Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Perfect Father’s Day – 2016 edition

This past Father’s Day, dear little Alvis and her husband invited me over to their place for some hang-out time.

We watched some great Copa América soccer matches.

We wrestled with their “schnoodle” (schnauzer poodle mix) Molly.

We ate spicy chicken and I wolfed down red-beans and rice.

We laughed and then hunkered down when a ferocious storm blew through dumping rain by the bucketfuls, tossing lighting, drumming up thunder. And killing the power for about 30 minutes.

It was perfect!

Along the way I couldn’t help but be a dad and do some fixing of Alvis’s laptop.

See about a week or two prior, her husband had been using it when suddenly it died right in the middle of some work.

Alvis tried some pretty good troubleshooting but couldn’t make headway. It seemed to sort-of boot but would just display a black screen and power off.

To make matters more challenging, the kids reported that Microsoft had foisted a stealty/scammy Windows 10 upgrade on them. It was running Windows 7 just fine, but did a Windows 10 upgrade they didn’t ask for or want anyway. Classy.

However, they were good sports and adjusted. It seemed the Windows 10 upgrade went ok and the laptop survived the experience intact.

Was it a Windows 10 upgrade black-screen problem related to the upgrade? Was it a bad system board or power-source issue? Bad display? That snoodle can get rough at times though I didn’t see any teeth-marks on the lid.

In the worst case scenario, I was prepared to do a data-recovery and then port Alvis’s files onto her external USB drive so she could still work with her data on another laptop if her’s was dead.

I made sure the device was on the AC power cord and tried to boot it with a bootable USB stick first. Nothing.

I removed the stick and tried a power cycle again.

Miraculously, it sprang to life this time – for a moment. Enough to partially display a Windows 10 boot loading routine and for me to see an exasperated and amazed look on Alvis’s face that it was working for me – before the screen went black again and nothing.


I pulled the battery out of the laptop and removed the AC cord plug.

I pulled a Leatherman Micra multitool out of my pocket and removed the bottom laptop access cover.

Alvis said she had started to do that earlier but stopped since she was afraid she would loose the tiny screws.

I was proud she had considered that (exploring under the access cover) and explained that the lid screws were “captive” and probably wouldn’t come out – though I did keep my eye closely on the schnoodle.

I pulled out the single DIMM of RAM, then firmly reseated it and clipped it back in.

The access cover was snapped back in place and screwed down, the battery returned to the bay, and the A/C power connected.

It booted right up normally and ran like nothing had happened. Fixed just like that.

After offering to roll her laptop back to Windows 7 (declined by Alvis) she did say that the thing that frustrated them them most was the “new” Start button and menu.

I downloaded and installed Classic Shell and after a bit of tweaking had the Windows 10 start menu tamed into a format Alvis was familiar with again.

Mischief managed – for now!

A right-perfect Father’s Day and I was still able to be handy and useful.

Thank you Alvis!

You are the best daugher a father could ever hope to have. I’m so proud of you.


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