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Heart Transplant For Computer November 1, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in computers.

IMG_8288My home computer now has an external artificial heart.

On Tuesday I decided to shut down my home computer. I’m not sure why I decided to do that – I almost never do. I think on average I probably reboot it about once a month because of security updates or similar. It probably gets shut down on average once every several months. I left it off overnight. I have to say – it was nice and quiet in the living room: no fan noise, no disk noise.

The problem is it stayed too quiet a little too long. When I hit the “power” button on the 2.5 year old Dell XPS/200 machine the power light briefly flickered yellow… and that was it. A quick browse on the web indicated that was a bad power supply or a bad mother board. Scary! I really didn’t want to replace this computer yet!! A paper click quickly confirmed that at least the originally supplied Dell power supply was not functioning correctly.

Paula is away, so I’m a single parent this week. It wasn’t until this afternoon I was able to get away from work to pick up a new power supply. Without a computer I did something I’d not done in a long long time: read a book! And I remembered why I don’t read books anymore: I was up till 4am finishing it.

Fortunately, the new power supply fixed this. The original Dell power supply is a non-standard size (small case). The result is this thing has an external artificial heart. You’ll note in the picture it is resting comfortably on a baby receiving blanket. I am very impressed with the way Dell put together this machine – everything fits together just-so. However, I’ve had two disk drives go bad and now a power supply in 2.5 years. That isn’t such a good track record – I’m starting to suspect the box is not cooled well enough! Who knows how long before the motherboard goes! 😦

Nice way to spend Friday night; could hear everyone enjoying Halloween at the bars outside…



1. Michael - November 1, 2008

Shame to hear about your computer! But these things happen I guess.
One upgrade in 2.5 years, I think you should consider yourself lucky hehe.

2. Luis Murillo - November 3, 2008

That’s the problem with small form factor or specially designed machines…and it’s one problem I’ve always disliked a lot since once the manufacturer stops supporting the device you are left with a box that will eventually need to be replaced as a whole despite it still having useful parts.
I try to always build my own computers…something I wouldn’t recommend to just anyone…though you seem to be getting a good hang of it 🙂
Oh yeah…reading a physical book is so old 😛

3. gordonwatts - November 3, 2008

Luis – actually, I always used to build my own computers – got more bang for the buck, and it was fun. The downside was the time it took, which is why I got the above Dell. Time as in – making sure the drivers together work, memory is working and “fast”, etc. The Dell above was my first purchased computer (after a few Mac’s in the early 90’s – I really liked my SE/30). I like it – it is pretty easy to modify (new disk drive, more memory, etc.) And I love the small form factor – it fits out in the living room without too much difficulty. I used to get Shuttles too. This dell is 2.5 years old — time to replace it. Not sure, yet, what I will replace it with – buy my own or purchase…

4. TheCconfidentPC - November 19, 2008

From the look of it, your DELL seems a little tight on breathing space.

Was the cooling fan blocked ?

I have a 4 year old HP Vectra still going strong.

5. Gordon Watts - November 19, 2008

Indeed – I think that was a major problem with this Dell — I’ve had 2 hard disk failures and I think that was in part because the cooling wasn’t quite up to the job.

This replacement, however, does not block the fan. The fan intake is at the front of the case.

6. Green is a Relative Thing « Life as a Physicist - December 23, 2008

[…] since there is no beam, why run the Linac at all? Why not just shut it off. I will point you to a previous posting of mine: On Tuesday I decided to shut down my home computer. I’m not sure why I decided to do that – I […]

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