The Problem With Building Your Mother A Computer…

…is that you then become, by default, tech-support. My hair stands on end when she calls on the phone and says, “I’m having trouble with my computer”.

Recently she made that very call. Her computer was making a noise (which she couldn’t describe) and, more troublingly the motherboard’s protection software had popped up a warning “something about heat” just before it shut down. Let me just pause here to say, my mother is an amazing, extraordinarily intelligent woman. She doesn’t, however, know nor does she have any interest in knowing what makes her computer work.

Analyzing the facts at hand, I determined that the most likely culprit was the fan on the CPU heatsink. I pulled up the emailed invoice, checked the Intel website, and determine that it is still under warranty (two years old, 3 year warranty!)

I call Intel, hopeful that with the info from the invoice I can get a new heatsink on its way. No such luck, they need specific info from the fan and from the processor itself. Ok, this isn’t a huge problem, and I at least have jumped the first few hurdles with Intel and have a case number. When I handed the computer over to mom, I had nested all of the component’s boxes into the larger boxes and had her save them, so it shouldn’t take long to locate the CPU box and get the serial number and such… in theory. In reality, a few phone calls later, it’s obvious Mom isn’t going to find the box.

In a scene reminiscent of a 70’s disaster film, wherein the control tower talks the sweating passenger through the landing of a jumbo-jet, I (looking at photos and diagrams online) manage to talk my mother through removing the heatsink from her CPU. Jubilant with her success, she gets off the phone with me to call Intel.

Far too soon, my phone rings, they’re closed for the night.

The next evening, she calls Intel, everything goes swimmingly, and Diego (whom she was quite impressed with) assured her that the heatsink should be there in 2 – 5 days. She gives my email address to send the confirmation and tracking info to, as her computer is (obviously) down.

The tracking info comes shortly after midnight and it says that it was shipped next-day air. The next day I check the tracking status and discover that it was delivered at 9:30 AM! Just over 13 hours after she’d gotten off the phone with them!

So, I call Mom that evening and tell her to look on her porch for the package, then we repeat the control-tower, nervous non-pilot, reinstallation process.

I’d give anything for a picture of my mother’s face when she got it back together and it worked without a hitch. Just the joy in her voice was reward enough. She was (understandably) proud of herself, and I was proud of her. Graciously, she complimented me for doing such a good job talking her through it.

My lovely, amazing mother and Intel’s customer service both earn a resounding:

Crazy Greg's Seal of Approval