Demise of my Toshiba P4010


I suppose it’s about time anyway. Read here and here.

I bought my faithful Made-in-Japan laptop in August 2002 when I first started my undergraduate. My laptop and I went through numerous tutorial, assignments and presentations. It stay up with me all night running the many Java programs and Matlab simulations. We had our fair share of fun too – our collection of music, anime, movies and games.

It started breaking down bit by bit towards the 4th year of my undergrad, and so I had nearly everything replaced since it was covered under warranty. Essentially, my laptop was given a new breathe of life after its first 4 years. That was in 2006.

Over the last 5 year or so, my laptop started taking on an easier life. Not many intensive programming, simulations or gaming, and more of just web browsing, typing documents and maintaining excel sheets. I suppose the relatively light usage over the later years prolonged its life.

Late last year in 2010, I decided that it was probably time to retire my laptop. So I decided to do some experimenting – installing Ubuntu 10.04.

Things went well for a while. Ubuntu was really light on resources and had no problem running on my old Pentium 3. I had barely used it for a day or two when an update notification popped up and prompted for a software update. Being update savvy as I always am, I proceeded with the recommendation. Little did I know that this marks the beginning of end for my laptop.

The update corrupted my master boot record and I was unable to boot up my laptop. There were only 2 other ways of booting. First, by USB 1.44″ floppy disk drive using floppy disk. Negative – my USB floppy drive was spoilt long ago. Second, by CD-ROM. Negative – my CD-ROM drive was also spoilt long ago. Boot by USB? Negative – Back then, the bios do not support boot by USB (sidetrack, my laptop was only USB 1.1 compatible). Oh no, what am I to do?

And so I set my laptop aside on the study desk, gathering dust, while I try to think of a solution. During this time, I inadvertently left a AC/DC power brick directly on top of my laptop…

Fast forward to earlier this week on Monday. I decided that my best option was to open up my laptop to retrieve my internal harddisk and backup my data. Next, I will do a fresh install of Ubuntu directly onto the harddisk and place it back into the laptop. Hopefully that will work. I powered up my laptop again just to make sure as least the electronics were still working.

As I raise the lid of the LCD screen, I was greeted by an acrid and suffocating smell. To my horror, more than half the LCD screen was partially melted. I stared at the power brick and immediate know what had happened. The heat from the power brick left on the laptop melted the screen. Hastily, I powered up my laptop to see if everything was still alright. I was pleasantly surprised when the bios screen appear without problems, except for some blurring effect due to the melted LCD surface. It seemed that the underlying pixels were fully functional, only the surface was damaged. Good old trusty.

I proceeded to bring my laptop to work, hoping to find someone with an external harddisk enclosure with the IDE interface. Fortunately, I was able to find one. I unscrewed the covers on my laptop to retrieve my internal harddisk and backed up all the data onto my desktop. Now, to proceed with the OS repair. I raised the lid again, the toxic smell was still there, just as intense as the last time.

I told Dear2 about the circumstances surrounding my laptop and my plans to restore it to basic functionalities. However, Dear2 was not keen about it. She mentioned the health hazard with regards to the smell of melted plastic and insisted that I throw the laptop away. After all, it had already served me so many years.

And there was nothing I could think of to refute Dear2’s suggestion. It was definitely a health hazard to continue using the laptop even if I was able to restore it successfully. I guess it was really time for old faithful to retire. It really was.

Thinking back, I was partly to blame too. If I had not left that power brick on the laptop, it would not have caused the melted screen and I could have probably continue using it for another year or two. Then again, maybe it was destined to go the way it had.

It is hard to throw away something that had gone through so much with me. I am a sentimental person. Maybe that’s why I have so many junk at home. Well, I have to learn to let go of the past and welcome the future with an open mind. This I shall do. Goodbye my trusty Toshiba P4010. I will remember you for staying with me throughout my entire stay at university – both undergrad & postgrad.

Toshiba P4010 (August 2002 – March 2011)



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