Laptop a la King

I love my laptop. It’s an HP 4560 with on-board wireless card, half a gig of memory, a 1.8 GHz processor, and more storage than I know what to do with. The laptop goes with me to work, where it hums pleasantly beside me, beeping once in a while to let me know I’ve got new email. I run Linux, which has some hardware compatibility issues with my model (the wireless card doesn’t work because there are no drivers for it — if I were more talented, I’d be able to write my own), but which otherwise is absolutely superb. I have a bona fide development environment complete with apache Web server, mysql, PHP, etc., at my fingertips, and even if I can’t get online, I can do programming and testing in this environment offline. I use as an office suite and find the latest Mozilla (and variants) to be excellent browsers. And best off, I get no more crashes, no more frozen applications that my most fervent CTRL-ALT-DELing still won’t shut down inside five minutes. Perhaps the best thing is that configuration of my laptop is transparent — I know how to get around under the hood in Linux. Now I’m not trying to pitch Linux here or to be a platform snob; I’m just noting that my laptop is pretty much my favorite computer in the world. The laptop to me is like the “Big Buddy” and “Kid Sister” dolls sold in the 80s, part of the jingle for which ran “Where ever I go, heeee goooes.” That’s my laptop and me, two peas in a pod.

But not this week, and probably not next week or even the week after. For a week or two now, my laptop’s been shutting down spontaneously. At first it was one every other day or so. Then it was once a day. Two days ago, it was every few hours. I noticed that the ventilation areas were staying very hot and that though the fan was going at full tilt, only a little very hot air was escaping the vents. When your computer starts overheating, you have to get it attended to before any damage is done to the board. Computers can cook themselves.

We had a Web server at my work do this a few months back. It kept shutting off spontaneously, and when we cracked the case open to check the cooling system, there were scorch marks. Makes the phrase “blazing fast” ring not only true but almost literal.

So I took my laptop in to Best Buy last night. They have to send it in to a repair shop, and it’ll be gone for a couple of weeks. Of course, retailer monkeys tend to be slaves to Windows, so they’ll wipe the hard drive and install Windows afresh. Which isn’t entirely a bad thing. I rsync my data over to my desktop system periodically and did so just before taking my system in. I’ll just need to reinstall the OS and zip the files back across the network when I get my system back. I’ve run RedHat 9 for a while and am thinking I might try something else. Maybe I’ll see how Fedora looks. In the meantime, I’m hating life .

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