ThinkPads and the Internet

by Phil Hughes

I made a (some will say strange) decision related to the Geek Ranch a while ago. Rather than have an "Internet Cafe" area, I decided it made more sense to rent laptops to people. That means they can use them in the restaurant, conference room, their room or under a tree. WiFi will supply the magic connection. Oh, and their price includes a "built-in UPS".

While there are lots of "exciting" laptops, I settled on IBM T23 ThinkPads. I feel like they are the last of the "built like a tank" units, are totally adequate for most computing jobs (1GHz or faster processor and up to 1GB RAM) and, most important, are extremely popular. A bit of ebay shopping and I added three more units to the one I had (plus a T22 and a T20). With used prices hovering around $200, it just seems like an amazing buy.

Well, I have my three units (after all too much shipping and customs costs) and they all boot up and run ok. Then came with some strange software on them but, of course, they will happily run Linux. All was looking well except one had a dead battery. No biggie, I swapped it. Still not charging. Different AC adapter and the same story.

Ok, I accepted it was broken thinking of it as a spare parts computer. But, I then decided to do a bit of searching. I found this page which talks about the problem and suggests it is typically caused by a component on the system board becoming loose". The post even included a link to a graphic of the board. I figured it was worth a try.

Taking the systems apart is easy with the hardware maintenance manual being available free on-line (referenced from the same post but I already had it). Sure enough, that was the problem. A little careful work with a soldering iron and it is working fine.

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