Last night, about half an hour after posting my blog entry, the laptop blue-screened (i.e. crashed) on me. This was after only a couple of hours use, and with the Chill Mat running. It seemed to me that it was a hard drive issue. The mat was keeping things cool (at least the outside case was cool), and it appeared that things worked okay if the laptop was tipped on its side.
At any rate, I thought perhaps the issue had to do with overheating, so I Googled "Dell Inspiron 1100 overheating". I found a lot of people complaining about overheating on the Inspiron series. The best site was here, where the guy explained exactly how to open up the case and blow out the heat sink.
I followed the site's instructions at lunch (after first picking up some thermal grease, also known as heat sink compound). I took apart the computer and popped off the heat sink. I blew out the dust. It didn't look like there was all that much dust on it, which worries me. If there hard been huge dust bunnies I would have felt better. Now I'm worried that it really is the hard drive. At least the motherboard wasn't warped, as is possible with the Inspiron overheating issue.
I also downloaded a fan utility mentioned on the above site. This apparently allows you to customize how the fan works, causing it to blow more frequently (and, thus, cool the machine down better). I also downloaded the most recent BIOS upgrade, but I think I already ran that some time in the past.
I fear this is all a stop-gap at best and that the hard drive is messed up. If that's the case, we'll have to consider getting another laptop. I don't want to buy another Dell. I've had too much trouble with them. They never fixed the problem that stopped the laptop from recovering properly from hibernation (you'd have to reboot, defeating the point of hibernation), the desktop's motherboard was essentially DOA, the tech support was horrible for the desktop's problem, requiring me to call four times to get anything done, and now there's this problem with the laptop. I'd rather spend the money and go with someone like Alienware.
We'll see tonight, and the coming days, if the laptop continues to crash. I sure hope not, because we can't afford a new laptop...
4 Good Years
3 months ago