Monday, October 25, 2010

Emergency Tech Support Creativity

Ok I'll try to keep this short. An this isn't English class so mind my grammer. Plus I'm a bit tired. Long day.=)

So my friend Adam calls me up at 5PM on a Sunday night and tells me that the video card for his laptop has crapped out. Nothing showing on the LCD display and the video out ports are non-functioning. Then he lays it on me. That he need to have a working computer for school by midnight, because he has to head back down to Bloomington so he can get some sleep and make his class in the morning.

Once I got to his house, the first thing I did was get his laptop hard-drive out of the laptop to get his personal files off of it. When he tries to use his parents Windows Vista PC to access his hard-drive, he can see the root file system but when he tries to go down a directory it freezes. (I came prepared) I brought my Linux Mint 9 Laptop with me. An wouldn't you know it he could access his files right away. It took some time but he backed up his files to his personal external (USB powered) hard-drive. Once his files were backed up it was time to find him a PC to work with.

He goes into his room to find his old eMachine PC that gave him crap years back. So I try booting up the eMachin but the onboard (motherboard) video adapter is screwed, so only a video card (AGP) is an option. The first card I try is an weird off-brand ATI card. It worked at first but then began to fail after a few reboots. An got so bad the OS could not load successfully with it in the PC. So I asked Adam if he still had the Nvidia 6200 I sold him years back. An he said yes … if he can find it.... (sigh) Luckily he found it but the onboard fan is burnt out. Well that's just great! Good thing was we were able to use the card to get the OS configured, install WINE (Windows API program which stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator) to make sure he can still use his college applications. Like interactive text books and all that jazz. An by the grace of god the apps worked flawlessly.

Unfortunately now the graphics card is starting to overheat so I convinced Adam that we will need some things from the local electronic store, if we want to keep it cool. (Fry's) Just to make sure I get the right GPU cooler I bring the Nvidia card with us. When we get there the store is getting ready to close. I look around and can't seem to find the GPU coolers anywhere. So I decided to ask a sales rep where they are and he replies that they don't carry them anymore. The second he said that I hear the store is closing in 10 minutes.

So I start to get an idea of what to do. I told Adam we need a case fan. I took some time to find one of a good size to cover the GPU and ram modules along with a good amount of airflow. An last but not least some thermal grease to replace the dried up/flaking off grease that was already on the card. So we stand in line and pay for the items. We were on a 12$ budget and got it all for 12$. Once we got back I told him I was going to need a paper towel to remove the old grease. Once the old grease was removed I polished it up with a shammy I brought with me. The clearer the surface the better the contact and heat transfer. I applied some fresh thermal grease and clip the heat-sink back onto the card. At about this Adam started to draw “Tux” the Linux mascot on the front panel of the eMachine that we took off earlier.

As for the fan I needed some way to elevate it to allow it to have proper airflow. The small screws it came with wasn't enough height so I had Adam go get some tall wood screws out of the garage which did the trick. After we got the cooling taken care of I proceeded to finish configuring Linux Mint 9 that we install on the PC because we didn't have a copy of windows on hand. Once the computer was all configured and set it was about 11:30PM by the time I left. An well that's about it. =)

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