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Skirmish one with the HP folks in India. Score = Eugie 0: HP -1

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Spent 2.5 hours doing an online chat with the HP tech folks in India. I flummoxed the first two to the point of hanging up on/disconnecting me, and the last one finally tossed a free piece of hardware my way to get rid of me.

I'm nice. Really, I am! I never shouted, or swore, or got impatient, or said mean things. I just wanted to know why my laptop was shutting itself off, and what the "solutions" they were suggesting would accomplish, and why they were suggesting them. Also, the directions (obviously pulled from an online procedure manual) for some of them were incomplete, and I wanted clarifications (for e.g. one of them listed a series of steps, including removing the battery, but never said when to put the battery back). When they endeavored to explain what these solutions did, it seemed to me that they were unlikely to solve my issue, so I voiced my concerns and asked if they could address them. Apparently, that stumped them.

Well snartleblast.

After the second one disconnected me, the third one decided that it was an A/C adapter problem, despite the fact that I've never lost power or gotten a low battery error message, and the shut down is completely different from a "you need to charge your battery" automatic hibernation--which I explained to him several times. Also that it's not a power surge because I'm plugged into a surge protector. But he decided that it was indeed a problem with the adapter, and he's sending me a replacement.

Amusingly, when each one first started their chat with me, their English was flawless--obviously taken from a script. But as I asked harder and more in-depth questions, their grammar and vocabulary skills took serious nosedives. The poor things. Their spelling was still better than most Americans', though.

So after two and a half hours and three help desk folks, I get a free A/C adapter. Um. That's nice and all, but I'm dubious that this will fix my problem. I did do the steps they suggested: Power Drain, Reset the BIOS Defaults, Reinstall Power Management, and Disable "restart on system failure." However I think it's unlikely that will have accomplished anything--aside from wiping out any BIOS setting changes I might have made.

Well, a new A/C adapter will be nice. I can have one upstairs in the library and one downstairs in the living room. And I don't feel like I totally wasted a huge chunk of my afternoon.

Oh yeah, my laptop shut itself off again this morning, about ten minutes after I started it. That implies to me that it's not an overheating issue. I also tried to install a CPU temperature monitoring utility as per dude_the's suggestion, but I don't think my laptop has the appropriate motherboard sensor that the utilities check and report on. And I can't for the life of me figure out how to find out what make/model, etc. my motherboard is.

Hardware problems make me twitch.


Writing Stuff

New words: 600 on "Rue and Ruin."
The time spent flustering the HP folks ate into my writing time. I also discovered I needed a bridging scene. Wrote that, and I still have one more scene to go. Getting there. Slowly . . .
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,424 / 12,000

Club 100 For Writers

I'm feeling:
frustrated frustrated
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On November 26th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC), winters_edge commented:
I know it's not a Mac, but...
Apple had problems with a run of their iBooks doing something similar when the sleep function had been used. Does yours have a sleep function, and if so, is it auto set to go to sleep after a certain period of time? If so, and if you can time this issue to approximately that length of time having past, you probably have a faulty motherboard.

Another way to play with this would be to see if you can turn off the auto-sleep feature (again, if you have "sleep") to see if that keeps it from happening.
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On November 27th, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC), eugie replied:
Re: I know it's not a Mac, but...
I think I know what you're talking about, but I don't think that's the problem. I've got my powersave preferences set up so the system goes into suspend and then hibernation after a certain period of time if I'm not using it, but those are different from a shut down, and those seem to be working properly. But I appreciate the suggestion.
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On November 26th, 2005 02:47 pm (UTC), rigel_kent commented:
This may seem like oversimplication, and if its been mentioned before, my apologies, but have you tried blasting the cooling fan with some canned air? Or the intake? You do have a log haired beestie running about, and with our zoo I regularly have to blast all my equipment with air... it very suprising what you see come out of something you assumed is filtered...
If the CPU is running hot enough to be uncmfortable to put on your lap, well thats too hot, to state the obvious. If you access The Task Manager. you can see how hard the CPU is working when you are not doing anything... if there are any extraneous processses runnin in the background...I had a problem like that with Norton, finally just turned it off and my laptop went a lot faster!
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On November 26th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC), tripper commented:
I'd go with the suggestion of the canned air, but a different route. The fan on the back of a laptop blows air OUT. Canned air blows it IN, along with whatever may be causing you problems. Get a vacuum cleaner and carefully put the hose next to the exhaust port and see if it sucks out a hairball or two. And if you have one of those models that sucks it in, the vacuum will have enough power to suck out anything blocking it. I use a vacuum to clean mine out anyway, as it traps the dust and hair (in my case bunny hair and feathers).

Also, try running it with the new power supply and the battery out. If it still does it, start them looking at an internal power supply, sudden shutdowns are a hallmark of a bad power supply.

AND! There are a lot of authorized HP service centers around, go here and take a look for one local to Atlanta. I ran through it looking at a Pavillion laptop and found that Microcenter is an authorized service center and has an store in Duluth (and Marietta). Microcenter tends to be staffed with computer geeks and a much wider (and ecclectic) selection than CompUSA or anyone else aside from Fry's. Fry's is fantastic for either wandering or going for something specific, but I don't know about their service.

Also, HP has a battery recall going on.
On November 26th, 2005 04:00 pm (UTC), dean13 replied:
Checking for skunk induced computer hairballs is sage advice. I have running battle with cat hair and my Dell laptop. Looking into a local HP autherize HP service is even better advice. I will theorize that your laptop has one of the following problems:
1. It has a faulty internal power connection
2. It has a faulty electronic component (such as a capacitor)
3. It is s over heating
4. it thinks it is over heating
5. Is possesed by a spirit that Just doesn't like your writing style.

In any of these case, the unit needs to examined carefully by trained professionals and have the defective compenent (or spirit) removed or replaced. Though I will admit that I consider number 5 to be the least likely possiblity, for a numeber of reasons.
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On November 26th, 2005 05:11 pm (UTC), miafedup commented:
Computer problems, ick.

I'm twitching alongside you.
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On November 26th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC), nmsunbear commented:
The best customer service I ever got came when I lot patience with HP's (e-mail) help folks who gave me the exact same (word for word) advice twice in a row. I said as politely as possible that I knew their job was to tell me what they'd told me, so would they please route me to a manger who could actually fix my problem. The next day the manage called me and made it right.

Of course, this was with a billing/delivery issue, not a problem with the actual computer. Still, I always advise folk to ask to speak with management.
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On November 26th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC), shadowhelm commented:
This is what happens when everything is outsourced.
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On November 26th, 2005 06:11 pm (UTC), j_hotlanta commented:
yet more off-the-cuff tech advice
Since the machine shut down after 10 minutes this morning, that opens a possibility for troubleshooting: run it from the battery (alone) for a while and see if it shuts down. If it shuts down while on battery alone, they you've eliminated the power supply as a problem. As per an earlier suggestion, if it DOESN'T shut down on battery, try it with the battery out and with the AC alone.

One remote possibility is that you have a power problem in your house. Not likely in a newer house but something I used to see a lot when troubleshooting this kind of thing in offices situated in older houses. Get a volt-meter and make sure that you have the same thing (and the right thing) coming out of all your plugs (test hot-to-neutral, hot-to-ground and neutral-to-ground and IMPORTANTLY if you're not running a wireless network, AC ground to network cable ground). Given the quality of construction in ATL, I wouldn't be at all surprised if something is causing a short to ground. OBVIOUSLY, if the thing shuts itself off on battery, this would be irrelavant.
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On November 26th, 2005 10:03 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Yeah, I got nothing...I got a "C" in Networks in college. Hate electrical things.

I thought this was a fairly new laptop or am I thinking of something else? We have a hair problem in our house, but it usually takes a while to do in the electrical things.

I usually use the edge attachment on the vacuum to get the fuzz out. The small aperture creates more suction and grabs the more tenacious hair.

I sort of feel sorry for the phone techs. They're given a stupid script; a book of possible answers; and absolutely no real training. Usually, they are thrown to the wolves. (With apologies to wolves everywhere) Of course, that pretty much describes customer service jobs on this side of the ocean as well.

There was blog somewhere kept by an Indian phone tech. I lost the URL. But it was hilarious...and sad.

Pat Kirby
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On November 27th, 2005 10:27 am (UTC), reddherring1955 commented:
I am so glad to have a hardware man in the house. He actually does strange things to the insides of laptops and makes them work even when they don't want to. I feel your pain. Without Bryan, I am a disaster with anything with wiring, widgets, chips or gears.
Glad to see you got some important writing done even with your Indian travails. Rah, rah, and all that!
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On December 14th, 2005 11:28 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Eugie! Pam from critters here! Hello! Hey, I had a HP Compaq laptop once and I'm trying to remember the original problem, but (yes, hey, I'm getting there with my point) they also sent me a new adapter which I thought was stupid and obviously not the problem. I was convinced it was the motherboard I think. Guess what? It was the adapter. In fact, I refused to use the new one at first but finally did and never had the problem again. Only thing is I can't remember if the symptom was it was shutting itself down or not, but Yeah, I think it was. Anyway, here's hoping that their adapters just have a short life expectancy for some reason and your worries will be over when you get the new one.
On December 16th, 2005 08:54 am (UTC), (Anonymous) replied:
Me too, with an HP/Compaq nc8000
I am having the same problem, and found this discussion by searching:
Lots of hits there.

I already had a battery strangely die a few months ago, but this shutting-off problem appeared only recently, a couple of weeks after I began using a docking station. However, I have noticed that the fan is making a lot more noise now than in the earlier days, so over-heating and battery/charger problems are both candidates.

The laptop was purchased in the US, and I am in Moscow, but I will probably contact HP here.

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