Thursday, August 27, 2015

It's Raining Laptop Parts

Everyone has had one of those days. You know, the kind of day when Murphy's Laws are the only laws that apply (and I am including gravity). When, despite your best efforts, you can do no right. When it rains and snows on your parade, causing most of the marchers to slip and fall over, with the rest of the parade tripping over the first group to go down. This domino effect causes more snow and ice, cancelling the parade and putting most of the marchers in the hospital, along with some of the spectators. At this point, insurance declares they won't cover the emergency room bill because it's an Act of God (even the people who tripped over the people who slid on the ice and fell down).

Where was I?

Oh yeah, one of Those Days.

The dog woke me up in the morning, for some attention. This is the first time he has done this. As it turned out, I had overslept and he was acting as an alarm clock.  Why haven't I learned to listen to the dog yet?

Stumbling into clothes and out of the bedroom, my glasses somehow managed to fly off the table and the trash declared that it needed to be taken out. The can is specially designed so no matter what size bag you use, it gets stuck coming out, causing all sorts of grief, cursing and hurling the can about, in the vain hope that it will free the errant bag. If and when the bag is eventually freed, it has new and improved holes in it. In places where they will be of no assistance whatsoever.

It was a bad day at work, requiring eight hours on the phone with my colleague in a different state. My ears hurt.  Once home, I sat contentedly with my laptop, checking email and doing Laptop Things. Only some of the keys felt weird. This was probably related to the somewhat dried sticky stuff on some of the keys. WHAT dried sticky stuff? Wifey didn't know and the pets were playing dumb (they're surprisingly good at it), regardless of the fact that the sticky stuff that stuck was not there last night.

I could feel it building.

At this point, the laptop started behaving as though it had gone psychotic, with random cursor movements and wacky program behavior. Either that or a hacker had gotten control and was randomly banging on random keys for his own amusement. He could have been watching the entire event for the sake of laughter, only I had taped up the camera because I'm Tinfoil Hat Security<tm>.

Reboot. This worked, for a grand total of three minutes, at which point the poltergiest returned, randomly typing nonsensical emails and sending them to the NSA. The joke was on me because the NSA already read all of my emails. The website I was reading jumped to strange adult sites, or at least that's what I told the FBI when they came to the door.

I got angry.

Cleverly, I decided it was the keyboard, as it was typing stuff by itself and the onscreen keyboard just sat there mocking me, as if it were nothing but an art project, like the CHANGE LIGHT buttons on traffic lights (or turn signals). Off to the private stockroom I went, to locate an external keyboard for testing purposes.  It was at about this point when I couldn't find many things I needed and when I tried, stuff came out of nowhere for the express purpose of falling on my head.

So I got angry.
And started screaming, because we all know that fixing computers requires a healthy dose of expletives. The dog can sense when it's coming on, at which time he runs off to the relative safety of some place that isn't near Daddy. The cat, as you'd imagine, just sits there, not caring.

Have you ever seen someone with a huge ergonomic keyboard on their lap and a laptop on a table in front of them? Someone who just discovered that the huge ergonomic keyboard on his lap would work but he needed a mouse too.

I got angry.
This time I let loose such a barrage that my friend in two counties over could hear me.

I managed to locate a mouse without much fanfare, except for the requisite amount of things materializing just for the purpose of falling about my head and shoulders.

So naturally I yelled at the wife, because she was not as smart as the dog, who was still hiding.

One external keyboard and mouse later, I had the system up. For three minutes.

So I got angry.
The neighbors were running up and down the street, yelling "EARTHQUAKE", as I growled in my best satanic voice at the errant laptop.

I was at the most horrific point I could be: time to take apart the laptop. I have a very reasonable fear of opening laptops even though I have built my own computers since day one.  Laptops have tiny little screws that hide themselves from view as soon as you try to open it up. After losing only two screws, you barely had time to notice the spring that sprung from the laptop, like Donald Trump fleeing a room full of unattractive women.

So I went to the place that has all the answers: the web. There were a whole bunch of guides to replacing keyboards and I decided the best one was the one from HP, even though they were the manufacturer of the laptop. It was pretty detailed or at least the first step was. They told me to remove the battery, which I nailed on the first try. Then they told me to remove the accessory panel. WHAT accessory panel? There was no part on the laptop with loud yellow letters that said ACCESSORY PANEL. This was because the people who write the manuals already know how to work the equipment - screw the consumers. And because I'm so attention-addled, by the time I look at the keyboard, I can't remember what the directions said.

After a surprisingly short read and only losing two screws (and something that might have been memory), I actually managed to locate the keyboard. Of course it's not that simple, nosirree. You have to remove three cables before the keyboard will come out.  Have you ever SEEN keyboard cables? They're tiny little pieces of plastic with many tiny little wires on them, roughly the size of peach fuzz but harder to see. You have to pull up the restraining bar then yank (ever so gently pull) the cable out of its connector. Go ahead - find the restraining bar, I dare you. Then try putting the cable BACK in the connector. It would be easier to bring Michael Jackson back and have Sofia Vergara agree to marry him.

Finally I removed said keyboard. I felt like the Champion of the World.  I could have done anything at that point. Anything except mowing the lawn, of course.   Then it was time to worry that the laptop wouldn't work without its keyboard. Fortunately it worked wonderfully. And when I say wonderfully, I mean it booted halfway and put something on the screen that looked like HAHAYOU'RESCREWED.

Then I got angry.
SWAT appeared outside the house, complete with Armored Personnel Carriers and automatic weapons. I think I even saw a sniper on the Crazy Lady's roof next door. It didn't surprise me much, as there's usually someone with a gun on the Crazy Lady's roof.

One more reboot seemed to solve the problem, although I swear I could hear the laptop laughing at me way down under the memory, right before the hard drive. It was being masked by the fan.

Emboldened by my hard-earned (and very loud) success, I decided to disembowel the keyboard, in hopes of fixing it before having to order a new one.  Yeah, right.  There are fewer screws in a Lincoln Navigator than in a keyboard. And they're half the size of a moderate ant (moderate being not right-wing or left-wing). It took an acetylene torch to separate the halves of the keyboard, partially due to the sticky stuff. Before you get that smirk on your face, the sticky stuff was brown and probably semi-dried soda. After I got the halves separated, there was laughter. Healing laughter. Laughter from me and laughter from the keyboard. Laughter because there was simply no way I was going to be able to fix the mess.  It was done. The keyboard won. I ordered another, oblivious of the fact that I needed to order a backlit keyboard. All I have to do is sit back and wait 10-15 days until Amazon ships it (from China). There should be a note on all Amazon products from overseas: WARNING: SHIPS FROM MONGOLIA - requires 30 days to arrive (stupid Mongorians).

I needed a small win. Something to save face. Something to take my mind off the soda-ruined keyboard and the random stuff attacking me. So I decided to type out this rant. On my cell phone.  What I always forget is that typing on my cell phone only serves to ratchet up my anxiety and make me MAD. Every time I hit a space, it ignores me. When I turn it longways, the keys aren't even as tall as the shorter way and it produces a comma for each space I type. I'm a dyslexic typist so that doesn't help either. By the time I'm two sentences in, I'm so upset that it takes all I have not to fuse the phone into the laptop and hurl them both across the room, through the tv, through the outside wall, hitting whoever it is on the Crazy Lady's roof with the sniper rifle.

When I finally put the laptop back together with its external devices and assured myself it worked, I stopped for the night. I sat down on the couch and exhaled, at which time my wife's laptop groaned and plummeted to the floor.

So I got angry.

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