Computer Issues

Friday evening I went home from work a little early. I picked up a cake, wine, cheese and flowers to celebrate my wife’s naturalization as a U.S. citizen. After relaxing for a while with the wife and kids, I decided to take a look at my e-mail. I hit the power button on the computer, but nothing happened.

A very frustrated hour later I gave up, not knowing what to do. The connections were all good and the outlet was working. The computer just wouldn’t do anything when I hit the power button.

Mulling it over for the rest of the evening, I decided it had to be the power supply giving me problems. The next morning I went to Circuit City and picked up a new power supply, confident that this would resolve the entire problem. It didn’t. Checking, double-checking and then triple-checking all my connections I became convinced the power supply was not the problem after all.

A friend has an emachine similar to my own (yes, I know, please don’t tell me “There’s your problem!”) that broke down on him for apparently unrelated reasons a few months ago, so I asked him for it. Last night I took it apart and tested the switch and verified that I wasn’t crazy and that the hook-ups to the power supply all matched. I quickly ruled out a switch problem and verified once again that the connections to the power supply were all correct (there isn’t much of a way to get this part wrong anyway).

I’d like to say that I’m stumped, but I’m not. Either there’s a short somewhere (I doubt it) or the motherboard is fried. I really think the problem is the motherboard.

As I see it, I have two options.

First, I could try fixing the desktop. The most direct option is to get a motherboard upgrade for this model emachine. That would cost $170.

Second, I could buy a replacement device. My wife has been saying for a long time that she wants a laptop. A relatively affordable option is the Acer – Aspire One Laptop. Through Best Buy it would cost us $350.

The real problem is that this is an expense we can’t absorb right now. Our budget is pretty tight and we have birthdays and holidays on the horizon. I was already considering, with deep reservations, looking for a second job. When unexpected expenses like this come up we just aren’t prepared. It isn’t an option to leave the computer off for now because the kids start back to school in a week. When I was a child no one had or used computers for homework. Now they are practically a necessity, especially for online research assignments and other homework projects.

If I could find a used emachine with working “innards” I could switch out the components from my desktop to it and keep moving, but I’ve been checking the yellow pages, asking around and now checking the Internet at work but haven’t turned up a used computer parts supplier in my area.

What to do?
UPDATE #1: There is one other option I didn’t mention. I could buy another emachine for around $300. That’s probably what most people do when this problem comes up. 8/25/08
UPDATE #2: I checked out the Acer – Aspire One Laptop at Best Buy after work yesterday and I was wrong. This laptop is TINY. The screen isn’t even 9 inches! I’m running an ad on Craigslist this morning looking for the emachine parts I need. 8/26/08
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