Self-servicing an MPC system

When a customer stranded by MPC Corporation went looking for a service manual, he contacted Gripe Line -- and found exactly what he needed

Back in February, DJ wrote to the Gripe Line in reference to MPC, asking, "A class-action lawsuit against a company already in bankruptcy is sort of beating a dead horse, don't you think?" His computer had issues he could not get repaired before MPC went under, but he simply lived with them and milked as much work out of the machine as possible.

Along the way, he worked on an HP tablet, helped in part by doing a a Google search for "Service Manual Pavillion t1000" and finding a complete service manual for the computer. He used it to get his hands dirty working on this machine: "I found that even though I had to tear the machine completely down and build it back up again, the process was surprisingly simple."

[ Review the MPC saga in earlier Gripe Line posts: "Grassroots forum for orphaned MPC customers," "One man picks up where MPC left off," and "When vendors go bust" | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

That got him thinking about his injured MPC computer. "Since it was so easy with the help of a service manual to repair that HP," he says, "I thought I would try the same logic on my Gateway M-285e machine." This time, though, finding the technical manual wasn't so simple. MPC is no longer around, so the company no longer hosts the Web site that once held such documents.

"I found a discussion board at a Gateway site," says DJ. "There was a link to the document but there was no longer access to it." Gateway sold its professional-series machines to MPC more than a year before that company went out of business and will not support MPC's orphaned customers.

"Since this document seems to live on Gateway's servers, though," reasoned DJ, "I contacted Gateway's tech support. I made it very clear I didn't expect any tech support; I merely wanted that document. But of course, Gateway has their tech support people trained to spot MPC-acquired machines and turn those people away. I would think a request for this document (no matter if MPC is gone or not) would be fulfilled, though. Even if it was a 'please contact our parts department" and pay for it.'"

DJ asked if the Gripe Line would ask Gateway for the manual he needs. Instead, I contacted Steve at the support site I covered here when it was just starting out. (I also covered sources for parts for MPC machines.)

Steve responded right away. "I do have the file DJ is looking for," he says. "I am contacting him directly to let him know I have it available for a free download."

And Steve's last-time-we-checked-fledgling site? "All is great there," says Steve. "Thanks to help from many people around the globe -- including the Gripe Line for letting people know about the site. We have had over 40,000 visits from people around the globe. We have finished uploading over 115GB and hand-coding over 33,000 Web pages. It it was no easy task. But the site is now full of free downloads and information for orphaned MPC users worldwide. We offer support for all MPC notebooks, desktops, and servers, as well as technical info and downloads for peripherals. And we continue to give tech support by email and on our forum."

The site is also free. "We covered the costs and labor of starting and running the Web site ourselves," says Steve. "And have, so far, been able to keep the site up and running as a free download site. There are no pop-ups, no redirects, and no memberships. Our 'buy us a cup of coffee' campaign doesn't bring much in, but it is helping us cover some of the costs of running the site."

Good luck rebuilding that MPC computer, DJ. Let us know how it turns out.

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