Today was an unusually kinda crummy day. It was pretty warm out, so I decided working outside would be in order. If you aren’t aware of how I work, I don’t use a laptop or anything fancy anymore to write away from my PC; I use an ancient AlphaSmart Neo 2 I snatched on eBay in 2019 for about $30, before the price got out of control for them in 2020 for… well, reasons, you know? In part, it was the Freewrite devices getting popular and them having a wild $500+ price tag for what’s essentially a word processor but with modern tech in it.

This little $30 thing has yet to fail me until today when it had a meltdown. It’s also not the device’s fault, somehow. There’s a backup battery inside of the Neo 2, something I did not know about. It’s a CR2032, for those that know electronics and know that’s a pretty bog standard watch and motherboard battery. Believe it or not, I still have two of ‘em in the package in my junk drawer.


The Neo 2 was also a device they didn’t want you to repair yourself, so it uses three different screws. The message when I booted it up asked if I changed the backup battery, and if you didn’t, send it back to Renaissance Learning for repair. A company that doesn’t deal with AlphaSmart devices anymore. Granted, even if it did, I wouldn’t send this back. I’m pretty handy with electronics and computers, so I busted out my bit driver and sure enough, I had all three bits.

If you feel like this is going far too well, you’re getting the vibes here. I cracked it open, replaced the old backup battery and was incredibly careful to not displace the regular batteries. You see, if you don’t pop them out, you can avoid losing your data as long as either the backup or primary batteries are still in play.

Everything went off without a hitch. Then I came to the last screw. Of course, it was difficult and didn’t want to go in. I ever so carefully tilted the device to get a better angle on the screw and sure enough, those three AA batteries spilled out because this device was the kind that didn’t have battery guides in place, just a slot for three batteries to stack onto each other with only the screwed-on battery cover to keep them from moving around.


I booted it up and sure enough, data corruption. Just after I’d gotten back into my work-in-progress and had some good stuff down. A whole day’s work was completely gone.

Anyway, I went ahead and factory reset the Neo 2 and it’s working like it should, but damn if I’m not upset about losing that stuff today. After this, I made the call to sit down, try to relax and play Advance Wars: Dual Strike on my newly hacked 3DS.

… it wouldn’t boot. See how this is going? Yeah.

Don’t worry, I got it to work, but oof, not my day.