jeffsoesbe (jeffsoesbe) wrote,

technology things fall apart

We've had a parade of technological things failing on us in the last few months.

Summary: The Car, The Other Car, iPODs, IPAQs, dishwasher, cell phones, plumbing.

The Car

It started with my car, a 2000 Honda CRV. I am very fond of this car and never abuse it. One day, the "Check Engine" light came on so I took it to my local corner mechanic. They said there was a problem with the valves, did a minor adjustment and the light went off. For a few days. When I went back, they apologized and kept working on it (no additional charge, BTW).

Finally, they told me that a service notice had just been released by Honda stating the valves in the 2000 CRV had been made with some aluminum parts and that the aluminum would apparently start deteriorating, screw up the timing, and cause the "Check Engine" light to come on. The only solution was a full valve job, but until I was ready to do that I could drive the car around and it would just sound rough. I will need to get this fixed, but I'm still driving old chuggy around for now.

The Other Car

I managed to back the van (2004 Toyota Sienna) into my sister's Pathfinder because I didn't see it parked in the driveway after I opened the garage. The Pathfinder was fine, but I put a rather nasty dent into the tailgate. I tried to pass it off ("really, it's not that bad") but was eventually apprised of the error of my ways ("Nothing shapes a man up like a night in the front yard." Not really).

Before we left on vacation, I got two estimates both comfortably into the four figures. So, now I should get the insurance company involved (isn't this why one pays insurance) and see how bad it will get (for rates and cost) if I use their help to get it fixed.
Hopefully, the mere act of inquiring will not cause my rates to go up.


E plays her IPOD (4GB IPOD Mini) constantly, and constantly sticks it in her desktop radio/recharger. Due to the lifecycles of rechargable batteries, it's pretty obvious that the IPOD battery's days were numbered. Eventually the IPOD started regularly freaking out, an obvious sign that the battery was gone.

I ordered two new batteries from Laptops4Less, since C also has the same iPOD (redundant backup theory). Several iPOD surgeries later (I'm now quite good at it), I had the new batteries working fine in C's iPOD but not in E's. It could be that E's iPOD is toast, but I'm not ready to give up yet.

Unfortunately, the weak link in opening and closing an iPOD is the ribbon connector between the clickwheel and the motherboard. C's iPOD has been acting up and I'm worried I've mucked up that connector. We might be springing for a new iPOD sometime soon (luckily, C just had a birthday so I have an excuse for a new iPOD).

E is surviving remarkably well without the iPOD, with only an occasional bout of "I want my iPOD back" sadness.


The IPAQ 5550 I use as my secondary brain ("here IPAQ, you hold all the boring stuff") was starting to lose its ability to recognize handwriting. Given that handwriting is the primary method of entry, this gets frustrating very quickly ("I wrote A! No, A! Not D, A! A! A, dang it! A!).

I did some web searching for an IPAQ with an integrated keyboard, but all the current models were also phones and I didn't want a phone. I managed to find the IPAQ 4350 (TODO: Add link) and find one for sale on eBay from a reputable place.

The IPAQ 4350 arrived and I immediately fell into techno-lust. The screen was just as big, the processor was actually faster, and the keyboard was perfect. I even wrote stories on it!

But then it started freezing, and then I woudln't be able to turn it on, and when I plugged it into the power adaptor it would reset and I would lose work. I thought the culprit was the original case (which could have pressed the power button), so I switched cases but it made no difference. Googling the situation brought up the battery as the problem. I ordered batteries from Laptops4Less (same order as iPOD battery) and they came right before the trip to Oregon. I did some tinkering with the batteries while in Oregon, but couldn't get things working right. During Hawaii I just forgot about it.

I found one more IPAQ 5550 hanging around the cubicle at work so I've adopted it as my new PDA. But I definitely miss the IPAQ 4350 and need to get back to experiments soon.


The week before we left for Oregon, we started noticing that there was regularly water (a big puddle of water) left in the dishwasher after we'd run it. This didn't seem right, and consultation with C's dad led me to believe it might be the drain tube from the dishwasher to the garbage disposal. So I crawled under the sink, unscrewed everything, spilled water all over the place, tried to siphon water (and/or a clog) out of the hose (old dishwasher water doesn't taste nice), and finally called a plumber.

The plumber figured out that the dishwasher pump had actually given out. We could either get the pump fixed or get a new dishwasher. The cost of these two options turned out to be about the same (thank you, our disposable society).

The new dishwasher is now installed and working fine, except for the plumbing issue (see below)>

Cell Phones

In Hawaii, we went kayaking one morning. I decided to take the cell phone and put it in (what I thought was) a Ziploc bag.

At the end of the trip, I took the phone out and said "why is it off? And why is it wet?". I could turn it on but it went into perpetual vibrate mode (great for a vibrator, bad for a phone). So I yanked out the battery, opened it up and let it sit the rest of the trip.

Back in Sacramento, I took the phone apart, used compressed air to try to clean it out, put it in the freezer to dessicate the water - all the usual "rescue wet cell phone steps". When I had it apart, I knew the prospects were grim because I could see corrosion all over the wires.

Finally, I got it to the point where the outside display worked but neither the inside display nor the keypad worked. It's dead, Jim. Also, after we got back C accidentally closed her cell phone in the car door and cracked both displays. That's now two phones down.

The cell phone store said the phones (Nokia 6102) were discontinued, a shame because I liked the phone. But I found the Nokia 6085, which was very similar and also featured Bluetooth and an integrated MP3 player (that's a lot of stuff). A minimal upgrade this morning, and we're back in cell phone action.


C called Monday to say that the kitchen sink was making strange bubbling noises. When this had happened before it was air in the pipes, something that could be related to the dishwasher installation.

She called five minutes later to say that water was backing up into the shower and bathtub (ewwwww!). She called the plumber and we decided to forego baths for Monday night (A was very happy with a shower in the back bathroom which was working fine).

The plumber came today and once they found the sewer line and sewer line access (I don't know where these things are, I'm a man of the mind not of the house), they figured out that the problem was a tree root that was pushing up into the sewer line and causing a block. The plumbers stuck something in the line and "ground out" the tree root and now everything flows fine. I'm not sure if we have a real metal pipe or one of the "wrapped tarpaper" pipes that were apparently popular when the house was built in 1952.

As a final note, when the plumbers told C of the problem and the fix, she asked "So now I have holes in the sewer line and waste is draining into the yard". They said, "yeah, but that's true for 90% of the houses in Sacramento." Ick.


That's more than enough technological failure for the year, I think. I'm hoping nothing else goes wrong, because all that's left is the really painful stuff like computers, air conditioners, stoves, etc. Enough of that.
Tags: home, life

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