Laptop keyboard showing touchpad protruding

A bit thick

Some non-bicycle maintenance

I’ve had very little trouble with my latest laptop at home. I got a notification from the maker recently that my warranty was about to expire, and asking if I wanted to renew, and I just ignored it. There’s only been one issue of note, and that’s for the past year the touchpad has been sticking up from the keyboard surface. I almost never close the lid to carry the laptop anywhere, so I haven’t been too worried about it. But recently it’s been protruding enough that it interferes with my thumbs when I’m typing.

It took the Halfakid visiting to point out the obvious: the battery under the keyboard is swelling with age. So a couple of days ago I decided to open up the case, see if it would be easy to replace the battery, and check the model.

Desk with laptop cover, screws, a drink, various bit drivers and other bric-à-brac
Using the proper tools

With the proper tools at hand (including shochu and a blood pressure monitor), I was quickly able to remove the bottom cover without losing any screws or rounding the heads.

Open laptop showing motherboard and swollen battery
Well that’s just swell

Yes, the battery was quite swollen. I checked that it would be easy to replace and noted the model. I quickly found a replacement on Amazon — not a genuine Dell part, but otherwise identical. Free next-day delivery.

Replacement battery in open delivery box
Right down to the screw hole markings

Ready to operate, doctor?

Open laptop with tools on placemat
Dining room surgery

I’d put the laptop back together, so I had to take it apart once more to start. I moved to the dining room table to have a little less clutter and a little more room to work. Once I had the old battery out, I took the laptop out to the Workshop in the Sky and used a compressed air can to blow out all the accumulated dust.

Before installing the new battery, I took a minute to compare the thickness.

Comparing old, swollen battery with new, slimmer unit
Subtly different
Photo montage measuring thickness of batteries with a vernier
Not quite double

It’s not entirely clear, but the new battery is 9.0mm thick. The old battery had swollen to 16.6mm at the thickest point.

Shoyu dish holding screws
It’s a … parts tray

For a change, I used a “parts tray” to keep track of all the various screws. It worked — none lost. The computer went back together quickly, and the case halves fit perfectly. No force needed.

Laptop keyboard showing proper fitting of touchpad
After: Slim Jim

Moment of truth

With the computer back in one piece, I put it back on the desk in my den and plugged everything back in. The light under the touchpad lit up immediately, and a moment later so did the keyboard. I could hear the fan noise and …

There were a few heart-stopping moments as the display failed to come to life. I forced a restart a couple of times and then finally left it sit for a minute. At last the display lit up with a message that the date and time needed to be set in the BIOS. Once I’d done that, it took just another minute for the computer to start up as normal. Success!

All right, all right — here’s some bike content

Between rather extreme heat, typhoons and a week of rain, it’s been a while since I’ve been on the bike. In the meantime I purchased a food pouch. This is a small, deep pouch that straps on the handlebars. It can hold a water bottle or snacks, or other small items for quick access.

I’m not sure this was my smartest purchase. The smaller of my water bottles barely fits (I’ll still have to stop to remove the bottle and replace it). My handlebars are already pretty crowded. I’ll have to see if it interferes with ringing the bell, or even with resting my hands on “the tops.”

Bicycle on balcony overlooking city
She’s waiting

Proof of the pudding

The forecast for tomorrow is promising. (I’ve got other plans today.) I should know soon if the food pouch is going to work out.

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3 responses to “A bit thick”

  1. Joe Lejog Avatar
    Joe Lejog

    Impressed with the battery change. Do Dell threaten everything but to cut your nuts off if you do any surgery yourself? Then again, your warranty was coming to an end so nothing for them to void, I guess.

    As for the food bag! Looking forward to hearing how that goes. I’ve got a massive food bag … it’s called a konbini! :+)

    1. Guy Jean Avatar
      Guy Jean

      I’m not sure it invalidates the warranty (which is, as noted, expired, so … ). Unlike MacBooks, there’s nothing in the construction actively preventing this, and some things encouraging it (like the screw location markings on the battery).

      As for the food pouch (and the jokes here are endless), it should still fit a PET bottle just fine (which my water bottle cages will not). But what I need is 0.8l of trail mix …

  2. […] only other sort-of mechanical thing was the food pouch I added yesterday. I put a water bottle in it today to give it a try. It held the bottle without any noticeable […]

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