One of my strong points is I’m not afraid of technical challenges and I actually enjoy them. Not long ago I was asked to work on something not related to computers. I had a little experience with toilet repair on my own plumbing, but had never worked on anyone else’s.
My client was having problems with their toilet constantly running and wasting water. They started replacing some of the parts of their toilet and the project came to a standstill when the fill tube nut on the underside of the tank couldn’t be removed. My client had the water emptied out of the toilet tank which made it easier for me. I got the nut loosened so the defective fill tube could be removed. My client had a new fill tube which I installed but didn’t have the matching flush valve and hardware. My problem was the new fill tube didn’t match the existing flush valve, but I forced the black tube into the top of the flush valve anyway. Miraculously, it seemed to hold so I left it alone. Next, I had to get the toilet to flush and I actually used something from my computer tool box. To get the toilet to flush, the handle arm had to be connected to the flush valve bracket. A red, plastic wire tie was used and can be seen in the photo below. These wire ties are usually used to hold wires together inside computers or in a network cabling situation.
Now to test my work. The water valve was turned on for the toilet and I checked for leaks at the fill tube. It was dry so I tested the flush. It worked three times and still no leaks so I was happy and so was my client. I checked back with my client and the toilet still works and hasn’t leaked yet.
I rarely do plumbing service calls, but it’s fun to do something different and keeps my job interesting.
A few weeks ago a Fort Wayne computer repair client asked me to replace the CPU fan in their HP Pavilion laptop. They bought the replacement fan and delivered it to me with the laptop. The fan noise was very loud and from my experience, it was failing. Most laptop/notebooks have cooling fans to prevent your CPU (Central Processing Unit) from burning up. They blow cooler air from the outside and direct it on the CPU and possibly the Video display chip also.
Getting to the CPU fan was not easy as it would have been with a desktop computer. With a desktop computer, remove a few screws or just pop open a latch and you’re inside the computer case.
With most laptops as in this one, it’s more complicated. First, the bottom panel has to be removed by removing 16 screws. The keyboard had to be lifted off the laptop so more screws could be removed. Six ribbon cables had to be delicately disconnected from their motherboard connectors. The cables are for the video display, keyboard, trackpad, USB, Wifi, and other functions. Now the laptop bottom panel could be popped off. I removed the defective CPU fan by removing the screws and then removing dust and particles on heat sink. Finally, the new CPU fan was installed. The laptop was put back together and the fan was much quieter and the project appeared complete. I put the laptop on the internet to test the WiFi and it failed to connect. I feared I forgot to attach the WiFi cable back to the motherboard or it came loose. The laptop was disassembled again to look for any problems and nothing looked wrong. My fear is that I static shocked the wireless network card or one of the cables had a break in it. Later I texted my client to find out if the wireless ever worked and they said it never has worked! I just assumed it had worked. I was relieved to know I didn’t damage anything but also disgusted that I didn’t ask my client first before going though the disassembly again. From now on I will ask if anything doesn’t work on a computer before I begin work to prevent this waste of time in the future.
Last week a long-time computer client texted me with a problem on their HP laptop. It has Microsoft Windows 7 as its operating system and is connected to their HP inkjet printer via a USB cable. My client was printing reports for work and the first one was perfect. They sent the second one thinking they were home free, but nothing came out of the printer and no errors on the computer. I arrived on-site the next day and began interviewing my client. They did a HP test page from the printer’s front control panel so I knew the printer mechanics were alright. I was going to completely power-down the printer and disconnect the electrical power and my client already did this so I deferred.
I then looked at the Windows printer in Control panel and found the print job in the queue from last night. It wouldn’t let me restart it, or pause it and the status was “Printing”. It really wasn’t, but Windows thought it was. I killed the print job and tried sending a test page and the job went to the queue but nothing materialized on the printer. I removed the printer from the Windows Printer settings and then let Windows search for the HP plug-n-play printer again. The printer was found and installed by Windows. We had the same issues again where some print jobs worked and others didn’t so I had a hunch it might be the Windows driver causing the problem. I went into the printer control panel and played with the driver settings. All the details escape me now, but it was related to searching Windows updates. It never gives the version number of the current driver and I wish it did. After several minutes of searching, the driver update was complete and print jobs printed as expected. A follow up text to my client the next day verified the printer was working and it must have been a driver problem.
This summer I received an email from a guy named Bill. He is a computer professional who has a web site featuring on-line privacy. Bill wanted to share an article he wrote on browser security with me and my blog readers. So far, I like the site so I’m going to share it here as a blog post. Perhaps later I will put a permanent link on my site under Resources for it. Please let Bill know you found his site and how you like it.
You may think all I do is work on computers, but there are other IT things I do. One of them is computer network cabling. I can make ethernet cables, install new connectors on ethernet cable ends, and run cables in simple situations. I learned to do this back in the 1990’s while working as a system engineer at Needhams Business Machines. Being able to work with ethernet cables comes in handy when working with computers and networks.