Friday, February 4, 2011

Answer: How do I change the little blue light on my ThinkPad?

Regular SearchResearch reader Hans gave a superb answer to the Search Challenge about the ThinkPad light.   Nice job! 

My solution was very similar to his.  Let me walk you through my thought process... 

1. figure out the terminology -- I knew that in order to find exactly the right procedure, I'd have to know what "the little blue light" was called.  Google synonyms are good, but they're not good enough to synonymize "blue light" with whatever the official ThinkPad term was. My query:
     [ ThinkPad keyboard light ]

quickly found the term "ThinkLight" on the Lenovo ThinkVantage design page.  

2. find a root cause  -- The query: 
     [ Thinklight broken ]

 leads to a number of forums about ThinkPad repairs, all of which make the point that the ThinkLight is actually part of a subassembly, the "LCD Cable." 

3. find a repair manual for the T400 -- With the query:
     [ ThinkPad Thinklight Lenovo manual ]

I found the T400 and R400 "Repair Maintenance" manual, which was fine, except it didn't show me how to repair the light! I clearly needed something even more technical!  As it turns out, there are 4 (FOUR!) different hits that look like repair manuals.  So, I just marched down the list to the next one...  
The "Service and Troubleshooting Guide" didn't have the answer either.  On to number 3... which is the one I wanted all along, the "T400 and R400 Hardware Maintenance" manual.  (Somewhat distressingly, I note in passing that this PDF file is served from a Russian website called "Book Lab," I have no idea who they are or why they'd be serving up Lenovo manuals, but there you are.  They solved my problem.) 

A quick Control-F search in this PDF file and I found the installation procedure on page 125 (with a nice diagram illustrating how it's done).  

If my ThinkLight were really broken, I could just order the replacement cable and install it following the manual guidelines.  (It's not that hard, truly.)  

Search Moral:  Multi-step problems like this often require finding the correct term in order to be able to search for the right kind of thing.  In this case, we needed a "hardware maintenance manual" (rather than the "repair" manual, which turns out to be a general guide to laptop maintenance).  Note that this terminology is peculiar to Lenovo; other companies will probably call their maintenance manuals something slightly different.  

Search on! 

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