Ordinarily I wouldn't be recounting my adventures in geekdom, but recent events force me to come clean.
Trust me, this is one for the books.
A good friend approached me recently with a busted laptop.
I should explain, friends and associates often come to me when they are experiencing computer problems.
I've been building computers for years and fixing them even longer. When people who know me get the “blue screen of death” they come to me. When their ding-busted machine freezes up and starts acting like a Commodor64 with pneumonia, they come to me. When a certain someone had his motherboard fried by the detectives trying to mine his hard drive for child pornography, and he wanted to retrieve those actually mild images, he came to me. And I'll tell you, I have a hell of a batting average.
So there's my bona fides, such as they are.
The laptop in question had a serious issue. Specifically the display screen (monitor) was all kinds of messed up. Imagine for a moment what one would first see when firing up a laptop: The Windows Welcome screen. Since it was busted (somewhere) this one showed a horizontal line running straight across the middle of the screen with the top of the welcome screen situated below the horizontal line and the bottom of the welcome screen sitting above the horizontal line.
Plus the images were pixilated to Holy Hell. So the end result was, it was completely unnavigable.
After researching possible causes of such a calamitous case, I determined the cause to be a faulty graphics card.
On a PC, that would be a minor issue to resolve. On a laptop it's another matter entirely.
For starters the graphics card is embedded to the motherboard.
In order to get to the motherboard it was necessary to completely disassemble the laptop.
That's a fairly tedious task to begin with, with the key concern being: remembering in what order everything needs to be reassembled and keeping track of all the itty bitty screws, which all seem to be size specific to their devices.
Once I was finished the disassembly, I was faced with how to resolve the issue of the graphics card. My first thought was, replace the motherboard.
But I'm rather stubborn about not spending money (mine or anyone else's) when it comes to computer repair.
So I called my friend to tell him the news.
“Dude,” I said, trying to sound calm and in control. “Good news and bad news. First the bad news, at worst we'll have to replace the motherboard. But here's the good news, I want to try a radical fix that won't cost anything to try.”
“Radical?” he asked, sounding as if his doctor had just told him he would require some “radical” surgery. “I don't know if I like the sound of that.”
“Just trust me,” I told him. “After all, if this doesn't work, the worst thing that could happen is, we have to replace the motherboard.”
He agreed to my plan.
So about that radical fix. During my research of my friend's problem, or more precisely, his laptop's problem, I found a YouTube video of some guy fixing the very same problem.
His solution? He baked the motherboard in the oven.
That's not geek speak for over clocking or some other such hacker lingo.
No, dude turned on his kitchen oven, put the motherboard on some aluminum foil on top of a cookie sheet and popped that puppy right in there and closed the door.
The “recipe” called for 10 minutes at 390 degrees.
The video explained that, part way through, the guy had to pull the motherboard out to remove some plastic stickers that cover sensitive portions of the board because they were melting.
So when I was preparing the motherboard for baking, I removed all those plastic stickers beforehand, but not before taking a couple of smart phone pictures to remember where they all went.
With very little faith and after waiting for the oven to come to temperature, I slid my own cookie sheet into the oven and waited 10 minutes.
It was 10 minutes during which I kept thinking to myself, “where can I get another motherboard?”
After the prescribed time, I pulled my dish from the oven and set it aside to cool.
Then, after replacing the stickers,  I reassembled the laptop.
Thinking, “here goes nothing,” I fired it up.
To my utter surprise, it winked into life immediately.
It booted up beautifully and actually had increased processing speed, perhaps a result of its time in  Mini Hell.
As Penny on “The Big Band Theory” says, “Holy crap on a cracker,” it worked. The problem was completely fixed.
If you haven't figured this out by now, I reason that the time in the oven melted the solder enough to reset the graphics card into the motherboard.
I suppose my friend had dropped the laptop at some point, dislodging the solder points.
I assure you this is a true story, one that I wouldn't believe if I hadn't actually done it myself.
I mean, I didn't believe the guy in the video.