Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Electronic Trauma: Life at HP

Today, I will be looking at the world through a sleep-deprived haze. Did the whole hormone (or lack thereof)-induced insomnia thing last night. I was up deleting picture files from my laptop at 4:00 this morning.

My laptop! (Hugging it to my breast and doing a happy dance…). I thought it was dead, or at least seriously ill. It had stopped talking to its AC connection, and therefore would not work on regular power, and the battery was swiftly dwindling. With as much as I have beat the poor thing (the screen is sort of hanging on by one hinge, I have torn out one of the parallel ports on the back, I could construct an entire bag of Frankenstein snack food with all the crumbs I have dropped into the keyboard) I figured something inside had gone loose, and if I took it to the local computer guy, he could fix it. Funny thing about these guys, when there’s something wrong that they can’t fix (which is just about anything) they hand you an estimate sheet of what it would cost you to buy a new computer (through them, of course), charge you $50 for nothing, and send you on your way. I picked up my poor, suffering machine and took it home to die. As long as I could still get it to eat a little (the AC connection worked sometimes if the cord was held at a particular angle…) I could use it gently in its last days until it quietly gave up the ghost. Sunday night, I determined it had stopped eating for good. Augh! The anguish!

Monday morning I was on the HP website, constructing my NEW laptop, which I could ill afford, but could not live without. I had whittled it down to a little under $1000. Pressed the "buy now" button, and was directed to the "financing" site. Typed in all my most personal information, clicked on "process," and after a few moments, was greeted by a screen that said I would have to phone them in order to answer some questions they had about my credit information. Let me say now, husband and I have impeccable credit. People are usually falling all over themselves to get us to take advantage of their financing and spend our money with them. I was pretty peeved about the "You need to call us" thing. So I thought, well, I guess they really don’t want my money. And I stormed away from their virtual counter.

At my left hand, there sat the old ‘puter, gasping… Down to its last 23% of battery power, and no way to resuscitate it. With tears in my eyes, I went on line to HP tech support. Where I basically self-diagnosed that I should try purchasing a new AC adapter. Mr. Support Geek recommended a certain part number that was going to cost me $90. Holding the thing in my hand, struggling to make out the tiny print (it’s obvious these things were not made for anyone over thirty to fix…) I discovered a different part number. Punched that number into the "order parts" search, and found the replacement part that was actually meant for my machine…and it was forty dollars cheaper than the one I had been told to order. Were the parts interchangeable, and was Mr. Support Geek just following company policy of recommending THE most expensive fix to the dopes who are stupid enough to contact tech support? Or did he actually make a mistake and recommend the wrong part? I don’t know, but neither explanation inspires confidence…

The story does have a happy ending. I ordered my new AC adapter on Monday and it arrived by Next Day Air on Tuesday, without my asking for special shipping. The folks at HP must at least have some idea of what electronics junkies we have all become. I tore into the laptop lifeline box, ran upstairs and hooked up my poor, languishing notebook. You could have heard the "Woo-hoo" on the next block when the little amber "battery charging" light blinked on. It lives!

The screen is still hanging on by one hinge, one of the parallel ports on the back is still shot, and it seems to have forgotten how to write CD’s. But, by golly, it greets me in the morning with that lovely blue "Windows XP" welcome screen. I think it has a few more internet miles and journal entries left in it. Just goes to prove that one of my parents’ old Depression-inspired maxims still holds: "Drive it ‘til it dies."


  1. I'm very happy this had a happy ending!

  2. Congratulations. Heaven only knows where the techie was, or what parts list he was working from. Glad your old friend is up and running again.


  3. Awesome!
    If I didn't know better I would think I was talking to one of my ICU nurses who is giving me an update on a patient's status! lol

    Glad you got the old gal to working!


  4. keep on limpin'down this road...

  5. you had me laughing and holding my breath in anticipation the entire time !!
    thanks for sharing

  6. That`s a great tale!

  7. Yay for the laptop life support.  Use it up and wear it out before you replace it -- the only way to go.

  8. Lisa you are so darn funny!!!

  9. Lisa-
    You are as bad as me about your laptop! My little Gateway 320XL has become a part of my body....I swear it has. It's like a long lost best friend that gets to sleep either right in bed next to me or on "my" nightstand. Husband wanted to burn a CD on it and I very quickly said NO WAY, I will do it thank you very much. I still love my desktop which is also a Gateway and a great machine that I have gone through great pains to take care of: installed a new hard drive (Pentium 4), new video card, wireless keyboard (husband broke other one), 21' inch flat screen and other little geek things. But I have to say, my 320XL would always come first!

    I'm very glad to see that you got your laptop fixed. Before you buy, check out Gateway. There tech support and sales people are unbeatable. And I assure you that you will not have to call anyone when you click on the "buy now" button.....LOL

    Take care,

  10. Ah, the depression mode. We are siblings of different parents.