...The Tech's Blog
A blog by Paul (Jack) Daniels, of all things technical being an independent publisher and some things not.
Sun, 05 Feb 2012 00:50:06 +1000 265 views

A late night thought piece, a bit of reflection perhaps; but I'm thinking back on the small things in life, that were played down which later resulted in a lot of backtracking or missing the high road.

This thought piece came about because tonight I've been trying to repair of laptop, nothing unusual, but it's designed in a way that it takes perhaps 20 minutes to disassemble (without damaging things) everything down to the motherboard. When I received this laptop (in lieu of payment), it had a couple of obvious faults, the drive was mostly dead, some zombie life in it, but dead overall; the keyboard was missing about 15 of its keys. Not a problem, $25 later and I had a nice new keyboard and there was a spare 320GB drive in my drawer. What I couldn't work out is why the HDD had failed the way it had, I've dealt with a lot of partial drive failures in the past, pulling data out of them as they give off their last gasps of life (usually doing it in a freezer to keep the drives cool so they don't decompose as quick :) )... but this one had me stumped initially.

An hour later Ubuntu 11.10 was running on it and things seemed fine, but then the power cut out, not the "I'm crashing, goodbye" power out, rather the "instant" power out. I fired it up again and 10 minutes later, kaput, it does it again. I did however manage to get sensors up and running, lo behold, the CPU is at 90'C+, a tad toasty (perhaps this was a laptop meant for hell?).

Ripping apart the laptop again, this time completely down to the bare board, I see that the fan/radiator grilles are choked to death, very common, I should have checked before. 10 minutes of cleaning and then 20 to reassemble... la la laaa splat it's dead again *fuming*.

Again I strip it down, this time I take the whole cooling assembly off the chips, check the fan (nice brushless design, no retainer circlip, magnetically held) - but the bigger problem is that the heat transfer goop on the CPU is hard and broken (and not just because I pulled it off). 10 more minutes and I've cleaned it up, applied heat transfer tape... and assemble once more.... you already know what I'm going to say next...

What went wrong? Some idiot whom might be named, forgot to reattach the fan power connector to the motherboard. Half an hour later it's fixed up and I'm hoping for a smooth ride.... no such luck :(

So what's wrong here - I think I need to use my bonding thermal paste to make it work, I suspect the thermal tape simply isn't effective enough for dealing with the CPU power levels.

After all this, how does it relate to my blog topic? It's fairly simple; if I had taken the time the first time around, to check and validate everything in the process carefully, I probably would not have had to do it three or four times over (maybe five). Still we all know this - the trouble seems to be applying it in practice, of which I clearly need plenty more of.

In the book writing realm, we had a small setback almost a year ago where one tiny review pushed our book down from 4.2 average to 3.9, it doesn't sound like too much trouble, that is until you find that your Pixel Of Ink submission is subsequently rejected on the day because of that review concurrently being posted. For those who know the power of PoI (especially a year ago when it was fresh), know that it represented a major setback in our exposure and sales. Damned small things.

... speaking of which, I optimised and I have 2 screws spare from the laptop, hrmm.

(Stupid fan connector!)

( If you're wondering why the HDD died, it was cooked to death by the failed heatsinking - the hard drive in a way became the heatsink due to proximity )