Laptop Battery, Charger Truth, Repair

Can't make this up!  Here I am, in a hotel lobby in Washington DC, and I just plugged in my Dell Inspiron 14 laptop.  I was working on a post about the draft Basel Secretariat "Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment" (needs polishing, won't publish now).  I got the infamous, dreaded message:
“The AC power adapter type cannot be determined. Your system will operate slower and the battery will not charge. Please connect a Dell 90W AC adapter or higher for best system operation”
(If you arrived at this blog looking for a solution, rather than an essay on "e-waste" policy, go to this excellent UK "Laptop Battery Blog").  
What makes this Dell laptop power adapter problem "infamous?"  This is the same original Dell adapter that came with the laptop.  It lights up, the board detects it.  But from normal wear and use, evidently the laptop can become "estranged" from its working power supply, and no longer allow its current to recharge the battery.

Dell has been accused of creating a system to prevent 3rd party AC adapters from working on its laptops (lots of people lose their Dell adapter and buy a generic version at Radio Shack, and are unhappy to get this message).  Before I go further, let me state that I've loved this laptop, it's one of my favorite of the 4 or 5 I've owned.  I bought it because it was the cheapest one to offer 7 hour battery life.  I don't know if it ever lasted quite 7 hours, but the battery life on this laptop has been excellent.  Maybe what Dell has done with the AC adapter has something to do with the exceptional battery life, so I won't go on a diatribe.

What points can we make?  What I'd like to do is sell the laptop to a nation which needs the laptop, and which has the technical skill and volition to repair the laptop adapter.  But that's just me.  What about the rest of the world?
  1. What does an American or European do?  REPLACE the charger with another Dell Factory 65W AC Adapter.
  2. What does a Geek do?  Actually, there are still Euro-American-gringo-Geeks (EAGCs) who know how to do this, and here is a play by play photographic instruction how to (excerpt below, the full instructions are again at Laptop Battery Blog, this solution starts about 1 page down after a very nice replay from Dell Customer Service representative nicely suggest replacing the adapter).
Now read the way to fix/repair this item below.  Focus on the  second photo.   This is a repair job which would employ a Geek in Egypt, provide an affordable laptop to a medical school student, and maybe save someone's life.
The (Dallas semiconducter) chip is near the output wires, and fortunately its a pretty simple circuit, just three components: The 6 pin chip of which only pins 1 and 2 are used, a protection diode across them, and a tiny 100 Ohm resister.
Very carefully (you only have one chip) unsolder those three bits (actually its better to replace the resister with a standard 1/4W), making note of the connections. Solder fine wires to the chip pins (I used one strand of a cable). Then add the other two bits to the wires laptop battery. Wrap in a little PVC tape with just the two connections showing.
Now, which solution creates a job, a sustainable reuse, and helps the developing nation by empowering their best and brightest, in a mirror image solution to "resource curse"?
Not only is answer #2 environmentally preferable,  it kicks the environmental ASS of the solution to shred the disfunctional AC adapter and mine, refine, pollute, and manufacture a brand new AC adapter which will again need to be replaced in 18 months.
So... whose interest is it in to "ban the export" of the laptop which needs this repair?  I could have this repair done in the USA for $200 - more than half the price of the laptop.  That's if I could find an engineer willing to do it.  If I did find one here in DC, I bet double or nothing the geek is an immigrant.
It is now illegal to do what I did with my broken laptop in Cairo Egypt in 2008.  I brought two laptops on my visit to Hamdy at Medi-Com.  While sitting with him in his shop, I gave him two non-working Dell laptops.  As we discussed the latest figures on my then-ongoing exports of computers, he gave the two laptops to his Tech, Mohamed Khorshed.   About 45 minutes later, Senor Khorshed brought back both laptops, which my own techs had not been able to fix, and gave them to us - Working!   I gave Hamdy one of the laptops as a gift, and used the other for the rest of my trip.

Now, compare the instructions to repair the dreaded Dell laptop AC Power Adapter Estrangement with the instructions I wrote about two years ago - how to remove an HP Blackbird power supply, as written by HP. It's a step by step process, with photos, designed to do nothing more than RUIN the part.  This is a war of bloggers (like Laptop Battery Blog) vs. an Electronics Industrial Obsolescence Complex.

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