• Computer question

    My old laptop (XP) may be dying. Before I ditch it, I thought I’d ask if anyone has some bright ideas (pun intended, you’ll see).

    What happens is that the screen goes very dim, all of a sudden and at random. If I restart it, the screen comes back up with normal brightness. This wouldn’t be such a problem if only I could get the brightness back without restarting. But I can’t see anything while it is dim so I can’t use the mouse, only the keyboard.

    Any ideas?

    I did a malware scan, found some things, cleaned it up. The problem still exists. Also, I did drop it a few weeks ago, though the problem only began more recently. It’s also intermittent, and, as I said, fixes itself (for a time) upon restart. Can a hardware or connection problem be remedied with restart? Seems more software- or malware-ish to me, but I’m no expert.

    UPDATE: I discovered that pressing function-F5 puts the laptop to sleep. When I wake it up, the screen has normal brightness. That’s far faster than a restart and doesn’t cause me to lose my work. It’s a better work-around, though not a full solution.

    • I had the same problem with an ASUS notebook running XP. I had a tech friend check the video cable, but alas, the problem turned out to be with the (integrated) video card itself. Due to the expected expense of shipping & fixing I replaced rather than repaired.

    • Austin Frakt,

      What model laptop do you have? It sounds like the LCD is probably failing, but depending on the model, it might be feasible to buy a replacement LCD from eBay and replace it yourself.

      • @Avi – Thanks. Great links! I’ve got an HP Pavilion Entertainment Notebook PC. I’ve cleaned it of malware with Malwarebytes. You’re right that I can probably get a cheap Office version through my employer. Likely I can solve my problem for a few hundred dollars. I’ll wait a bit longer to see if a free one turns up within my network of people I trust. This is the season where folks get new stuff after all. Plus, my problem is intermittent and the laptop serves as a second computer in the home so it isn’t critical.

    • If the cause is malware, the Avira Rescue System is likely to find and clean it:


    • I have lined up one free laptop. I might be interested in trying an open source OS on it. But I really do need to be able to run Office software to stay compatible with documents I create at work (no chance of changing OS or word processing software at work).

      Is it possible to have a non-MS OS and still use Office? The full list of software I use on the laptop is at this link: http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/how-to-buyobtain-a-used-laptop/ .

    • I think it will not be cost effective or easy to replace the LCD on that model. It would probably be best to replace the laptop.

      You’ll have problems with iTunes and Microsoft Office on Linux, which I assume is the OS you intended. You’ll need to use an emulator to make them work, or find an alternative application.

      The following pages explain how to use install iTunes and Office on Ubuntu Linux using a WINE emulator:


      The last time I used WINE emulator was around 6 years ago and it wasn’t very good. It might have improved since then though.

      OpenOffice is compatible with Microsoft Office documents and can run on either Windows or Linux.

      The following page provides some information about iTunes alternatives for Ubuntu Linux:


      I think you will not have difficulty finding Linux alternatives to the other applications you listed.