Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another Moe

                      So I called the computer repair place. The voice on the telephone sounded far away. He said his name was Jim.
  “I won't be there,” Jim said, “but someone will be there to fix you up.”
  Why should I turn my back on my problems? The damned laptop did not work! What is that gunk that is coming out of the video? I have touched it. I hope it will not make me sick or kill me before my time. How can you know? Chemicals everywhere. The air you breath; the water you drink! I ought to ditch this laptop, heave it into a landfill. I got it for nothing, and that is what it is worth: nothing. But I can't let it go. It is a big time, powerful laptop. The guy who is junking it paid $750 at Walmart less than two years ago. I have put into it an SSD. It has a second hard drive bay, 4G of RAM, a dual core processor, numerous I/O connections, including eSATA, and a 17" WXGA video, which is now so streaky it is useless.


Another Moe using Xubuntu

   This computer does not say to me, “How are you today, Mr. Gigas?”
  And I don't say to it, “Pray, could you tell me where is the nearest four star restaurant?”
  It's not my wife for chrissake. It's just a big, dumb machine.
  I've solved the overheating. DV7's are noted for overheating. Bring on the aftermarket hackers! A kit arrives in the mail. Clean the fan, install the kit and there is a big difference. It used to overheat almost till you couldn't touch the keyboard. Now I don't feel any heat at all. The keyboard has the sweetest touch, better than a Mac Pro! It boots up fine. Now I can do real work on it. You can't expect it to think for you? It can't think. It's dumb! I don't know why it exists; I guess because it is time for it to exist. Who decides these questions anyway? God must decide. If it is God, then how can I know anything about His ways? Everybody tells you God's ways are mysterious, not man's business to understand. Look, I can't even understand what the hell that gunk is seeping out of the video!
  That night in my midnight madness I took apart the video monitor. I did it before I had looked into taking apart video monitors. Only a masochist, only a gadgeteer would take apart a laptop monitor. And I am a gadgeteer. I don't know why I spend all day checking out motherboards and computer fans; and all night studying the ins and outs of hard drives. But I do. And now I have a video to take apart. That it did not work was a big bonus as far as I was concerned because how can I screw it up worse?
  In fact there was not a whole lot to it. The bezel popped off with pressure from the fingertips. Some of them use glue, which makes the process a lot harder, but this one was not glued. Once the bezel was removed, the screws which held it to the laptop lid frame were revealed. Loosen the screws, snap apart a few electrical connections, and the video comes right out. The next step is to take apart the video. The process is more a hassle than hard. The electronics board on the back is very delicate, and if it gets rapped or shook, it's all over. Remove the pressed on metal frame and the bulb or LED light will be there, and several sheets of reflecting paper. It's easy to forget how the photo paper comes apart. Then how do you put it together again? Make sure you have a camera handy, you can take snapshots, which help you to remember. Since in this case the video was hopelessly broken, why should it matter? What was this gunk seeping out? The picture didn't show a clear image. Or had the gunk somehow accidentally dripped in and now it was dripping out? Could it have been that it was not supposed to be there? Anyway, my thought was to wash it away. So I got out the window cleaner and I scrubbed and washed. It must have been that this gunk was supposed to be there, because when I put the monitor back together the picture was even worse than it was before.
  I am relieved that morning has come so I can head out to the computer repair place. I cross the Androscoggin on the Cedar Street bridge, then drive out bound through Lewiston on Lisbon Street. Action Computer, the repair place, is at the top of the hill. I get there. Nothing is happening till eight. Don't know what to do with myself. Read a book. A guy comes out in t-shirt with Action Computer printed on it. He lights one up, and hides behind the dumpster. It's really a nice morning. We haven't had much good weather lately, and he's smoking so I don't want to interrupt him. He is trying to press out his cigarette, as if his smoking is a secret. “No it's all right,” I say. So he takes another drag. Then I explain myself. “I talked to somebody here, Jim? He said you had a DV7 monitor that worked.”
  “Yes. I took the machine apart and it was working when I took it apart. But there is a little spot on the bottom.”
  Then he went on: “take the cover off,” he said, mentioning “denatured alcohol”, and I lost him. I'm constantly losing track of what people are telling me. What does it all mean? Then he concluded, “I'd have to find out about pricing.” That's exactly what he said.
  I said, “Jim said seventy-five dollars.”
  “Okay.”
  But, I thought, doesn't that seem like a lot?
  So we walked across the parking lot and we went inside.
  There was a large square room with electronics spread out on benches all around. The room was dry, silent, perhaps overly warm. It reminded me of a library. The monitors showed mostly Windows displays. But there were a few Apple displays. Larry, the name of the fellow whom I had met outside, said that Apple computers don't end up in the shop very often. (No Linux displays. Linux users do it themselves?)
  Another fellow came in the shop, sat down, started to work.
  Larry began to disassemble the monitor I wanted to buy. He got the screws out and gave them to me. These tiny black laptop screws are very interesting to me. I love screws and carefully sort them out. But then he hit the glue.
  “Glue!” He said. “I hate glue. Apple started the glue.”
  All progress stopped dead. There was no way to dig the screen out of the bezel without manhandling the board, which was flopping around. So this board that is attached to the video monitor got banged hard.
  “No,” I said finally. “This isn't working out.”
  “Well, you're right,” said Larry.
  So I left.
  Then I bought a new monitor on line. It is guaranteed for two years. Now there is no gunk dripping out. I never did find out why the gunk was leaking out. But now the old junker is working fine. I call it Another Moe to go with my homemade desktop which I named Moe. Every day I do serious work on it.

******

  Another Moe is close to a year old now. I still don't know for sure how he came to be. What possessed mankind to invent such a contraption? I blame God, but why should I blame God for everything? A man I know who is a poet never goes near a computer. He writes with pen and ink in a notebook. He wouldn't spend five minutes reading an HTML textbook. He's too busy studying the great poets, whom he calls his brothers. Eventually his poems end up on the memory stick his wife carries around. Doesn't that seem to make more sense? Do I study the great poets? Hell no! I study motherboards all night long. A good collection of pictures of Asus or Gigabyte or Biostar boards and I'm happy, a schematic and I'm in heaven.
  Another Moe usually does what I want him to. But he doesn't say to me, “How are you today, Mr. Gigas?” He can get cranky, too. Sometimes he won't boot. You press the button and things happen to a point, and then nothing happens. When he gets to that place, you have to remove the battery and depress the start button for thirty seconds or so, return the battery and press the button again. I like to pray.


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