Joachim Breitner

USBless in Africa

Published 2006-11-25 in sections English, Digital World, Ghana.

(For those who just turned in: I’m currently in Ghana, doing some Free Software advocating. Read the rest of the blog for more)

I just came home from a nice day trip to Ada (see my next German post on that), wanting to load my pictures on my laptop. My laptop was already running, as I’m mirroring the debian archive to my external hard drive, as I need that for my work at the Kofi Annan Center in Accra. So I plugged in my camera to the second USB port and copied the files onto my laptop. Fine so far.

I happen to have a second hard drive with, among other things, has a copy of my picture website. I then generate and update the thumbnails and web pages there, before I upload the changes with rsync. But when I plugged in the cable (I don’t think I plugged the hard drive in already), my laptop, an IBM ThinkPad 41p, suddenly goes off. It took a few seconds and the removal of the battery to turn it back on again.

Now it seem that my USB is broken. The system logs says it detects the internal hub all right, but shows no reaction to any devices (hard drive, camera, mouse) that I plug in. The disks get power and spin up, the optical mouse stays dark. Same thing if I use the port replicator. The internal Bluetooth device powers on (according to the LED) but is not detected as well by the sytem. So looks like my laptop now has no USB support any more.

This is a bummer. I’m in the middle of the so called forgotten continent, and I need my laptop – with out it as a tool, I could not do my work at KACE, and I could just fly home – so sending it in is not an option. On the other hand, I also somewhat need the USB port: I can’t publish my pictures without it, I can’t do backups and I can’t have the debian mirror that I need for my DeCaf project that I want to work on at KACE. I only have two hopes: That it will work after the next reboot or that I can find a reasonably priced PCMCIA-USB2-Adaptor in Accra. Wish me luck.

Comments

Seems to be a common bug in t40/t41 machines. I got this 2 years ago, you may get lucky by poking the upper left side of the mainboard, mine has a wackelkontakt, and switches between usb1/usb2. Got a pcmcia card though.
#1 netzstaub am 2006-11-27
I don’t think it’s a wackelkontakt, as it was clearly caused by pluggin in a second device and the device turned off instantly. Also, does in your case the internal bluetooth still work?

Anyway, I bought a PCMCIA adaptor today, and I’m creating the picture pages of the said trip.
#2 Joachim Breitner (Homepage) am 2006-11-27
I accidentally deleted netstaub’s answer “yep bluetooth works.”

In my case it does not, so it is probably a different problem. A mechanical for netstaub, and a electronically-broken-deep-inside for me.
#3 Joachim Breitner (Homepage) am 2006-11-28

Have something to say? You can post a comment by sending an e-Mail to me at <mail@joachim-breitner.de>, and I will include it here.