Laptop of Doom

My nephew dropped his Toshiba laptop X number of times, X being a number larger than the number of times that you should drop a laptop. Anyhow, the screen started flickering whenever he tilted it, and then it blacked out entirely. It’s been that way for a while now, and I put off repairing it until I could get the back room cleaned out so that we would have a place to work, like so:

After consulting technical forums, I had determined that the problem had something to do with either (1) the cable connecting the main body of the computer to the monitor, or (2) the screen inverter.

Now, the laptop has a connection for an external monitor, and I had the impression (mistaken, it turns out) that the inverter was ‘upstream’ of where an external monitor connected. See ‘A’ in this diagram:

This gave me the idea (again mistaken) that if I connected an external monitor, I could determine whether the problem was the cable or the inverter, because if the external monitor showed anything, then the inverter had to be okay. Again, this was assuming that the external monitor connects after the signal comes out of the inverter. (Please don’t hit me for thinking that. I know better now, but let’s go on.)

And so it came to pass that I took an old desktop computer monitor from the 1990s and connected it to the laptop’s auxiliary screen port. Here’s what the old monitor looks like:

Notice the bulky speakers with the tangle of cables connected to the sides of the monitor. This is what passed for ‘computer design innovation’ in the 90s.

The result was that the screen image came up on the old monitor, so I concluded (mistakenly — do I have to keep saying that? Yes, I do. It’s my penance.) that the inverter was okay.

After some tinkering, we got the password screen. My nephew typed in his password, and we got the welcome screen. But that’s as far as we got. Now he tells me, “I think my computer may have been zombified.”

Well, that’s something else to think about.

Anyhow, it seemed that the next thing to do was see if the cable was loose, and to do that, I had to unscrew the case. My impression of Toshiba laptop repair is that there are a lot of screws to unscrew. And finally I realized that the top wouldn’t come off even though I had unscrewed everything in sight. So to the Internet, Robin!

I went to and the step-by-step illustrated instructions patiently explained that in order to remove the screen, I first had to remove the keyboard. Why of course!

We finally got the keyboard off, but by then we had run out of time for today. So we’ll go further tomorrow, but I’m not sure how further.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, I had thought that if we got something, anything, on the external monitor, then the problem wouldn’t be the inverter. Then I got the uneasy feeling of self-doubt I always belatedly get when I declare something with great self-assurance, and so I did an internet search to a site called Laptop Parts 101, and from the picture it appears that the external monitor is ‘upstream’ from the inverter. Translation: the external monitor actually taps off at point B in the diagram I showed earlier, and connecting an external monitor doesn’t really tell me if it’s the inverter or the cable that’s at fault.

Well, anyhow, I think we can replace the inverter easiliy enough. But that will cost $35. (Hmm, that’s beginning to be a familiar price point . . . . )

And then what about the ‘zombification’ issue? Well, maybe it’s time to load Linux. My nephew doesn’t like Linux, but I don’t think we have the boot disks for Vista anymore and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.

I coming to think that what we’ll end up doing is burying the poor thing and buying a new computer. This time it’ll be a desktop, because I want to upgrade the graphics card. Also, it’s harder to drop a desktop, though to be fair he is seventeen now and seems to be out of the klutzy phase of adolescence.

(Now, if only I could get out of the klutzy phase of middle age . . . . )

About engineerzero

Once and future engineer.
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