FW: Laptop Blues Redux



From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 2:26 PM
To: ‘Lester_Nations@Dell.com’
Cc: ‘Nancy_R_Dorr@Dell.com’
Subject: RE: Laptop Blues Redux


Argh! I didn’t notice a return label. I’ll check the box again later.


I agree with you in theory about replacement being the only option left. Yet putting that into practice is rather traumatic to complete. I have nearly 100 GB of stuff on this laptop so it’s a huge task for me to switch laptops. There’s also a bit of an emotional attachment here, as strange as it sounds. Machines aren’t alive, of course, but some of them do take on personalities of sorts. Just listen to old B-17 pilots take about how faithful their “girls” were. Many brought their crews home long after every theory said they couldn’t fly another mile. This laptop has been like that; lots of problems but not one total failure. I’ve depended on laptops for 16 years, and Dells for 10. My previous MTBF for “hard” failure was about three months so you can see why I love this Gen2 enough to give it a network name after my service dog, Lilly. Both have been extremely dedicated and determined.


What I’m really telling you is that we need to go very cautiously through this replacement process so we don’t create bigger problems for me or Dell, ok? I’m going to have to rely on you to advise me, because the Dell website only tells what’s currently available, not what’s about to hit the market. Let’s try not to repeat what happened two weeks after I ordered my Gen2.


I’m going to you a few technical requirements and I want you to go off and ponder what will be the best fits. Some of these requirements will conflict, but that’s just the nature of the laptop “reality.”


  • Must accept the same power adapters as Gen2.
  • Keyboard must be the same size and layout (as I’ve told Nancy, I have several acrylic keyboard templates that cut by a CMC to exactly fit over Dell’s full-size laptop keyboards only. The templates have opening that match each key, and their main function is to prevent me from popping the tops off the fragile mechanisms underneath.)
  • Should use same hard-drive as Gen2. I will likely swap the Gen2 drive to the new laptop at least in the beginning. I realize you need the Gen2 back with the same hard-drive capacity as it shipped with. Try to understand, though, that re-installing 100 GB takes weeks, and re-installing some things may be impossible due to copy-protection keys. A larger capacity drive would be good, but may not be viable.
  • Cutting-edge graphics module. It must serve for four years well.
  • 1 GB RAM minimum, 2 preferred.
  • 1.2 GHz minimum.


You’ll notice that the fabulous TrueLife screen isn’t listed. They are nice to watch, but rather fragile and extremely hungry.


And yes, the old keyboard s on its way.


From: Lester_Nations@Dell.com [mailto:Lester_Nations@Dell.com]
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 9:25 AM
To: royall@conchbbs.com
Cc: Nancy_R_Dorr@Dell.com
Subject: RE: Laptop Blues Redux


Mr. Royall,


Mr. Royall the keyboard I sent you was sent as part of your service agreement. I sent it on what is called a Parts Only Service. The Parts Only Service does generate an order with a dollar amount. That dollar amount will be credited back once the original part ( in this case the keyboard) is returned via the pre-paid return shipping label sent with the replacement keyboard. Actually I don’t think it is charged to the account unless the original parts is not returned. If for some reason you did not get the pre-paid shipping label (it’s a peal and stick label that is attached to the packing slip, let me know.


Now to the systems shutdown/over heating issue. I have to say at this point I think it is time we replaced the system. I have sent every part at least once and in some cases twice (basically rebuilding the system onsite) with no resolution.  I note in your prior email that you spoke of either the M140 or the new M1210 totally maxed out in terms of hardware as an exchange option.  Once you give me the approval to perform the system exchange I can have an system configuration put together and email it to you for a finale approval.



Thank You, 



From: Scott Royall [mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2006 10:38 PM
To: Nations, Lester
Cc: Dorr, Nancy; Blog; Blaise; bradgsmith@mdanderson.org; Brandon Milligan; Carol McKinney; Dianne; DSloan; Jack Davidson; janis.nicol@nau.edu; John Royall; Marsha Anderson, DVM; ‘Michelle Luster’; Ming Zu; Mom; Richard Becton; Sakina Lanig; Tao Ju
Subject: Laptop Blues Redux

Ok, here’s what I currently know.

What we are currently experiencing are legitimate heat shutdowns. Gen2s do a few specific things before all controlled shutdowns, like parking the hard-drive heads. This activity is very quick but still discernible. That’s how I know the present behavior is a controlled power-down. That leads me to the conclusion that what we had before was a GPU going bad at a temperature below the shutdown temperature.

Of course, that still leaves the critical question of why this Gen2 is suddenly having heating problems. As you can read In this review, I had originally expected overheating, and was pleasantly surprised by its absence. I do have a suspicion about what has changed, but I can’t investigate it without dismounting the laptop from the table it lives on… Well hell, hang on.

Crap. No joy. Ok, I need to back up a little and explain for you. This laptop is mounted on a brushed aluminum tabletop via three wide Velcro strips (wonderful stuff that; it even holds this monster). Since I knew a laptop of this caliber would run hot, I was very careful to have my caregiver/handyman attach the Velcro strips to the bottom of the laptop in places that do not block the fan vents. I just re-checked, and the Velcro tape is still basically in the same places despite dim-wit Tom. The left bottom vent is still hanging off the table, and the right bottom vent is still about ¼” above the table’s surface. All other vents are clear so this sudden tendency to overheat—if that’s what’s happening—has me stumped.

One other piece of evidence pointing to maybe a CPU overheat event is that the laptop has behaved well since I turned off Speed-Step. As you know, doing that locks the CPU down in low speed. That’s no long-term solution, but it supports the overheating scenario.

One last thing, I think I precipitated a little misunderstanding when I used the term “drop-ship” regarding a new keyboard, because I noticed $17.27 was charged to my Preferred Account. That’s no big deal, and I recognize that I probably caused the mistake. What I had actually intended, just to clarify, was that you simply ship a replacement to me under the NBD contract. I was trying to say we wouldn’t need Qualxserv’s fine assistance on this. Oops, sorry



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