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Laptop Suicide Bombers Strike

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Looks as though laptop computers have joined the scary, non-English-speaking darker-skinned people of the world in a plot to destroy America.  Laptops are evidently able to recognize we're better than them and hate us for it, same as all those others.  I haven't established whether these came from countries with large oil reserves they're selfishly hoarding:

 Fire in the hull!9/21/2006 (link)
  http://www.komando.com/about/my-log.aspx

 

Fire in the hull!9/21/2006
 


For the last several months, there have been numerous reports of laptops catching fire. The problem is that the battery overheats. Yikes!

Now, there is an e-mail making the rounds. It mentions that a Dell laptop was just sitting closed on a desk. It caught fire at Yahoo! headquarters.

The fire department was called. People had to vacate the building for some 45 minutes. It's a very scary picture.

Is it true? Yes, it happened this past week.

Imagine if this happened in your home or office and no one was around. Or worse, you were sleeping.

So, check your laptop maker's site for recall notices. But frankly, that may not be good enough.

Here's why:

A few weeks ago, an IBM Thinkpad went up in flames at the Los Angeles International Airport.  A witness said, "The thing immediately flared up like a giant firework for about 15 seconds, then caught fire." Lenova, maker the Thinkpad, is investigating the matter. Thinkpads are not on the recall list.

I think we need to take some extra steps here.

I told everyone here in the studio who is using a laptop to take the battery out of their laptops and use the power supply only. And be sure to tell your family and friends too! They may not even be aware of the problems with the laptop batteries.

I recently received an email from Laura in Florida thanking me for mentioning it on my show. She was listening to the show on her way to take her iBook to the Apple store for a repair. She mentioned the Apple recall to the reps. They had not heard about it yet.

An ounce of prevention so they say...

Kim

 

Entry #593

Comments

1.
justxploringComment by justxploring - September 24, 2006, 3:08 pm
I wonder if they'll suddenly be a mess of lawsuits. "I was on this porn site and thought I was gettin' all hot & bothered when I noticed it was my laptop burning my...."

Actually, this is no laughing matter. Federal Express has reported many fires in flight from laptop batteries. I thought they only got hot when in use, but these were in the cargo area. I always remove my battery when I'm home. It's also not good for your hard drive to use both the AC power and the battery, because of the heat generated. This has been a debate for a while, sort of like the "do I shut down my computer at night?" question. Last summer when I bought this I spent hours on tech sites. 10 questions..10 different answers.

For anyone who needs a little more ventilation but is on a tight budget, here's a suggestion from a non-techie. I came up with this idea a couple of weeks ago when my Toshiba Satellite kept shuting itself down for no reason, and I guessed it was overheating. Online there are a number of stands, coolers, legs & fans for a price. I had tried a few things, but I closed by eyes and tried to picture what looks like a foot. So I walked around and decided to take the plastic screw top off of 2 vitamin bottles and placed them under the back, one on each side. This raises the laptop approx 3/4" of the surface and allows air to flow under it. It also angles the keyboard to make it more ergonomic, or as we used to say..comfortable to work. Unfortunately, Toshiba has this model designed with some kind of air vent near the front that, when blocked, seems to make the fan run more. So I found 2 more bottle plastic caps from another size bottle which are around 1/2" high. All 4 are very stable and lift the entire base from the desk surface. It's a cheap quickfix. Okay, so I'm not a genius, but it did the trick.

Think if I ever get another laptop it will either purr or wags its tail. Much less complicated.
2.
ToddComment by Todd - September 24, 2006, 3:27 pm
JE,

Excellent comments, they make sense and you raise some good points. My advice is if you use your PC every day, leave it on 24/7. Turn it off only when you're going to be away for a week. All modern montors have power-saving modes, and most PCs do too. They turn off components (like the monitor and hard drive(s)) when they haven't been used for a long time (you get to specify how long).

In the case of a laptop, they can be treated a little differently, because they have much better sleep modes. Personally, I leave mine on all the time, but they can be put into suspend mode at night if that's your style. There should almost never be a reason to disconnect a laptop battery, and they can be left plugged into the laptop all the time, including when it's plugged in.

Getting a docking station is one of the best add-ons you can get for your laptop, and not even to use an external monitor. I like them because most offer cooling solutions (like your vitamin caps) and you rarely have to mess with power cords any more. If you don't have on (I didn't for a long time) you'd wonder what's the big deal, but after having it you'll feel differently. It's awesome to be able to carry the laptop around the house when you want, and then when you go back to your desk, just plunk it onto the docking station, and instantly you have power, wired network, phone line connection, usb devices (like scanner, printer, etc.), and maybe monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.
3.
justxploringComment by justxploring - September 24, 2006, 4:59 pm
Thanks for your helpful comments, Todd. I've seen many docking stations and have been waiting for the prices to come down a bit. Right now that's not a priority for me, but I've seen a couple for around $150.   To tell you the truth, I'd rather put my money toward a new desktop next year. I'm not too impressed with the power a laptop has compared to the same price as a desktop. I am guessing with all the time you spend and your expertise, you use multiple computers. I bought this specifically to use for a job that panned out badly, but I don't have a handy place to put it. So it sits on my keyboard tray, since the desk is much too high if I type for a while. A good laptop stand would resolve this issue. For now, it's fine except the letters on the keyboard have all but disappeared. Good thing I know that N is between B and M. The Z, which is my left pin ball flipper, is now just a blank black key! Yes, I know I can add a keyboard, speakers, etc. (already bought a new mouse) but for 8 years I had an old HP desktop that never gave me a lick of trouble and everyone laughed at me. Well, at least with this I have a great LCD screen and I finally got DSL which didn't work with my PII.

Don't want to get hung up on this issue, but it's interesting that you wrote that a battery can stay in the laptop. My Toshiba manual says that you should never use both the power and the battery at the same time once it has been charged or it will create too much heat and shorten the life of the battery. Since it's an Li-Ion battery, I have no idea why they suggest putting it away in a cool place and charging it once a month back to 100% and down to 0%, etc. I think the manual is wrong. Thought that "memory effect" problem was resolved when they switched from the old Nickel Cadmium batteries. I only took it out all the time because of my warranty (per the Help Desk) but now it's over a year old anyway. Many people I wrote to on boards last year agree with you. One man said he's been keeping his battery in for the 5 years he's owned his laptop and has only owned 2 batteries. (At about $100 a pop, I want mine to last as long as possible!) BTW, I use hibernate or standby when I leave my desk for a while, since I only have to hit one key, but I still shut down every night. I guess I thought it was safer, like unplugging the coffee pot. Living in the lightning capital of the world, I never know what's going to happen.

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