Open Computer Surgery

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Just by the by, I’m not giving professional advice here. You shouldn’t attempt to fix your computer unless you know what you’re doing, which I generally don’t, and especially if you’re still under warranty, which I was not.

Yesterday I reported taking a vacuum to my computer’s fan vent in an attempt to remove the dust from inside the machine, and prevent it over-heating. And I reported that it worked, which it did, for a time, before the fan stopped moving altogether and two minutes later the PC, in it’s desperation to protect its circuits, shut-down. Upon restart the fan failed to rotate, and so I decided to take drastic action. In the evening, I performed open computer surgery on my poor injured machine. Yes, it would have been in better hands with a professional, and yes I should have waited for the pressured-air canister my PC-savy friend assured me he’d locate, but if dust was the only issue, I was pretty confident I could have a stab at clearing it out – well a second stab anyway, after the hoover plan of two days ago.

I’ve seen some complicated computers be created, and fixed; machines which require a hundred screws just to keep their sides secure, with at least three fans. My knowledge of such things hails back to my days with my then-boyfriend, who not only built gaming-computers, but was also the go-to guy for any PC repair of all friends and family. I’d watch him pull towers to pieces and reconstruct them with extra wingdings and thiggas, and so the prospect of doing the same did cause me worry. If I could afford a repairman I would have consulted one. While I can work a PC, I have little to no clue what makes them tick; thankfully, the fan is the obvious viewable component, and I was only doing a little dusting. Compared to the Goliaths which lay in parts on my then-partner’s bedroom floor, my machine is fairly humble, and it only has one fan. This is how I siked myself up for the procedure – and also why I should never attempt surgery on anything, be it organic or mechanical.

Anyway, my journey began with the task of getting inside the beast; I’m no carpenter, but I know the difference between a phillips-head-screwdriver and a flat-head, and so I traveled into the cellar, into the teacher’s toolbox, and found myself the means to remove the (thankfully, only) two screws standing between myself and the broken fan. Black screws, white desk, a good combination, because that way it’s much more arduous to lose them, which if it was going to happen, would happen to me.  Then I had to tug away the side. You know those car doors which open vertically? You know these ones:

At first I thought the side of my PC did this. Truth be told I wish it did. However, the panel slides away from the side, by being pulled from the back, and the process of yanking it free was actually the most worrying part of the procedure. Masses of delicate metal lay beneath the covering, and yet I had to rattle the old beast just to get the side off. Which I did, with a very humorous semi-roll, holding the machine between my legs and pulling at the back-handle with both hands. Thank goodness I keep the door shut. So, the innards were finally revealed to me.

Motherboards are beautiful things, like mechanical fields and cities, with silver skyscrapers and coloured houses. A tiny world entirely made from synthetics small enough to balance on a finger-tip. My mission was to avoid touching any thing other than the fan, and perhaps the power-supply, which was clouded with masses of dust-bunnies. So, I imaged that people lived inside my computer, and if I hit anything I would unintentionally cause a mass earthquake for billions of microscopic workers, whose sole duty it was to keep the machine functioning.  Dustitis had taken the fan by storm; every blade was coated in a crust of brown, and bundles of dirt had clung to the inner-portion of the component. I had an unused cloth, and a pair of tweezers. I got to work.

The fan-blades in my PC are angled down towards a large silver disc. I’m not going to pretend I know what this disk is named or what it does, but suffice to say, I didn’t really want to be messing with it. Hundreds of imaginary tiny lives were at stake, for all I know that disk could have been their hospital. With the cloth wrapped around my fingers, and a torch angled down so I could see what I was doing, I scraped away the layers of dirt that had taken residence on my dysfunctional fan. A lot of dust came out of that machine. I mean a lot. The remnants of it are still on my carpet, large clumps of gray, tethered to each other, now waiting for the morning puja to end before I suck them away. I think I actually got most of it. I even tweezed the clusters from between the fan and the silver-disk-which-could-be-a-tiny-people-hospital, which seems logically to be what was causing most the damage.

I’m writing this at home, on my recovering PC, listening to the rattle of the fan as it stops the machine from having to shut down. Add this to the ‘things I never thought I’d actually a) attempt and b) succeed in’ list. I’m not sure how long it will last, but for now everything seems tickity-boo. As long as it rattles I know it’s at least turning, and garish as the noise is. And, at least I tried, and sometimes that’s enough to show you the power inside.

Also, my friend Anna, who I share a (not so active) blog with, found this on youtube. All Hunger Games fans should give it a watch, because something tells me, the actual licensed movie won’t be half as good, or half as accurate (caution though, it is a tad violent, and also spoilers for those who haven’t yet completed the first book). Kudos to the creators, who did justice to this iconic and heart-breaking scene.


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