Like it or not, fans are a part of nearly every writer’s life nowadays. Usually they stay unseen, unheard and unheeded, but they’re always there. We may go for months without giving them a second thought, but when they make themselves noticed, we’d do well to pay attention. Which is what happened to me late last night. The one in my laptop conked out suddenly, so that when I turned on my trusty ol’ x31 all I got was a laconic black and white message saying “fan error” – then darkness.
I couldn’t really claim to be surprised; this computer has gone through a lot in the three years I’ve had it, and has performed commendably. At some point a hardware fault is to be expected. Still, a suddenly-dead computer is a depressing thing to have. I suddenly realised I’d devoted many hours to this thing. It’s my primary connection to the world. That, I guess, is why this sudden refusal to work struck me as more than a technical fault or a disruption to my plans. No, with x31 this was betrayal, and it hurt. I wiped away a hidden tear and tried to consider my options rationally.
I have quite good computer repair skills; said skills are located firmly within two or three of my closest friends. I do not believe it’s a good thing to keep them on my person. So I didn’t really consider trying to repair or replace the fan myself. Still, out of academic interest, I googled “x31 fan error” on my wife’s laptop and went where google lead me. The gruesome pictures of gutted laptops turned my stomach, but I read on, and one comment mentioned a technique I could try without specialised tools. So I did: I put my mouth over the fan vent and blew in really hard. something went “tluck” in there, and the computer has been working fine ever since.
I felt like a tech genius for a few hours. By god, I have literally resuscitated a laptop! Then I spoke to one of my tech-savvy friends, who put me in my place:
“You should suck out, not blow in“, he said. “That way you pull the accumulated dust and lint out instead of pushing it further in. Use a small vacuum cleaner.”
Correct tool use is the mark of the true professional.