Thursday, January 30, 2014


We ice danced our way up to Marquette yesterday to have some work done on my computer. The CMOS battery had been showing signs of failing for awhile, one of those things that's an annoyance as it's happening because you have to keep resetting the time and date. I'm not sure just what happens if the battery goes completely dead -- you find yourself doing a total reboot every time you turn the machine on? I know you end up having to confirm your hardware settings every time, but I'm not sure if anything that rises above the level of "annoying" actually happens. Anyway, replacing the battery is supposedly fairly easy in some computers: you slip the case off and there the battery is, out in the open and easily removed. Not with my PC. It's a compact desktop, a device that's about the same size as a copy of Dorland's Medical Dictionary. It's one of those machines that is really nice to have because of the small footprint but a pain to try doing anything to if you're not a genuine computer geek: everything is crammed together without a whole lot of maneuvering room. You definitely need skinny fingers and great eye-hand coordination to work on the thing.

When we took the case off to look for the battery, the S.O. and I couldn't see where it was. That's when I decided I'd let the the Geek Squad deal with it. I have a rudimentary knowledge of how a computer works, but I have never been geeky enough to play around with electronics myself. The S.O. is better with a screwdriver than I am, but he's also never been real keen on playing with circuit boards and wiring bundles. My PC may not be the latest or greatest, but it works fine for what I need. I have no plans to replace it as long as I can keep it chugging along without having to spend a whole lot of money. I figured a sure way to guarantee I'd have to replace it in the immediate future would be for me or the S.O. to reach for a screwdriver and start disconnecting pieces/parts now.

Once we got it to Best Buy, it turned out the CMOS battery was buried under the hard drive. A lot of pieces/parts did indeed have to be moved out of the way before the battery itself was accessible.

This was one of those rare moments when I was feeling good about having purchased a product protection/technical support plan. Usually those things are kind of a rip-off, but back in May when I went to Best Buy shopping for a new PC for the museum, I got talked into also buying Geek Squad protection. It means no bench charges. When I had to have the hard drive replaced on this machine in July, all I had to pay for was the actual replacement hard drive, no service charges at all. Having seen what was involved in getting at the battery, I now know for sure that swapping out the hard drive wasn't a super fast process either. The plan has actually paid for itself, which is a pleasant surprise.

And how did I happen to be a position to watch the battery being changed? Because swapping out a CMOS battery is usually fast and easy, the nice young man at Best Buy took the case off at the service counter up front instead of hauling the machine back behind the curtain. He obviously thought it was going to be a simple matter of popping the case off, verifying the type of battery, and within a minute or two being able to hand the machine back to me. No such luck. I got to watch as he exposed everything, briefly evidenced a baffled look, and said, in essence, where the heck is it?! It took a few minutes, but he located it and then began the not-so-fast process of getting other stuff out of the way. Eventually the new battery was in, and the S.O. and I were on our way. Cost of the repair? $6.88.

Referring to the drive up and back as ice dancing is kind of an understatement. I think both the state and the county are running out of sand and salt. There were stretches of M-28 that were many miles long where it was ice from shoulder to shoulder. Fortunately, traffic was light. Winter driving doesn't scare me much, but the other idiots on the road do.


  1. Good post. Nice to have back up insurance. And the shoulder to shoulder ice is no fun for sure. '

  2. Boy, it has been years since I had a CMOS battery go bad on me. Used to be good at replacing them but not sure it would be that easy for me now, it has been years since I messed with things like DOS and a basic operating system.

  3. I didn't know that desktops had batteries. I am thinking of going to a desktop. For about five hundred that have them at Walmart with 8GB ram (whatever that is) and one TB hard drive. My seven year old laptop is slow and doesn't download videos without breaks to catch up.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  4. Ol'Buzzard, I knew CMOS batteries existed but they usually last as long as the PC does. This is the first time I've had one run down so until the time settings started slowing down I'd forgotten about the battery. Of course, this is also the first PC I've had where when the hard drive went senile I decided to just replace it instead of getting a totally new computer. If I had been thinking smarter when I had the hard drive swapped out in July, I would have requested a new CMOS battery at the same time.


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