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Repairing Canadian Laptops

A few weeks ago I pulled a fairly battered and abused Acer Aspire 1810T out of the recycle pile at work. It's no Dell XPS 13, but it was cute in a homely sort of way and against my better judgement I took it home for something to tinker with. I wasn't even sure if it would turn on since there was no power adapter to try it out.

Here it is in all it's glory. The Acer Aspire 1810t. A fine specimine indeed. No, that's not a new desk.


I went on amazon and ordered one of the various 'acer 1810t' power adapters they had available. These come out of China, and don't appear to be CSA approved or well built or anything of the sort. If you get one and it burns your house down.. I wouldn't be surprised and I don't want to hear about it.

My power adapter arrives a few days earlier than I expect however with the wrong AC power cord. I can't even plug it in without going to the basement to find a suitable AC power cord.


The power brick has a warning on it saying not to use on ungrounded outlets. Hillarious.


When I do finally get around to the arduous trip to the basement, I plug in the laptop and boot it up. Everything seems to work perfectly fine. We're a little light on ram here... 4gig of DDR2 and I don't have any spare laying around. 8 Gig of ram would be nice.

It had been a long time since I had linux on a desktop, so I decided to install ubuntu 14.04 TLS .... TLS means 'The Lazy Sysadmin' ... ok, fine it's really supposed to be LTS. Still means I won't have to re-install for hopefully until this this finally quits or I give it away.

Much to my surpise and delight, it was up and running with working wifi and no real issues. My logitech mouse became unpaired somewhere along the way so I had to go on a bit of a walkabout... I found this WONDERFUL unpairing tool from Peter Wu that allowed me to easily re-pair the mouse to the transceiver. Thank you Peter, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

I'm guessing the previous owner just lost the power adapter or got a new computer because even the battery seems to hold a decent charge. The only thing really wrong with this thing is that it has the dreaded bilingual keyboard.

If you happen to live in Canada and have purchased a consumer market laptop at anytime in the last decade, you might have ended up with one of these bilingual or 'fench Canadian' keyboards. I suppose the manufacturers have deemed our market too small to offer the option of two keyboards for every sku. Perhaps they have simply assumed we're all pretty much ok with the bilingual layout. If you've been typing as long as I have, you will probably consider this keyboard unworkable. For me, the enter key is now a \ and the left shift key is a <. Even logging in to the computer with this keyboard results in frustration.

Now to set about fixing that keyboard. The first thing you have to do, is find a suitable replacement. I just instinctivly go to Amazon for everything since it's generally the path of least resistance.. (watch out for ass-hat re-sellers with insane markup on semi-rare goods.)

Amazon This will do nicely. Ships by Tuesday. Ok. Wow it arrived Friday! Amazon rocks.


Apparently this one's 'lot fancy' than the keyboard that came with the computer. Nicely packed this time around. The last one I got for an HP G60 arrived kind of wavey and bent. So thumbs up to this Amazon seller, and thank you for not swapping in the 'Canadian' keyboard since I was ordering from Canada. (Hopefully that never really happens.)

Here is a closer look at it out of the box.

New Keyboard

There are usually a couple of screws on the bottom to release the keyboards on these things, but on this particular one you just pry the old one out and pop the new one in. In my case, I don't really care about damaging anything other than the flat system board connector where it plugs in. This little guy actually 'flips up' to release the cable. I almost broke it trying to get it to scoot south and release.


Without much fuss, the new keyboard was installed and the old one was in the trash! I have to say, Acer did a good job on this guy. Very solid construction. Quite easy to get at the hard disk and ram for replacement.

Here is it in all it's majesty. No, that is not a new desk... that's a table... that I'm using as a desk, fine. More on that later.