Yesterday I found a whole new use for my tiny #4 stainless steel crochet hook. It works great for prying off laptop keys.
My poor baby! I’ve done it before but yesterday, my current laptop (a little over a year old and the first brand new, non-refurbished one I’ve owned) had its overdue baptism. Rather than a full glass of chardonnay, this time it was a bowl of Cheerios complete with about a half cup of soy milk that splattered down through the keys. If you’ve ever done it, you know that feeling of terror as you watch the spill in what seems like slow motion. It’s not unlike the feeling you get when you see your toddler turn toward a busy street and pull their hand away from yours just as you grab the hood of their sweatshirt.
I instinctively pulled the power cord and turned the laptop upside down (with no thought to the couch or carpet) and it immediately started screeching at me. My husband, who was in the kitchen at the time, ran in to the living room yelling “What is that?”. Not being as big a fan of electronics as I, he was relieved to find it was only my laptop and not a fire alarm or something more serious. I ran for towels and my hair dryer in an attempt to keep the soy milk from reaching the mother board or, god forbid, the hard drive.
The chardonnay incident four or five years ago had not ended well. Almost the moment the liquid hit the keyboard of the Dell laptop, it gave a loud beeping death knell, the screen went blank and it never booted up again. I was insanely lucky, that time. I’d bought the laptop refurbished on eBay without even realizing it was under full warranty! I received a brand new one in about three days.
I knew this laptop was no longer under warranty and hoped and prayed its fate wouldn’t be that of its predecessor. I sopped up as much of the liquid as I could and turned my hairdryer on its cool setting, aiming it at the still upside down keyboard. After a couple of minutes with the hair dryer, I couldn’t wait any longer (although I should have) and flipped it over to discover the damage. To my overwhelming relief it started to boot up but quickly started screeching again. I punched at keys thinking something was stuck and finally it stopped beeping and booted up. It looked like the hard drive and mother board had survived intact but something was definitely not right. Some keys didn’t work at all and it seemed as though the scroll keys were stuck, endlessly scrolling down, down down. I restarted it and again the loud beeping started immediately. When the keyboard backlight was on, I could see the soy milk squishing around as I pressed keys.
I powered it down and took out the battery. I went to the grocery store to get some rubbing alcohol and started prying the keys and little plastic springs off (enter, #4 stainless steel crochet hook). I cleaned under all the keys but could still see the soy milk one layer down. My beautiful Toshiba laptop doesn’t have one screw showing, so I started prying panels off to find them. I finally found the screws for the keyboard and pulled it out. I disconnected it and took it apart. I cleaned it out to the best of my ability but when I put it all back together and started it up, the screeching started right up again. To make a short story long, I took it apart a couple more times without any success.
I wrote the part number down before I put the screws back in and went online to find a new keyboard. I used my wireless mouse and since the keys were still off, typing anything was very difficult and in some cases impossible. The scroll down key kept getting stuck so the screen would start blinking like a disco strobe. I finally found the part online and ordered it. It was $100 including two-day shipping. No problem, I could wait that long.
Later in the day I received an email saying that the part (keyboard) was no longer available and my order was being cancelled. I took a deep breath and headed for our local Radio Shack. I found an external keyboard for $20 and brought it home. Incidentally, I had donated the exact brand/model of keyboard not six months ago to the thrift shop. I got the keyboard home, put the driver disc into the drive and an error immediately popped up. It wasn’t compatible with Windows 7.
I took another deep breath, choked back tears of utter frustration and headed back to Radio Shack. This time I got a “plug-and-play” wireless model made by Logitech and – miracle of all miracles – it worked!!
So, I’m typing this blog on my new keyboard that I have to carry around with my laptop. I shouldn’t complain. Thank goodness my hard drive and mother board survived!
The moral of the story (which I should know really well by now) – don’t eat or drink around your laptop. Let’s see how long it takes me to forget that rule this time!