Tag Archives: dust

A Bit of Thermal Paste My Life 19 SEP 2011

Hey, learn something new every day. I’ve at last fixed the problem of the intermittent shut downs of that desktop machine I bought from Matrix Warehouse a year or two ago! :)

Shortly after I purchased it and loaded up Ubuntu as my operating system of choice, I started experiencing the problem of it repeatedly and unexpectedly shutting down on me, causing a lot of frustration and a lot of expensive troubleshooting as I went through the exercise of trying to determine what was causing the issue, looking at both the software and hardware fronts.

I wasn’t successful, was tired of throwing money at it, and after discovering that if I leave it lying on its side it tends to work, I converted it into an Ubuntu server machine and went back to working on my old Intel machine that I had purchased back second-hand from the varsity before I left.

A year or two later, and now that my laptop is in the hands of Rory while he takes a look to see if he can maybe find the cause of its sudden implosion, I need a second machine running and so I decided to reopen the case of the faulty PC.

So on Sunday I took apart the machine and gave it a thorough clean out with a handy old toothbrush, removing all the dust that had collected over all the components thanks to the unconventional position the case now occupies. The heatsink needed a good clean as well, and when I detached it from the CPU I noticed that the thermal strip between the two wasn’t looking healthy at all, prompting me to check on the CPU temperature as a possible cause of the problem…


The BIOS health status screen showed up the problem straight away. The minute I turned the naked machine on, I could literally watch the CPU’s operating temperature rise at the rate of a degree a second, right the way up until it passed the safe threshold and at a 101 degrees Celsius mark, turn the whole thing off.

Being a first for me, I quickly did some research on the Internet on replacing thermal paste, and a quick trip through to Chaos Computers for some thermal paste (they had some from Cool Master in stock which they could sell to me) and Dischem for some pure acetone, resulted in me ready for action.

With Jessica enjoying an afternoon nap, I grabbed some of Chantelle’s cotton earbuds and used the acetone to carefully remove the old and grubby thermal paste from both the heatsink and CPU housing. Then, using the handy template that came with the thermal paste, I carefully applied the brilliant white paste in an even manner on the base of the heatsink, before gently worked the unit back in place over the CPU on to the motherboard.

Excitedly I hooked up the power cable, and hit the switch, watching the BIOS reading with bated breath…

It had worked!! The machine started up colder and the CPU temperature hovered at a constant 31 to 32 degrees Celsius. After a lot of fist pumping into the air (silent of course, wouldn’t want to wake Jessie), I set about first partitioning and installing Windows XP (for my outdated scanner and webcam which aren’t supported well enough in terms of drivers under Ubuntu), followed by a fresh dual boot install of the latest Ubuntu desktop release for normal every day use.

And seeing that this machine now has a nice graphics card thanks to my earlier troubleshooting efforts, I now even get to experience the new Ubuntu Unity desktop shell that has garnered so many divided opinions since its introduction for the very first time!

So yeah, pretty chuffed with myself now, I won’t lie! :)

The Smart Black Shoes My Life 09 SEP 2011

I was quite surprised to haul these out of the cupboard on Friday morning, in the midst of my desperate scrabbling around to try and find some half decent looking clothes which would fit the bill for the upcoming afternoon Touchwork lunch function.

The dress code was smart casual, which should normally not be a problem for a man in his early 30’s, but which actually does happen to be a problem for Craig, who has long since become far too big for the paltry collection of work shirts who sullenly inhabit a dark corner of his little clothes cupboard, never mind the forlorn chinos sitting on the side of the aforementioned space.

All of which means that thank goodness I do actually own a pair of jeans that currently fit me, and for now, if I close my eyes I can imagine a collared golf t-shirt as being sort of ‘smart’. And seeing as underwear and socks go hidden, it really was only the shoes that were bothering me, considering the fact that my de facto shoes that I have access to at the moment happen to be a pair of white running shoes or my old smelly slippers, i.e. not exactly smart casual stuff.

So you can well imagine my sigh of relief and glimmer of joy when I made this discovery in the bottom of my clothing space, and then of course the grin when I had to promptly use my socks to take off a layer of dust a good few millimeters thick just to tell what colour they are!

Heavy, smart black Bronx shoes.

Who would have known? Certainly not Chantelle as she laughed when I excitedly showed them off to her, and then who promptly laughed again when I snapped some photos for the blog.

I thought they came out quite nicely actually…

Shutting Down – Again and Again My Life 20 APR 2010

Aaargh, so frustrating! I mentioned a while ago that my newish PC back at home kind of packed up on me some time back, completely losing its video output as a start.

Listening to it and plugging it into various other display sources, I concluded that the onboard graphics must have gone and so looked around on the Internet before settling on a new graphics card which I subsequently ordered from Take 2 for around R500.

A short wait and the card arrived, which I eagerly plugged into the board, proclaimed “There, that should fix it” and hit the power switch, only to see… well nothing. The new graphics card had not solved the problem, meaning that my diagnosis had obviousy been wrong. Doh!

So anyway, this weekend I made some time to try and sort out the issue, taking the machine completely apart and giving it a good dust out, as well as checking and tightening all the connectors and screws that I can find!

With a “Well, maybe this will sort it out”, I hit the power switch and lo and behold, all of a sudden I had video out again – awesome except for the fact that it only lasted a minute or two before the machine without warning simply lost power.

Booting it up again, it became apparent that this was now the new problem and that the video outage had most likely simply been symptom of this new problem.

The losing power thing seems to happen completely at random – it can happen as the machine is still booting up, it can happen while Ubuntu is still busy starting up, or it can strike just as you start thinking that the problem has sorted itself out and open a website to check what might be causing the problem.

At first I thought that maybe the power supply wasn’t pushing out enough power and that the devices were too much for it to handle, so I systematically began unplugging components but to no avail.

So out came the screwdriver and back into the box I dove, giving everything another good dust-over before removing the Power Supply Unit (PSU) and completely taking that apart, cleaning every bit and piece as I came across it.

Slapping everything back together again and hitting the power button proved to be completely… futile.

Sigh. So the power was still coming and going sporadically so I had to make the call as to whether I thought it the PSU or motherboard which is the problem child. Looking at the board I couldn’t see any problem, no popped capacitors or anything like that and so hopped into my car and drove through to Computer Mania at Somerset Mall where I slapped down R600 and bought a nice and shiny 600W power supply that comes with a giant fan and looks pretty damn spiffy.

Back home I installed the new PSU, booted the machine up and yay, “Seems like that sorted it out” – until the machine shut itself down again just ten minutes later.

So the problem still isn’t solved and my ability to diagnose hardware issues lies in complete tatters. Chantelle keeps urging me just to take it in and have it fixed, but my pride as a man simply won’t allow me to do that.

It’s now a personal challenge for me, and one that is bringing no end of frustration. The question now of course is – should I look at the RAM as being faulty or is it the whole damn motherboard itself?

Decisions, decisions…