Computers 101 – How to Turn on Your Laptop

Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on.
– Camryn Manheim –

The VAIO computer ‘on’ button

The instructions for powering up my Sony VAIO laptop are pretty simple. They are found on a sheet of paper that is filed in a folder in the cabinet in our home office. They read:

Lift the LCD screen lid – Press the power button until the power indicator light turns on.

(Apparently I either never read those instructions, or if I did, I forgot them. And really, how much use is a piece of paper in the file cabinet anyhow?)

Unlike many computers, the power button for my laptop is a large button on the right side of the machine. Most laptops have a power button that is under the lid. If a button is under a lid, it can’t be pushed until the lid is opened. If it is on the outside, it says (to me anyhow) you can push me first if you like and then open the lid – which I have been doing for two years and it almost always caused the computer to start up. Almost always.

The first time my computer would not turn on, I ended up taking it to theΒ  repair shop. They charged me $50 and told me they could find nothing wrong.Β  Apparently they opened the lid before they pushed the ‘on’ button, but they didn’t bother to explain that to me because, well, they assumed I would already know that.

The second time my computer would not turn on, I decided I had better trouble shoot the problem myself and save the $50. In the course of poking and prodding the lifeless little beast, I must have lifted the lid ever so slightly before pressing the power button. The computer leaped into action. It dawned on me then that the lid might have to be lifted ever so slightly before the computer would start, and yes, the instructions in the file cabinet confirmed that.

There are several lessons in this little story. The first is, just because you have done something in a certain way several thousand times, don’t assume you will always get the same result the next time you try it. All it takes is the smallest alteration of one insignificant parameter (in this case the ever so slight difference between a lid that is closed, and a lid that is not quite closed) to change the result. The second lesson is, learn from the mistakes of others – you can never live long enough to make them all yourself. (Don’t thank me, I’m glad to be a lesson in what not to do.)

There are three kinds of men; the ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.
– Will Rogers –

If Sony had a sticker on the lid of the computer that said “open the lid before pushing the ‘On’ button” would I have thought, “Gee, that is a helpful little piece of advice” or would I have thought “Duh, doesn’t everyone know that”?

41 thoughts on “Computers 101 – How to Turn on Your Laptop

  1. Ha! LOL. It’s been an adventure teaching my husband about the laptop. When I first arrived here he had no clue what to do with it, now he truly loves to ‘surf’ the net and spends hours searching for cars!


    1. I’m sure my husband does that too because he sure seems to know all the latest news about his favourites!


  2. Ok, that makes me feel a little better about having to ask my daughter to show me how to open the lid to my new laptop because I had been trying to open it from the wrong side, thrown off by the hp logo that is designed to be right-side up when viewed from the back of the computer. Duh.


    1. I’m sure it is just coincidence, but today I read a post called “FDA Announces Approval of NO-DUH (imbecillin) Aerosol Spray”
      I’m pretty sure the author wasn’t implying I am the type of person who could benefit from a shot of this stuff, and I know you are much too smart to need it either. Let’s just say that some days the light is on, but no one is home.


      1. You’re very kind and I’m sure that, like me, you and your laptop are now good friends.


  3. Margie- this is hilarious! I love the line “The second lesson is, learn from the mistakes of others – you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.” You are so clever. The computer is still a mystery to me too and I think of it as harboring a little invisible man who is out to drive me away – far away. I never really know what will happen next in spite of memorizing the right things to do.


  4. I agree wholeheartedly. Everything should run the same. I have problems with cell phones. I cannot figure out why I have to press the Off button to turn it On when there is a perfectly good green On button. I’m in IT and support people with computers. Mostly we found the problem with 90% of the help calls were between the keyboard and the chair πŸ™‚

    Glad you figured it out. It is a pure shame that they charged you $50 for nothing. But I guess you can now save a bunch of others that cost. I must admit I had never heard of lifting the cover first. Probably because my laptop goes to sleep and to wake it up I need to press the button under the cover or wiggle the mouse til I see the logon button. Oh well, will remember when I get a new one to post the instructions. I am a bit dodgy in that I usually do read instructions. Although now I’m finding that they make you go to their website to get the entire instruction book. Guess they know most people don’t read ’em anyway.


    1. Yes, it certainly is becoming quite common that the answer to everything can be found on a website somewhere. That doesn’t help much, though, if the problem is you can’t get connected to the internet!


  5. Hi,
    I have never used a laptop so I will certainly remember this lesson if I decide to get one. I think with computers we are constantly learning, what I was used to for over 6 years has gone, and now it’s like a new learning curve. I’m happy to hear I am not the only one that has problems with computers. πŸ˜€


  6. Things like this infuriate me. then I have to calm down and tell myself technology is supposed to make my life easier. Take solace in the realization that if you did it, there are at least 100 others who’ve done it too. *&^%#&% technology.


    1. Without this technology, Barb, you and I would not be reading each others blogs, so I guess we’ll just have to suck it up and make the best of it!


  7. When I want to turn on my computer, I just xxxxx xxxxx to it while I xxxxxx the mouse.
    It likes it when I say… “xxxxx, there must be something wrong with my xxx xxxxx, because my xxxx keeps xxxxxx xxx.”


  8. one little post, and tons of good stuff:
    LOVED the Camryn Manheim quote.
    Some learning lessons cost a whole lot more than $50.
    Tiny adjust can equal different result. Yep. Good to remember.
    Loved the photo, and the self-diagnosis. File cabinets are useful. πŸ™‚

    I saw this somewhere or another,
    and feel it appropriate to this post:

    I’ve learned so much from my mistakes,
    that I’m thinking about making a few more.


  9. Loved the Manheim and Will Rogers quotes! I teach technology. when my students ask how do I know so much, I just say that I already made all of the mistakes they are about to make and am here to warn them and steer them in the right direction. Eventually they believe me πŸ™‚


    1. One thing I learned as a parent was that it didn’t matter how much I tried to teach my children, there were some mistakes they had to make themselves in order to really learn something!


  10. I guess I am fortunate that my laptop has its power button under the lid, and my iPad turns on when I open the magnetic cover I bought for it! Good lesson to learn, though, Margie…glad you discovered the fix to your problem without going back to the store!


    1. Yes, my blog has a new face right now. I’m teaching myself how to use CSS, and I expect the look of this blog will keep changing as I try out new things!


  11. You reminded me of when I got a laptop after I had been using the Ipad for sometime. I was so excited to use my new toy, oops, I mean “tool” (hee) that I unconsciously started tapping the screen. For a few seconds I was alerted with a fear that it came from the factory in a non-working condition. Shaking off my anxiety I realized my mistake immediately. Ha! The joke was on me. Thanks for sharing this info on computers. Just when we think we have it down. Well, you know something in the old hard drive between my ears cliches. πŸ˜‰


    1. I can just picture you tapping away at the screen! Conversely, I find myself reaching for a mouse when I first pick up an iPad.


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