dcomic 533

[100215]

Hey. This is the last page of part 7. Whoo.

Anyway, I had another entry planned for today, but something came up that made me write about other things. I had a (minor?) hardware fault with the TC4200 that put an end to nearly two years of trouble-free operation (technically I supposed it’s nearly four years, since I doubt the previous owner had any issues…).

But anyway, about a week ago, I remember powering the machine up from standby and not getting anything on the display. Sometimes it can take this thing up to a minute to resume from standy (I think it has to do with how quickly the wireless card can negotiate a link with the infrastructure – I’m not totally sure about that though), so I didn’t think anything about it…

Until a couple minutes had passed. At that point, I force shut-downed the thing and restarted. When it started back up, it looked like the post screen didn’t show up, but I got a picture at the Windows desktop and thought nothing of it anymore.

Two days ago, I was resuming from standby, and the same sort of thing happened. My first thought was that the CF card was finally going south and corrupting itself, but when I rebooted, I didn’t get a picture at the post screen, and I didn’t get a picture at the Windows desktop either. It looked like the machine was running though, as all the lights seem to come on at the right time, etc.

So I connected my external display (the only CRT in the neighborhood, I bet) and there was my desktop.

So the display was dead. A little strange, I thought, I hadn’t seen any of the traditional symptoms of inverter or backlight failure, and an LCD failure is typically characterized by discolored lines and the loss of like large fractions of the display. But that wasn’t the case, and things got weirder when I noticed that the digitizer wasn’t working either. At this point I had been thinking I’d have to buy a new display, but…

I decided to crack the thing open and take a look.

I’ve cracked open plenty of Dells and other laptops over the past couple years, and the TC4200 remains one of least maintenance friendly. Dell’s machines are always easy to take apart, and it’s nice that they give you a service manual. HP gives you manuals too, and Lenovo does it for ThinkPads, but after that, the industry really fails in this sort of thing. Great, but HP’s manuals don’t really make things much easier.

On the TC4200, all of the screws are a combination Torx and slot screws. Torx is really an ass to work with (especially when I don’t have a Torx set), and the slot is thin and long enough such that my thin flat screws don’t quite bridge the gap and my wide ones are too fat to fit in it. I can usually somehow make my “usual” phillips work somehow… but it’s annoying as hell.

There’s also this bezel right in front of the display that takes great care to remove. The manual makes it look so simple… just lift and pull… but in reality, the display is close enough to the chassis, such that lifting and pulling just isn’t possible. You need to twist it and turn it just the right way to fit it under the display… otherwise you’ll break it. And I broke my first one.

HP also uses a lot of tape (at least relative to Dell). Tape keeps one side of the keyboard connected to the chassis, and it also keeps the display bezel attached to the display. I suppose that makes the entire display assembly feel pretty solid though… enough such that I didn’t think you could dismantle it via conventional methods. There’s no instructions, but you can. I took a leap of faith. But I wouldn’t suggest it done very often because there’s that damn tape.

At any rate, here’s a picture!

http://colette.trianglesoft.net/2010/img/Q1/Dsc06484.jpg

It really doesn’t have anything to do with the ultimate problem, though. I just took the display apart to tighten the hinge while I was at it. Unfortunately, most of the play in the hinge is actually caused by the hinge itself, rather than loose screws joining the hinge to the display assembly (which often turns out to be the case in some older Dells).

The actual problem seems to be with the cable connecting the display to the chassis. I suppose since this is a tablet, that group of cables comes under more wear and tear than the equivalent connection in a standard laptop. Just re-seating the cable seems to have solved my original problem for now, but I fear that something is getting stripped inside this bundle of wires (and you can’t see it because the bundle of wires is sheathed), which may eventually require a replacement in the future…

So yeah, that’s that story.

I’m watching the Chobits anime right now. Made in 2002, I’d read the manga a little bit later, and probably a second and third time eventually, but something in the anime caught my eye (either it didn’t exist in the manga or I just didn’t care until now).

Minoru has this display on his desk:

http://colette.trianglesoft.net/2010/img/Q1/100220a.jpg

If you can see what’s going on, it’s a screen with a digitizer (he uses a pen most of the time), but the stand is hinged such that it can stand vertically… or at a slant such that you can draw on it like a Cintiq. And it’s hueg. And that just floored me. I can’t believe in the eight years between now and then, no one has actually made something like this. A Cintiq kind of costs a fortune already, but then the cost of adding the special hinge is like icing on the cake. I just can’t believe a market for this doesn’t exist.

If I had the money, I’d totally buy this. I’m talking to YOU, manufacturers.

Ok, ’til next time.

As you can see, there were supposed to be pictures. But my WRT54G kicked the bucket early this week, and the pictures were on the server which is now turned off. So maybe an edit later.

10/02/21: Infrastructure back online. Pictures added.

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