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At Miscon 2013, around Memorial Day, Missoula MT, At SoonerCon, in OKC, around June 15, also Spokon in Spokane, in July/August, Beyond that, we aren't sure.
November 2014
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Jane’s computer ‘sploded last night…

The solid state drive on her HP laptop went flooey—the machine overheats, chronically, and it went. This is Not A Good Time for various reasons. I think overheating and solid state drives are not a friendly situation.

Don’t know what we’re going to do, but we really didn’t need this to happen right now, at the start of the summer convention season and trying to get everything in order. It could be worse. We have Carbonite cloud storage. But it’s a pita.

It’s also cold out there. The bacterial stuff I put into the pond is in murky suspension just because the water won’t get warm enough to let it work. It’s 47 degrees in the morning. I don’t know if Mt. Spokane has ever shed its snow this spring—probably the sun has burned it off: but it’s just been nippy in the mornings. Days are mostly cool, with a few exceptions. I keep trying to pack my sweatshirts, but keep needing them.

30 comments to Jane’s computer ‘sploded last night…

  • chondrite

    Was it the drive itself that overheated, or it just picked up heat from another source and couldn’t take it? DH (the household computer consultant) was surprised that it went that particular way, since there are no moving parts in a SSD. At least I know she lost very little, if anything; Jane is very good about backup, backup, backup.

    I have to find a ‘mate’ for my dragon fruit cactus if I ever want to get fruits from it; it is not the self-pollinating variety. OTOH, I have a brown Turkey Fig, bought yesterday, that is going in the chronically empty spot in front of the entryway. It IS self-pollinating, a good variety for this area of HI, and I love figs.

    • I’ve been told that it’s unusual for cactus to self-pollinate, although I had some that apparently did it. (I wouldn’t bet that the seeds were fertile.) The flowers are worth it, though.

    • Tommie

      Figs like their toes dry. That’s why all of the ones we tried to plant in south Louisiana died. We couldn’t build a high enough hill that would stay where we put it.

  • CRussel

    Chronic overheating and SSDs don’t play well together. OTOH, at least the SSD isn’t usually adding to the problem. If this is an older laptop, I recommend pulling the back plate off and giving everything a good cleanup/blowout. And when you replace the SSD, do not replace it with a conventional HD. That will only make the heat issue worse. For replacements for that SSD, assuming you’re not covered by warranty, look at Crucial. They aren’t the absolute fastest SSDs out there, but they’re dead reliable, reasonably priced, and they run cool. Also, if Jane does most of her work at a desk, get a laptop cooler to sit underneath the laptop. They do help. (I’ve got a Zalman cooler under my monster laptop server, and it definitely helps. Plus putting in a 960GB SSD dropped the internal temp ~20C.)

    • I make a habit of having air space under computers as much as possible. I’ve used the drain-racks they make for sinks; it gets you a half-inch of air space under the bottom plate, which helps a lot. (The current machine is a tower fitting into a space that doesn’t allow that much lift; it has caster cups under its feet.)

  • CJ

    She has a cooler. The SSD is the one that fried. But the whole case has been too hot to have resting on your lap without sincere pain—we’ve told HP it’s been overheating, and HP service apparently said just let the overheating go til it blows up. Sigh. It blew. At least it didn’t catch fire.

    It’s such a pain.

    • If that’s HP’s attitude toward customer service, remind me not to look at HP computers ever again…..

    • I’ve got a HP, too (ProBook 6550b). I’ve got the expression HP prefers to let the notebook run relatively warm in order to reduce noise. I’ve got a small program from there:

      http://www.computerbase.de/forum/showthread.php?t=1070494

      It allows for custom settings of fan speed, and I’ve set it in a way that it tries to hold CPU temperature below 75°C (that’s the point where I force the fan to 100% speed). Normally it’s sitting around 55°C with a fan speed around 60%

      The version I’ve got doesn’t know my notebook, but by trial and error I found a setting for a compatible one (4710s) that’s working just fine.

      HTH
      Ektus.

  • Walt

    The SSD may have died from the heat, but I’m skeptical it caused the heat.

    Check the task monitor and see if something is pulling a lot of CPU. SSDs do not generally pull a lot of power. Flash could be the culprit: some times advertisers are so focused on selling you something with their kewl Flash, the Flash will suck every cycle your CPU will give it. Consider a Flash blocker, ad blocker, No Script*, or Ghostery–you allow the media, but not the ads. *Best, but very hard to use.

    The other candidate is the GPU, which can often pull much more power than the CPU. If you have a GPU monitor, check it. Make sure in the task monitor that any GPU-using tasks (like GW2, I expect) are not running when they shouldn’t be.

    Turn the system off, let it cool, and reboot. (Cold boot.) If your BIOS has diagnostics, run them.

    Remember that computers suck. No, really. Air, with dust, pollen etc. gets sucked in, and some of the particles stick to components. A vacuum to the intakes of a laptop may help, but sooner or later, you need to open the puppy up (unpowered, battery out) and use (ideally) canned air to blow the dust off.

    • chondrite

      I think I remember Jane doing that (the uber-cleaning) a couple of times, and the computer steadfastly refusing to cool properly. One hopes that you can contact HP and say “Well, it finally blew up as expected — can we have a properly working one now?”

      • CJ

        What I suspect? A fault or too much thinness in the gooshy stuff you smear on as you seat the heat sink. That or a dying fan.

        • paul

          No, thin is good! ;) Ideally it should be as thin as it can be, but leave no gaps between nearly flat surfaces. The problem is in application that makes it that thin yet even.

          • CJ

            Thanks, Paul! At very least, I hope they just re-seat that thing. If I had a computer running real hot and it wasn’t cat fur, I’d start looking at the fan and heat sink. Of course, I’ve never installed the chip, not being good a close-up vision: Jane’s done that. But not on this factory-assembled machine! That’s their fault!

          • paul

            They load that silicone grease with stuff to improve the heat transfer, powdered silver in the grey stuff. (The grease itself has poor thermal conductivity, and so does air, i.e. gaps.) But nothing beats pure metal to metal contact! So you want only as much as it takes to fill any minor gaps.

    • paul

      Well, there’s a reason Linux is often recommended for older computers! ;) :) If you want to reduce CPU load, there are several lightweight Linux distros.

  • Tommie

    You might try shining a 100 watt incandescent on the falls. It’s how Mama keeps her citruses warm in freezing weather.

  • Aja Jin

    sorry to hear of the PC woes. Walt’s advice is good, that will help reduce CPU load (and hence hear). SSDs in general are quite reliable, and the write-cycle limits are actually very high even for the inexpensive SLC drives. I’d get HP to pop for a new SSD, and keep on going. Make sure TRIM is active by the way (I assume Windows does this but it’s worth a check).

    • Walt

      For Intel, look in the system tray on the task bar for a little icon with a green ✔ (check mark) on a white box resembling an external disk, labeled, “Intel® Rapid Storage Technology”.

  • CJ

    Be did get hold of a nice guy named Rabi. SHe has a service policy, and she pushed not for the local guy, but to send the thing in for the company to go over for that heating issue and others, then replace the drive. So we are going to do that.

    She has her old computer, which is semi-capable. And there’s my old one, which is older than her older one but which may have the capacity she needs…no knowing without booting up and checking what it’s got…I know its battery is shot, but we don’t tend to use them on battery. So that’s not an issue.

  • GreenWyvern

    If you want to monitor your computer’s temperature, there’s a very useful little free utility called SpeedFan, which I’ve been using for years.

    It monitors the temperatures of of your CPU chips, disk drives and any components that have internal heat sensors. On some systems it can alter the speed of the fans according the temperature. It can be configured to give warnings too. It has a lot of other features.

    http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php

    • Teegan

      Thanks GreenWyvern. I have a Dell that seems to run hot even though I put a SSD in it this spring after the factory installed Seagate HD died after less than 2 years of use. I’ve been curious about what’s generating all the heat in that system as opposed to the Samsung ultrabook I’m using to type this.

      • paul

        Well, AMD chips have always had a reputation for running hot. But even iNTEL’s “mobile” chips in most laptops, P4’s not so long ago, are better suited to desktops. For a laptop something like an Atom CPU would run much cooler, but one would have to sacrifice some raw power. People don’t want to do that; the industry has us too well trained to be power hungry. But the equation is: power * k = heat

        • chondrite

          That’s one of the Laws of Excess for engineers; you can never have too much RAM, storage capacity, or too beefy a chip. It goes along with twice the displacement and really wide tires :D

        • Walt

          I got a top of the line laptop 20(?) months ago. The Ivy Bridge i7 draws 25W, max. The nVidia GPU, a couple fab generations behind Intel, draws 100W. I used Folding@Home, a distributed computing project doing protein folding, to burn in the system. But, I had to cut is down to, I think, 50% to keep the laptop from going into emergency thermal shutdown. (But to explain why the laptop design isn’t totally unreasonable, F@H runs all 8 CPU execution streams and the 350+ GPU streams at full power, unremittingly. That’s not something usual software will do.)

          But, yes: Too much is just enough.

  • CJ

    And get this—the SDD has waked like a zombie from the dead after 2 days of being completely unresponsive. Jane is getting data off the system.

    The ONLY think I can think of is a charge that took 2 days to dissipate. Or a thermostat that took forever to decide it was cooled…

  • CJ

    Then it refused to boot again. Dunno how it’s acting now. Quel pain!

  • CJ

    Then it booted, apparently, but the system started complaining of imminent hard drive disaster. Doh. D’ya think?

    But the good news is Jane’s getting the little bits of ephemeral data that weren’t necessarily on Carbonite.

  • chondrite

    Eeexcellent. Yank the data off while you can, before it has another catastrophic failure. Stoopid components.

  • Tommie

    Aha! A new slang phrase! What bread indeed!

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