Thursday, 21 February 2013

My laptop has a story to tell

This is a success story from a year ago, which at the time I was very hyped writing about it, but postponed it until I processed and edited the video I took of the process.

Well, guess what. One year later, the video has not been edited yet.
So, I thought of talking about the story without the video, for now at least.

It all started a quiet evening of 2010 (might have been also late 2009, I don't really remember), when my 1 year old laptop decided to slide of the bed and fall on the ground. On top of my external hard drive.

The hard drive survived, but my laptop not much so. When I picked it up, I saw a crack on the center of the screen that expanded on other cracks across the screen. Imagine how a TV screen would look like if you threw a small ball at it - something like that.

And then the realisation, the horror!
An expensive laptop getting smashed on the floor so soon? Bad news.

But the crack didn't seem to affect the performance of the LSD screen, so I decided to let it be for the time being.

Little did I know though, that that was not the only damage that had been done.

I continued to use the laptop as normal - it was the only functioning computer I had, and I am studying Computer Engineering, so I pretty much needed it 24/7.

But the crack gradually transformed the screen to a black thing - changing sides, volume and shapes every time I used the laptop.

In the end, it came to this:

(crappy picture, but shows the extent of the damage)

You might be surprised to know that I continued using the laptop for something less than a year after the fall and while the screen was just a little less black than in the picture.

It was a total pain in the ass of course, because I had to always adjust windows according to the 'blackness' and when a pop up window appeared behind the blackness, eh, well...

I didn't have the money to repair it and I knew it would cost as much as a new computer, so in the summer of 2010 I got a new computer - a desktop! (no playing throw and catch this time!)

So the laptop fell into oblivion.. until last year's February semester exams.
I don't recall what came over me, I know that procrastination plays a huge role in this, but I suddenly decided that I have to repair the laptop somehow.

So, I contacted the local companies that could repair my computer and asked for prices. They were 3 in total, all located in Athens, and only 1 of them eventually answered my simple question: "How much would it cost to repair my screen?"

I was quite furious with the ones that didn't reply, because they acted very arrogant and demanding: one of them requested that I send them the computer with courier(which I pay myself of course) for them to assist the costs of the repair. Seriously? for just a screen replacement?

The ones that actually replied were on the contrary were friendly: a guy send me immediately after my request an email to ask for a picture of the damage and to tell me the costs.

Which came to 400 euros without courier expenses.

Of course I didn't have that kind of money. I was kinda disappointed, but that got me thinking: is there any other way?

DYI repair of course. But the big question was, where to get an LCD replacement.
I foolishly started looking for people selling second hand macbooks, but that didn't return any trustworthy results. 
I kept searching until I came across iFixit. Which is great, since it had exactly what I was looking for!

It didn't take much time to order the LCD - quite an affordable price, but with expensive shipping. But I shouldn't complain, since it arrived very fast from USA.

Once it arrived, I was very excited and wanted to start working on the repair immediately. So I ditched my studying and started working. :D

I had already watched a few videos demonstrating the repair, like this one and this one, so I had an idea of what to do, and how long it would take.

Generally, you need less than half an hour to replace it, and most of it is spend on screwing and unscrewing. 

But my laptop decided to give me a hard time - on the easy way the white plastic thing in the middle refused to cooperate and get off, so I figured I would have to go the long way and unscrew everything.

OH! the filth!

Which I did, only to reveal a computer very very filthy (under the keyboard of course) and a pair of screws that wouldn't unscrew no matter what. And without them, the whole 'taking apart the laptop' was pointless.

In the end it took me some hours more than I expected, it gave me the chance to clean the insides of my laptop (so much cat hair!!) and to also have an understanding of how everything is packed inside there.

But that white center thing was the key - I managed to take it off and connect the screen. Other than that, everything else was pretty easy. Screen replacement is simple, if you have mastered how to take off that white plastic thing.

That was it! I had finally a fully functioning laptop!! ... or so I thought.
After formatting it and installing the OS again, I started using it immediately. But after a few days (and while already having started working on a project for the exams on it!), it started behaving strangely. It kept getting slower and after a short while, wouldn't load even the simplest and lightest software.

So I run a hardware test (one of the features I really like on the Macs) and found out that my hard drive was damaged.

That was not such a big deal, if you don't consider the fact that I had to transfer valuable documents of my work to the other computer before it was too late! Because the hard drive was slowly getting more corrupted every time I tried to write or delete something from it.

Of course I got a new hard drive, and with even bigger capacity and decided to upgrade the laptop a bit more - I even bought a new pair of RAMs.
There is also here a back story to this: when I went to buy the upgrades I was looking for specific models (specific measurements of hard drive and specific speed of RAMs), because as you may know, different laptops have different requirements to size and speed according to how they are built up. For example, because my laptop was not the newest, I had to search for RAMs of lower speeds than the current popular and most used ones.

these are the old parts
Given these preferences, I went to the biggest stores that offer computer equipment in town, only to be looked at like an alien and get the answer 'This does not exist'.

Well, of course they did, but they didn't want to search for what I was asking for, and that part I didn't like. That's why I tried a local small computer store and surprisingly got exactly what I was looking for - and immediately. (For Patras residents, the shop is Memo and it's located here.)

And that was it! Since then I have been using the laptop full time, and sometimes non-stop, and it's like new :) If don't count this part, but still, that happens anyway, especially with heavy use.

I am just happy that I am able to use my computer freely again, and put my understanding of computers to good use! What am I doing in my faculty all these years, anyway?

Thanks for reading this extremely long post!
Now time to go back to work. 


  1. Your blog post really fascinates me. It’s really an important factor to be a techie. You’ll never need to worry about hiring a computer technician whenever your computer has a problem. Also, you’ll save money whenever you need to replace hardware because you’ll be the one to do the canvassing and purchasing. Conversely, if you think that laptop really needs to be replaced then it would be smart to sell it and buy a new one.

  2. “An expensive laptop getting smashed on the floor so soon? Bad news.” – I bet it was. Great of you to DIY the repair and actually get it working it again. How is it now? Still in good shape? Cordia Remsen @ RB’s Computer Service