By Emily Vannoy – Apple Specialist – The Computing Center
A Cornell student had their 2013 15” MacBook Pro battery rupture in mid-June. It was in a backpack that started to “smoke” during a class. Fire personnel and Police were called in and fortunately, the laptop did not catch fire; only one battery cell was involved.
Laptop and phone batteries (or any lithium ion battery), under some very unusual circumstances, can begin to swell. Swelling can cause a rupture which leads to what Apple refers to as a “thermal event”. Batteries expand when gas builds up inside of the battery cell. Over charging from a faulty charger, extreme heat, and a manufacturer fault in the battery can cause swelling to occur. In this case, one battery cell expanded to the point of rupture causing smoking and extreme heat. In some cases, this can cause a fire. This is one of the first such situations we’ve seen at The Computing Center.
Once we got the machine into our shop, we were able to determine that only one of the six battery cells in this model had ruptured. The remaining cells were, thankfully, unharmed and stable. In a stroke of luck, we were able to recover most of the data contained on the Solid State Drive (SSD). At the bottom of this article is some of the details regarding this event.
•How do you keep this from happening to your laptop or phone? - Do not expose your devices to temperature extremes. Exposure to extreme heat can cause a battery to swell.
•Just like a pet or person, DON’T leave your laptop or phone in a hot car.
•Po,trwer down your laptop before you place it into a bag. If the computer is on and hot from regular use, placing it into an enclosed area where the heat cannot escape could lead to overheating.
-Be on the lookout for bulges, charging problems, or other issues with your devices, especially if they are several years old.
•If your laptop or phone has any kind of discernible bulge to the case, the battery could be failing. If the device won’t stay charged or stops working, but then appears to work OK with the AC adapter, it’s time to get the batteries looked at.
•With Apple laptops, if the trackpad stops working correctly, a bulging battery could be causing the problem.
-Use the correct charger. Some “off brand” chargers overcharge the battery – particularly on phones. If your device gets hot and stays hot while charging, your charger may be bad.
What to do if your device starts smoking? - Call Fire or Police. As you can see from the photos below, a battery fire can get VERY hot.
- Get it out of any backpack, case, or sleeve. If possible, get the device away from anything else flammable.
- If sand is available, burying the laptop or phone in clean sand can be effective.
- A dry-chemical extinguisher can be effective in reducing the temperature, but it likely won’t completely extinguish a fire.
- Here are the Don’ts!
- DON’T ever use water or other liquid to try to extinguish a smoking device.
- DON’T try to smash the device to try and remove the battery.
-Laptops often have more than one battery cell. Trying to smash it could easily
rupture another battery.
- DON’T breathe any of the fumes.
Bottom line: With any device that has a battery, if something unusual is happening, don’t ignore it. Get to our shop or other reputable dealer.
The author is one of The Computing Center’s Apple Certified Mac Technicians (ACMT). We provide warranty and non-warranty repair and support for all Apple Macintosh products.
The Interior of the Computer:
This is a view of the interior components of the computer with the bottom case removed. The cell that was ruptured is visible on the left as well as the 5 other battery cells contained within the computer. You can also see melting around the ruptured cell where the heat from the thermal event melted other components on the computer. On the right, the bottom case shows scorch marks and heat damage. Not visible in this photo is the other side of the bottom case where the laptop rested against the backpack. The thermal event melted the backpack and the melted material stuck to the bottom case.
The Solid State Drive (in the adapter) vs. an undamaged SSD:
Even though the SSD was right next to the ruptured cell and got very hot, we were able to recover most of the data from it!
Posted At : April 27, 2017 11:32 AM | Written By : Used with Permission-HP Technology at Work
Computers, Hewlett Packard
For some, the term "tech innovation" brings to mind new PC form factors and unique printing methods. But high-tech innovation doesn't stop at hardware—it also includes displays.
In recent years, display innovation has produced heightened resolution, connectivity, functionality, and ROI. Displays are sleek, stylish, more robust, and thoughtfully aligned with today's dynamic, agile, and collaborative workspaces. Designed to drive work teams, the latest iterations of this oft-overlooked, but critical technology can boost your performance, productivity, and efficiency.
Displays: Then and now
Given the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and laptops in our mobile business environment, displays often fade into the background, with users never questioning how they contribute to a more productive workday. However, displays are office necessities that have a powerful, innovative impact on productivity.
Posted At : March 29, 2017 2:15 PM | Written By : Used with permission from Hewlett Packard Enterprise by Steven Vaughan-Nichols
Editor's Notes:Once in a while, some of the history of computing strikes our fancy. The Computing Center's early days centers squarely around the floppy disk. We worked with nearly every type of floppy disk from the 8" variety all the way down to the 3.5" and some exotic floppys such as the SyQuest and Bernoulli cartridges. You can see some examples of floppy disk drives and media preserved at our office. Come visit.
We had floppy disks long before we had CDs, DVDs, or USB thumb drives. Here's the evolution of the portable media that changed everything about personal computing.
In the fall of 1977, I experimented with a newfangled PC: a Radio Shack TRS-80. For data storage, it used—I kid you not—a cassette tape player. Tape had a long history with computing; I had used the IBM 2420 9-track tape system on IBM 360/370 mainframes to load software and back up data. Magnetic tape was common for storage in pre-personal computing days, but it had two main annoyances: It held only tiny amounts of data, and it was slower than a slug on a cold spring morning. For those of us excited about technology, there had to be something better. And there was: the floppy disk.
Posted At : October 29, 2015 6:22 PM | Written By : Used with Permission - HP Technology at Work
Every so often, a client asks us about the "innards" of the computers we sell and service. It used to happen much more in the early days of the computer revolution. These days, most clients want to just know if there's "enough"! If your "inner geek" needs some fodder, this article from HP provides a good basis for understanding more about the computer memory that most take for granted.
There are dizzying amounts of memory types in modern computer devices, from DDR SDRAM to L3 caches. And for many of us, understanding all the nuances of computer memory is a bit like understanding how the catalytic converter in your car works: It might be nice to know, but you probably don't have the time to become an expert, even if you use one every day.
But just as it's useful to still know the basics about your car, understanding the basics about computer memory can go a long way towards ensuring you get the performance you want—at the price you need. This quick primer will take you through the basic types of computer memory, and what to look for when making your next PC purchase or upgrade.
The Computing Center will be participating in the 25th Annual Education Technology Day at Ithaca College on Thursday, March 19th. We will be working with our friends from Hewlett Packard showing their latest tablets, notebooks and computer systems.
Ed Tech Day is a regional technology event that attracts over 1,600 people annually from the upstate New York region. National manufacturers will be in attendance including Adobe Systems, Apple, Dell, Epson, Hewlett Packard, and Microsoft.
While one of the primary audiences for the event is the higher education community, the event is open to everyone. There is plenty of information that is of interest to K-12 education, the business and not-for-profit communities. At the event you'll be able to talk directly with representatives from major computer and technology manufactuerers and suppliers, explore educational applications, learn how technology is being used today in and outside of higher education and see what can be expected in the coming years.
The 2015 show will take place on Thursday, March 19, 2015, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in the Emerson Suites and adjoining areas of the Campus Center at Ithaca College. The show features a Vendor Technology Showcase, a College Showcase, and a series of seminars.