Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My (Latest) Little Miracle

About four years ago I bought an Alphasmart Dana. It was wonderful! It had the portability of a laptop, but the feel of a traditional keyboard. The battery life was phenomenal and it was so easy to use.

Then a year ago last January, we went on a family trip. We were traveling through a snowstorm, and the car heater was cranked up as high as it would go. My Dana was in a canvas bag at my feet, right near the heater vent. I didn't think anything of it until the next time I pulled it out and couldn't turn it on. I wondered if I had fried something. I used the emergency reset button hidden on the bottom. Nothing. I tried recharging the rechargeable battery. Nothing. I bought brand-new, fresh batteries and put them in. Nothing.

Heartbroken, I placed my Dana on a shelf in the office until I decided what to do with it. I couldn't bear to just throw it away, but the warranty had expired and I didn't know if I could get it repaired. Once in a while I would look at it and wonder if I should send it back to the company to see if they could repair it, or if I should just buy a new one. I followed a few Ebay auctions, but it just wasn't in the budget. I wrote on the family computer when it was available, or wrote with paper and pen when the computer was being used by someone else.

Finally, I was talking to Darvell, a member of my online writing group, who is a techno wizard. He had bought several nonfunctioning Alphasmarts, took them apart, put several back together with the working parts and sold them. I considered sending my Dana to him to see if he could find out what was wrong. With any luck he would be able to get it running again.

Then this afternoon I had a spurt of do-it-myself. You know, the kind when you get so sick of your hair you decide to trim it yourself. (Usually a bad idea, by the way.) I found a tiny little Phillips head screwdriver and commenced taking the Dana apart myself to see if there was something totally obvious that I might be able to fix. AND THERE WAS! The first part I took off was the cover of the battery compartment. I took out the three AA batteries that were still there from my desperate resuscitation attempts more than a year ago. Then I looked a little closer and realized I HAD PUT THEM IN FACING THE WRONG DIRECTION! I put them back in facing the right direction, flipped the Dana over, and pushed the button. It worked!

I felt a bit sheepish.

So now I can once again take my Dana everywhere with me and happily write away. I've been praying that I would be able to do more writing. I consider it a little miracle that I never got rid of my "nonfunctioning" Dana, and I had the urge to take it apart myself.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my goodness - that sounds like something I would do! I'm so glad you got it working again.

    PS: My link on your list isn't at that address anymore, but you can still come see me at