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Excessively loud fan, constant overheating during idle and light tasks (now on my second, third, fourth Surface Pro 3 i7)

Jarem started on

Yea, there's definitely a problem. I'm on my second third fourth Surface Pro 3 after replacing what I suspected to be a defective unit and this one is exhibiting the same issues as the one returned. Not very happy at the moment as you can guess. I'm assuming that, with a working unit, you're not supposed to even hear the fan under normal usage

.

Right out of the box, before & after all updates and firmware are installed: the back of the unit becomes uncomfortably hot and its fan spins very loudly on idle and while performing minor tasks such as web browsing (even sites without flash or heavy ad use).

I was surprised to hear it the first time, as it sounds like white noise coming from the right speaker. Even under its idle state, my Surface Pro 3 is currently the loudest thing in my office (and that's including my PC running 3 video cards SLI). At its peak (IE: high octane tasks like browsing slashdot.com and reading OneNote entries), the fan noise is ear-piercing and the heat produced is immensely hot. I mean, it's not something you'd want to hold, immense.


Here are some other notes:

  • Surface Pro 3 i7 512MB
  • My Order/replacement sources:
    • SP3 #3: Replacement from the Aventura Mall Microsoft Store on 8/4 - Lot No/Date: 1429
    • SP3 #4: Advance replacement directly from Surface support on 8/7 - Lot No/Date: 1430 (See 8/16 update below)
  • Occurrence examples:
    • Instantly after resuming from stand-by via pen double-tap.
    • Browsing "light-weight" sites like answers.microsoft.com
    • Watching a Youtube video.
    • Shutting down & rebooting the machine.
  • The highest I've seen the CPU was around 34%, mainly due to One Drive Sync process.
  • Screen brightness set to about 30%
  • My office room temperature is about 73º F
  • Doesn't matter if keyboard is attached or not. No case used.
  • Doesn't matter if plugged in (surge protector or not).
  • CPU and graphic temperatures after 5 minutes
  • Fan whilst idle (video)

After dropping over $2k on a product, this isn't what I expect to see after 3 minutes of light web browsing:

8/20 - Temp warnings continue...


Got the temperature warning for the first time with my fourth unit. This time while applying the 8/19/2014 firmware update. A reboot during a firmware flash doesn't seem like a safe thing for a device to do. :(

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8/16 - Yeah...

Just powered up Sudoku. Played it for a bit and left it running

  • After about 2 mins, the fan is at a volume of what I'd describe low and it's warm but not uncomfortably so.
  • After about 5 mins, the fan is definitely louder and while it's considerably less noisier than my first unit (which to me, was like a very high-pitch whistle), it's hot to the point where I wouldn't want to hold on to it for very long.

This unit has not given me the temperature warning as yet, but I have to admit that it's still quite discouraging to hear the fan kick in with game as light as Sudoku. Especially since my previous Surface Pro 2 and Yoga laptop, which this SP3 should be replacing, runs much cooler and quieter. 


I really want this thing to work like a tablet when doing tablet tasks, and if the fan kicks in once and awhile for doing heavy laptop tasks like 
3D gaming or video encoding then I wouldn't mind much. But I've gone through four Surface Pro 3's and it leaves me to wonder why they get as hot as they do when doing something unsubstantial like web surfing while an iPad can run much heavier duty 3D gaming and not feel like you're baking chocolate chip lava cookies on metal sheet you're holding with your bare hands.

I'm waiting on MS's public response to these issues, but honestly I can't help but feel a bit duped. Don't get me wrong, I'm in love with the aesthetics, speed and weight of the SP3, but  what happened to the device Panos Panay was talking about (video)

? What happened to not even noticing there's a fan? Why do people have to resort to using alternative cooling methods to get laptop performance out of a device marketed to replace them (video)
?

I hope something can be done. And I hope that that something isn't waiting for the Surface Pro 4.

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8/9 - Fourth one's the charm? Cautiously optimistic...

So I received my advance replacement directly from Surface support. While the fan did come on at a somewhat reasonable volume, I was able to do a full update (37 of them initially) including firmware, install Visual Studio 2013, and Office 2013 without the unit overheating and displaying the temp warning. One thing I noticed is that, while the unit was plugged in, the fan stayed on throughout the entire update/firmware process. The fan hasn't gotten as loud as my last few units.

Unfortunately, the advance shipment didn't come in the original packaging so I don't know its batch/lot number.   Lot number is 1430 (located on the outside of the return box) But I'm going to do some further testing between the two that I have to see if there are any obvious differences before sending the 3rd one back.

I was also given word that the Surface team is currently investigating the issue, so keep your fingers crossed.



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8/6 - So far, it seems we have the following scenarios:

  • There is a manufacturing issue with these particular batches due to a bad CPU yield, heat-sink, or fan. (need more info to validate)
  • There could be a software/firmware issue causing the temps to rise and thus the fans to run blast even during idle/light processes. Although, I'm less certain this is the case, the low CPU usage and high temps seem to suggest otherwise.
  • This could be tied to disk activity. I don't think it's the SSD hardware, given its placement being in the lower left quadrant of the device.  However, this would also explain the low CPU usage and high temps given in the many cases where software is being installing, there is background indexing, or updates are being applied.
  • If some people in the same batch aren't having issues, then maybe:
    • They haven't discovered the issue because the temperature hasn't risen to the point of a nuclear reactor and/or there device hasn't given them the overheat warning.
    • Or there is a problem but they're comfortable with the heat/noise generated and the device hasn't given them an overheat warning.
    • Or they simply have a perfectly running device that never goes above 75-85C and is whisper quiet at all times during normal usage.
  • If  people in different batches are having issues, then maybe:
    • The issue isn't tied to the batch/lot at all and the problem may widespread or be due to a general assembly problem (poorly set heat-sink for ex.)
    • All Surfaces manufactured so far could potentially run hot as hot as 90C (highly doubted)

But there's definitely an issue. You're only supposed to get that overheat warning (thermometer symbol) in cases due to external factors like:

  • You've left the device on inside of your backpack with screen at full brightness for an extended period
  • You attempt to use the device after it's been heated from direct sunlight, perhaps from being in your car, etc.
  • The unlikely case that you've modified the way your device performs (overclocking, fan, etc)

In any case, I think we still need a larger sample size to discover & validate the issue and determine how widespread it is. I only expect MS to recognize there is a problem if it proves to be more common than not.

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 8/4 Aventura In-Store Replacement
Just got yet another replacement from the Aventura store. They only had stock from the 1429 batch, but I decided to swap it out anyway. Same issues: Gets piping hot, loud fan w/minor activity & idle. Intel stress test peaks out at 92°C. Temp icon/shutdown while applying windows updates. Going to hold off awhile before replacing. :'(

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If you're lurking, taking the time to help us out by posting your model, batch #, and any notes or comments you have would be quite helpful, whether or not your device is affected.

If you're getting a replacement, save the hassle and point them to this thread to help expedite your exchange.

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Users with similar issues:  If you have similar issues, reply with your model & lot number (located just above your serial number on the box; starts with 14)

Date - User Model Has Issue? - Lot # Notes
8/2 - Jarem  i7 512GB Yes - 1429
8/2 - Jarem i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1428
8/4 - Jarem i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1429 Peak CPU temp: 92°C
8/4 - SurfacePro3User i7-256GB Yes - 1428
8/4 - MV010 i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "When running only chrome and skype, with a 7% CPU usage and 34% RAM usage, it emits very high fan noise thus disturbing my skype call. "
8/4 - AnthonyKageals  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "It then wanted to install some updates and while installing the updates it started to get VERY hot.  It eventually shut down with the temperature sign being displayed as you pictured above."
8/4 - Nick Hymes ??? No - ??? "I experienced some heat and a lot of fan usage on the first day of use after installing programs and files (possibly caused by indexing), however I am not observing heat or fan operation now."
8/4 - RobertHacker777 i7-256GB No - 1429 "I hear the fan plenty but so far no overheat symbol and shutdown"
8/4 - khairy72 i7-256GB Yes - 1428 "I was casually browsing on the surface about 10 minutes ago and the fan went on full blast and the surface was HOT."
8/4 - rinconmike i7-256GB No - 1429 "I hear the fan plenty but so far no overheat symbol and shutdown."
8/6 - Scott Hanselman  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "Just got a temp and shutdown. Averaging between 65-80C."
8/6 - khairy72 ??? Yes - ??? "I  have gone through 2 surface pro i7 models so far"
8/6 - RobertHacker777 i7-512GB No - ??? "I bought the i7 512GB version for my wife. No issues whatsoever! "
8/6 - Sahas Katta i7-512GB Yes - 1428 "Before the updates succeeded, my fans blazed at full speeds (louder than my desktop) and everything froze."
8/6 - JonathanSharkey i7-256GB No - 1428 "I've had no issues whatsoever"
8/6 - Klankins i5-256GB No - 1423 "The back gets hot but it seems like it is working like it should."
8/6 - RobertHacker777  i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1430

"...(my replacement batch) seems to be working just fine!!!!! YES!!!! HAPPY NOW!!!!"

Update 8/7:  "has the SAME ISSUE! I have already processed a refund and purchased an i5, 256"

8/6 - Your_Mom i5-256GB Yes - 1423 "got so hot with light browsing I couldn't hold it"
8/6 - Your_Mom i5-256GB (replacement) Yes - 1426 "it gets excessively hot as well"
8/6 - LaRae White i7-256GB Maybe - 1428 "I don't want to say definitively that I'm having issues, but it does get quite hot and loud at seemingly simple tasks"
8/6 - BellevueSteve  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "two shutdowns with temp icon, preceded by loud and sustained fan noise during initial Windows Update OOB installs, then another sustained fan period (no shutdown but lower right back got hot) during install of Visual Studio update 3."
8/6 - adrianbli  i5-128GB No - ??? "haven't noticed any issues. it gets warm while charging, but really not very hot at all"
8/7 - Antares Light i5-128GB Yes - 1424 "Having the same heating issue with some simple game apps such as MS mahjong and MS treasure hunt (always); web browsing and one note (some times)"
8/7 - GlennDoren  i7-256GB Yes - 1428 "whenever I have my real-time stock trading website up (in explorer or chrome--doesn't matter), the fan kicks in."
8/7 - HL Brooklyn  i7-256GB No - 1428 "so far everything appears to be normal"
8/7 - noteventhrice   i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "Getting the same issues, can't say how many times I've seen that thermometer symbol after windows crashing, but it's been terrible"
8/8 - frogcjn i7-512GB Yes - 1430 "when I was installing windows updates, it cannot turn on!!! After a while, I can turn it on. Then I found it is too noise with its fan running in a slow speed."
8/8 - Kasco Jake i7-512GB Yes - 1429 "...if i were holding the tablet, it would probably burn my hand if I didn't move it to another side with the amount of heat"
8/8 - Piero00  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "It hasn't overheated yet but the fan runs extremely loud and the back gets very hot."
8/9 - J. Branco  i7-512GB Yes - 1429 "While updates were being installed this morning during restart it showed thermometer, then shutdown -  two times."
8/9 - frogcjn i7-512GB (replacement) No - 1427

"1. The new one does not have the sharp fan noise. (At least until now.)

2. When the sales boy installed windows update on the new one, no high temperature errors."

8/9 - Wes Preston  i7-256GB Yes - 1430 "Fan volume cranked up almost immediately on the i7/256 I pulled out of the box today. Lot 1430. Loud fan and very warm back, but not to the point of the temp alert or shutdown yet"
8/9 - Jarem  i7-512GB (replacement) No - 1430 "My replacement from Surface support has yet to exhibit the issue. Read 8/9 update above."
8/10 - Dan Schwartz  i7-256GB Maybe - 1428 "Had high heat/fan issues the first few days but since the recent updates I haven't had those problems."
8/10 - RKB-Washington D.C. i7-256GB Yes - 1428 "My new ( just bought it today and spent the day setting it up) cycles from high noise to low noise irrespective of the load I am putting on the CPU. " 
8/10 - f4denz  i7-256GB (replacement) No - 1429 "at no time did it get even close to the heat that I experienced daily with my original Pro"
8/10 - nitehawk_967 i5 -128GB Yes - 1423 "...my 'host task for windows process' revs up to 25-30% cpu. and the right hand corner get hot to the touch and fans whir like crazy"
8/12 - kslogan i7-256GB No - 1427 "Has not overheated, but fan frequently runs louder than expected even when experiencing light load.  None of the Surface Pro 3 i5 or Surf Pro 2 i5 machines have comparable fan noise."
8/12 - DilrajSaini  i7-512GB Yes -1429 "Get loud and hot while running AV scan. Skype hangs. Will try returning it."
8/12 - Luis Mitchel  i5-128GB No - ??? "I tried to restore it but it overheated and stop working again, so I put it near the air conditioner and it restored successfully. I installed the updates manually but I didn't install the update from 07/08/2014 (July) and the new 08/12/2014 (August). Now my SP3 is working as expected and it doesn't overheat."
8/15 - StephenW7 i7-512GB Yes - 1428 "After trying to use the unit last night, I decided I'm going to return the unit. It's just way too hot to hold, and way to noisy."
8/16 - The Cool Dude i7-512GB No - 1429 "It's a little warm but that's about it. Streaming movies/TV shows from my NAS work fine without issue. No heat. No noise."
8/16 - surfacepro3runninghot i7-256GB Yes - 1431 "Fan is quite but it runs hot. Seems design issue . Mine is going back."
8/16 - LO_CP i7-256GB Yes - 1429 " doing the normal windows updates the fan was going crazy and it got really hot in the upper right where the fan is"
8/19 - jl33t i7-256GB Yes - 1429 The fan comes on and it's seriously the most menacing thing I've ever heard to come out of an electronic device. I can no longer use this in class to take notes since it's so disruptive.
8/19 - Chipgoon i7-256GB Yes - 1429 Machine was quite hot after running all of windows updates, and firmware update would not install until machine cooled down.  But haven't had any thermal shutdowns yet, CPU throttling manages the heat but reduces performance significantly.
8/19 - Imaohw i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1432 As soon as the SP3 starts to get warm ( which is all the time using video conferencing software) the fan comes on the microphones pick up the fan noise.  This makes it very difficult for the other party on the call to hear me.
8/20 - Universeman i7-512GB Yes - 1429 Didn't really have these issues until I installed the August firmwares/patches. Last night was my first overheat and temp warning shutdown, while I was re-applying patches after doing a system reset in an attempt to troubleshoot a battery drain.
8/20 - Brad Groux  i7-512GB x 3 Yes - 1459 I have four 512GB Core i7 SP3 from lot 1459. Three of the four have the issue. All four were purchased on launch day (08/01/2014) from the Houston Galleria store.
8/20 - Brad Groux  i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1522 I have one 512GB Core i7 SP3 from lot 1522, and it has the issue. It was a unit swap at the Houston Galleria store yesterday, 08/19/2014.
8/20 - Bloodlive  i7-256GB (replacement) Yes1429 "Loud Fan noise, Overheating and battery lasting 3-4 hours."..."I called Microsoft support, I referred them to this thread and they told me we are a minority."
8/20 - JohnBarboni  i7-256GB Yes - ??? "If I download something (anything) the fan kicks into overdrive and the back of the device gets hot to the touch. If I play a 3D game it shuts down and while it's off I get the thermometer until it cools down enough to restart..."
8/20 - KevinAdamsTMG i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "Me too, excessive heat, (too hot to touch, and too hot to leave on lap) and the noise of the fan is unbelievable..."
8/21 - SteveH_250  i7-512GB Yes - 1430

"same issue for me: with light internet browsing (e.g. youtube videos) unit gets smokin' hot just behind the windows logo, and the fan comes on full blast"

8/21 - 206realestate i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "I have similar issues Surface Pro 3"
8/22 - KenKen Yen i5-128GB Yes - 1430 "Sh*t burns really bad whenever I play games and it goes completely volcanic when I play Project Spark."
8/22 - YoshiJL  i5-256GB Yes - 1429 "has heat issues"..."just got it out of box. Might be charging issue"
8/22 - sj_canada i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "After installing all updates on 2014-08-21, it currently runs very hot in spite of loudly operating fan even when working on simple tasks (Internet Explorer, OneNote, file transfers).  Battery draining faster than expected."
8/22 - Pamsaja  i7-256GB (replacement) Yes - 1431 "First I7 256 1428 overheating and fan noise, I returned it and bought the i7 256 1431 online ( replacement) the overheating problem is worse, i am thinking in return it and forget about the surface and Microsoft"
8/22 - STep_001 i7-512GB Yes - 1429 "My system fan loudly and furiously spins up it then overheats and I get the same thermometer icon right before it shuts down."
8/22 - DarrellGarrison  i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1433 "As soon as I had it up and running, the back got extremely hot, and the fan was going nuts.  What was I doing?  Running a YouTube video as a test.  Same issues as my current unit.  I already called support and am shipping the replacement back."

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  • Edit 8/3: Added purchase sources
  • Edit 8/3: Added date/lot number for initial order
  • Edit 8/4: Added user lot number table
  • Edit 8/4: Added notes to table / formatting. Updated w/third SP3
  • Edit 8/6: Added yes/no issues to table, more entries
  • Edit 8/7: more entries, removed model numbers.
  • Edit 8/8: more entries
  • Edit 8/9: Added update on 4th Sp3
  • Edit 8/10: more entries 
  • Edit 8/12: more entries
  • Edit 8/14: more entries
  • Edit 8/16: Update on fourth unit added. more entries
  • Eidt 8/19: more entries
  • Edit 8/20: Update on fourth unit :(, more entries
  • Edit 8/22: more entries (not looking too good)
  • Edit 12/12: ReAdded table showing users with similar heating/noise issues that was removed.

@unt1tled
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Nick Hymes replied on
Hi so overall my SP3 is very good so far. However, when trying to play games. My SP3 gets really hot right behind the windows logo on the backside and the fan gets really loud... Don't know if this is normal or not but it was concerning to me. Also just installed latest update and during the wait my fan got really really loud for about 10 seconds then everything turned off and restarted. Again just making sure if this is normal. Has anyone else been experiencing things like this. As far as Netflix and stuff it stays cool. But when I run WSOP on here it gets super loud and hot.
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John1F replied on

Hello Nick Hymes

Thanks for reaching out to u.  Sorry to hear you are having concerns about heat with your Surface Pro 3, let's see what we can find out. 

Are you using any sort of case or cover with Surface?  If anything blocks the vent, heat can more easily build up.  If Surface is lying flat on a surface, (versus with the kickstand deployed) this can also cause heat to build up.  Remember that the chassis is part of the cooling system.

You say that Surface gets really hot when playing games.  Has your device ever shut down due to heat?  Can you compare this with Surface plugged in and unplugged?  Is this consistent with particular games or functions? 

Please manually ensure you have all available updates installed.

Desktop> Swipe for Charms> Settings> Control panel> Windows update> Check for updates> install

Be sure to restart between layers of updates, and restart twice after the last update installs.

To confirm, it is normal for Surface to have restarted due to an update, you will usually see a notification that this is happening.  The fan spinning up during this is also fairly common.

Let us know what is happening.

Best regards

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Nick Hymes replied on

Ok yes the surface gets super hot while playing world series of poker so I deleted the game. No it has never shut down due to heating. Also, I understand its suppose to say its restarting however it had already restarted and this was the rebooting stage as it said "please wait while we install update" and had Surface written just like a normal reboot. That's when it restarted and the fan got really loud and the system was hot again. I don't know how hot these things can get and maybe its a safe level of heat but it was concerning how it was just one spot that was hot while the rest of the device was cool. I do have the latest update too. And yes, I always use the kickstand. So that's not the issue. Again just not sure if I should be worried or not. Besides the gaming, this device is super quiet and runs brilliantly. No problem with Netflix, browsing, or anything else. Just once I start playing that one game the fan starts to kick out at a noticeable frequency.
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richardgabor replied on

I also have overheating issues. It happens infrequently and I first begin to notice it because I heard a noise, and then realized it was the fan. This occurred only while internet browsing, I do not play games on it. I just installed the upgrades, lets see what happens.

Other than that issue, so far I'm loving my SP3

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John1F replied on

Hello richardgabor

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  Have you looked over the information I had for Nick Hymes?  I'm looking for any common ground here that could help explain the overheating.

Let us know what is happening.

Best regards

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A. Salazar replied on

My SP3 also gets hot while doing anything other than browsing the internet, word processing type stuff. Seems anytime that I do anything that requires more processing power than simple tasks or I am multitasking 2-3 browsers, e-mail, word, and SMSS 2012 it will be hot. And doing all those things is exactly why I got this. Heat level when playing casual games or compiling a video is eggs cooking hot.

I can't touch it with my hands w/o burning the **** out of myself. Done it a few times already I have to let it sit for a couple minutes and it cools down fairly quick.(upper right corner) while rest of machine is warm or cool. Has shut down several times on me I am assuming for heat reasons. I use it as a laptop mostly so I don't have to touch it, but when I get up and go I get my fingers bit by the heat. It is hot enough to cause pain.

I don't use any case just surface keyboard its hotter quicker when being charged. Stand is propped up like laptop mode.

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John1F replied on

Hello A. Salazar

Can you confirm that you have all available updates installed?  When did this start happening for you?  Is this consistent when using wifi, Bluetooth, specific apps, charging ect?

Try restarting Surface and see if this helps.  There may be background tasks that are adding to the heat build up.

Best regards

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richardgabor replied on

Hello richardgabor

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  Have you looked over the information I had for Nick Hymes?  I'm looking for any common ground here that could help explain the overheating.

Let us know what is happening.

Best regards

I have all updates. i use no cover other than the keypad.

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Nick Hymes replied on

Hello richardgabor

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  Have you looked over the information I had for Nick Hymes?  I'm looking for any common ground here that could help explain the overheating.

Let us know what is happening.

Best regards

I have all updates. i use no cover other than the keypad.

UPDATE!!!!

After awhile now. I've installed all updates and Drivers and noticed that the surface is performing better with heat. Im now able to play WSOP on my surface with the fan kicking on at a safe level in my opinion. Really the only time my fan ever kicks on is when i have some free time to play some games on my surface and thats it! Web browsing, netflix, twitter, facebook, office, all that has no issue. So with that said, for now I am happy with heat performance in my surface. I love this thing to death and literally use it everyday. Even to control my xbox one! Will keep updating this if anymore problems occur.

Thanks! 

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Jimcooks replied on
Split from this thread.

We just got the SP3 last week and this morning my wife is watching facebook and the thing heats up makes a wicked noise, sends out a waft of magic smoke smell and shuts down. Same thing as others extreme heat on the upper right side.

I will check if all of the updates are installed but i am pretty sure it is current.

anybody else have the updates fix this issue?

let me know-

my wife starts law school in a few weeks and we have to punt this thing, now would sure be better than later.

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