Sick Puppy

I
am
sick.

I’ll spare you the gory details but if I don’t have at least a head cold I have a sinus infection.  Feel free to pray for me.

TIA.

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Dell Inspiron 600/600m Laptop Computer Loose Touchpad Surround Trim Plastic Repair

The Dell Inspiron 600 is getting a little old these days and it is starting to show.  I had one come through the shop, then another and another, with one particularly annoying sign of old age: the cute little colored plastic piece around the touchpad is loose enough to make a tapping noise when you tap the touchpad to click (or double click) on something, and it makes the whole touchpad feel like it is going to fall out of the computer.

This is how you can fix that loose trim piece, permanently.

Tools required:

  • #0 Philips screwdriver, preferably one that is strongly magnetized
  • Similarly-small flat-head screwdriver
  • Fine-tipped soldering iron
  • A little scrap of extra plastic

Start by unplugging the power cord and removing the battery, and set yourself up at a static-free workstation (ideally) or at least plan on not-moving for a while and have everything handy.  This repair was successful at my regular table in a carpeted area, with me wearing cotton clothes and touching the screw on a power outlet nearby before working to dissipate any large static charges.  These computers seem relatively static-tolerant but Murphy says you will zap your motherboard if you are not carefeul.  You CAN kill your computer if you attempt this work at a not-static-free workstation. 

You have been warned.

Click any image to see it full-sized.

Unscrew the screws that hold the keyboard-surround/touchpad bezel in place.  Set them aside in a pile, they are all the same length.
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Open the computer all the way flat so the display is laying as close to your bench top as possible.  Gently insert your small flathead screwdriver in the little notch at the right end of the trim piece over the keyboard.  It takes some moderate wiggle/pull-up forces but this piece is only snapped in place. 
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Pull all these screws also.  Set them aside more carefully, as they are NOT all the same length.
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The keyboard will pull right out now; use the pull tab on the connector, do NOT pull up on the cable!
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Unscrew the grounding strap by the video cable connector and gently pull up on the tab (not the cable) to remove the connector.  The entire top/display module is now loose.  Set it carefully aside.
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One more screw was hiding under the keyboard.
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Gently disconnect the touchpad connector.
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Nothing else besides plastic ‘snap’ retaining tabs holds the top plastic piece in place.  Gently tug and pull, and the plastic all the way around the top of the computer will pop right off.  Do not be alarmed that this sounds like the end of the world.  Unlesss you are pulling TOO hard, it is just the snap tabs popping loose with no damage – but don’t force it.  If you are pulling too hard make sure you got all the screws out, or you will end up buying a new top panel on ebay!*
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Three screws hold a metal shield in place under the touchpad.  This shield may do double-duty as a brace for the touchpad, but on this computer it was not touching the plastic (or at least, not pressing hard enough to keep it firmly in place).
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The factory heat-staked the colored trim surrounding the touchpad in three places.  Sometimes that was enough, but sometimes the trim piece works loose.
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This kind of plastic was heated and injection-molded to form it into a computer part.  Re-heating it and adding a little bit of plastic to your computer part will not harm anything when done properly.  Just keep the heat as low as it will still melt the plastic (I used 600ish degrees F, and worked quickly) and be VERY careful as you are working.  

If you have never done this, practice on a piece of scrap plastic first to avoid destroying your computer!  My technique was to cut a little bit of scrap plastic and pick it up with the tip of the soldering iron.  Then I stirred the new plastic on the to-be-repaired area with the tip of the iron, ever so slightly melting the trim panel and keyboard bezel, and the new scrap of plastic, into one lump.  Be very careful not to melt through the bezel or trim piece!  Smooth the finished bead of plastic with the tip of the soldering iron after is the plastic has cooled and hardened. 

 I used a bit of scrap plastic from another (dead) computer and a gentle touch, and welded the trim panel to the keyboard bezel in several new places, plus I reinforced the three heat-staked spots.
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The touchpad flops out, and I welded a couple more spots near the bottom.  Be careful here, because one false move and you will ruin the touchpad!  Also you need to be careful about the dimensions of your weld spots.  Gently trim the welds if they are too big, until it all fits together perfectly again.
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That’s it, you’re done.  Put it back together. Assembly is the reverse of disassembly. 

You will notice that now, when you use the touchpad and tap by the edges, it feels like one solid piece of plastic.  It is.  Congratulate yourself.

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*Speaking of eBay, if you haven’t yet gone to eBay and purchased a 1.6GHz  or 1.7GHz processor for yours Inspiron, do that next after you do this. 

Be sure NOT to get any processor besides the Pentium-M, and be sure it has a 1M cache and 400MHz bus speed, to prevent buying an incompatible CPU!  Also buy more RAM for your computer while you are there.  Both of these upgrades should be less than $20 and you would be surprised how much of a boost you can get.  If you are rocking a 1.3GHz CPU and 256 or 512MB of RAM, it will be like a whole new machine once you max it out!  Before you install the new processor, be sure to visit dell.com and download/install the latest BIOS and you SHOULD be able to use a faster processor no problems – but be sure to buy from a seller that accepts returns, just in case.

Recession? What Recession?

In case you missed it between all the “fiscal cliff” and “gun control” blathering on the news, the world is still headed deeper into a global recession (or, if you like, the second downturn of the ongoing global depression).

Japan and Europe are currently on deck, with most of the rest of the world out of the headlines but on the same greased slide.  The solution is the opposite of what most countries are doing to fix the problem.

WHEEEEEEeeeeeeee!!!!

I Hate Funerals

The last time I went to a funeral was several years ago.  Before that one, I don’t even remember the last one.  I don’t think I would even go to my own parents’ funerals. 

But when you are asked to be a pallbearer at the funeral of your brother-and-shipmate, how can you say no?  So I went to a funeral today.  Mostly I was as stone-faced as ever but I had to point my eyeballs up a little extra when somebody in the family of the deceased started bawling by the casket, and again during the military honors.  If there had been a 21-gun salute I think I would have been Mr. Faucet Eyes already.

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It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  We were all supposed to have basically endless, carefree lives in intimate association with God, in person, on a daily basis.  Then a serpent had a conversation with Eve.  Physical death is hateful to me.  ESPECIALLY the death of somebody I care about, and ESPECIALLY a brother-in-arms.  It doesn’t matter if he was 87 years old and barely kept one step ahead of the grim reaper for the last decade.  He wasn’t supposed to die.

Well, he didn’t really, but his widow from a 65-year marriage is probably going to miss him until they meet again.  It seems like it would be cold comfort, the first time you would go back to a bed that would always be empty when you left it.  Over coffee the next morning, it seems like it would be very comforting to know that your loved one is in a better place.

Still.  Standing at attention and staring down into a hole lined with landscaping timbers during prayers, and seeing an old lady’s eyes all watery . . . sucks.

"The U.S. Will Have To Change."

Well excuse the [deleted] out of me, I think I will stay just the way I am.  The only thing that needed to change right before that school shooting was the order of killings: asshat first, then the kids.  He got the order wrong but at least he took himself out at the end.  President Obama, being both a Democrat and a Leftist, likes to clump people together in groups instead of thinking of individuals.  Well guess what?

I’m not going to kill anybody, and neither are you, and neither is the guy who shot up that school last week.  In fact, that will never happen again because he’s dead as a door nail! 

Well, then again, President Obama is still in campaign mode.  He got elected and re-elected as a blank slate. People projected what they wanted him to be onto the vague platitudes he spoke, and elected what they wanted!  In the spirit of bipartisanship, I will project what I want onto His Vagueness also.

The U.S. will have to change.  Yes.  The USA should become more like Israel and have the Card-Carrying Good Guys wear guns in the schoolhouses across our nation.  No, not the Police . . . the TEACHERS.  How many school shootings like this have you heard about in Israel?

Let’s take a guess as to whether CT’s strict gun control laws or the likely Gun-Free Zone nature of this school campus gave the shooter even a moment’s pause.  Yeah, they don’t stop any CRIMINALS from doing bad.  They stop GOOD PEOPLE from being able to do good.  You know what stops a school shooter?  Here’s a hint: it’s not laws forbidding private gun ownership . . .

THIS

PREVENTS THIS

LOGIC:

RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU WISH FOR ARMED AMERICAN TEACHERS!

New Wallpaper

Fall has finally fallen in Central Texas.  This file was left at 1680×1050 pixels for those of you on the same screen resolution as I am using at home.  Click through, seriously – it’s huge.  Right-click, view image, zoom in by clicking again.

Not Bad

My long range sniper deer rifle is back up after a couple of years waiting for a part.  Finally for the first time in too long I took it to the range.  Four shots with one called flyer and the other three within a 2″ “group” right on target at a hundred paces.  The yellow dots are 4″ circles.

Close enough.

Now if only someone would invite me on a hog hunt I could get some bacon with it . . .