What I've been up to
By Thom McGrath on
Just a general post, nothing special about it.
So I still do some odd-jobs for my previous employer, since I'm still the best tech guy he knows and likely the best in CT when it comes to Subway stuff. His stores are still the most high-tech Subway restaurants in CT because of the stuff I did while there.
In the middle of the lunch rush yesterday, one of the store's cash registers went down completely. Claimed it could not detect the chipset heatsink and thus would not startup. Upon opening it, one of the little loops that holds the integrated graphics chip heatsink down had snapped off.
And worse, it wasn't in the case. Still trying to figure out how it left the case, but we may never know.
Brief interlude: This computer is a Dell. I have a challenge for Dell. Can you please make a computer that does not suck with every ounce of its existence? Is that so much to ask? We have two Dell registers, both needed their motherboards replaced, and now this one will a second time. Brilliant, way to set the bar low Dell. It takes real talent to suck that hard.
So the problem was not that the heatsink didn't exist, it was that the board could not detect it. I concluded that since the entire hook mechanism was metal, the board must be sending an electrical current through to make sure the heatsink was there. So after trying many different types of material, a stripped-clean piece of 14-gauge speaker cable did the trick to fit in the tiny holes in the motherboard. But that didn't do it. So I tried putting pressure on the heatsink as well, and presto! The computer would boot. To experiment, I removed the speaker cable yet kept pressure and the computer would not boot. I was able to conclude that the motherboard was using a combination of a pressure sensor and current sensor. So I shoved a folded-over piece of cardboard between the heatsink and the hard drive, and the computer works - although it's fragile.
So I called Dell to begin the process of getting a new motherboard. Turns out, the system is out of warranty. I was told they would not simply sell me a motherboard, I had to have some sort of service contract. But in order to get a service contract, the computer had to undergo an inspection - which it would fail. Thus, Dell is completely useless. We found the same motherboard from a third-party and I'll install it when it arrives. In the meantime, we have a computer that is functional only thanks to cardboard and a piece of speaker cable.
Not much I can say here, since I'm still employed with REAL. But I did just complete a miniature logic processor for something special we're cooking up - not something I really wanted to do, but there was no better way. I'm a bit proud of it though.