Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Computer Troubles

I own two computers, a desktop and a laptop. My desktop is one of those beloved, five year old, completely outmoded machines just dying to, well, die. But, I love it and will keep it until that sad day comes - even if my sound card doesn't work anymore and the hard drive's days are numbered. It's been with me for so long that it's almost like a pet or a personal project, as I've updated it countless times and had many happy experiments of doing open heart surgery, just without all the blood and stitches.

The depressing thing is the fact that my desktop is now my "good" computer. My laptop is but two years old, but a real piece of crap Dell. It wasn't a cheap one, either - when I bought it, I bought it for when I was living in D.C. and got one that was a heavy mammoth of super powers and wasted cash (not to mention a pain in my back). Now, for some odd reason, when I plug it in Mr. Crappy Dell doesn't want to charge. I've looked up the problem and, given Dell's tendencies to overheat, I think that whatever allowed the electrical wires to connect to the battery has officially gone to the fritz. In all likelihood, it melted like a Popsicle left outside in the heavy August doldrums. Whatever happened to the days when Dells were considered reliable? Now, they're more likely to overheat and burn a house down than work for more than two years.

Given the fact that I don't even know if I want to fix my laptop, which will probably cost close to two hundred dollars (my friend's computer had the same exact problem - and we had the same model Inspirons, purchased within a month of each other), my ability to post is going to be slightly diminished. No more Panera posts, where I take it to the road. No more posts at my own leisure, wherever I am in the house. Furthermore, there's little sense of using Youtube videos if I can't hear them - which is why I haven't used many as of late. All of these problems sound like minor complaints, but people would be amazed at how the trivial things in life can put a dent into post-counts. (Anyone else notice the decline in blogs on Ryan's Take this summer? It isn't just because of a slow news period).

In a few months, I may go and get a Mac, but that'll mean I actually have to go and get a real job first. Ha! In the meantime, I'll try to make do with what I have and keep a robust website, filled with lots of content and reasons to visit. I do love my readers! If anyone's had similar problems with Dell Inspiron laptops and has any heartening news/advice, I'd love to hear it, but I think it's about to be laid to rest. If only there were battery chargers I could get that were external; the computer itself is fine, it's just not charging. Oh well. So consider this a notice to bloggers - don't buy crappy Dells, or you'll live to regret it.


Laurel said...

Ryan, are you still using the original battery in your laptop? did you realize that rechargables can only be recharged a finite number of times? each time you recharge it, it has just slightly less capacity recharge than before. it may be that you just need a new battery!

Ryan Adams said...

That's not really the case here, because I think technically you can plug in a laptop even without the battery and it should still work, as long as the cord is attatched. But it is a possibility I guess I could look into.

bostonph said...

Laurel is correct that batteries get old, but Inspirons are notorious for power supply problems. Support may be able to help...

Peter Porcupine said...

About 3 years ago, I replaced my Compaq desktop with a HP Pavillion - I went with the bigger machine because I wanted the Pentium processor instead of the slower Celeron. So - I have a laptop which is a genuine equivalent of my Compaq. BUT - I've replaced one battery for $135 even though 80% of the time, I'm using it plugged in. Now, it's blacking out and getting dodgy again, and I expect to have to do so again in a month or so. I've had it suddenly black out even though it IS plugged in. I haven't lost anything, as the power reserve saves stuff (even spider solitaire!). Personally, I'm looking for a notebook, because even though the laptop is great, when you load it up with the cord it weighs about 15 pounds. I plan to leave the Pavillion at home, and use the slower processor for email type stuff, and take a lightweight notebook to Panera.

Ryan - I really think you have a battery problem. My HP gets all hot like you say, too, but a new battery made it all well.

Ryan Adams said...

Hmm. Thanks for posting. So, you've had the screen back out even though it was plugged in... which was happening all the time. Maybe there's a way to test the battery at a Circuit City type place to see. If the only thing I need is a new battery, I'd be ecstatic LOL.

bostonph said...

There's a very simple test for that. Try running without a battery.

Here's a very technical, but good article on battery life. I've pulled out the important bit for you:


Simple Guidelines

* Avoid frequent full discharges because this puts additional strain on the battery. Several partial discharges with frequent recharges are better for lithium-ion than one deep one. Recharging a partially charged lithium-ion does not cause harm because there is no memory. (In this respect, lithium-ion differs from nickel-based batteries.) Short battery life in a laptop is mainly cause by heat rather than charge / discharge patterns.

* Batteries with fuel gauge (laptops) should be calibrated by applying a deliberate full discharge once every 30 charges. Running the pack down in the equipment does this. If ignored, the fuel gauge will become increasingly less accurate and in some cases cut off the device prematurely.

* Keep the lithium-ion battery cool. Avoid a hot car. For prolonged storage, keep the battery at a 40% charge level.

* Consider removing the battery from a laptop when running on fixed power. (Some laptop manufacturers are concerned about dust and moisture accumulating inside the battery casing.)

* Avoid purchasing spare lithium-ion batteries for later use. Observe manufacturing dates. Do not buy old stock, even if sold at clearance prices.

* If you have a spare lithium-ion battery, use one to the fullest and keep the other cool by placing it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze the battery. For best results, store the battery at 40% state-of-charge.

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