The saga of the laptop

Folks know that I’ve been doing much of my development work on an IBM Thinkpad T23 for quite a while. It’s an older machine, (manufactured 3/01), but in many ways I’m quite attached to it.
Yesterday at Diesel Cafe in Davis Square, I was looking forward to a few hours of focused work time.
The laptop wouldn’t boot. Just locked up on the BIOS screen. My main work machine had died during a particularly wretched emotional and financial time for me. I was betrayed.
[this story has a happy ending, read on for details]

At Diesel, I ran into a friend and we lingered over smouldering remains of the laptop, poking small pieces of metal into it’s silicon guts trying to figure out what had worked itself loose.
Alas, no joy in mudville, and I got pretty durned depressed about the whole thing. It was getting late, and I was going out with a friend later, so I packed up the laptop and, head drooping, went out into the night.
This morning I fired up a spare machine I had at home, and looked up my warranty information (IBM has an outstanding warranty program. No matter who owns the laptop, if it’s in a certain date range, they’ll repair it). As fate would have it, the warranty had in fact expired not 3 weeks ago. With a heavy heart, and not really expecting satisfaction, I called into tech support on the forlorn hope that someone could loosely point out the problem.
I talked with a tech in Georgia, and he asked what the problem was…. he pointed out the machine was out of warranty, but then asked some more details about what was going on – the description of the fault was simple – power on, would get the IBM ThinkPad screen, with “Press F1 for BIOS setup” “Press F12 to select alternate boot device”, but nothing would happen beyond that. “Hmm, sounds like a CMOS battery failure, or a system board problem. But…”
I felt the stirrings of hope… I knew he was out on a limb here, he was giving support to a machine out of warranty. “Okay, I can give you the part number for the CMOS battery, that’s a likely suspect.” I sensed he could give me more information, so I decided to push a little.
“Huh, why don’t I pull the battery, and try booting without it, I should just get a CMOS error, right?” “Well, erm… yes.. but” “I know, this is not support stuff. We’re just chatting.”
He got the idea. “Yah, we’re just chatting while I look up the part number for that CMOS batter.” “Yeah!”
I did it. I pulled the battery out, and powered up – lo! A checksum error! and the BIOS setup screen, where I entered a new date and time, and said “Boot” – and…
Hoorah! The angels doth sing! Redemption was at hand! I simply had a bad CMOS battery. The fellow gave me the IBM part number for the replacement battery, and I thanked him profusely for going above and beyond the call of an IBM helpdesk person, and making it so I wouldn’t need to spend a chunk of cash I don’t have on a replacement machine.
So now I’m off to find an FRU part number 02K6572, Thinkpad CMOS battery for THinkpad T23. By gum, they’re on ebay!
GOD I love the net.


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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