After receiving a number of comments from readers that the circumstances described in my last post were not only annoying but potentially hazardous, I decided to take their advice and power down the laptop and switch to an alternative until a replacement could be found. Fortunately I had backed up all my data the night before, so it only took backing up a few more files (to bring my Help Desk archives up to date) before I shut the sucker down, thereby avoiding any potential fire hazards involving lithium-ion batteries.
That done, I needed to put serious thought into my stopgap replacement. I had two options:
1. My old laptop, an HP Pavilion, which is the laptop I had borrowed the power adapter from to use as a stopgap for my current laptop;
2. An HP Mini 1000 Netbook, which I’d won in a raffle.
I decided to go with the Pavilion. It has a nearly full keyboard and a high enough resolution to be useful for more than just browsing the web and writing email.
It had some issues. The battery was completely dead and wouldn’t hold a charge, something my daughter kindly discovered for me when she decided to yank out the plug while it was booting. The F4 key was missing, which was unfortunate but not fatal. A slightly more annoying problem was that after I upgraded the OS to Kubuntu Lucid the bcmwl driver stopped working because ndiswrapper went away.
The big problem, however, was that apparently the power adaptor’s time with my faulty laptop had damaged it in some way, because after using the laptop for a few hours it was ridiculously hot to the touch.
OK, fine. On to the netbook.
I found it hiding behind a dust bunny under one of our couches. I’d won it in a raffle during NaNoWriMo 2009 and I actually tried writing with it for a few months but I ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the trouble — the keyboard is so small every time I try to hit the shift key I have a 50% chance of hitting the ctrl key instead, and after typing anything for any amount of time it all feels wrong. Not to mention it has one of those SSD flash drives that gives it a mighty 16 gb of hard drive space, which is a bit cramped.
Still, it works. It doesn’t overheat. It’ll serve for a few weeks until I can wrangle up a replacement. I’ve even managed to publish comics with it from time to time, so my publishing schedule should be able to continue without too much trouble.
But man oh man, is this thing small.