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Abused, But Working Hardware Stories? 1352

Posted by simoniker
from the hurt-me-good dept.
RPI Geek writes "Everyone's heard the stories about people who, knowingly or unknowingly, abuse their computers. Personally, I've had a faulty power supply literally burn a hole through the motherboard, with the only ill effects being a dead PCI slot and USB ports. I'm curious as to what kind of abuse fellow /.ers have done or seen done to electronics while the hardware still worked afterwards. Soldered a broken keyboard PCB back together so that it worked fine? Taken sticks of RAM out of a running computer to see when it would notice? Overclocked a 386... to 386MHz? I'm interested in hearing any stories about abused-but-working hardware."
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Abused, But Working Hardware Stories?

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  • by homeobocks (744469) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:32AM (#9828823)
    My keyboard has taken years of one-hand typing and bad aim.
  • by MojoReisen (218327) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:33AM (#9828829) Journal

    But the rest of the box seems to be OK.
  • by eaglebtc (303754) * on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:33AM (#9828832)
    So far I've done the following while my PC was running:

    - Removed RAM. Windows died. Reboot. Problem solved.
    - Inserted PCI cards. Windows died. Reboot. Problem solved.
    - Removed PCI cards. Windows survived.
    - Hot-swapped hard drives. Windows survived.
    - Hot-swapped CD/DVD drives. Windows survived.

    My power supply and mobo must be very fault-tolerant, I suppose, because other systems have not taken a liking to this behavior. I have an Enermax 350W and an Asus P4C800-E. Currently I own two SATA hard drives. According to the standards group, SATA is "hot-swappable." Given my previous activities, I can verify their claims.

    Obviously, the system did not enjoy having its RAM removed. And while it did not mind the removal of a PCI card, it froze up solid when I inserted a new one. A quick reboot took care of that.

    I've also dropped my iPod about 5-6 times, and it still keeps on ticking!
    • by coirec (781713) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:39AM (#9828862)
      I've also dropped my iPod about 5-6 times, and it still keeps on ticking!
      Uh-oh. Sounds like the HD is about to go...
    • I'd be more worried about electrocution than breaking my PC in some of these instances.
    • Actually PCI is semi-hot swappable. An old box I used to use had a loose PCI slot which the ethernet card was connected to. If you moved the computer, the cable would tug on the card and disconnect a few of the pins whose connections were broken. If you slid it back and pushed on the card, the ethernet card would show back up in Windows and the internet automagically worked again. ATA is also kind of hot swappable; it's not reccommended but it works in a pinch.

      The worst I've ever seen a computer was a publ
    • I've also dropped my iPod about 5-6 times, and it still keeps on ticking!
      Ticking... did you get the zip drive model?
    • Its the US... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @06:30AM (#9829782) Homepage
      The only thing to try is to shoot it.

      I worked in the US with a large manufacturing client. They had a large group of AS/400s running their ERPs. One night the security guard was drunk on duty and decided, we do not know why, to take out his anger on an AS/400. It was shot twice, front to back. This took out one processor board and an external connection that provided one of two connections to the storage.

      In the morning two things happened

      1) Security Guard was arrested

      2) IBM turned up to put in a new processor board and external connection.

      Total downtime : ZERO.

      A fault tolerant power supply is nothing, AS/400s really are bullet proof.
      • Re:Its the US... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jackb_guppy (204733) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @09:09AM (#9830522)
        We had S/36 (a grandfather AS/400) hit by car and slammed though wall.

        The wiring was torn from the wall, same wall as the car entered though, so it traveled with S/36 though the next wall. The machine was dented and case torn open, but was still running operations for 2 weeks until a replacement was installed.
    • by SiggyRadiation (628651) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @06:31AM (#9829786) Homepage Journal
      When my employer retired an old sun they gave it to me. I was very fond of the thing because I, when I was a student, learned Unix and programming on that beast. It was the workstation all the (geek-) students wanted to use.

      Anyway, I got home with the thing and found out I didn't have the root-password for the OS. So, install a new OS: OpenBSD. To do that, you need to be able to tell the thing to boot from floppy. You do that using a little command at bootup. And you need.... a password to enter that mode.

      great.

      No-one on earth was left that could tell me about those passwords, so I googled around and found the sollution:
      1. Startup the sun
      2. Press STOP-A (or something) to get into the OpenPROM / OpenBOOt/Whatever menu
      3. When it askes for the password RIP OUT THE PROMCHIP FROM THE MOTHERBORD
      4. Enter blank password. The machine will try to validate it against its non-existing memory.
      5. It will accept the blank password and you can do "ALTER PASSWORD"
      6. INSERT THE PROMCHIP JUST BEFORE YOU ENTER THE NEW PASSWORD
      7. Enter the new password
      8. It stores it in the now replaced memory-chip.
      9. Install OS. Have Fun.

      It really amazed me that this just worked. But it did.

  • by atlantis191 (750037) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:33AM (#9828833)
    I put windows XP and my computer and it still runs ;)
  • by quinxy (788909) * on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:35AM (#9828838) Homepage
    Back in 1996 I built a dual Pentium Pro computer in an SKB music case (for rackmounted music gear) as a luggable computer. After a few years the thing was pretty antiquated, so when I had to move from Europe back to the US I decided to doom the thing to the fates and have it travel back with me with my luggage, facing the perils of baggage handling. It just wasn't worth taking any extra precautions. I knew the thing wouldn't survive the trip, but I didn't want to throw it out. It had no shock protection at all, and I didn't place any fragile stickers on it or anything. After the trip I opened the case up to find the CPUs and memory sticks had unseated themselves and been knocking around inside the case, many of the CPU pins were bent this way and that. The memory seemed scratched but otherwise ok. some of the chips mounted on the motherboards seem to have suffered the impacts of the CPUs flying about (some bent wires going to the chips). Just to see what would happen I straightened the wires, pins, re-seated the memory, and turned it on. The damn thing worked fine. And went on to live an unexpected few years as a file server. I'm not sure what lesson I learned, I suppose that computers can be far more robust than I expect (but only when I don't expect it).
  • by sneakers563 (759525) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:35AM (#9828842)
    Well, this was unintentional, but I had a 60 Mhz Pentium and after a couple of years decided to replace it. I bought some new components and opened up the case to pull the memory and found the heat sink lying at the bottom of the case. It had completely fallen off at some point in the past. Strangely, there were never any symptoms and it worked fine the whole time.
  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:36AM (#9828844)
    Can't say I've ever abused hardware like this, but I must say, reading this article is really making me want to try. Is that wrong?
  • by thomasdn (800430) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:36AM (#9828845) Homepage Journal
    A while ago, I needed some cheap 1U servers... I decided to use some cheap motherboards with "onboard everything"... There was just one problem. The sound port did not fit in a 1U rack cabinet. The solution was to fetch the soldering iron and remove it. It worked!
  • my cd-rom (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:37AM (#9828851)
    was molested when it was young. It's been a long and hard fight, but with therapy he's slowly allowing other people to get close to him again.
    • by Motherfucking Shit (636021) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:37AM (#9829158) Journal
      was molested when it was young
      Easy to fix, just kick it from 8x up to 40x. The perverts won't be interested in it anymore.
      It's been a long and hard fight, but with therapy he's slowly allowing other people to get close to him again.
      Careful, you don't want the RIAA to get wind of this, or else they'll sic the FBI on you for providing material support to a CD-R drive!
  • I've hung (Score:5, Funny)

    by phita23 (667236) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:38AM (#9828853)
    every piece of hardware not attached to the motherboard (hard drives, cd drives etc) without a case, on wire all hung on one coat hanger. I was trying to minimize the noise cause by vibrations between the hardware and the case. My CPU fan must of sucked some wire up and tangled up the entire setup. It all crashed onto the table, yuck. Needless to say, I scrapped that hanging setup. I put the hardware back together in its case, and it worked!
  • by notanatheist (581086) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:39AM (#9828858) Homepage
    How about that! Got a guy who took a trashed P4, solder some 24 guage wire on to create a pin and is using the CPU now. I am quite amazed at the man's skill. I for one can't do crap with a soldering iron except ruin things.
  • Blown speakers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by helix400 (558178) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:40AM (#9828865) Journal
    I plugged an 18 volt AC adapter into 6 volt computer speakers. They made a really high pitched sound before they popped and spewed lots and lots of acidy smoke.

    We later found the correct AC adapter, plugged them back in, and to our surprise, both speakers worked just fine. It makes you wonder what useless part broke in the speakers, and why that part was in there to begin with.
  • by gkwok (773963) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:41AM (#9828868) Homepage
    I was finishing up a new video card plus NIC upgrade and had them attached to the motherboard while I booted the PC. I thought I was being smart and saving time by not screwing the brackets to the case until this point. I was just getting started with the video card bracket, when the screwdriver slipped and the screw landed on the NIC. There was a big spark and a pop, and the whole system instantly shut down. I powered it back on, and everything was fine. I've also removed RAM from a running 386. It froze, but both system and RAM were fine afterward.
  • Home Run (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rylfaeth (138910) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:42AM (#9828874)
    I took a metal bat to an old computer (and monitor) that got infected with CIH a handful of years ago ... after running tiramisu and many other "recovery" programs I figured why not just fucking ruin the stupid thing and get a little enjoyment out of that? Anyways, despite terribly denting the case and power supply case, and cracking a cheap pci video card in half, the box booted fine. That's when I ripped the hard drive out while it was powered up and threw it down my driveway. A simple reboot fixed the problem, prompting me with the typical "Invalid System Disk" error. I replaced the hard drive and kept the dented behemoth in my closet for a few years afterwards.
    -Rylfaeth
    • The monitor (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ghostgate (800445)
      an old computer (and monitor) that got infected with CIH

      It got the monitor too, huh? Wow... I must have missed that particular strain of CIH. Lucky for me! Sorry to hear that, though.
  • HP48 (Score:3, Informative)

    by sb_huey (715151) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:42AM (#9828877)

    I had an hp-48g in 8th grade. I used to play basketball before school with the 48 in my pocket (without the soft-cover, no less) and it would usually fall out of my pocket during play (onto hard asphault) about twice a week. In addition, I once dropped it into a puddle about 6 inches deep when I was getting out of the car (again, without the soft cover).Yet, the calculator still works perfectly, even if it has a few nicks (no majorly visible dents or anything though).

    I guess this is a true testament to the quality of pre-Carly HP hardware.

    • Re:HP48 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:58AM (#9828982) Homepage
      I have that beat.

      An armed robber broke into my house, collected various valuables, put my TI SR-51II calc into his chest pocket, and I shot it with my .45 while trying to end his crime spree.

      Bullet went thru the padded case, bounced off the manual, and into his chest. The calculator was not even dented.

      I should make a jacket of those old TIs.

      • Re:HP48 (Score:5, Funny)

        by nacturation (646836) <<nacturation> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:58AM (#9829259) Journal
        Yeah? That's nothing! This one time, a guy tried to steal my space pen, so I reached into the closet and pulled out the semi-auto 9mm Glock. I pumped 15 rounds of hot searing brass (with red phosphor tracers) into the guy's chest... missed all his vital organs too! The bastard survived, even after he crashed through the window and got impaled through the midsection on the fence, but I sure miss that pen. Never did find where it landed.
      • by raygundan (16760) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @09:54AM (#9830984) Homepage
        Man, that's like some sort of bizarre, dark geek action flick. Perpetrator breaks in, beats geek with hammer (see his other posts for more details) and steals all his valuables.

        The helpless geek can do nothing until his calculator is stolen, which is CROSSING THE LINE for a true nerd. Enraged and empowered by having a reason to fight, the geek fights back, killing the calculator-kidnapper, but in a horrible twist, discovers he has shot the very thing he was trying to save.

        Fortunately, due to the heroic engineering efforts of TI, the calculator pulls through, leaving the geek and his arithmetical love to live happily ever after.
  • Nothing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:42AM (#9828878)
    I often soap up and hose off old gear and it all works fine. You need to let it dry for a couple of days, though. Never lost a PC that way.

    Hey, I just thought of something! You know how toaster ovens say DO NOT IMMERSE? Well, if you DO immerse them, water gets into the heating tubes, which are filled with compressed poweder magnesium oxide. It takes a very long time to dry, more than a few days. If you decide to plug the thing in because it LOOKS dry, the water in the tubes turns to steam, which cannot escape fast enough, and the tubes RIIIPPP open from end to end, blasting powdered MgO all over the place.

    That would be a funny prank, huh?
    • Re:Nothing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@NOspam.nexusuk.org> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:38AM (#9829162) Homepage
      I take a cellphone out when I go windsurfing in the sea.. one that the AquaPac burst and the phone was left swimming around in salt water (with the fully charged battery still attached) for about 2 hours. Got back home and took it to pieces, soaked the bits in fresh water for a while and then left it to dry out for a couple of days - works perfectly.

      Same cellphone got drowned about twice since then by rain: once it was in my pocket while I was standing in pouring rain, the other time I accidentally left it in the boot of my car with the boot open while it was raining heavilly. Same procedure to fix it and it works just fine.

      I'm pretty amazed at how rubust that phone is... Of course I won't be dropping my P900 in the sea any time soon. :)
  • by MrRTFM (740877) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:43AM (#9828879) Journal
    Several years ago I had my PC's setup in a shed. The shed was well setup with power and lights, and one day I was doing a motherboard transplant (swapping a 386dx40 with a 486dx2/66 from memory).

    I didnt get it finished so i left both my desktop PC's with the covers off and went to bed.

    That night there was rain (as usual) but it was also severely windy - enough to blow the rain at enough of an angle so it went under the eave section and straight onto my desk.

    I got up in the morning and found both PCs and motherboards completely soaked and water pooled everywhere. Turned them upside down, dried them as best I could and left them (inside the house this time) for 2 days. When I powered them up they both worked, without a hitch and continued to work for years afterwards.

    (one mouse was dead though - a small price to pay)
    • Somebody once told me a story about spilling a milkshake into a VAX 780. They took it outside, hosed everything off, let it dry, and it ran just fine.

      Then again, I recently dropped my Nokia cellphone into the toilet. I took it apart, let it dry as much as possible, but it still didn't work. Just don't build them like they used to. (But the cellphone probably has a lot more MIPS and RAM than the VAX!)
    • by Rxke (644923)
      Hardware doesn't seem to mind water too much, at least when unpowered

      5-6 years ago i found an Apple ][+ atop a pile of demolition debris. Living in Belgium, it was of course raining cats and dog that day, so when i picked it up, the water literally poured out of the case. That velcroed toplid was dislodged, so water could come in very easily. The insides were a mess of muddied dirt.

      At home, I rinsed it thouroughly, using the shower-head and let it dry. Sometime later, just for kicks, I tried to start it u
  • let see (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:44AM (#9828886) Homepage Journal
    I de-solder the legs off of sipps to use the chip in a simm
    I solder a simm to get it to work in as a sip.

    Replaced the gridge chip.

    My forst computer I own had to be put together from scratch. By scratch, I mean soldering compnent to a PCB board.

    Replace the board on several hard drives

    Used laplink and wrote the data onto the disk I was getting data off of.(instead of the new drive). Deleted everything. Microsoft said the files couldn't be recovered. I recovered them.

    I've used gallon milk caps as a mother board stand.

    replced several capacitors on motherboards.

    Soldered a pin back onto a cpu

    and much more.

    And yes, everything worked when I was done.

  • by Bapu (26118) * on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:45AM (#9828889)
    Back when memory was around $100/megabyte the school I was attending received some donated hardware that included one non-functioning 1 MB SIMM. Rather than toss $100 in the trash, I examined the SIMM and found a broken pin on the side of one of the chips. Using a battered soldering iron and a length of cold solder to replace the pin, I managed to get a good enough connection to restore the SIMM to operation. It functioned perfectly in a 486SX machine for several years afterward. I also managed to upgrade that same machine to a DX (MMU and FPU added) by salvaging a 486DX chip off another dead motherboard installing it in a cleverly included socket on the SX motherboard and disabling the onboard chip via jumper settings. This was before the ZIF socket, so the amount of force and screw driver based prying required to first remove and then install that 486DX chip could easily have killed it.
    Luck was definitely required in the days of expensive parts, and $0 technology budgets.
    I'd like to say we later installed Linux on that machine and used it to run our first web server, but alas, we used it for playing deathmatch Doom after the computer lab was closed. That's why we needed 4MB of memory and a FPU.
  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:47AM (#9828900) Homepage
    I know of these guys who launched their computer into space, had it crash on a planet, and found that it didn't quite work right [detnews.com]. And yet they were ultimately able to fix it -- remotely.

    Launching into space, then crashing on Mars with just some air bags for cushions. THAT IS ABUSE! And yet they made it work!

  • My worst (Score:5, Funny)

    by carcosa30 (235579) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:47AM (#9828904)
    On a 486 I pulled the cpu, then I was very curious as to why the screen went blank. Then, somehow uncomprehending the situation, I realized I was holding the chip and thought "Well that's silly of me, I just pulled the CPU" and I just placed it back in the socket.

    This is why drugs and hardware support do not mix.

    The machine continued to work fine and works to this day.
  • by MachDelta (704883) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:53AM (#9828939)
    Where I work, we have these little (ok they're about the size of a hardcover book) scanner/barcode reader things. One day, someone was upstairs with theirs, "talking to the boss". Couple minutes later, he came out of the office PISSED, and threw the scanner down a full flight of stairs (which we all heard from the floor). Next thing I see, the guy flings open the door from the stairwell, picks up his scanner, and walks over to a steel post/roof support. Two hands on the scanner, he SLAMS the thing into the post, busting the case right open. So now he's got half a scanner in his hand, with the other half dangling by some of its guts. The guy walks out into the parking lot and hurls the thing into the street (which, lucky for it, isn't very busy). It skids for about 30 feet before it hits the curb and comes to rest in a shallow puddle. The dude then got in his truck and peeled out of the lot.

    And you know what? The damn thing still worked after it dried off. The LED display was cracked but functional (was replaced later), and it needed a new plastic handle (that, oddly enough, holds the top of the case together). But the fucking thing could still read a bar code. We were all so freaking amazed that everyone burst out laughing.

    But the funniest part? The guy who smashed the shit out of the scanner? He still works for us. :)
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:55AM (#9828947) Homepage
    The favorite hardware story at my company [lcsaudio.com] involves a 66MHz BeBox -- we used to sell BeBoxes (remounted in a custom rackmount case) as part of our show control system.


    One day the show operators called our tech support to tell us that the BeBox was acting a bit sluggish (BeOS, as you may know, is normally quite snappy). On his next visit, our tech took a look inside the case, and found that the fan responsible for cooling one of the two PowerPC 603 CPUs had stopped turning, causing that CPU to overheat and desolder itself from its socket. The BeBox had survived the self-destruction (and self-extraction) of a CPU and continued to run shows for nearly a week without complaint.


    The other story involves a piece of hardware surviving impalement on a forklift fork and continuing to function with no apparent ill effects...

  • by Maavin (598439) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:55AM (#9828951)
    NEVER put a pen down in the space above a Laptop's Keyboard !
    I did it...
    It was dark...
    I closed the Lid...
    rather forcefully...
    I can still hear the *CRACK*

    ooohh t3h p4!n !!!
    • You want sad?

      I did basically the same thing with a brand new HP PAvilion ze5385us, three weeks after I bought it.

      Only difference is, it was the CORD from a set of mini-jack headphones I had plugged in that shattered the screen, got caught in the middle right corner of the screen, and shattered the ENTIRE screen.

      650 bucks and 11 days later it was chuggin along flawlessly, but it certainly has made sure *I* never rush ;p

      -- vranash
  • hardware development (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:57AM (#9828975) Homepage
    I work in hardware/firmware development - bringing up new boards and building firmware on hacked-to-all-hell prototypes. I've soldered on stuff while it's running. I've swapped cpu, memory, pcmcia, and other components while the system is running. I'll run my feet across the carpet on purpose to test ESD tolerance... shorting signals on purpose because it's easier than cutting a trace and wiring the input to ground. It is amazing how much of a beating like this a system can take for months or years on end and still run perfectly. It does not surprise me at all when people talk about systems that have caught fire but still mostly work.

    Now one of my favorite stories: a friend of mine worked for AlphaSmart [alphasmart.com] - they make inexpensive portable word processors - really PC keyboards with memory. He said they got a report of a woman in India who had run her alphasmart through the dishwasher to clean some gummed up keys.

    If you think about it it's not surprising... the equipment they use to clean PCBs at the factory is pretty much the same as a home dishwasher - just different solvents I guess.
  • by Timbotronic (717458) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:58AM (#9828980)
    Several years back I built a MIDI interface for my trusty Amiga 1000, using a circuit design from a magazine.

    I carefully etched the board by hand and manually drilled all the holes, only to discover to my horror that I'd printed the board upside down. So, rather than waste time doing the board over, I bent the pins of all the chips 180 degrees and mounted them upside down! Worked like a charm!

  • by cloudless.net (629916) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:58AM (#9828981) Homepage
    Not my personal experience but it is a funny kind of hardware abuse:

    Dog pees on laptop photo [funnyjunk.com]

    Cat pees on laptop story and discussion [macrumors.com] Keep pets away from your laptops!

    • by bensyverson (732781) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @04:05AM (#9829293) Homepage

      Back around 94 I had a friend who ordered a motherboard and a Pentium 100mhz processor when they had just come out. We were all very impressed--a hundred mhz! On Monday morning at school, we were all waiting anxiously to hear how the setup went over the weekend, and to see if Linux installed smoothly -- I think Red Hat had just come out, and we were anxious to compare it to AIX running on our two mini-fridge-sized RS6000's.

      He walks in, looking rather sheepish. We ask him what happened, and he says it was a dud motherboard. Tough luck. Later, he and I go off-campus for lunch, and he reveals the truth.

      "I hooked everything up, and booted it up. It was humming perfectly. I was standing there, staring at it with the case off -- one hundred megahertz! And then... (he pauses a while here)... I drooled on it. Right onto the Pentium. Motherboard and P100 both totally fried."

      It was so sad, and yet so freakin funny. He replaced the parts, and his computer was the envy of us all for about 6 months until my friend Paul got Linux running on a 486 laptop. But I'll never forget my friend who straight dr00led all over his radical P100. :)

      - ben
  • by Craig Ringer (302899) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @02:59AM (#9828988) Homepage Journal
    I had an Asus MediaBus card that I needed to fit into a small case. Now, MediaBus cards are mixed ISA/PCI cards - "slot saver" types. They're a normal PCI card with an extension for the ISA bits.

    The one I had was a SCSI card with an ISA sound card onboard. I needed the SCSI card, but it wouldn't fit. Looking at the card, it became pretty clear that the ISA sound bits were mostly on the end of the card, and if they weren't there the card would fit. It wasn't going to be any use to me if it didn't fit, so out came the tin snips (!!).

    After this butchery, it worked fine - despite the somewhat ragged, sheared line across the back of the card and the fact that I'd cut all the ISA-extension connectors off.
  • by nucleargeek (544900) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:01AM (#9829000)
    On a slot loading Powerbook, my 2 years old son had been inserting coins in the CD slot.
    The computer was still working perfectly, but it was making pocket change noises whenever moved.
    The coins stayed there until the case was opened for a HD upgrade.
  • by Dasein (6110) <tedc@cod e b i g.com> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:04AM (#9829009) Homepage Journal
    In the dim, dark past, intel machines didn't have an FPU on die. You could buy an exernal floating point processor, which was most commonly installed by the store that sold the machine.

    Well, Compaq made a system where the the main processor along with all the other chips were mounted so that the letter was right-side up when standing at the front of the machine.

    However, the coprocessor socket was rotated 90 degrees. If you installed it so the lettering was the same as everything else, one of the pins melted off when power was applied. Don't ask me how I know.

    great design.
  • by techsoldaten (309296) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:12AM (#9829043) Journal
    Recently I had a PC die on me that looked ready to burn up for over a year. An AMD 3200+ overclocked to 2.5 GHz and an overclocked GeForce 4600 generating a ton of heat - using the machine was like sitting in front of an oven with a supercharger.

    I knew one day it would die, and I was really just curious about how spectacularly it would go. Would it explode in a giant ball of flame, or maybe shoot lightning from the floppy drive? One day it did have a massive aneurism, but it did not die in the way I had hoped - the case became extraordinarily hot, the machine restarted and displayed an error on post stating something about the corrupt 64k base memory, and, when I restarted it again, I smelt a terrible scent coming from inside the case, then nothing.

    After letting the room cool down for a bit, I tried to get it going again but the thing would not start. Instead it just beeped at me, kind of painfully.

    The motherboard was fried, all the other internal components survived. After investing in a new mobo, a case with 8 fans, a water cooling kit, and some cables that are supposed to cool the whole thing down, I now have the Beast operating at 2.7 GHz stable and a much cooler workspace. It's also quieter - I did not expect the water cooler to run silently.

    Of course, the fish miss having that big tank to swim in and all...

    M
  • My TV (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrP- (45616) * <`ten.prmetile' `ta' `bor'> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:18AM (#9829068) Homepage
    Not really computer related but when I was about 2, my parents said we were moving.. I got mad, unscrewed the backing of our TV, and pissed all on the inside.. the tv was all fuzzy after that but still worked, so my mom put a big window fan near it to dry the insides and once it was dry it worked fine, and we kept using it until i was about 14.

    Here's a pic of the tv [elitemrp.net], and me at about the time I did this =P
    • Re:My TV (Score:4, Funny)

      by kruczkowski (160872) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @08:02AM (#9830088) Homepage
      That's nothing.

      My buddie and I had a prank on a guy in high school. I took a VCR tape and open it up placed a bunch of stapes, nails and whatever else I could find inside (stapes fit perfectly on the tape) I wrote on the lable that it was some crazy porn.

      Well I forgot the tape at home. I come home and my parents are waiting for me - They were pissed and wanted to know what was on the tape. I told them it was a joke, and whated to know why they were so pissed... "Becouse our VCR is broken now"

      Mind you this was one of those expencive Sony Milti-system VCR's.
  • by isthisorigional (527077) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:21AM (#9829080)
    A number of years ago I was working in a computer store. We got a bunch of Diamond Sonic Impact sound cards in, which were a really cheap pci sound card while isa was phasing out. Now the thing with these cards was that, depending on the board revision, there were a different set of drivers for them. A lot of the time the install cd's that shipped with them didn't have the correct drivers, so you'd have to attempt to find suitable ones on the net.

    Well, we got a batch that we just couldn't get installed. Tried the cards on a few different systems, different bios settings trying to force irq's and whatnot, but not a thing. We declared them all defective (being a 17 year old kid working as a co-op student mind you), and decided to go with the tried and true Sound Blaster pci's instead. We then proceeded to take some of the Sonic Impacts and play frisbee, use them as coasters and ridiculously large keychain items.

    Years later I'm assembling spare parts to make a secondary system, and realize I have no sound card to put in it. All I have are isa cards, and this motherboard is without an isa slot. So I go rummaging in my room and of course what do I find but a well worn Diamond Sonic Impact. I figure what the hell, and toss the thing into the box. On first reboot XP found the card, and proceeded to lock up while installing it's drivers.. On second reboot the drivers completed, but windows core dumped shortly after. Third time was a charm though, and I still can't believe this thing produces sound after what I did to it.

  • 110v over Ethernet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IOOOOOI (588306) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:28AM (#9829109)
    Had a p2p connection via 10 Base 2. Was troubleshooting one day and got a shock to one finger as I disconnected a bayonette.

    Turned out that there was a current in the shield of the coax. Why? Because the outlet that one of the boxes was plugged into was miswired. 110 volts running between the computers for months, maybe even a year.

    When I realized what was going on, I shut both PCs down and repaired the faulty outlet. Both booted right up. The problem that I was troubleshooting never appeared again.

  • by LordByronStyrofoam (587954) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:30AM (#9829122)
    I had just received my 80287 floating point coprocessor, which I had saved up for all summer. An hour after installing it and not being able to get the computer to detect it and use it, I realized I'd installed in _backwards_! After the cold sweat dissipated a bit I pried it out and - what the hell, nothing to lose at this point - plugged it in right. It still worked. I put a candle on the Murphy altar that night.
  • Old Horror Stories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iansmith (444117) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:38AM (#9829160) Homepage
    I set a full glass of water on an old Commodore 1541 disk drive. I then knocked it over and the entire glass of water poured into the drive via the top air vents. After drying for a few days it worked fine for years to come.

    Spilled a glass of grape juice (real stuff, not cool aid) into the keyboard of my Commodore 128 computer. Again, after some washing and drying it worked fine. Well, except some keys would stay depressed if you were not real light with the typing.

    My friend tried to overclock a his near new Amiga 3000. While trying to desolder a chip he managed to yank it off, along with a half dozen traces off the motherboard. He ripped apart some speaker wire, resoldered the lines and it booted up fine.

    While working at a computer dealer, a co-worker tried to replace a hard drive on some IBM machine. Problem was it LOOKED like IDE but was really some wacky mainframe thing. When turned on, about 5 of the wires in the IDE cable turned red hot and exploded into flame. The HD was toast, but the computer was fine once the right HD was ordered from IBM.

    While using my trusty old Pentium II I heard a SCSI drive inside make a PING-PING-PING and a horrid grinding noise as the platters ground to a halt. Opening up the drive case revealed a read write head had somehow come loose and gotten wedged under the arm against a platter. Carved a nice circular trench in the disk platter.

    Umm, guess the last one isn't a survival story. But I did have backups...
  • by LuckyStarr (12445) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:42AM (#9829177)
    One day I built a computer for a friend of mine. I somehow managed to mess up the polarity of the leds or put it in the wrong socket. I started the box ( a 486DX4/133 /w 32MB ) and instantly it started to run "unevenly", just like the RTC would fluctuate. Soon after bootup something smelt funny.

    The Turbo-Switch was totally fried. Will never move again. Molten plastic filled out its interior. I figured a rather high current must have moved through it. That was a scary situation, but after removing all unused wiring to the frontpanel the box ran fine.

    Seperate incident:

    He had plugged a stoneage transistorradio into the line-in of the oh-so-good noname 16bit soundcard. I figured later that the impendance of the two devices were not compatible. The chip on the soundcard was fried and smelt rather funny too. It did not make any sound.

    After I replaced the soundcard with a new one, all went fine. For about 6 years thereafter... then he sold it.
  • by Pooua (265915) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:44AM (#9829189) Homepage
    My Mom let me drive her car home after my college classes were done for the day, on the condition that I return to pick her up from choir practice at a certain time. I was exhausted, so I was glad for the chance to sleep for a few hours. I had to set my 16-pound Zenith laptop on the ground so I could grab the rest of my books, then I went inside and quickly found my way to bed.

    I awoke in a panic, with just barely enough time to make it to pick up my Mom in time. I raced outside, jumped in the car, and tried to back out of the driveway. The car wouldn't move. I thought it was just a snowdrift, so I pressed harder on the gas. Still no good. So, I pulled forward a little and got up some speed in reverse. After a few more attempts, I finally managed to make it over this huge hill. I looked at the mass in the car's headlights. As my eyes adjusted, the horror of what I had just done began to dawn on me. Lying on the ground in front of me was my laptop's bag, with my laptop and several floppy disk cases full of floppy disks.

    What I had done was so overwhelming that I did not even try to feel an emotion. I just picked up my laptop and carefully placed it in the back seat of the car.

    When I had the chance, I checked out the results of the evening. The LCD screen was fractured down the middle and the case was split down the middle. As I balanced each half of my laptop on my lap, I turned on the power. To my surprise, she booted up. One thumb-sized piece of the screen revealed the DOS prompt.

    I still have that laptop, though, of course, I have not used it very much since then. I was able to perform some important data transfer operations with it, though, relying entirely on memory of what the computer should be displaying in response to each of my inputs. Most of the 3.5-inch floppies came out OK, too, though a few were unusable due to their shutters being welded into the plastic. The floppy disk cases cracked a little, but I still use them, too.

  • by the Infamous Brad (737286) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:45AM (#9829205)
    A spot of background: Wycliff Bible Translators is a charity that has set out to provide a translation of the Christian Bible in every language on Earth. This includes, of course, thousands of languages that have no written form, so part of their work involves volunteer linguists traveling to remote parts of the planet to create written languages for tribes and teaching them literacy in their own tongue.

    Back in the late 1970s, I did some volunteer programming for them. At the time, translation support ran on a PDP 11/40 that was installed in the cargo hold of this aging steamship that they owned; they'd sail to the port nearest to the next tribe they were working for, teams would collect dictionary words, create orthographic phonetic spellings for them, and send them back to the ship to be collated for the dictionary, then printed out and sent back out to the teachers and translators. The rest of the ship had no air conditioning, so they built a climate-controlled computer room below decks, with orders to people that they were only to enter on the rare occasions that a magnetic tape needed to be changed.

    Unbeknownst to them, the air conditioning failed as soon as they left port and never actually turned on. When they went in to change a tape while docked in Rio de Janeiro, they found that the temperature in the computer room had risen to somewhere in the close vicinity of 180F ... and the PDP 11/40 was still chugging along, happy as can be. Now, obviously they panicked and got the air conditioning fixed as quickly as possible. But they did prove that at least this one PDP 11 could run for at least a week at temperatures in the 160F to 180F range.

    But then, what can I say about 1970s DEC hardware? The original VT-100 was top-rack dishwasher safe. No, really - that was the standard DEC repair instructions in case someone spilled something into a keyboard. Place the keyboard key-side down on the top rack of a dishwasher, normal wash cycle, air dry.

    Computers may have been expensive back then, and huge, and we thought that 128k of RAM was a lot, but boy could they take a beating, at least if you bought them from Digital Equipment Corporation.
    • Submersible '11 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by leonbrooks (8043) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @11:09AM (#9831760) Homepage
      Someone in the USA had a PDP-11 and a Fujitsu Eagle disk drive sink under muddy water during a flood (the water eventually covered the rack and came to just below the ceiling). The machine continued to operate until the power failed, after the flood peaked. Underwater. Under muddy water.

      When the flood subsided, they needed the computer back up in a hurry so they hosed it out, dried it off, replaced the air filter in the hard disk and tried powering it up again. It worked. The tape drive (Cipher F880, I think) didn't survive, the rest did.
  • by Pooua (265915) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:53AM (#9829238) Homepage
    The first computer I bought was my Packard Bell 8088-compatible desktop. I had been doing the NRI correspondence course for Microcomputer Repair for a few years, and I was very glad finally to have my computer.

    I put my computer together on the kitchen table, stood nervously looking at it for a few seconds, took a deep breath, and turned on the power. There was an immediate loud POP, and half of a capacitor made an arc that took it across the kitchen. A cloud of bright pink smoke rose up from the shattered capacitor as a small flame burned from the capacitor. I quickly turned off the power and blew out the fire. After I calmed down and looked over my setup carefully, I found that I had plugged the AT power supply cable one pin over on the AT power supply plug. I adjusted the cable and turned my computer on, again. To my surprise, my computer worked! It was a beautiful sight!

    I still have that computer (in fact, she is on the table behind me right now, watching me type this). She still works when I turn her on, but I have to adjust the system date to less-than 2000. She is not Y2K compliant.

  • by cowbutt (21077) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:53AM (#9829239) Journal

    The iDX4/100 CPU that was supposed to be powered by 3.3v but was configured by the vendor without the motherboard's voltage regulator module, so was running off 5.0v (I fought to have them replace it anyway).

    The sound board that needed a new edge connector [syscon.com.tw] fitted after I slipped on some stairs whilst carrying it, landed on it and ripped the old connector off, together with some tracks.

    The PCs that were under a leaking air conditioning unit at a former employer and got soaked in water and/or coolant. Once dried out, they worked (mostly) and were given the hostnames 'itchy' and 'scratchy' in order to make people suitably nervous about using them for anything important. One of them even had a failing hard disc, so I partitioned around the failed sectors.

    The 17" CRT monitor that was dropped (NOT by me!) down some stairs in 1998 whilst the same employer was moving buildings. It acquired a large crack in the case, but is still working fine.

    The M68000 CPU [homecomputermuseum.de] that had several pins bent and re-bent whilst I was attempting to fit it to a new socket on an Amiga accelerator card (that in turn fitted into the original CPU socket on the Amiga motherboard).

    --

  • by zenrender (554261) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @03:57AM (#9829252) Homepage
    I'm writing this post on a Dell Dimension 8250 that was in a basement when the watermain in the front yard blew, filling the basement to a depth of about two feet for about eight hours. Yep, completely submerged. Thing sat on the back step for a week before I got to it. Scrubbed everything down with an old toothbrush (the insides looked like they'd been spraypainted with rust-coloured paint), and blew everything out with compressed air. The HDD was shot (no real surprise there), but *everything* else works just fine, including the CDRW and the Radeon 9700.
  • by Slur (61510) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @04:09AM (#9829316) Homepage Journal
    I kept my Airport Base Station beneath a planter in my living room. One day I watered the plant and dripped some water on the base station. Fried immediately, the lovely smell of magic blue smoke - or so I thought.

    I opened it and noticed the two main capacitors had bulging tops. Turns out the original Airport Base Station had poorly rated capacitors, and they were prone to dying. The bulging top is a clear sign of failure. A website explained which capacitors make appropriate replacements. For the 5 dollars it would cost I figured it was worth a try.

    Turned out it was a good gamble. After soldering in the new capacitors the bloody thing worked again.

    There are probably a few busted Airport Base Stations floating around out there - and well worth recovering. The older graphite model is the one with the poorly rated capacitors. Even if the base station itself can't be fixed it contains a Lucent wireless PCMCIA card which may be perfectly usable.
  • by duffhuff (688339) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @04:11AM (#9829321)
    Back when I worked as a computer tech at my High School I was usually the one called on to fix the printers when they (inevitably) broke. These printers were rugged, and received repeated bashings (see below) while continuing to function.

    The labs in question were fairly ugly even for that time, being a swath of 486/33 computers on a 10-base-2 (can't remember) network; kick-ass at one point, but slim-pickings when entry level machines were P166s. The printers were hefty old (Okijet?) dot-matrix printers used for printing out assignments and such. They were connected to the PCs via a 4-port LPT switch box, so one printer per 4 computers.

    The typical printer complaint was "I can't print", this could usually be fixed by jiggling the switch on the switch-box, or sometimes by turning the printer on and off (sometimes in rapid succession). The majority of the printer problems were of this type, and relatively easy to fix.
    Sometimes, however, a printer would get in its head the idea that it wasn't going to print and throw all manner of tantrums instead of working properly. This was a Troublesome Printer, prone to all kinds of ill-mannered behavior and outbursts.

    A Troublesome Printer was usually treated with Boot Therapy, outlined below, but other methods included:

    -Picking it up, then dropping it
    -Taking it out back and working it over with the Reset Stick (a baseball bat)
    -Screaming and cursing at it with the most foul obscenities imaginable, sometimes including a dash of voodoo magic
    -Showing the printer the Reclamation Pile, an assortment of leftover parts from other failed printers (like taking a delinquent child to prison to show them where they might end up one day)
    -Boot Therapy, elaborated below

    Boot Therapy was the most successful treatment for delinquent printers. It was a robust yet simple method which could be quickly executed, not unlike a sudden backhand-slap across the face. Completing a Boot Therapy session required very little time, only a few seconds, and I'm proud to say it had a 100% success rate.

    The actual method of Boot Therapy is very simple, simply put: kick the printer. The sudden Percussive Therapy* shocks the Troublesome Printer back into a state of readiness, allowing ink and paper to merge within its confines once more. The subtleties of Boot Therapy, which make or break it as a successful form of treatment, are contained entirely in *how* you kick it.

    Boot Therapy is much too complicated to describe herein, more like PHD dissertation material, but I shall endeavor to list the kind of factors that need be considered when employing this kind of treatment:

    -Force of the kick
    -Approach angle
    -Footwear (soft-soled runners work better then steel-toed boots, they don't leave a brui--er.. mark)
    -Crash impulse duration
    -Where the kick is directed
    -Does the printer know you're going to kick it? (this is very important, as most will attempt to block you)
    -Is the printer on?
    -By far the most important: ** Are there any faculty members present in the immediate area? ** (they tend to frown on such progressive treatments as Boot Therapy using such harsh invective and "Criminal" and "Insane", if only they knew what they were up against)
    -And a plethora of other second- and third-order effects.

    So there you have it, a brief description of the cutting edge world of Boot Therapy. The printers in question continued to work well, despite being kicked repeatedly, except one, which needed Therapy several times a week. They always seemed to keep working well, especially on my watch, but I think they were replaced a few years later with cheap Mexican Printers :-P

    Disclaimer:
    -Yes, I actually did do this for real.
    -No, I never got caught.
    -Yes, it does (or did, rather) actually work (though maybe not 100% of the time).
    -No printer damage was ever attributed to a faulty application of Boot Therapy
    -Don't do this for real, especially on those new-fangled $50 Inkjet printers, all plastic and such. The printers I treated had steel in them.

    *-I'm aware of the Babylon5 reference to Percussive Therapy or some such; Boot Therapy was pioneered slightly before that, I think.
  • Mega-spark RAM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @04:48AM (#9829471) Journal
    It's late, so I'm pretty sure this will get lost in the din, but....

    I was at a computer repair shop, and I noticed that all the counters were covered with cheap, commercial-grade carpet. It was a dry day, and I shocked myself several times just moving about.

    So, I asked the guy (the owner) at the shop about this, and problems with ESD (Electro-Static Discharge) with the carpeted counter tops.

    He laughed. On the counter was a high-dollar memory tester. He grabbed a then-expensive 4 MB 30 Pin SIMM and, holding it in one hand, walked around the room, dragging his feet. He did this until (No kidding) his own hair was beginning to stick up.

    Then, holding one end of the SIMM, he walked over to a doorknob, and threw a 1", bright blue spark directly thru the simm to the doorknob.

    He then calmly walked over to the memory tester, and ran tests on it. It ran for 5 minutes with a hitch.

    I don't worry much about ESD, and haven't for years, with no trouble. The problems I have are with stressing the parts - putting undue stress on a MB when inserting a RAM stick, for example.
    • Re:Mega-spark RAM (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2004 @05:55AM (#9829674)
      That guy is/was an idiot, and you're too if you think ESD is a myth. ESD can cause anything from no effect through intermittent problems to complete failure, depending on your luck mostly. Obviously older hardware with comparably huge transistors stand less of a chance to die from ESD, but even those are not immune. Don't even think about trying something similar with current hardware.
  • by riflemann (190895) <{ten.iitcac.bb} {ta} {nnamelfir}> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @04:56AM (#9829498)
    Back in 95 or so, I'd just taken delivery of a shiny new dual processor motherboard, posted all the way from the US (to australia). I was upgrading from a 486 33 to a dual P150 and was itching to get it all running.

    So, I get it all assembled in the case, and it being around christmas (this was a present to myself), it was very hot that day (remember this is Australia), so had a glass of Coke to keep me fresh.

    I rested the coke on the PC case, as I was assembling the machine. And, no prizes for guessing, I knocked the coke all over my brand new motherboard! Oh I was shattered to see Coke fizzing and spreading all over my dream motherboard, and into the pins under the RAM sockets! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    In a sorry attempt to do something about it, I quickly whipped the board out of the case, shook it dry, and used a whole roll of paper towels mopping up all that cose, as well as a very slightly damp cloth to clear it fully.

    And after about half a day of drying, it went back in the case, completed the assembly, prayed like I've never prayed before, and brought the power up.

    "131027Kb memory OK"

    HOLY SHIT IT FUCKING WORKS!!!!!!

    Still does, too.
  • One Time... (Score:4, Funny)

    by LamerX (164968) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @04:57AM (#9829507) Journal
    One time I was attempting to load my rifle, and I accidentally spilled an entire bottle of black powder INTO my case! Yeah silly me I left the case open. "Well Shit," I thought, "How do i go about cleaning all this out?" I figured the best way would be to just burn it all out. So I ran a line of black powder about 100meters back and lit it. BOOM! The computer blew sky high into 1000 pieces. WOOPS! I thought it would just burn out the powder!

    The CPU was shattered, the ram was all cracked, and my drives were blown open with bent platters. Well an electron microscope and some JB Weld was all I needed to fix the CPU. I took the hard drive into the cleanroom in the back of my trailer and used the vice grips to bend it back. And the ram, I stuck together with some duct tape. Its amazing, I put it all back in the case, AND IT ALL WORKED! Damn they sure do make these things well these days! Well okay so I did lose a few pr0n pics that I had open before the computer blew, but I guess thats the price you pay for a simple mistake....
  • Bullet proof printer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trinition (114758) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @06:40AM (#9829817) Homepage
    (I onced shared this story with a popular computer magazine, and it got published)

    Years ago, I went with a friend of mine to his boss's house to fix his computer. This guys' house wasn't a house, but a log cabin in a rustic town along a river with a winding one-lane road to get there. There was a general store and everything!

    So we get there, and I sit down at this computer on a desk and start plugging away. Meanwhile, my friend gets a call from his wife. He starts pacing around, handling the various antiques and oddities one rarely sees except in a rustic environment like this.

    When he picks up the revolver, his boss starts yelling "Put that down! Put that down!", but my friend was too distracted with his conversation to pay attention to the outside world. Sure enough, a loud *BANG* rang out. My friend dropped the phone and everyone checked themselves for holes.

    After we were confidet we were all still alive, we noticed the HP LaserJet III printer sitting inches away from me on the desk had a hole in it. Wiping the sweat form my brow, I started laughing because the printer was still printing at the time! We later took some of the external housings off the printer and found some fragments, but the printers guts weren't damaged and it was printing fine.

    (I wish HP's products were still that good)

    The gun, of course, was real. My friend's boss sais he kept it on the end table to shoot the bats that inevitably found their way into his cabin. I think now he might stowe it when guests come over.
  • Space stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orbitalia (470425) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @06:49AM (#9829854) Homepage

    I used to work at a space company that produces the OBC (onboard computer) for the Ariane 5 (you can see where this is going already right?)

    Well, I don't know if you remember (most Europeans probably do) but the first Ariane 5 blew up (due to software reasons) in spectacular style. The French foreign legion was tasked with finding any important bits in the swamps surround the launch site. Surely enough they found the OBC intact (it is built like a tank), eventually it got returned to the company I worked for, and whilst it didn't work entirely, it did return some diagnostic bits that *something* had gone terribly wrong. The original computer was sat in a cupboard by where I worked for a while, had a few dents in it but looked quite okay. if you are into these kinda things you can see a picture of it in this pdf here [space.se]

    Beat that for hardware abuse :)

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Thursday July 29, 2004 @06:58AM (#9829880) Journal
    I worked for five years at Epson America, home of the EPSON dot matrix printer (at the time.) There was a famous incedent where a printer being transported in a truck, was in an accident where got skewered by a piece of steel rebar. When brought in, we plugged it in, and besides the mechanical limitations of having a steel rod shoved through it... the thing still worked. That is engineering...

    Another case had a printer that had been inhabited by a mouse for nearly a year, and it workd right up until Mr. Mouse had relieved himself on a high voltage component... the interesting part was upon receipt of the printer for repair, it was discovered the prior urination and defacation had rotted the electronics to the point the parts nearly fell off the board, nonetheless it had worked up to the final shocking excretion by the now defunct rodent.

    Marie
  • by Colonel Cholling (715787) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @07:52AM (#9830054)
    Taken sticks of RAM out of a running computer to see when it would notice?

    Did that. Eventually it just sang "Daisy" really slow and shut down.
  • by Arminator (138868) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @08:11AM (#9830127) Homepage
    Back in the times, when the C64 was the dream of all schoolkids, there was a German magazine called "Happy Computer", that had among other things regular tests of joysticks (where the Competition Pro always won).

    Their test routine was as follows:
    First several rounds of Decathlon (fast wiggling of joystick back and forth)
    Then it was held by its cord and swung around for a few minutes.
    Then it got dropped on concrete several times. Then they poured lemonade over it.
    If it was still funcitoning, it was good. OK, I think the ergonomic factor and Extras like AutoFire and such got tested too.

    In an April(fools) issue they supposedly did that with a printer.

    Now I'd like to see them swing a 200$ Thrustmaster HOTAS Stick on its cord...
  • US Navy electronics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sgtrock (191182) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @09:41AM (#9830863)
    Ooh, do I have a good one for this thread!

    Back in the late '70s I was stationed on a guided missile destroyer (DDG class) in Pearl Harbor. I checked in just as the ship was preparing to go into the yards after a long Indian Ocean/WestPac deployment. She was overdue for a major overhaul by about 18 months. Since DDGs were supposed to be on 12 month maintenance cycle, you can imagine just how close to riding on the ragged edge a lot of the systems on board were.

    Well, I was assigned to the electronic tech comm group (ETN) and told that I was taking over the UHF and HF radios from a guy who had left the ship about six weeks before I got on board. The ship had 4 HF transmitters, 2 100W and 2 1KW, 4 HF receivers, and a bank of 8 UHF transceivers. The UHF tranceivers were in pretty good shape, as there was still a guy assigned to them who had been doing most of the work. The HF receivers were sorta OK. The HF transmitters, OTOH, was a complete mess. I found to my (literal!) pain that mixing high powered electronics with an incompetent tech is a really, really bad idea.

    Not knowing exactly where to start, I picked one of the 100W transmitters at random and dove in. I found 13 problems in 11 days. I should have known that I was in serious trouble when I closed it up to take it over to MOTU-9 (MObile Technical Unit number 9, a support facility full of senior techs), then couldn't get it re-opened when I got it on their bench. It turned out that the slide rails had been completely trashed somewhere along the line and the previous tech hadn't bothered to order replacements. Instead he had just let it sit partially open. After about 3 weeks I still didn't have it completely up to snuff. At least it would transmit on a portion of its designed frequency range.

    The second 100W transmitter turned out to be in somewhat better shape. It would at least transmit across its assigned spectrum, but it had far more in the way of reflected power than it should have had. I finally figured out that he had damaged the antenna jack somehow. Considering that those things are almost impossible to put on wrong, I don't know how he managed it. In any case, after running so long with that much RF bouncing through the circuitry, the entire output amplifier was always iffy. I never did get it all the way back up to full strength.

    The first 1KW amplifier was dead, dead, dead. That one turned out to be a simple fix, though. I just had to replace the last stage output tube and some burned out control circuitry from when the output tube had shorted across a couple of its plates.

    The last 1KW amplifier was the worst. It had a habit of going from full strength power to off as the ship rolled, then back on again. When I pulled the power supply apart, I found that he had replaced all four diodes in the full wave rectifier. Not such a problem, except that most of the leads leading to the rectifier on the board had burned away when the rectifier burned up. Rather than lay down some new ones, he had simply threaded the leads of each diode through their holes, folded the legs down to touch the unburned part of the leads, AND HAD NOT BOTHERED TO SOLDER THEM DOWN!!!!

    Every time the ship would roll, the diodes would shift enough to break contact, then reconnect. The truly amazing part is that he didn't start a fire in the comm shack from all the sparks in that power supply.

    It says a lot about how well built that comm gear was built that even after all of that abuse, I was able to keep at least some HF transmitting capability up at all until we made into the yards. Granted, most of the time I was busier than a one armed paper hanger. :)

    We went out 3 times before we went into the yards on training exercises. The exercises were in Hawaiian waters, and lasted 3 days, 3 days, and a week. I actually had 8 hours at the start of the week's cruise where I had every piece of hardware assigned to me up and operational at the same time. After two months straigh
  • by pz (113803) on Thursday July 29, 2004 @10:51AM (#9831577) Journal
    Back in the day, at MIT's Lab for Computer Science, we were working on a new hardware/software system called Project L. The astute readers here have heard me spout on about this project before, as it was years and years ahead of it's time. (Regrettably, funding issues forced it's early demise.)

    One of the goals of this project was to create an extensible, modular multiprocessor computer. The idea was that you would have some commodity hardware which was packaged in neat little blocks that you would snap together. Each neat little block would be more-or-less a fully functional unit, so if you had, say $1000 you could buy a 100-node machine, but if you had $2000, you could buy one twice as big, and hopefully, twice as powerful.

    One of our demonstrations of the redundancy concepts involved to achieve this kind of extensibility was to have a four-node L machine running a reasonably long parallel process (realtime spectrographs). In the middle of one such computation, we physically removed half the nodes ... and the computation chugged along just fine, completing somewhat more slowly than it would have otherwise. These were not idle nodes, but rather ones intimately involved in the computation. While we, naturally, designed the system to be able to do this, it was actually pretty cool.

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