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Qualified Success

June 29, 2017

The day after we got back from Florida, I did a project I’d been procrastinating about for literally months: I tore down my laptop to replace the power jack. I noticed this small but vital piece was broken upon my return from my winter trip to the Great Lakes states, when a jagged piece of plastic fell out of the side of my laptop when I went to plug in the power cord. I didn’t drop it ever, so apparently that corner of the case wasn’t up to the rigors of all the travel and movement I’ve put my laptop through in the little over two years I’ve had it. Maybe it got some extra stress on the recent trip, or maybe it was cumulative damage, or maybe poor design. Regardless, the machine still worked when I plugged it in (despite sometimes getting a warning on screen about the power, which I felt like I’d seen before so didn’t worry too much), and we had a houseguest just then, so I put off dealing with it, other than I did find the part I needed on eBay for under ten bucks and ordered it that same week. True, the battery wasn’t charging, but it wasn’t low, so it seemed okay to put off dealing with the repair while I was busy with other things, like skiing.

I rarely take my laptop anywhere I don’t have access to an outlet, so this wasn’t that big an inconvenience, except I did notice the laptop was slower: slower to boot up, slower to do tasks like processing photos (especially noticeable when I was working on nail blog posts, which tend to be pic heavy). Then one day it took so long to do a Windows update (like hours and hours) that I thought it was truly dying. I did some Googling (on my phone) and found that the slowness could be a side effect of the “plugged in, not charging” state, so I was reassured that my machine wasn’t dying after all. I turned off automatic Windows updates (which I probably should have done long ago) and kept limping along until I had a stretch with no ski season and no upcoming travel. I might still be limping along if not for the day when I failed to notice I’d jostled the power cord enough so the laptop started running off the battery but not enough for me to notice it wasn’t connected anymore. I ran the battery down to 7%, which didn’t seem like enough of a cushion somehow. Since I wasn’t planning to take the laptop to Florida, I figured it would be okay to wait until we got back to take care of it.

When I did finally get focused and sit down to do it (after a backup of my most important files), I relied heavily on a video I found for repairing a similar model, which I played on our media PC in the living room, pausing and rewinding as needed while I worked at the dining table. Mr. Karen helped by keeping track of all the little screws I had to take out. Turns out the power jack is buried quite deep inside, and it was nerve wracking to lay my machine so bare. But I did it and got the new jack seated in the barely big enough space allotted for it.

In which I tore down my laptop

 
I reassembled it (again, with Mr. K’s help with keeping the screws sorted), plugged it in, booted it up, and waited nervously until I saw the sweet sweet confirmation that the battery was charging.

Good news and bad news

 
But wait, what were those green areas on my background image? Those shouldn’t be there. Crap. Cue frantic clicking around to see what else was green that shouldn’t be. Any images with dark areas were really messed up, like the one below from my nail blog. Rather hard to prep decent images for a nail blog when you can’t see the colors properly.

There shouldn't be any green here

 
I Googled variations on “green pixels on laptop” to see what this new problem could be; it seemed a pretty safe bet I’d damaged something when doing the power jack repair. I concluded that the best course of action was to tear the machine down again and retrace my steps, looking for anything wrong and being doubly sure to get things reassembled properly. But I wanted to do that fresh, so it wasn’t until the next day that I tore the laptop down again. I didn’t see anything obviously wrong inside, but did recall I had trouble getting one of the ribbon cables reseated when I’d done the power jack repair, so took extra time and care when I got to that cable this time. I was so incredibly relieved when I booted it up after the second reassembly to find the green pixels gone.

Fixed!

 
In the end, I felt both triumphant and chagrined. I’d done something I’d never done before, messed it up, then fixed my mistake. Sure, we could have taken it to a shop in town and had them do it, but that would have been more money spent and no feeling of accomplishment for me, so I’m glad we didn’t.

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