Friday, September 02, 2005

Lappy on the Blink

A little over eighteen months ago I bought myself a splendid little laptop computer which I now spend at least eight hours a day looking at. I hardly ever use desktop computers now, because everything I need is on this here laptop.

About five days before the warranty was due to expire, the screen began to flicker in a most annoying manner. On closer examination I noticed that little blue sparks could be seen coming from the cable leading out of the power supply when I wiggled it. Hmm. I switched everything off and unplugged it, and had a good look at this cable. Part of the outer sheathing was worn right through, and bare copper was visible.

So I call the 'service centre' who tell me that this often happens, and that the power supply is not covered by the warranty. Of course it's not, I didn't actually think that anything that is so badly designed that it cannot even withstand a year of normal use would be covered by any kind of warranty. They had a replacement unit in stock, it would cost Dhs 150 (about $41). That was OK, but their location was not - not far from the airport, in a very dense industrial area where parking is almost impossible.

Before going there I decided to try my luck in the computer soukh. Nobody really stocks these things, but I did find one shop who had a bunch of power supplies from various manufacturers, and I gave the guy my broken power supply to look at. He started rummaging in a cabinet, and said he was sure he could find one with the same technical specs. By the way, they're all priced at Dhs 300. I said no thanks, please give me back my broken power supply. He ignored me. I explained to him there was no way I was going to pay twice the real price, please give me back my power supply. He ignored me and kept on rummaging. In the end I had to physically grab the thing off him. He looked alarmed, he'd found one that he said would work. I said that was wonderful, but a) I was not prepared to take the risk, and b) I was not prepared to pay the price.

So off I go to the service centre, manage to find a not-very-legal parking spot about three streets away, trudge through the desert heat, and get fixed up with the real thing. I've been really careful with it, folding the cable properly and not too tightly.

In the last few days the lappie screen has started flickering again, intermittently, and it's not the power supply this time - it still does it if I use battery power. So it's either the power feed through the hinge, or a dodgy internal connection. Bugger. Things like this are hardly ever cost-effective to fix, and I really don't want to fork out for a complete new laptop right now.