Wednesday, March 03, 2010

RIP Hawthorn

It's not wholly dead yet, actually, but it's not at all well.

Starting early last week I started seeing problems with my laptop's built-in monitor. No stranger to laptop monitor problems, I immediately raised the red flag to try to arrange service, since my laptop is way out of warranty (I think) and I can't really do my job without it. (Even using a loaner is a problem. As an IT manager I use tons of software that the average user, who can be 90% functional on a computer with Office and a web browser, doesn't need. Just moving to a loaner takes me days.) Same day, on-site service is one of the main reasons we switched from Gateway and Dell to HP. In fact, it's not just one of the main reasons, it is the reason.

A side effect of this effort was that me getting a new laptop got bumped up and I spent some time this past weekend picking one out. But that couldn't be the answer since it takes weeks to get a new laptop, and I doubted the monitor would last that long. First, the left edge of it started to fade in brightness and turn red. There wasn't a clear boundary, oddly enough; about a quarter of the way across it would gradually fade from dim-and-red to the full brightness. This went away after a day, and then I started to get flickering, which got worse and worse.

So when it was time to head to San Diego, I considered leaving it home and sticking with just my Eee. However, I was hoping to use some of my "sitting around in the hotel with nothing particular to do" time on long-deferred combat training in Lusternia, which requires a computer with enough brawn to handle all my curing triggers, and a full-sized keyboard and screen for me to work with. I also thought I might do some writing, which is better with a full keyboard and a bigger screen also helps, though I certainly can use the Eee for writing (and have done so before, at length). Afraid that the laptop could go before the week was out, though, leaving me with nothing, I decided to bring both.

Yesterday around mid-day the laptop took its nearly last gasp. The flickering intensified, then all of a sudden, the screen went black. On closer examination, not entirely black. If you stare really hard, you can see vague outlines of windows and even some text. The backlight is gone, but the rest of it works fine. So it's creating all the images, you just can't see them. I closed the screen and gave it a thump and opened it and the image was back, though too red, which quickly "faded" to the regular colors. But 15-30 seconds later it blinked out again. Closing and reopening would revive it, and then it would blink out again. This persists after a reboot, too.

Probably there's an intermittent connection or hairline fracture, which works until the process of it working makes enough heat to make the crack expand enough to break the circuit. Or something like that. Definitely hardware. I was able to keep the system up through repeated closing-and-opening enough to get it shut down cleanly and move everything over to the Eee, and I've been working on that since. The Eee is perfectly adequate, but I can't do Lusternia combat on it for sure. So that, which I have been meaning to do since the T1 line (and in ways, for years before that), is put off yet again.

Al has scheduled an HP repair visit to the office on Monday, so I am without my main computer until then at the earliest. I sure hope they show up with parts, ready to do a real repair, not just a diagnose. HP support has dropped badly since they laid off a jillion people (including a friend and former employee of mine, who used to be the one to do these kinds of repairs for us, and who also used to typify HP's excellent customer service and get-the-job-done attitude that is sorely missed). If they're not ready for a repair on Monday, I'm going to be fairly crippled at work. I'll have to waste a huge amount of time moving to a loaner while I wait for the parts, and then move back, and then move to the new laptop. I'll be another month behind before this is all done.

(Except, in the very unlikely case, they have a loaner I can just drop my hard drive into and go. That would be ideal. But my laptop's old enough that HP probably doesn't have one that it would work in, and I don't think they offer that service anyway. I doubt any computers at my office, let alone any loaners, are suitably compatible either.)

I'm very much not looking forward to having to do everything on just an Eee until Monday, either. There's lots of software I don't have on it, and the slower CPU speed, which is absolutely no problem for web browsing, chatting, and writing, is a great limit when I get to multitasking with the intensity I usually practice. This is going to be a tough few days or weeks.

No comments: