Saturday, January 29, 2011

Some Techno-Troubles

Ever since we arrived here we have noticed something wrong with our laptops: they are electrocuting us. It is just a mild shock, but it really hurts sometimes, especially places with thinner skin, like the bottom of the wrist.

I am not certain of the cause, but I have a few guesses: the power distribution system isn't properly grounded or our laptop power supply's can't really handle the 220V AC very well. I think it is probably the first, because using a voltage adapter with the power supply doesn't solve the problem.

And now my laptop from Rose-Hulman kicked the bucket. I'm not certain that it is related to the electrocution, but that is my suspicion. This idea is supported by the fact that it continuously trips the over current breaker in the power-supply. I took it apart, and have tentatively identified the motherboard as being the problem. So, yeah, that is a big problem. I doubt if I could find a new motherboard here, and I know that I would have trouble trusting it, based on the abundance of knock offs here. Knock offs are so common that when you ask for a computer part at a store in Jeddah, they immediately ask if you want an original or a copy. I suppose a knock off of a specific motherboard is unlikely, but I wouldn't want to test that hypothesis, because even the items they admit are copies are priced higher than originals in the US.

I am now using Abby's laptop from Rose. The hard drive from my computer isn't compatble with her laptop (my hard drive is EIDE, her laptop wants SATA). So now I have to try to find a EIDE to USB convertor so that I can move some of my important documents and files over. I will probably have to go to Jeddah to get one; the iZone store here on campus is little more than an Ipod and Macbook vending machine.

I would normally turn to online shopping as my first choice, but that really doesn't exist here (if you have a website to suggest please let me know in a comment!). The reasons for this are many, and I have identified three: 1) credit cards are very rare here, 2) the banking system does not allow someone to take payments unless they have a brick and mortar store, and 3) the postal system here is abysmal.  Point 3 is one we've learned first hand, as we've already had two packages get lost on their way from the US, one is about six weeks late!

On the upside, it is nice to get started on an brand new system all over again occasionally, to clean out all the widgets and doo-das that you never really used anyways. Hopefully next time I start over it will be on a new laptop, that has a working battery.

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