Crying over spilled milk

Much to the dismay of my wife my laptop became an extension of my body. With my wireless network I could work on projects and grab data off of my other computers from anywhere in the house, freeing me from the confines of my lonely basement. I was in cyber bliss and me, my laptop, and home network were ready for any challenge the world of technology could throw at us… except a three-year-old girl with a glass of milk.

It happened on an ominous autumn day. There was an unusual feel in the air like something was going to happen, and it did. The family and I were all in the kitchen well after dinner and the girls would be going to bed in the next half hour or so. I was on the kitchen table jumping in and out of conversations with my wife and the kids. My oldest girl was having a little snack—milk and a cookie or two—which was interrupted by her getting up and dancing and singing like she often does. Though her dancing is a little rambunctious, it’s very cute to watch and only bothersome if she performs at the wrong times.

Well it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happened next. As the princess pulled one of her signature pirouettes she smacked her glass of milk, and I watched in slow motion as the cascading wave of milk and cookie bits came down toward my laptop. I could only watch as it splashed onto my keyboard and screen. With a gasping yell I regained my mobility and sprang into action, swiping my laptop up and turning it upside down to hopefully stop the milk from getting into the sensitive parts of the computer. After grabbing a dishtowel I wiped up the surface as much as I could in a second then did some general freaking out for a couple of seconds, running back and forth in the kitchen until I could figure out what I should do.

A light bulb appeared over my head as I remembered my shop vac—that will get it out in a hurry. There’s still a chance. I flew out of the house, raced to the garage, and flung open the door like a paramedic arriving on the scene. I worked with great speed and precision, even saying some calming words to ease the shock. What a great idea to use the shop vac, it was working like a charm. The feeling of relief was starting to come back, ahhhh.

Then, thunk! rattle rattle! I pulled the vac end from the keyboard and when I looked at my laptop it was missing the “4” key. My row of numbers looked like a jack-o-lantern. The despair came rushing back, but there was hope after all it was in the shop vac. Well, if I would have known how much disgusting stuff me and my wife had vacuumed up I wouldn’t have felt this way at all. I dumped the body of the vac out and began my lovely sifting of the garbage, I’ll spare you the details, but believe me I don’t wish that on anyone—it was disgusting. I found the “4” key fairly quick, but the rubber actuator was gone and I gave up looking after about an hour and a half. I thought, “Hey this couldn’t be worth more than a dollar, I’ll call up the company and see if they can send one out.”

So the next day I call the manufacturer and talk to tech support to tell him my situation and see what they can do. Well, his reply was that all he could do was have me send in my laptop and in 6 weeks they would fix it for a fee which I’m guessing would have cost me $200.00 not to mention I’m sending my laptop through the mail with a lot of information on it. Now I really like my “4” key, but for $200.00 I’ll just use the 2 key twice 😉 So I asked the tech to just go in the back and put a one in a baggie and send it out to me but he didn’t budge and continued regurgitating company policy.

I ended up finding an actuator at a used PC shop—it didn’t fit properly so some handiwork with an Exacto’ knife was in order and after a couple of small cuts it fit and works. The key does feel different and a little stiffer than the rest, but I think it gives it character.

The moral of the story:

1. Avoid using a vacuum on your laptop. Use compressed air to clean unless ABSOLUTELY necessary (Spilled liquid).

2. If you must use a shop vac to get liquid out, make sure the canister is empty and use an attachment smaller than your keys if you have one.

3. Another idea is to create a filter on the end of the vacuum hose with an old pair of nylons and a rubber band. That way if a key does come off it doesn’t get sucked up.

I still carry the laptop around the house like a security blankie, but I scan the area around me for cups and glasses any time my ballerina dances through the room.

~ Chad

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