Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lucky's Laptop Repair

Recently a friend of mine asked me if I could look at his laptop for him. The screen (both LCD and external monitor) was showing multi-colored, vertical bars and was generally screwed up. I tore it down and did a lot of searching and came to the conclusion that the graphics chip was screwed. Since these are soldered directly to the mainboard I searched high and low for a reasonably-priced one from HP (yeah, right...) and on eBay. While the eBay prices were about a third of the cost of a new one, it was still prohibitively expensive and wasn't worth fixing.

Not one to be thwarted so easily, I kept scouring eBay for parts and busted laptops of the same model to no avail. Eventually, while searching one night for a potential source or method of replacing the chip itself, I stumbled upon a thread in a Mac forum about iBooks that apparently had a known flaw where the graphics chip would flake out. Someone figured out it was due to a poor connection between the chip and the motherboard (rather than the chip itself being screwed) and decided to try to fix it themselves with a heat gun. The graphics chips on most modern laptops are surface mounted using a ball grid array type configuration. If you can heat up the solder underneath enough to re-melt it (without melting the graphics chip or the motherboard, of course) you can fix the poor connection.

Well, since I had spent so much time on this and it was really starting to irk me, I figured what the hell, I've got nothing to lose at this point. So I borrowed a heat gun from a friend (thanks, Todd!), and tore the sucker down again.

I grabbed a bunch of aluminum foil and shielded the surrounding areas.

Then I threw caution to the wind and cranked up the heat.

I then re-assembled it all (with no extra screws, I might add; which rarely happens when I start tearing stuff down like this) and flipped the switch. Would it work....?



Initially, the screen stayed black for a few seconds and I figured I had finally pooched it for good with too much heat. And then...

Nice. I fricking rule. Although with the amount of time I have spent on this particular challenge, I probably could have earned enough money to buy a new one 10x better. Oh well. That's not the point, right?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Revenge of the Gamers

Well, on one hand I am glad there has finally been someone to come forward and apologize for propagating the outright lies told by various members of the media about the game Mass Effect, but I think Cooper Lawrence got the short end of the stick. Gamers totally blasted her books on Amazon, giving her a little taste of her own medicine, and while she was at fault for blindly spouting off on TV the real culprit should be tarred and feathered in my opinion. Why has he not apologized? Could it be he was just looking for publicity to make himself feel important, or is he really that stupid?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Winter Fun

Sharon's cousin is here from Glasgow, Scotland to experience a bit of our Canadian winters. So far she hasn't been disappointed by the weather.

We've had almost constant snow since she got here a week ago, and we went for a quick night-time toboggan run during the week.

Today we had a chance to go back during daylight hours and had a fun day in much warmer weather (although a little less snow).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hello World!

Hello, everyone! If all goes well this post should get automatically sucked up and spat back out squarely in front of billions and billions of people by that terraforming umilator that is Planet Eclipse. OK, maybe not that many, but I'm still worried about spelling and grammar.

I just wanted to post a quick introduction as well as a shameless plug for my talks at EclipseCON this year. I'll be presenting a short talk entitled From The Horse's Mouth - What Embedded Developers Like and Dislike About Eclipse-Based Development Tools, as well as the long talk Creating Your Own Extension Points: It's Easier Than You Think!.
(Why am I suddenly reminded of a certain Simpsons character?)

"Hi! I'm Mark Melvin! You may remember me from such presentations as Language Toolkits, 10 Tough Decisions You Must Make When Developing An Eclipse-based IDE, and Who are these people on stage and what makes them so qualified to talk about this topic?"

Unfortunately I could not make it to last year's conference (I've been to every other one) so I am really looking forward to attending this year! It looks like there are many interesting talks to choose from, and I'm sure it is going to be harder than ever to fit in all the ones I want to attend. Over the next few weeks I'll be trying to shape up the final abstracts and material on the website for my presentations, and hopefully I will end up with something people will find both interesting and useful. Oh, and I went ahead and changed this into a BoF. ;)

In the meantime I'll try to post here every now and again about Eclipse as well.