Alienware Data Vault bug and a new life

The blog is coming out of deep freeze briefly for me to post a combined update on two issues. Firstly the gaming related one as my laptop was really struggling to run anything well by the time of my last post.

I did get around to replacing the thermal paste in my 2014-era Alienware gaming laptop and it initially made a big difference to the performance. I hadn’t really noticed how bad it had gotten until a friend suggested I check the CPU stats and noticed it was throttling the CPU down to about 5% speed! Now it’s back to its happy and performant self, despite its venerable age this laptop has always proven to be a really solid performer for gaming. Towards the end it struggled to even run Gloomhaven, which is hardly bleeding-edge graphics.

However, the slowdown wasn’t the worst of its woes – it had developed a kind of odd “freezing” tendency. At random it would freeze for about 3-4 seconds while the twin fans inside did a ramp-up and ramp-down: but not at the same time, always the left for 1.5 seconds and then the right. It was the oddest thing – like a doppler effect demonstration in cooling form. While it was doing this the cursor, and pretty much everything else was stuck, video playback would pause and sound playback would often corrupt. A forum thread, lost to the chaos of the last two months, contained many replies from owners of this era Alienware – a suspect BIOS update may have introduced a bug (or planned obsolescence ‘feature’).

Cut to this last week, and I finally got around to searching for this again as the freezing was getting annoying when I’m working remotely for a UK firm. Turns out the Dell Data Vault services (all 3) need disabling in services.msc – the old fashioned service conrol panel. Since I’ve done that, not a freeze has happened (I may have just touched wood)!

Campus is near the Rideau Canal – I love having access to water

In other news, the big transistion I hinted at before has happened. I am now studying a Master’s in Sustainable Energy at a university in Ottawa, Canada. My husband and I have longed to move to Canada for years, but the pandemic was quite the roadblock. The tail end of the summer was beyond manic as we cleared our house in London for renting, and condensed our lives down into what we could carry onto a plane. Now settled in our own apartment in the city, I’m swamped with new disciplines to study and still a lot of ‘life admin’ to help with as we get settled here. Gaming isn’t really on the cards in any substantial way for the near future, but I’m optimistic that by Christmas I should have regained some kind of work-study-life balance again!

My walk to Uni takes me paste Dow’s lake through parkland – beautiful!
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