White Coat Underground

An unfortunate happening

Our beloved, beat-up laptop is ill–very ill. The family is considering consenting to a Do Not Resuscitate order. Symptoms of this grave illness include inability to exit the start up screen and freezing up in “safe mode”. The agonal Blue Screen of Death has not yet appeared, but is believed to be immanent.


  1. #1 Orac
    March 12, 2010

    Sounds like it’s time to get a Mac.

  2. #2 Anon
    March 12, 2010

    My Mac laptop died 5 weeks ago, after 6 years of faithful service. I feel for ya, doc.

  3. #3 SurgPA
    March 12, 2010

    My condolences to you and your family. Have you tried any alternative therapies? My acupuncturist suggests that you might try burning some incense on the “A” key and sticking a needle in the meridian located between the “J” and “K”. He’s seen it work before…

  4. #4 Jared
    March 12, 2010

    Wipe the hard drive, install a Linux OS, and use it as a file server.

  5. #5 catgirl
    March 12, 2010

    Is it a Dell laptop? I had one of those that broke 4 times, and the last time it happened I decided it would be cheaper to just buy a new computer than to fix that one yet again.

  6. #6 Left_Wing_Fox
    March 12, 2010

    My condolences. My router’s age was starting to interfere with my own medical practice.

    Ok, the lag was making it impossible to heal in warcraft.

    Still, sympathies.

  7. #7 MFA Mama
    March 12, 2010

    Oyy…my laptop is expressing an unhealthy interest in discussion its Five Wishes lately. Hopefully it doesn’t get any ideas after reading this post.

  8. #8 Dianne
    March 12, 2010

    I’d like to add my condolences. Sadly, laptops are not eternal. You could take it to a technician to see if it’s something reversible though.

  9. #9 Pascale
    March 12, 2010

    You vaccinated this laptop, didn’t you? You know that antiviral protection will contaminate it with code that makes it less healthy in the long run.
    What do you expect, really?

  10. #10 DrKnow
    March 12, 2010

    My heartfelt condolences…I have been through this twice in the last 18 months…an Acer laptop and just this month a young 1 year old Dell! My I suggest to you that which is giving me comfort in these trying time
    Respectfully yours

  11. #11 rob
    March 12, 2010

    i suggest re-booting. as in boot it out a second story window. very cathartic.

  12. #12 JScarry
    March 12, 2010

    Are you implying that the blue-screen of death is inherent in your laptop. That’s cruel, even for a Mac fan boi. Or did you mean that it’s death was imminent?

  13. #13 Lassi Hippeläinen
    March 12, 2010

    Try booting it from a USB stick that has some other OS (*). If the boot works, you know there is no problem with the hardware. Reinstalling the OS should bring it back.

    (*) So it won’t get infected, if a virus is the problem. There are many “live” versions of Linux to choose from.

  14. #14 jtradke
    March 12, 2010

    If you’ve got the disc, trying re-installing Windows XP (I’m guessing that’s what you have). It won’t delete your existing data if you select the “repair installation” option, and if it’s not a hardware issue, should fix whatever’s busted.

  15. #15 Karen
    March 12, 2010

    Alas, it sounds to me like it may very well be a hardware issue. Try booting from an OS on a CD or a USB drive, and see if all behaves well. If not, you may have a terminal PC on your hands. If it does indeed boot well from another drive, you may simply need to replace your hard drive.

  16. #16 PalMD
    March 12, 2010

    If failed the DST test. I need to find a way to recover whatever files i need. I need to find a boot up disc. On the bright side, new lenovo so far running smoothly.

  17. #17 snoey
    March 12, 2010

    Use the lenovo to download and burn an Ubuntu disk. Boot the old box with that disk. If that works try to mount its hard drive and copy all the data to an external drive or USB stick.

  18. #18 D. C. Sessions
    March 12, 2010

    What snoey said.

    If nothing else, Ubuntu (or Knoppix) makes a great recovery disk.

    Failing that you can still get the data off. There are nifty little kits (mine cost $20) that take a laptop hard drive and attach a USB interface so you can use it as an external USB drive. Do that, and you’ve got everything from it available to the new Lenovo.

    And congrats on the new Lenovo in the family.

  19. #19 Art
    March 12, 2010

    There is nothing quite as cathartic as taking a large hammer to a computer. Doesn’t help the computer any but it is great for the spirit.

    Showing the computer the hammer, and threatening to ‘give it a reprogramming it will never forget’, also seems to help certain otherwise intractable issues.

    A hammer is also the proper tool to use decommission a hard drive. Drives can be wiped and rewiped and still have data recovered. Nothing is quite so effect at permanently destroying data as reducing the discs to itty-bitty pieces. If your anal wipe and pound.

  20. #20 Donna B.
    March 13, 2010

    My father tells tales of his experiences with mules used in logging 60 years ago. Computers smell better, but otherwise are similarly obstinate.

  21. #21 Bob O'H
    March 13, 2010

    Is this the same laptop that needed to be taken to Intensive Care in North Carolina last year? If so, i guess it’s had a good life, and should be allowed to deboot in peace.

  22. #22 vvilleskep
    March 13, 2010

    The agonal Blue Screen of Death has not yet appeared, but is believed to be immanent.

    For a rationalist, you do have some odd beliefs!

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    March 13, 2010

    I’m very sorry to hear that. But I’m not terribly surprised.

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