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ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
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Killing My Clié

You may have noticed I've been linda post-free here at the Rohdesign Weblog for a few days... that's because my lunch-breaks and evenings have been spent trying in futility to repair my little Clié N610. The story is a bit embarrassing, but I've decided to come clean and share it here as a sort of penance. :-)

It all began when I decided to replace the Scotch Magic Tape on the Graffiti area of my Sony Clié N610C, which works very well to protect against stylus wear. Tape came off fine, but when I sprayed Windex glass cleaner on the rag I was using to clear off tape residue, some of the liquid managed to get on the screen... and to my horror crept under the touch screen and formed a shifting amoeba of Windex! This effectively killed the touch screen. Aghh!

Thinking I could expel the liquid, I opened my Clié up and found that the liquid was very securely trapped behind the touch screen. I queried a few Palm-using friends, who suggested I just might be able to dry out the liquid by putting the Clié in a Ziploc bag with a silica gel module (I got one from an Excedrin bottle) and move the package to a warm place.

I thought the space between my Powerbook G4 and it's RoadTools Podium Coolpad would be perfect spot. I placed the the Clié-in-Bag there and left it overnight to dry out. To my surprise, the Windex amoeba was gone the next morning, but for a small stain, which disappeared with the backlight on. Better yet, the touch screen worked! Woo hoo!

But my trials and tribulations had not ended. I tried to HotSync the Clié and it was dead. No response even with my Stowaway keyboard. I realized that I must have loosened or broken contact of the serial ribbon cable inside the case, when I first opened it up. Ugh.

I opened the Clié again and found it very difficult to work with the ribbon cables and connectors. The situation spiraled out of control and I ended up somewhat damaging the serial connector and possibly shorting the motherboard, as the Clié was stuck in a startup screen loop until the battery died completely a few hours later. Not good.

So, I now have a completely useless Clié. On of my fellow Palm User Council members, Dan Royea has offered to merge my Clié N610 with another he has with a busted screen, bought from Craig Froehle (another fellow User Council member). So, today my Clié goes in the post to Canada and maybe a new life. I'll keep you all posted on the operation.

Meanwhile, my father graciously loaned me his Sony Clié N710C, so I can continue tracking my time with Agendus. The N710 has been working OK, though I've had a little trouble getting it configured. Further, because of OS 3.5.2 it runs, USB HotSync won't work, so I must sync via InfraRed. It's slow and workable but not perfect.

Once I know if my Clié is either fixable or beyond repair, I'll have to decide what to do. Buy another 610, which I know works well and fits my needs and low budget? If I upgrade to something else, like a Zire 71 or Clié T615, then I must get new peripherals, a case and deal with possible Mac sync issues (with a Sony).

However, I always come back to a great thing my father always did while growing up. After something I (or we) had done went badly, my dad always used to ask "So, Mike, what have we learned from this?" This was his way of making sure we didn't wallow in self-pity, but always sought to take away something of value and learning from even bad experiences. I'm very happy to have learned this approach.

So, what's the moral of this cautionary tale? One: be careful with Windex or any other liquids you may be handling near your PDA. That was my first mistake. Two: don't crack open your handheld unless you really know what you're doing. I had no idea how fragile and difficult ribbon cables would be to work with. Can you see "Loser" imprinted on my forehead? :-)

Of course, I feel badly about my Clié's death, but I know it's only a machine and it might yet come back to life in the hands of Dan the Wizard. I've also learned some valuable lessons and have been given a reality check: I do not know everything and that everyone makes mistakes and has bad days. Get over it. :-)

Reader Comments (2)

Hey, don't be so hard on yourself, I think anyone would have done what you have, while trying to save their 'precious' ;)
May 30, 2003 | Unregistered Commentertimnology
Mike thanks for sharing. I'm sorry to hear about the demise of your beloved Clie', but if anyone can fix it - Dan can! Here's hoping to a speedy recovery. :)
May 30, 2003 | Unregistered Commentermashby

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