Wireless Breakdown

My Toshiba laptop is off to the repair shop yet again. For anyone not anxiously awaiting the next turn of events in the continuing saga of craptacular hardware, I’ll give you a brief refresher. My laptop hard drive suffered a massive failure at the beginning of September 2004. I had purchased one of those extended warranties from Best Buy when I originally got the laptop in January 2004 and exercised the repair clause in the warranty when the hard drive died in September. I documented a large chunk of the data recovery process involved in getting some critical data from the damaged drive offering some recommendations for those suffering a similar fate. After returning from the repair shop later in September, all seemed to be working for a couple of weeks until a second drive crash sent the laptop back to Best Buy for more repairs in October, just prior to a scheduled trip to Seattle.

My laptop experiences remained uneventful until last week when the wireless card started to drop packets like mad and couldn’t sustain connections even within 5 feet of the access point. Yesterday morning, after several strange error messages appeared on the screen (in hindsight, I should have documented them), the laptop got stuck in an infinite loop of blue screens commonly associated with hardware driver failure. I couldn’t pause the screen long enough to clearly document the blue screen message, so I booted a BartPE CD and transferred an image of the drive to a USB drive. I had been using an external WiFi card since the failure and even turned off the internal card, but the issue was forced by the additional problems. Off to Best Buy for another trip to the repair shop. I’m told another failure results in the laptop being ruled a lemon which means outright replacement with a different model. I’d settle for just having the thing not break again.

It seems these crash events always correspond with an upcoming travel event. I’m headed for SES in New York on Monday, so it only makes sense my laptop should fail just prior to the trip. Of course, that’s more convenient than mid-trip. The demise of my laptop also presents an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with my Fujitsu Tablet PC, which was previously relegated to Robin’s frequent searches of food sites for interesting recipe ideas. We ran the radio show from the tablet last night and I generally found it to be just as effective as any other solution.

Back in August, after testing a Gateway Tablet PC for a series of articles I found the handwriting recognition to be outstanding but couldn’t see myself ever adopting full time use of the Tablet. Considering my frequent travel schedule of late, it’s either use the Tablet full time or find another laptop. I’ll keep you posted on how it works out.