It all started when my 14-year-old niece visited me in my home theater to tell me, “My computer isn’t working.” I’ve heard this more than once and usually it means the DSL line has gone south since she spends most of her computing time playing on-line games with other truants. But this time it really was broken, dead, defunct, inoperable, deceased, and no longer among the living, just like a Monty Python budgie.
I have two portable windows-based computers. Both are Dell Latitude D-600’s. I originally bought one for travel and updating firmware on all my home theater products (which is a never-ending job), and I liked it so much than when my wife needed a PC for an architectural/home design program I bought a second one. She loaned hers to my niece. Both had been trouble free for over two years until the other night.
After making sure that my niece’s computer was indeed dead by swapping the battery in my unit (battery OK ? Check) and then trying my computer’s AC power supply (still dead, damn). I went on line and bought another Dell Latitude D-600 off EBay. The good news was that refurbished Latitude D-600’s have come down in price from the $475 I paid two years ago to around $275. Mission accomplished. When the new one arrives I’ll swap hard drives or at worst copy over the old hard drive’s important files into the new unit, my niece will go back into her room, and that’s the last I’d hear from her for weeks. End of story? Almost.
Yesterday I was updating some Windows software on my own Latitude and I noticed the battery was getting toward the end of its two-hour life. So I grabbed the nearest Dell AC power connector so the computer wouldn’t die before the software update was completed. By the title of this piece you can guess what happened next. Instantly the computer was dead and my nose was assailed by the unmistakable odor of fried circuits. Now I know what killed the first computer ---that damn AC power supply.
I went back to EBAY and bought myself another Dell Latitude D-600. After all I have four perfectly good batteries, two pair of 1 GB ram chips, two spare fully configured hard-drives, two back-up external drives, three interchangeable CDR drives, and ONE working AC power connector. The other AC connector is in the trash. It deserves far worse, after it murdered my second Dell D-600, but what can you do to an AC adapter?
Most of the time when an AC power supply goes bad a computer owner never knows it. The motherboard is turned to toast, the computer goes dead, and that’s the end of the story. Only a few computer owners are lucky enough to discover what did their computer in. Personally I feel honored to be among that elite group, but I wouldn’t have minded not knowing, especially since this little nugget of wisdom cost me another $275.