Technology Troubles - Part 2

31. October 2013 01:12

The laptop wasn't the only item giving us technical trouble over the past few months. The car decided it had some issue with its emission control system.  Of course, that is about all one can get out of the manual that came with the car.  But my spouse had the code reader which provided a little more information indicating that it was a minor issue.  The most likely problem was a gas cap seal that had failed.  It did appear that was not functioning, so we replaced it.  Unfortunately that did not result in the warning light going off. Logistical issues during the summer kept us from taking the car to the local repair shop until a couple weeks ago.  We were concerned it would be a major expense to fix whatever the mystery problem turned out to be, however, we were lucky.  It was only a hose in the system which was leaking.

On the other hand, the glitch in the kitchen was a major hit to the finances.  Our wall oven had gotten progressively cranky.  Every so often while cooking, the upper oven which had a convection feature would decide that there was a problem and start beeping and blinking "F1". Of course, the troubleshooting section of the owner's guide said little more than turn off the oven, let it cool and if it happens again, call for service.  At first this meant we would end up having our dinner a bit later than planned since the lower oven still worked.  However, in the past few months it became apparent that the convection was not working correctly (for instance, a fan stayed on that should have gone off).  And then there were the mornings where we found it beeping F1 when we got up.

It was becoming a safety concern and we decided it was time to replace the oven. Given that the oven was by then 21 years old, there was no hope of having the electronics involved replaced.  Our local appliance store was having a customer only special sale, and we went in to see what would work. At first glance, there were lots of choices.  But then reality set in. White was not a favored color.  And the options available in white and only 27" wide were even fewer.  That still provided several acceptable choices.  However, when we checked the installation information, the situation started looking grim.  Most of the ovens needed 1/4" more width than was available.  The newer version of what we had would fit the width -- but it was over an inch taller on the exposed surfaces and would block the doors above and/or drawer below.  So we got down to one manufacturer  which had an oven that might fit without a complete re-do of the kitchen cabinetry. 

This past weekend we had the new oven installed. It was very, very close. Actually, some of the trim is a smidgen too wide and the drawer in the cabinet to the one side rubs against it as it opens. Other than that, it seems like a nice product.  It has some features that were not available twenty years ago such as a proofing option for allowing bread to rise.  I had to try that out and it worked beautifully.  Now I won't be limited to the odd shaped loafs that come out of the bread machine. It also has convection in both upper and lower ovens, so in theory I can speed cook in both.  Of course, I doubt if I would have a need to do so.  Hopefully we are good for another twenty years of baking, broiling and roasting.

Windows Woes

22. October 2013 23:19

Technology troubles were at the root of why summer came and went without any posts here.  One morning in mid-May, shortly before I was heading to the other coast for a visit with family, my HP Windows 7 laptop refused to wake up.  Some of the LEDs blinked, but the screen stayed black.  The diagnosis tured out to be a failed mother board, so it was not going to be a simple fix.   Because the family visit was triggered by my father having been very seriously ill, repairing the computer simply went to the back burner for several weeks.   I limped along with my old XP laptop for email and web browsing and my spouse's Kindle for Skype. 

While repairing an older laptop seemed of dubious economic value, I hoped that it would be possible since it had a very nice docking station and migrating to Windows 8 was not remotely something I wanted to do.  Besides, it was summer and playing out in the garden was prefereable to spending hours in front of a computer re-installing and tweaking programs and dealing with a brand new, bigger than any previous set of "windows annoyances".  So I told the tech to try for a replacement motherboard.

Unfortunately, his usual supplier did not have the required board.  He did find another vendor who claimed to have a brand new (not used or refurbished) board.  It was a little more expensive than the initial estimate, but still in the same ball park.  He was very slow to ship.  Finally, around the July 4th holiday, the board came, was installed and I got my laptop back.  Things were back to normal at last!

The next morning, the laptop was back to non-functional, much like the initial failure.   We suspect, that it was a refurbished board, not new.  And he was even slower in refunding the purchase price when the failed board was returned.  I hope that vendor has some bad reviews now.

After some research, the tech found a company that would repair the mother board.  It would replace defective or know to the troubled parts and return an improved working board that was guarenteed to work.  This would cost more than a replacement board, but it was supposed to be including upgrades.  This one also turned out to be a very slow vendor.  And then when the board finally arrived and was installed in the laptop, the result was a big nothing.  The machine would not even power on.

At that point it was Labor Day weekend, the end of summer and it was time to give up on the repair and start dealing getting a new laptop set up.  I am still baffled how Microsoft thought that removing features from Windows in version 8 was a good idea for customers who actual do use "windows" and want something more than is available on a smart phone. 

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