Succesful laptop repair – Dell Inspiron 7352

I managed to repair my Dell Inspiron 7352 laptop computer again today. This time, the power connector attaching the motherboard to the tip-and-ring barrel connector had come a little loose, and I had to tape it in place. We’ve had 2 Inspiron 7000 class laptops and both have had similar problems.

This touchscreen-convertible, middling-powered machine is pretty good for web browsing, accounting, and lightweight programming and system administration tasks, but it has some warts. This is the 4th time the power connector has failed in some way in either this computer or another one our family owns. The symptoms are either that it doesn’t charge at all, or that complains about not recognizing the power adapter, and that it won’t charge the battery.

The first time this happened I called Dell and wasted the usual hour troubleshooting what was obviously a hardware problem. I sent the failing computer to Dell Service for out-of-warranty repair, they charged almost $200 and it took 3 weeks to get back. Ugh!

The second time it happened I was super frustrated about sending it back to Dell again so I let the computer just be broken for months. The tip shroud inside the barrel connector had broken off. Then the other Inspiron we own broke with similar power problems. This really ticked me off, so I opened up the case and found that one of the wire leads to the barrel connector had separated.

None of the jury rigged fixes I tried was stable so I researched the replacement part, which was easy as the assembly had a part number printed on it. I found a replacement part for less than $10 on Amazon. Thanks, Dell!

Replacing this turned out to be easy and fixed the power problem on both computers. I even ordered one spare just in case this happened again.

This week the symptoms returned on one of the computers, so after jiggling the connector as much as I dared without breaking it to no effect, I opened up the chassis. I then observed that the motherboard connector was not seated firmly, re-seated it, and put a tiny rectangle of Gorilla Tape over it to hold it in place. I didn’t have to use my spare connector.

Earlier this year I had also replaced the internal fan and swapped the magnetic hard drive for a solid state drive. The hard drive was actually failing, was throwing SMART warnings and had 4096 bytes in unreadable sectors. I got to learn how to use ddrescue in the process of fixing it. It’s like getting a whole new machine when upgrades such as this work as expected.

I like having multiples of the same machine because it makes it way easier to troubleshoot and repair the systems. Dell gets both the stinkeye for some bad engineering decisions and kudos for having systems that are easy to repair.

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The Foo Bird

3 explorers walked down a cliffside path to the edge of a lake with a local guide. The guide warned them that this area was dangerous because it was home to the giant Foo Bird.  if they saw the Foo Bird, they had to remain still or face doom, and whatever they did, they should not run into the lake. The explorers laughed off the story from the guide, whom they thought must be ignorant and superstitious.

As they walked along the shore a shadow passed over them, and they looked up to see the enormous Foo Bird, the size of a full-grown elephant. One of the explorers panicked and started running. The Foo Bird swooped in, let loose a huge torrent of feces, and coated the running explorer, who screamed and yelled “It burns!”

He ran into the lake and when he hit the water he caught fire, screamed a horrible gurgling last gasp, and then sunk beneath the glassy surface, dead.

The two remaining explorers looked at each other and then at the guide, for whom they had some new grudging respect. The Foo Bird soared away above the cliffs.

The next night, as they camped by the lake shore, the second explorer arose to answer nature’s call by moonlight. Suddenly the moon went dark and the rush of feathers filled the air. The second explorer panicked and ran, and the Foo Bird swooped in and let loose a giant gobbet of burning excrement, hitting the second explorer right in the face.

He screamed “It burns!” and ran blindly in terror, stumbled into the lake, hit the water, caught fire, and sank dying beneath the surface.

The next morning the last explorer and the guide broke camp and started to march away from the shore to the cliffs, after saying a few words of remembrance for their departed companions. The sky darkened once more, and though the third explorer tried to stay still, she blinked and the Foo Bird swooped down and covered her in poop. The Foo Bird flew away above the cliffs once more.

She did not run and jump in the lake, having witnessed the horrible death of her companions.

The guide wiped her off and helped her change out of the soiled clothes, and they escaped the lake shore without further incident.

The moral of the story is:

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If the Foo shits, wear it

My Silent Generation father taught this shaggy dog story to me around 1980 when I was 8.

Joining the stream of LiveJournal refugees

Like so many other people, I’ve just abandoned LiveJournal due to the increasing entanglement with Russia, the degraded security (they turned off HTTPS for crying out loud!) and the terrible implications of Russian law on speech, particularly political speech and that related to queer topics.

As of today the LiveJournal import plugin built into current (hosted or not) versions WordPress is broken. Furthermore the Internet is littered with fragmentary and incomplete advice about how one might work around this problem. Nevertheless, I persisted 🙂

I managed to export my LiveJournal entries by using ljdump and then importing them into a private, off-the-public-Internet WordPress 2.7.1 instance that still supported the old XML LiveJournal import format. Then I edited the posts and comments in the private instance, and exported them back to WordPress format, then imported them here. I may write more about this and share the tools as soon.

New Game: My #1 Google Creations (without searching for your name)

Here's a Google game I just came up with. The challenge is to find Google searches that return something you've created as the #1 entry without using your name. You get bonus points for short or amusing phrases, or if the results say something interesting about you.

Here are some examples for me: