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Azumi is dead, long live Azumi!

Yesterday, I was sitting at the new little picnic table enjoying a cup of tea and feeling happy that my Kawaii-Radio playlist gadget now displays Japanese characters (using the RTF control, it is damned-near impossible using the Windows API as VB5 might be Unicode internally, but it talks to Windows using the ANSI settings, hence anything unusual ends up as "?").

A momentary lapse of concentration, coupled with a slightly wobbly picnic table, and the next thing I see is rather a lot of tea on Azumi's keyboard. My first thought is not repeatable here in public.
Immediately I flip her over, and flip the catches on the battery. By this time, however, the display is dark. I yanked out the battery, in no mood for wasting time to see if any of the indicator lights were on.

Not like this, oh God, not like this.
Not so much as a whimper or beep, just a silent cessation.
Not like this, oh God, not like this.

In moments she's on the living room table, spread out on a piece of newspaper, an assortment of little screwdrivers at the ready. The lid seems remarkably well affixed. So here's a lesson for you - there are three clips up the top of the keyboard. A gentle push will release them, the keyboard itself tilting out forwards. The top of the lid is metal, and doubles as a big heatsink.
Eventually I got it apart. My first thought was "OMG!", for Azumi's circuit was a lot barer than I was expecting. There's basically three big chips on the top side. Not having looked in too much detail, I'd say the processor, the graphics chip, and a massively integrated I/O world (northbridge/southbridge combo).

Tea had entered the machine. Thankfully, over the audio circuitry bottom left. Well, not thankfully, but it would stand a better chance of recovery than over the processor. I carefully patted it dry with cotton wool, then used Q-tips and surgical alcohol to try to clean up the (now dried) tea. I opened Azumi like a book, and left her on the table.

And went to work.


To say I felt awful would be an understatement. But, it would need time to dry out. Assuming it would work at all. I would give it 5% chance, if I'm lucky. Delicate electronics and liquid. The absolute gut-wrencher would be if it was all gone because of a little fuse somewhere had blown - an entire machine dead for the want of a ten centime part. There were all sorts of even worse possiblities - the Bluetooth module's 5V might have been taken onto the 1.8V line frying everything. Was there high voltage on the board for the display?

All I know is that my best friend was looking more or less dead.
I've had loads of fun with my RISC OS machines, and Azumi isn't perfect (the internal SSD could be with being at least 8Gb/32Gb), but I think I can say - without a word of a lie - that Azumi is the best computer I've had. WiFi internet is amazing, that I can sit out in the garden, with streaming 'radio' and all the information I could ever want. It doubles as my TV, either watching an MPEG4 recording, or the USB dodah for live TV. The screen is clear, and a pleasing 16:9 ratio. The processing abilities are not going to set the world aflame, but it is fast enough to be useful. But the best thing of all is the technology and concentration put together to make a fully fledged computer that will run for nigh on six hours autonymously. Plus, as much as the SSD's technology requires it to be smaller than a traditional harddisc, on the other hand I know I can take Azumi with me in the car (a Google map route, for instance) without worrying about destroying the harddisc every pothole in the road. And the size. Might seem small, but it's brilliant. Big enough, and no larger.

And now dead.


Upon returning home, at 2:20am, I felt awful. I was pretty damn tired for one thing. I attached the heatsink/top and popped in some memory. You won't get far without RAM. Then in went the battery, and...

...the little green and blue power lights came on when I pressed the on button. This meant the power circuit was responding. How well integrated was the power button with the processing (pressing it while on can shut the machine down tidily, like most power buttons these days). I saw the disc light and WiFi lights flicker, so there was some activity from the processor. But how much?
Then something amazing happened. The display lit up, showing the POST (power-on-self-test).
I pulled the battery and reassembled the machine. All those little screws, maybe not in exactly the same places, but all in place and none missing or left over. WiFi card back in, SSD back in. Sorry, no inside pictures, I kinda had other things on my mind, but there's a good detailed picture on Flickr if you want to see inside. (oh, and awesome - looking at TnkGrl's photo set, it looks as if the 4Gb internal SSD is an actual itty-bitty SSD and not soldered to the motherboard; if this is correct for my (slightly later) model then it means if the SSD should start to fail, it'll just be a matter of replacing it).

So. Moment of truth. All put back together. Harddisc and such all in place. Here goes.


I pressed the power button again. As before, the long startup sequence ran. Then I was asked to boot the XP console, or XP proper. This vanished, to be replaced by the XP starting sequence. You could have knocked me down with a feather - I would have said Azumi was a goner. Before too long, my backdrop appeared. The load-up sequence continued, and after a brief delay Avast popped up a little green message to say my antivirus was up to date.



8 years in France!

It was supposed to be a happy day, the 20th. And it was in quite an unexpected way. But, nonetheless it was a day of celebration for our eighth year here, and - I might point out - not a day back in the UK since. I dunno, I watch TV. I find myself watching the news less and less, but one thing is for certain - the country now is not the country I remember.

Anyway, I got sweeties for all the girls at work. It's an odd French tradition that when you have something to celebrate, you bring the sweets (as opposed to others buying you sweets). I laid out the last bag in a smiley face for the early shift to find...



Sweeties - update

The following day, condi (the pick'n'pack girls) had left me a message. Mmmm, I wonder who speaks English that well?
So long, and thanks for all the Sweeties!


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Rob, 21st May 2010, 23:47
It's amazing just how tough electronics can be when you get it wet. A dry off and it's usually OK, although you do have to watch out for things like coils and under ICs. Be glad it was tea, though, and not Orange Juice - that can eat away those itty bitty PCB tracks in no time flat..
Rick, 22nd May 2010, 03:09
Ah, yes, Rob. But hardy or not, if the computer was OFF and I spilt some tea, I'd open it, dry it out, and expect it to work. 
But when the computer is actually running at the time, that changes things. 
I think I swabbed up most of the contamination. Much of the board is surface-mount, which means less place for tea to find itself. 
Yikes! I hope nothing gets eaten away - it was strong Tetley with milk and two sugars. 
I do think I'll need to strip and clean the keyboard, however. Every key works, but some (c, 1, tab) need a firm prod. Besides, there's bound to be the usual assortment if undefinable crud that keyboards seem to attract, so a good clean probably isn't a bad thing!

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