“It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools.”
Let’s get this one out of the way. I’m not a craftsman, so there.
The power supply on my laptop gave out while I was in Taiwan. I quickly found the problem was located in the wire going between the power supply and the laptop. The internal sheath had broken so the wires made a short-circuit. I tried repairing it while I was living at Dharma Drum but that proved quite difficult due to the lack of proper tools. The only soldering iron available on the mountain was of terrible quality. It was barely getting hot enough to melt the solder. Moreover, there was no new solder available on the mountain. I eventually was able to reuse the old solder already on the board (gaaah!) and made some sort of temporary repair. I considered going into Taipei to get parts to finish the job properly but I gave up on that idea. It turns out that during my last few days at Dharma Drum my temporary repair gave out and I had to keep the wires in place with a piece of plastic tape. (Eeek!)
I came back home two days ago. Yesterday, I bought heat shrink tubing. This morning I gathered my tools and was able to finish the job in about 10 minutes. It was a real pleasure to work with good tools. No doubt someone adept at soldering would laugh at my work but… well… the power supply now works and I’m not pretending to be a craftsman.
I’m quite pleased with myself. When I bought the laptop, I did not get an extended warranty. I took the one year warranty and made the bet that if something were to happen I would probably be able to fix it myself. It looks like I’m going to win that bet. (I’ll only win if the laptop is still working fine after 3 years of ownership.)
The Internet has proved indispensable in this process. First, I found this guide on how to fix a power supply cord. Sri1ram’s comment about using a blade to crack the glue holding the case together was very useful. Second, I found Keith’s blog post on refitting a strain relief. Before I found this post, I thought I’d get a new strain relief or I’d finish the job without the strain relief. The problem was that I was unable to rethread the cable through the strain relief. Keith had the same problem and solved it by drilling through the strain relief. I got my wife’s Dremel out and did the same: it worked nicely.