Saturday, February 07, 2009

I fixed a hardware problem!

It rarely happens that a software guy fixes a hardware problem. I treasure these rare events, and, well, here's another one. It doesn't matter that I brought it on myself in the first place.

We have a nice Dell desktop computer. The first time I needed to open it, to install a board, I could not figure out how to get the box open. But – as you may have heard – the Internet is wonderful. I searched for the PC's model number and the words “open case”, and I got instructions on how to open it up to get at the computer's innards.

But ... before I searched the Internet, I had tried something simpler. I yanked the front panel off. I heard a small piece of plastic break, and there I was, holding the separated front panel, with no way to get at the inside of the computer. I replaced the front panel and attached it in place with – you know what I'm going to say, don't you – Duct Tape.

Okay, so now it's a year later, and occasionally my wife complains that the on/off button's not working. (And I should have listened to her, you know what I mean?) A few days ago, we came home from vacation and turned the computer on just fine. But now, it's off and it won't go on. Pushing the ON button doesn't even make the PC run its Power On Self Test.

I suspected a power supply problem, something I thought I could diagnose and fix. But I decided to check for the even simpler problem first. I undid the duct tape, ripped off the front panel again, and pressed the real ON switch. (When you press the ON switch on that front panel, it presses another switch beneath it; that's the real ON switch.) The computer came up just fine.

I fixed this problem with larger pieces of Duct Tape. Okay, I know you're going to complain that Duct Tape isn't really hardware. Let's call it: firmware.
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