November 28th, 2005


Bad Brick, No Donut

So, today, while I'm working, my power supply stops functioning. I'm plugged in, but suddenly notice I've only got half of my battery left. No green light on brick. And, I notice, it's beeping faintly.

What's that, brick? Timmy's fallen down the well? No? That's just your way of saying "screw you, I'm not working anymore?" No, sorry, brick, that's not acceptable. So I unplug the brick, then plug it back in -- beep beep beep. I unplug the cord from the brick, and plug it back in -- beep beep beep. I try it unplugged from the laptop -- beep beep beep. I try everything -- beep beep beep. Alrighty then, brick -- you lose.

So, I'm in a bit of a bind here. No brick, pretty soon, no laptop. For the moment, I get a jump from a friend's power supply (he's also got a Dell, and it uses an identical brick), and I start looking for places where I might find a new power supply. It doesn't look good, though, as other than Dell, I'm coming up empty, and despite the thought I had of maybe having Dell overnight one to me, Dell's not going to be delivering a new brick for a couple of weeks, looks like.

Anyway, I pack up, ready to see what I can find on my quixotic tour of the computer stores, and just for the hell of it, I try plugging it in again. No beep. Green light back. Huh.

So... brick's back for the moment. But, I decided (1) now is a really good time to do my periodic backup onto my USB drive (in case I'm developing on my PowerBook in two days instead of this one, say) and (2) I really need to order a new brick from Dell. My suspicion is that the brick was beeping because it was shorted out (it has some frayed wiring on the laptop connector end), and something just got in contact, and then just fell out of contact again. I'd been putting off replacing it, though, because it still worked -- but no longer.

One annoyance of note, however -- I was looking online for places I might order a replacement brick, and it comes to my attention that previous laptops in the same line as the one I have only work with Dell bricks. Apparently, the stick a chip in them that identifies them to the laptop as being a "geniune Dell brick" or whatever. I don't know one way or the other whether or not this is still true with the model I have, but it's annoying nonetheless, because the upshot is that I have to buy the Dell brick if I want to be sure it will work. Fortunately, Dell is pretty much in line with the market with its power supplies (and I didn't have much luck finding power supplies with the exact same specs anyway), but still.

Update: apparently Dell lied... The availability on the part isn't "1-2 weeks," they've already sent me a notice saying they've shipped it today.
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