Monday, March 9, 2009

My Laptop Screen Burns Out

I am a neurotic fiend about closing my laptop if I think I’m going to be away from it for more than 15-20 minutes. Part of the reason for this is to make it less attractive to the marauding Baby Bear, who on at least one occasion flipped Mr. Lucky’s open laptop to the floor.

My laptop is three years old and one of my prized possessions, so I treat it as I would a piece of fine crystal or delicate porcelain. It’s never even been out of the house except when I took it to a TARA writers’ retreat in Sarasota last year. I usually work at a desk, but occasionally I’ll unplug the laptop from the AC adapter and sit in an armchair with it.

That’s exactly what I did on Thursday when I made my last blog entry, and the screen started flashing and flickering in a very annoying manner. It stopped when I set it back on the desk and plugged it back in. Mr. Lucky surmised it might be the battery. Yet he replaced it only three months ago.

At 5:30 pm, I left the laptop and locked my office (again, to keep out Baby Bear who’s always ransacking Mr. Lucky’s). I cooked dinner, we ate the dinner, watched the news and a couple of Seinfeld reruns followed by Survivor (some of those people would never last in the military); then at 9 pm I returned to my office.

To my dismay, I’d left my laptop wide open for over three hours—something I never did—and the screen was black.

I tapped buttons, closed the lid and opened it again; I even rebooted it—but no picture lit up the screen. Not even the computer geekery of Mr. Lucky could bring it back to life. The screen was kaput.

Of course, I was convinced this happened because I left it open all that time—never mind Mr. Lucky leaves his own laptop agape 24/7. He declared it was going to happen no matter what, and it was probably just as well that it fizzled out when it did. Had it done so when I was in the middle of writing something, I might have lost the work, since I couldn’t see anything to save it.

Which brings us to the inevitable awkward moment all writers have at one time or another: “You do have everything backed up, don’t you?” he asked, in a tone of voice that clearly indicated he already knew the answer was, “Of course not, because I’m a lazy procrastinating idiot who never learns.”

Only the current WIP wasn't backed up, but all was not lost if it was, in fact—well, lost. I’ve only written four chapters and a “sucknopsis” as Anne-Marie so aptly puts it; my critique partner has seen three of them as well as the sucknopsis, and her corrected copies were still in my e-mail folder (I never clean out my e-mail folder, either). At worst I’d have to rewrite Chapter 4 off the top of my head.

I’ve had to rewrite whole chapters off the top of my head before. It’s no fun, though it still beats cleaning soap scum off the shower tiles.

The next day, Mr. Lucky took it to a computer repair place where he’s done business before, and they determined it needed new bulbs, yet it would be cheaper just to replace the whole screen.

Until the new screen arrives, he’s hooked up his desktop monitor to my laptop. Watching him do this nearly freaked me out. He opened my laptop flat—I’ve never opened my laptop flat before—and I almost screamed as if he were King Solomon about to rip my baby in half. (I know what my problem is—I don’t have enough chocolate in my diet.)

“It’s designed to do that,” he assured me.

Yes, but why? I can only think of one reason to open your laptop flat, and that’s so you can hook it up to a desktop monitor because your laptop screen burned out after you carelessly left it open for more than three hours. Mr. Lucky: "FOR THE LAST TIME--" (in his dreams) "--THAT'S NOT WHY IT BURNED OUT!"

Either way, those computer geeks think of everything, don't they?
Since the problem was only the screen, no work was lost. But having been chastened by this event (which is not to say I've finally learned the importance of always backing up work), I promptly added the WIP to the zip drive.
Mr. Lucky's final piece of sage advice? "Don't try moving all of this to your armchair."
He thinks of everything, too--except securing his own keep against the incursions of a certain Bear.


Vicki said...

Thank goodness it was the screen. Although, I have to agree with Mr. Lucky, leaving it open won't burn it out. In fact, there should be a sleep mode it goes into.

My computer crashed sometime bewteen Monday night when I turned it off and Tuesday morning when I started it to find I had a virus. Well, 34 of them and 21 of them critical to be exact.

Karen Lingefelt said...

Vicki, hugs on the crash! I'm so grateful it was just my screen. I'm almost ashamed for whining now.

Vicki said...

Don't be ashamed. It could have been more than your screen, and really without the screen it doesn't do any good.

Besides, SG saved it. Well, he wiped it clean, but I had done a back up a few days ago, so I didn't lose much at all.

Yep, do the back ups. :)

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Lakendra Wiltse said...

I feel for you because it happened to me once. The feeling was unforgettable! I own a laptop too, and I do make it a point to never leave it on for prolonged periods. Yes, some laptops can endure heat and still be fine after running for hours. In most cases, it is safe to say that a laptop needs a little more care; if you compare it to a desktop, it’s still a little brother that needs extra attention. :)