Monday, June 12, 2006

Broken things (myself included)

Entropy has assaulted the Goodall household this past week. It actually started about two months ago. My laptop crashed one day with a page fault. This can be a symptom of a number of problems, including viruses and hard drive failure. The laptop had been running all day. A couple of weeks ago it happened again. This time the laptop had been running for about six or seven hours. Last Tuesday it crashed after two hours, and Thursday it crashed after about an hour and a half. Swapping memory modules seemed to help for a short while.

I determined that the problem was overheating. The laptop, a 26 month old Dell Inspiron 1100, always ran hot. Uncomfortably so, even while sitting on a lap tray. When I let the computer cool everything was fine. Once it warmed up, the fault happened again. We realized we might have to replace it, though we really couldn't afford to. I would like to get a new one, but I'd prefer to get one that was lighter (this sucker is such a pain to lug through airports).

Fortunately, it looks like I solved (or temporarily alleviated) the problem. I bought a Targus "Chill Mat" on Friday. It's a plastic laptop mat with two fans in it. The fans are powered by the USB port and are fairly quiet. (They certainly aren't as noisy as our Dell desktop, which sometimes sounds like the turbofans on an Airbus A380 during takeoff.) I was pleasantly surprised by just how much those two little fans cool the laptop. The bottom of the case is warm — not hot — and not unpleasantly so. I ran the laptop for about 16 hours yesterday as a test, and didn't have a single problem, though I also had the battery out to let air flow through the battery slot, too. Looks like the problem may be licked, at least for now. I would advise anyone to buy the chill mat. I don't doubt that it would extend the lifetime of a laptop.

The other thing that broke last Thursday was me. More accurately, I threw my back out. I go home for lunch most days. I decided to vacuum the carpet. Sabine, our wee mutt, sheds like no one's business. Neither of the two old vacuums we had could touch it. The only thing that does a half decent job is the Dyson we bought as a demonstrator from Target. Anyway, I lifted up one end of our couch (which is pretty light) and had no problem. I lifted the other end, and I must have twisted at the same time. The muscle in my right lower back gave. I've been in pain ever since. Today was the worst so far. I think it tensed up overnight. At times I was bent over slightly while walking. We have a heavy duty massager at home; it helped a lot and I can now walk without wincing.

Alana stayed home with Logan today. Good thing, as the air conditioner was leaking. This happens every year. Two years ago we had the Great Flood, where I lost about $500 in books after the water heater burst and soaked into the carpet. Later that week the a/c leaked. Last year the drain line needed to be blown out after it started leaking, and they ended up replacing the main unit. Now, again, it leaked with the same drain line problem. Ridiculous. We're looking for some place else to live, but can't really afford it.

Alana's cell phone seems to be acting up, too! I tried calling her earlier when I was at work, but she kept cutting out. Her phone is the same model as mine, but mine works just fine in the apartment. We haven't been too happy with our phones (fairly new Sony Ericssons). I like the fact that you can run MP3s on them as ringtones. I used free software to create an Invader Zim theme for mine. It's very cool. Unfortunately the phones had to be replaced due to a firmware problem. They have a bad form factor that makes it far too easy to take photographs of your pocket lint. I tried three different phone clips before I found one that worked, but not before my phone picked up some battle scars. And now Alana's is acting up. They are good phones... when they work.

I ought to be writing something more indepth, and I will in the coming days, but right now I need to massage my back and get to bed. I went to bed way too late last night, spending far too much time preparing for a roleplaying game on the July 4th weekend. So, apparently my brain is broken too...


guess who... said...

and yet....*who* is it that insists upon carrying giant bags of dog food across the store on said broken back?

Allan Goodall said...

Hey, I took the buggy! Sure, it was after some prodding, but I took it...