Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Melancholy Meanderings on a Most Monstrous Moment

Person of Consequence, you might ask, what did you do today?  Did anything interesting happen?

Oh, no, I answer.  Only THE MOST ANNOYING THING EVER.  Whatever was it?  Sit back, folks, and I will regale you with the Tale of the Board-Bound Key.

First: I have a laptop.  I have an M-14X Alienware gaming laptop.  I love it.  I need it.  I strongly suspect I can't live without it. That is the problem.
Second: I have a Book Hug. I got it for Christmas. It is one of these:
It's the metal thing holding up the book, in case that isn't clear.  For someone who spends a lot of time typing passages from books into computers, it is also essential.  Between this, the rain cover for my backpack, and the wool socks, my mother has been bang on this year in giving me things I desperately needed without knowing it.

Today, however, my beloved laptop and my beloved book hug ran afoul of my stupid hands (Futurama reference), which proceeded to drop the book hug on the laptop's keyboard from an unfortunately high height.  The result was that it dislodged the "m" key.  Not knocked off, mind you--just dislodged.  I could, conceivably, kept on typing, with only a minor annoyance.

But now.  Like a scab on the knee, I couldn't resist pulling at it.  Poking at it.  Whirling it around and around like a ten year old twisting a loose tooth in its socket.  And just like those teeth, it suddenly came loose. I was suddenly holding three pieces in my hand: the key itself, a small plastic tab, and a large plastic tab.  I then spent about fifteen minutes trying desperately to get the piece back in place. It prompted this facebook post (heretoafter posted in bold; responses will be posted in italics): 

Is there anyone here who has ever successfully put back a key that has fallen out of laptop? Is there any useful advice? Bonus: try to guess which key is absent. It's not one that I've had to hit on this post...

which prompted the quick response  I'm going with "m," assuming that you couldn't write "my" laptop. Sound detective work, sir.

I also got one piece of good advice:
I found tweezers helpful when one of *redacted*'s popped off awhile back. 
I requisitioned my roommate's tweezers, and continued. I began to peruse the internet for help. Laptop Repair 101 had some very nice pictures, but they also advise removing another key to see how everything fits together, and that was clearly madness. Replace Laptop Keys had a free video of someone actually putting the pieces back together, and had a different video for dozens of models. (And no, I'm not being paid for advertising.  I just think people should know, dammit.) So that gave me the idea of what to do, but not how to do it.  I struggled for about an hour to come up with something, anything, to do...
 In case anyone's wondering how the repair's going: Aaaaaaagh. Why do I have such tiny hands if the fingers attached to said hands are too thick for anything useful?
And yes, there's a dirty response to this question, but I'll  thank you to keep your mind out of the gutter. But shortly after this, I had my first major breakthrough:
Yeah, I've been working a pair of tweezers into the routine. They're co-ing in handy. Pun INTENDED. Oooh, I got the two plastic tabs to fit together. That's pro--- that's pro--- that's a good step.

The lack of an m, despite the relatively small number of common words that use it, really hindered the comedy there; co-e instead of come really detracts from the "handy" bit, and the Porky the Pig stammering doesn't really work unless you can deliver more of the word "promising."  The art suffers, you know?  But once I figured out which side of each tab was up, how the two fit together, and which had to be connected to the keyboard first, it all fell into place. 

Then it was a simple matter of mashing the keyboard button into place until it clicked.  That was actually a pretty weird part; it was like following a precision surgery with a blunt hammer.


This is going to be a fun day to explain to my supervisor tomorrow.

Indeed, Facebook me.  Indeed.
All in all, I was very lucky.  None of the pieces were broken, either in the original error or my ham-fisted attempts to fix it. And I managed to do something actually requiring manual dexterity, which doesn't pay off outside of a videogame very often.  But it all worked out in the end, and I learned a valuable lesson:

Don't drop your book hug on a keyboard.

Sage advice.

Later Days.


BJH said...

There are many different laptops and many different ways of attaching the keys. Drives me nuts. Nice work figuring yours out!

Ryan said...

I read this and thought to myself "Book Hug cannot possibly be the actual name of that thing. This must be another Saskatchewanism like Bunny Hug." Upon further investigation, it seems that I stand corrected.