Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Technical Difficulties

I'm a menace when it comes to having nice things. I'm particularly rough on shoes. I'm also not great with electronics. More than one perfectly good mobile has gone to the Great Electronic Graveyard in the Sky because I accidentally dropped it.

In January, I managed to do something to the power supply of the kitchen laptop. The name 'kitchen laptop' is probably something of a misnomer since it doesn't exactly live in the kitchen but it does see a lot of use in the kitchen, especially for looking up recipes, converting measurements, and checking my email while I cook or bake. It's Peter's old Mac PowerBook and it's also quite good for playing NPR shows since its speakers are far better than my little laptop.

But I digress. The point is that while carrying the kitchen laptop and its power adapter from the kitchen to our bedroom (a journey of maybe 30 feet), I managed to damage the bit of the cord that you plug into the laptop. Don't ask me how; I've no idea. The little pin/prong thing inside the connector was bent by about forty-five degrees and the encircling metal had a bit of a dent. I managed to straighten the pin and the power adapter seemed to work as usual.

A few months ago, I dropped the kitchen laptop, but again, it seemed fine. It didn't fall that far, maybe two and a half feet. The fall didn't cause much visible damage except for a slight bowing out of the screen, but it popped back in pretty nicely. In fact, it was a few weeks before Peter noticed anything was amiss.

But then a few days ago, the kitchen laptop started acting up in the charging department. It would be plugged in appropriately, but would still be running on battery. I found that making sure the connector with the pin (you know, the one I damaged) was snugly secure would make the laptop start charging the battery. This trick worked until yesterday, when the battery ran all the way down to 3 percent, despite my best efforts to stop it.

We've ordered a new power adapter and are hoping that will work. In the interim, I figured I could press my little laptop into service. I've been reserving little laptop for writing duty only, so he's been neglected for the last two months. (Bad writer girl, bad bad.) I've only got two problems with little laptop.

The first isn't really little laptop's fault exactly. I have half-written a post about a trip I took last Saturday, but all the pictures are on the now dormant kitchen laptop. While the photos are still on my phone, I don't think little laptop has Bluetooth and I don't have a connector to physically move the photos off my mobile and onto the little laptop. So that post will have to be on hold until either the kitchen laptop works again or I find a workaround.

The second problem is the little laptop's fault. The Enter key does not work. The Backspace key has also become only semi-reliable, as have the backslash and the up and down arrow keys. This is a new development and I don't understand how it's happened. Peter took the keyboard apart and gave it a good cleaning, but the Enter key remains stubbornly out of commission.

The little laptop already had a problem with the five key, but that had an obvious cause. Ages ago, Peter was emptying the dishwasher and he went to put the hand mixer's attachment into the press. Only the attachment was full of water and some of it dribbled onto the little laptop, which had been sitting on the counter. The water was quickly cleaned up, but in the next days, it became apparent that the five key was DOA.

Not too much of a problem, since I could opt to spell out the word or, if I needed the symbol, I could copy and paste it in. Not having an Enter key is much more troublesome, since I use it quite frequently. Copying and pasting a carriage return from a Word document is a handy workaround, but it's still a pain in the ass.

My blogging, commenting, emailing, and Facebooking might be a bit sporadic until I have a fully functioning laptop again. I just hope the new power adapter does the trick. Peter's told me I can also get a new keyboard for the little laptop, which might be a worthwhile investment. But I still think I need a separate laptop for the kitchen, which is clearly a Danger Zone for computers.


At 5 August 2008 at 20:54, Blogger Noelle said...

I would mention here that maybe the kitchen isn't the best place for the laptop, but I'm assuming that you 1) already figured that out and even if you did 2) how would you read this comment with no internet access?

At 6 August 2008 at 22:28, Blogger Kaycie said...

I need a new laptop in a bad way. My F5 key is missing completely, and the mouse pad thingy goes nuts every once in a while, pointing and clicking all over the computer screen until I let go. Sometimes, I open or close things inadvertently. Annoying.

It's hard giving one up, though. There are tax files, photos, and music that I'd have to figure out how to move. It seems like more trouble than it's worth. Until the mouse goes nuts.

I hope you solve your laptop problems quickly!

At 7 August 2008 at 06:30, Blogger -Ann said...

Noelle - I know that technically the kitchen is a bad place for a laptop, but I find the kitchen laptop to be absolutely necessary.

Kaycie - Crazy pointing and clicking would probably freak me out. You could get one of those nifty little USB thumb drives to transfer files - might take a few goes if you have a lot of stuff but it's pretty simple. We've got a network so transferring files around is pretty easy.

At 7 August 2008 at 09:17, OpenID conortje said...

You sound like me :-)I once dropped an ipod into the bath - amazingly once it had dried out after a few weeks it worked fine again.

At 7 August 2008 at 09:41, Blogger Irene said...

I am not a laptop person. I would probably be dropping it constantly and be spilling things on it. My laptop would have a very dangerous life. I can imagine setting it too close to the stove and having it have a meltdown. So, it is just the old PC for me. All is well with it, except for the crumbs in the keyboard.

At 7 August 2008 at 22:39, Blogger Babaloo said...

Just checking in to see how things are progressing on the electronics front...

I'm back from Dublin, think we need to play Scramble urgently... I'm having withdrawal symptoms! :-)

At 9 August 2008 at 07:01, Blogger -Ann said...

Conortje - Dropped in the bath- that's a new one on me. I did once put my shuffle through the washing machine. It also worked fine after it dried out!

Irene - I think you're missing out. Laptops are the best. You can't haul a desktop into bed with you.

Babaloo - Welcome back! Things are the same technology-wise. I'll have to use Peter's desktop to have any hope at keeping up with you in Scramble!

At 9 August 2008 at 23:12, Anonymous Harlequin said...

My beloved five year old laptop has a banjaxed left speaker (the cover comes off and dangles off a wire, plus the sound ain't too great) and a CD drive that no longer functions or recognises CDs or DVDs. The main problem though is that the screen cannot stand up by itself but instead leans back at an angle of roughly 170 degrees. So it pretty much needs a wall behind it in order to function! Then there's the crashing and failing to work and me being afraid to turn it off in case it never comes on again...

I really need a new laptop. But I want a Sony Reader more...


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