On Dropping My Laptop

Last night as I got up off my oh so comfy couch to stumble to bed, I instead stumbled across my laptop cord. I immediately came to a halt. Sadly, my laptop did not. Instead it continued on its desired course, without the benefit of my steady guidance, and discovered that thing we like to call gravity. The crashing sound it made as it slammed into my hardwood floor seemed deafening in the otherwise quiet house. I could only stare in horror at the realization that the 20 hours of work I’d done over the weekend wasn’t backed up yet. Why-oh-why didn’t I back up those files?! I know better than that!

I hesitantly approached my sad little friend. Did it know that I ordered a brand new shiny replacement laptop on Friday? Was it trying to escape its fate of obsolescence by self-destructing, with the advantage of severely punishing me in the process? I’ve nursed this thing along for five long years. It saw me through the dotcom bust, trips to New York and Hong Kong, Windows upgrades, new memory sticks, and a new hard drive. One of its USB ports was busted in a fall four years ago. The battery only lasts for 2 minutes, long enough to race from one outlet in the house to another. It’s time for retirement, dammit!

It was lying face down, partially open, like a hard-sided tent. I picked it up from the floor gingerly, as if a slight jostle or squeeze would do it further harm. It was rebooting, the Sony logo sitting in the middle of the screen as if it didn’t quite know what to do with itself. This was not normal. That logo should have flashed by for a quick hello and then moved on to other things. Yeah, uh-oh is right.

No operating system found.

“Oh no, no, no-no-no-no…” I rebooted it again in case it decided to change its mind. Same thing. I won’t repeat here what came out of my mouth next, but it was a long howl of frustrated despair that started with an F. It was almost midnight. There was only one thing to do – search for a screwdriver.

I searched high, I searched low. All of my computer screwdrivers apparently went on vacation and didn’t take me with them. Bastards. The only thing I could find was a somewhat small flathead. It barely worked but I got the cross piece and keyboard removed. I started in on the hard drive casing but the screws were smaller and there was no room to maneuver the screwdriver amongst the tightly packed components. I gave up at 12:30, exhausted and out of patience. Have I mentioned the part about having a bad cold? I went to bed with the comforting thought that surely, the hard drive was simply disconnected from the motherboard and that reseating it would do the trick — tomorrow.

I asked it to hang in there as I left for work this morning but couldn’t resist going home at lunch to tackle it again. My plan was this. Reseat the drive on the motherboard. If that didn’t work, use my handy-dandy adapter cable to connect it as a slave drive to my desktop machine, which happily, already had the case off. My hope was to extract the data. I’ve had luck with that before when other hard drives have died.

Half a turn at a time I finally got the screws out of the hard drive casing and lifted it out. The piece of plastic that connected the drive to the motherboard was cracked and bent on one side. I pushed it back into place and carefully reseated it. I plugged in the power cord, hit the power button (without putting anything else back together), and held my breath. I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a Windows flash screen in my entire life! I was so darned happy that I put the screws back in and put it all together without turning it off! That my friends, is what you might call a “bad idea.”

Fortunately for me, I didn’t electrocute myself or short-circuit my computer. It’s all put back together and working great, great being a relative term. Of course, I immediately got my files off it, just in case.

Here ends the melodramatic tale of how I broke my laptop and fixed it again. Join me next time, when I drop my brand new laptop, as is inevitable. I might even cry.



  1. Jeff Said:

    This reminds me of the sad tale of a grad student we both know who is so technophobic that he was using a floppy to back up a term paper until the inevitable happened. It was 2005, but he was working with his mid-80s knowledge of computers. So it could have been worse!

    (One guess about who that grad student was.)

  2. technogrrrl Said:

    Yes, I’ve heard that tale and it was indeed full of woe. It could have been worse, it could have been a 5.25 inch floppy. He seemed to pick up texting pretty quickly but I think that had to do with there being chicks on the other end. We both know what motivates our grad student friend! 🙂

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