Phew, that was close

September 2006… I had a meeting in Aberdeen and then Matt, Kemal and I journeyed to Edinburgh in Matt’s car. When Matt dropped me off at my hotel, I picked my bag up out of the boot (trunk if you’re American) and immediately noticed it was warm. Closer inspection showed that the ThinkPad T40 hadn’t suspended and had been running for three hours inside the bag (ironically, having two batteries attached is normally a good thing). The hard disk had roasted so I had lost everything (including the presentation I was due to deliver the next day), and this proved to be a monumental pain in the arse for weeks and months to come. Just as annoying as losing work stuff, I also lost the last ever pictures I’d taken of my dad. I think I also came close to physically assaulting several people who said “oh, I hope you had backups”.

Shortly after this I acquired an external USB drive.

February 2008… I’d taken the ThinkPad (a newer one, a T60 which has an annoying aversion to external monitors and projectors which means I still have to cart the T40 around sometimes) to the in-laws to show them the family tree progress and to grab some info from their memories and some birth, marriage and death certificates (jolly way to spend a Sunday). After Sunday dinner we went for a walk, then Lauren spent a while surfing the interweb before we made our way home. I shut the T60’s lid and stuffed it into the Lotusphere 2007 rucksack.

Back at home I experienced a sense of impending doom… the whole bag felt really hot and there was a, well, not burning smell but the smell of electrical stuff that’s got really hot. The T60 was very warm, much warmer than I remembered the T40 being. The battery warning light was flashing and it was back at the boot-up password screen. My first thought was “oh no, not again” and my second was how much of a pain in the arse it was going to be for months, not to mention tomorrow, if everything was gone.

I took the battery off, left it open to cool, went for a bath, and then thirty minutes later with great trepidation attached the power and booted up. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see the Windows logon screen.

Two things I have been reminded of today. Always check your laptop has actually suspended before you put it in the bag, and back-up important stuff even more frequently than you do already. Phew…


  1. Firstly, shame on you for having a meeting in Aberdeen, and not telling me! 😉

    Secondly – I never trusted any of my Dells to suspend properly. With the MacBook Pro – it suspends properly *every time*. Its just one of those ‘it works’ things.. Which is nice.

    Get a mac ? 😉

    —* Bill

  2. A BATH!!!!!

    How could you go take a bath at a time like that. I would have been outside waving the offending article around in the cold night air to cool it down. Either that or driving round the block with the good lady holding it out of the window.

    Frankly, at best, I think it shows what can only be described as a casual approach to what could have been a potential disaster. 😉

    Glad all is well.

  3. And also remember not to unplug any usb devices after the device has suspended … why oh why when the lid is closed and I remove the mouse does windows think I want to then start the machine I have no idea!!!!

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