A Laptop Design Feature I’ve Grown To Hate
Over the last several months I’ve had a number of “issues” with my laptop. These varied in their degree of seriousness from it wouldn’t boot at all for several months to it would boot Kubuntu linux from a flash drive but acted like it’s hard drive was not even there. Then, out of the clear blue sky, right about the time I’m starting to shop around trying to find a cheap hard drive on sale, it’s suddenly working again.
It’s weird, Linux boots from the flash drive, Windows vista boots from the hard drive and as far as I can tell just about everything is back to the condition it was in last December before it appeared to just fail totally. It’s great news because this means was finally able to finish recovering the last few dozen of my wife’s files from it. Something that I had just about given up on considering how long it’s been since it was willing to boot up windows vista so that I could even get to them at all.
Then I had a klutzy moment. I managed to trip on the cord for the USB mouse. (Yes, I know, I could have been using the touchpad but I bleeding hate those things with a passion. Give me a REAL mouse any day!). Not only did I nearly pull the laptop into a crashing (and probably fatal) impact with the floor, I actually managed to rip the USB port that the mouse was using right off of the motherboard! (strangely enough, that’s when it started booting vista again, I’d been using Kubuntu up to this point)
This situation presented a major problem. You see this Compaq Presario (born out of an unholy union between Compaq and “packard hell” sometime after HP bought Compaq) has a problem that I think is universal to most laptops. A shortage of USB ports. It only came with three of them. Because the machine’s built in WiFi card failed completely not long after we got it, it needs to use an external Netgear WiFi card that plugs into one of the USB ports. The mouse needs a second port, and the flash drive needs the third one.
The flash drive is essential if I’m going to boot Kubuntu since it’s the boot device for it and as for Vista… YOU try running Vista on a machine with 1gb of ram without taking advantage of readyboost! Been there, done that, not interested.
I’m almost ashamed to admit that the solution actually didn’t occur to me for a couple of days. Obviously, I needed to get a four port hub. Well, after I got finished mentally thumping myself for not thinking of it sooner, I got one and plugged it into one of the two remaining USB ports. Then I put the Netgear WiFi card in the slot on the end of the hub (I’m glad they have at least one on the end to accommodate those physically larger devices!), then along the side of it I connected the mouse and the flash drive.
Perfect! Now I’ve got one space free on the computer and another one free on the hub. The thing I’m wondering about now is, how many hubs and devices can I get away with connecting at once? Could I get away with daisy-chaining multiple hubs together? I don’t suppose I’ve got any real need to do this but I’m just curious enough to try it someday.
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