “so when will he arrive?”
“Sometime between eight and five.”
“What great service!” I said. He smiled.

Today The Worcester Man arrived! A pleasantly pleasant chap who was genuinely amazed the fan had broken. So all’s well that ends well, as William S once said. I’m clean, washing up is a pleasure (that maybe a little fib), and all is roses in the hot water and radiator department. I pray it won’t ever, EVER, break down again.

I’m back writing, too! It’s so much easier when  you don’t have to keep blowing on your fingers to keep them warm.

The caveat, that crept up on me during this debacle, is that I feel a tad guilty. Guilty that with the number of people on the planet who don’t have clean water to drink I have the temerity to complain about mine being cold. Guilty that I have a warm house to live in when there are people freezing on the streets. Guilt isn’t a good emotion, but pragmatically what can I do? Giving to charity assuages the guilt to a certain extent, but … but? Maybe the subject is best dealt with post NaNoWriMo and once I’ve finished my fantasy novel.

Sincere thanks to all those who have ‘liked’ my posts. I’ve visited some of your sites, but I’ll be dropping in on all of you, sooner or later. 🙂

Onwards and upwards! NaNo day 13 is far from over (almost four hours left), so I must buckle down and catch up.

Ave.

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NaNoWriMo

NaNowriMo days 9 & 10

warmth is good!

Yesterday, the 9th, we had a brand new boiler fitted. It was truly wonderful to be warm and wallow in a hot bath!

Today, the 10th, the boiler broke down: it’s blue and steady ‘hi, I’m ready to keep you warm and clean, you wonderful, deserving human, you‘ light started flashing in panic and … nothing. I read the manual whose suggestion – after pages of intimate boiler speak and complex flow charts – was ‘call repair man soonest.’ Remarkably, seeing as it was Saturday, the repair man came. Overjoyed? I’ll say I was!

I moved the microwave and all the other bits from the counter top so he could remove the boiler’s cover.

Ten minutes, and lots of prodding with his multimeter, later:

“The fan’s broken,” he said.
“But it’s brand new!”
The repair man shrugged.
“I assume you don’t have a fan on your van?” I said.
“No. Monday’s the soonest,” he said, as he packed up and quietly left, leaving me sobbing in the kitchen.

As to NaNo: it progresses as I slowly get older … and now, inevitably, smellier. If I had a old tin bathtub I could put it in the kitchen and fill it from a kettle on the range. I could scrub my back with Lye soap, drink moonshine, dry myself in front of the fire and … nope. I’m too soft. Besides, there isn’t a range or a fireplace, and I’d end up in A&E.

Roll on day 12, a new fan and a working boiler, and breaking the 20,000 words barrier. 🙂