The Audio Experiments of Jeff Danos

The Sounds of a Dying Laptop

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I've been hard at work in the studio lately, attempting to put the final touches on some songs for the new Testube album titled Off Purpose. Jonathan Chalker (from the band LowHero.DLL) will be lending some of his uber-cool vocals to one of the tracks. Most of the others will be instrumental. I've actually been working on some of these tunes since 2007. I'm anxious to see them released, not only to experience the sense of closure that only a published full length CD can bring, but also so that I can get these working tracks off of my ailing laptop.

In the last few months, my music computer has started exhibiting some strange behavior. First, one of the keys was sticking - not the physical key itself (the up arrow in this case), but the motherboard seemed to think that I was holding it down. So it was emitting a loud series of beeps upon boot. Adding a USB keyboard didn't bypass it. I attempted to clean and re-seat the internal keyboard connection, but that didn't help, either. (Laptop keyboard connections are strange - they're more like a flimsy piece of photographic film than your typical desktop ribbon cable.) I did some Googling and this is apparently a common problem with HP laptops. There is no cure.

It has been a challenge. It's difficult to work in an audio editor when the wave view is constantly zooming all the way in, thanks to the stuck up arrow key (hehe - "stuck up"). But then, working on a computer has always been less intuitive than the "good old days" of hardware sequencing and synthesis (Scott Sturgis recently told me that he feels much the same way). In addition to this keyboard headache, I've started receiving a "battery calibration" error on startup. Not sure why it would want to calibrate the battery every time I fire it up, but I did allow the laptop to do it's thing once...that took about five hours. Now I just hit the "S" key to skip it. I may just take the battery out and run on AC - no sense in blowing $80 on a replacement battery for a laptop this old.

At this point, the left shift key is now dead, as are the parenthesis keys and some of the numbers. I keep getting a pop-up that wants me to access the internet for something, although the system has not been connected to the net for at least four or five years. I can't figure out which program is trying to access the internet; maybe it's prompted by that darn arrow key. Who knows...

I've cleaned it up as best as I can, and switched off every non-essential process. The laptop seems to be on its last leg. I have been performing daily backups, just in case. I'm just hoping to get as many tracks completed as possible before it dies. I've considered transferring all of my files to another computer or hard drive, but I would never be able to create the exact same program setup with my DAW, and many of my virtual instrument and effects templates are likely to be lost or misconfigured in the process. Plus, I just don't have the time to reinstall everything. This computer has served me well for about seven years now; expecting more time is probably asking too much.

Anyways, I just wanted to share a bit of my frustration, but also the good news that the wait is almost over, assuming that everything doesn't blow up. Stay tuned for the "tell all your friends to buy my new album so I can buy a new computer" announcement. And have a happy holiday season. ;)


Somehow with your music, this entire situation seems very appropriate. I am REALLY looking forward to this album. Let me know if you need any assistance with anything.



@Michael - LOL.

Now it's giving me some sort of "cyclic redundancy error", which I guess indicates possible hard drive problems. Thanks for your offer of assistance, too. I may just take you up on that - at the least, for some help spreading the word on S-L, etc.

Thanks again, man!

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