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When Users Attack 662

AdmiralKit writes "Ever wonder how much damage some users can inflict on their computers? This site documents the cream of the crop of parts that have been returned because they are "defective" or "broken." Pretty amazing what people can do to computers in the middle of the information age."
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When Users Attack

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  • by Medieval ( 41719 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:26AM (#4242616) Homepage

    They'll return their melted server tomorrow because it is 'broken'
    • If you are tempted to return your defective computer because your keyboard has no "any" key, read this first. []
    • by Melmac ( 608116 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:32PM (#4245347)
      I sure appreciate the link....but apparently my provider didn't. The canceled my account this morning: Hello, Please be advised that your hosting account is in violation of our Internet Service Agreement at due to consistent 73% CPU usage by your website. Your CPU usage must not exceed 33%. Your website has crashed our server two times today, and this cannot continue. Due to the severity of this problem, we have decided to permanently close your account. To receive a refund of any pre-paid hosting fees, please go to Sorry, our decision to terminate your account is final and cannot be appealed. If you need to arrange a time to download your files, please contact us at within 24 hours. Thank you for your understanding. Best regards, WEBMASTERS.COM Security Department That was the first e-mail. Here is the second: Hello, If it helps any, the cause of your traffic flood was a link on the front page of a very high traffic site probably run with multiple dedicated servers. In situations like this, it is great to get all that trafic, but you must have a dedicated server to handle the load. The amount of traffic sent to your site is equivalent to 100,000+ unique visitors per day. We are sorry to have to close your account, but we cannot take a chance of having 299 other users be down because of your domain. Thank you for your understanding. Best regards, ----Name Removed---- WEBMASTERS.COM Support Supervisor Man-oh-man. My day really sux now. :( -Melmac Administrator/Owner
    • The provider bent the rules for me and put us back online today after about a 12 hour outtage. I still wish the way it all happened was a bit different, but after I spoke to the man in charge,I am satisfied.

      BTW - to anyone e-mailing them:

      Thanks for the concern, but please stop. We negotiated and got it fixed, but now they are getting slammed with e-mail complaints. Funny and flattering yes - but until I finish the transition to my dedicated server, I have to keep them from cancelling me again. Thanks again everyone, and the Mishaps section is hilarious - and WILL BE BACK!!!!

  • Middle? (Score:4, Funny)

    by jfisherwa ( 323744 ) <> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:27AM (#4242624) Homepage
    Middle of the information age? You have got to be kidding me. The way I see it, we've barely progressed beyond the point of last night's erection.
  • by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:27AM (#4242627)
    this may be the Information Age, but we're all cavemen at heart. *sniffs keyboard*
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:28AM (#4242633)
    The user who drilled holes in his laptop to improve cooling

    The man who had a Pentium motherboard, and installed his new Pentium2 processor in the PCI port (with the help of a hacksaw)

    My CD Rom drive, which started expelling smoke while installing Windows 95 (hardware with good taste)

    The woman who brought in her computer wondering why it was crashing... she had had the thing for 3 years - without a CPU fan and heatsink attached

    The incompetent computer shop who couldn't figure out how to fix my uncles computer (when its 9$ cooling fan had died)

    • by shaldannon ( 752 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @02:35AM (#4243044) Homepage
      Reminds me of a story told by a friend. One day a group of us, including markster [] were standing around shooting the breeze...markster mentioned that the local bike shop owner had asked him to install Linux on his (I think it was a 486) computer. He managed to get another member of the group that was present volunteered to do the job...

      John apparently went over to the shop to load Linux, but nothing he did would work, he told us. Noticing that the case was slightly askew and wires were coming out of it, he took the cover off to discover a rats nest of wires soldered onto the mainboard. I suppose I should mention at this point that the shop owner liked to tinker, and apparently he'd been making some custom mods to his system that will never be documented anywhere...

      John asked him what all the wires were for, and he replied that they helped the computer work the way he needed it to. He proudly showed off the row of dip switches that he'd gotten from old 9600 modems and repurposed for toggling between the printer and his extra hard drive. John, probably in stupified amazement, yanked the rats nest of wires out of the system, told him to format the drive, and that he'd get back to him on the Linux install.

      I never got the epilogue, but that's one of the wierder stories I've heard told....
    • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:22PM (#4245736) Homepage
      Things I have personally witnessed while working for computer stores and in college computer labs:

      1. A computer from a farm was brought in because it wouldn't boot. There was a layer of dust in the machine over an ince and a half thick. The power supply took five minutes to clean with a compressor.
      2. An APPLE 2E brought in because it could not boot. A dead lizard was found inside the system. Removed lizard, system worked.
      3. A bright young fellow brought in his brand new 80MB SCSI hard drive he bought for his Mac SE30. Seems it had some defective sectors. He took the cover off to look for imperfections. He didn't find any. Put the cover back on and wondered why the drive woirked for 30 seconds before dieing with a horrendous squeal.
      4. Customer bought an Everex RAM-3000 board (remember those?) and 3MB of RAM chips (18 chips per MB). Came back and said system wasn't seeing the new memory. Looking at his system we noted that the case was hot enough to burn the skin. Opened system up and found that every single chip had been installed backwards. Remounted chips and the thing worked.
      5. Brand new technician installed a 16MHZ 80387 math coporcessor. Booted system and it started to smoke. Inspected motherboard and found that the 387 was sitting in the socket 90-degrees rotated.
      6. Kid in computer lab comes in to use a floppy-based accounting tutorial. Reads instrustions in book. Takes 5.25" floppy disk out of jacket, takes out pocket knife (you can see it coming, can't you?) and cuts open disk shell. Removes media from shell. Inserts media in drive. Can't figure out why it doesn't work.
      7. Kid who built his own computer brings it into the shop. It won't POST. Look insode and see that he was using an XT power supply on an AT motherboard. He had removed the plug at the end of the power cable and had soldered the wires to the connectors on the MB.
      8. Once removed 0.5" of cat hair from a computer. Cat hair is conductive, you know.
      9. Computer came in from a metal shop. Motherboard was covered in (wait for it!) metal shavings and metal dust. Never did get that one working.

      I have also removed an unknown number of 5.25" floppy disks and CDs from between the drives, as users mistake gap for drive. And I can't even remember the number of "which one is the ANY KEY?" calls I used to get in the DOS days.

  • If it wasnt for the customers!!!!
  • by Roosey ( 465478 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:29AM (#4242639)
    Ever wonder how much damage some users can inflict on their computers?

    No, not really. After seeing some people submit their own sites to a Slashdot front page story, everything else pales in comparison. :]
  • the best (Score:4, Funny)

    by skydude_20 ( 307538 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:30AM (#4242643) Journal
    ah yes but nothing beats the good ol' cup holder/platform
    • Re:the best (Score:4, Informative)

      by majestynine ( 605494 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @05:09AM (#4243407)
      ah yes but nothing beats the good ol' cup holder/platform

      ITS A LIE!! :) I've had this link for a while, look here [], the broken coffee mug holder" urban geek myth debunked

      • Re:the best (Score:3, Insightful)

        by n9hmg ( 548792 )
        The test assumes the clueless luser broke the tray with the weight of the cup+contents. say it's open, and he's reaching for something behind the system, presses down with his stomach, either just leaning, or with slipped footing. *Crack!* Of course they're overengineered, and can handle lots more weight than a cd. If they couldn't, my kids would have broken off the trays on all of mine by now, instead of just wearing out the open/close racks&pinions.
  • I know there are 2 Dell laptops in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico that used to belong to an upper management mofo in a company I used to work for. Seems he liked to take his laptop fishing with him. Of course, he may have been stealing them.
  • by sunspot42 ( 455706 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:31AM (#4242648)
    He'll need to add a snapshot of his smoldering webserver to his gallery.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:31AM (#4242655)
    I can't get the "Index of the pictures" page to load fully, but the pictures are loading slowly for me via the Google caches:

    Page 1 []

    Page 2 []

    Page 3 []

    Page 4 []

    Page 5 []

    I'm not sure how many pages there are in total, but these ought to get you started.
  • Slashdot Cache (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumFTL ( 197300 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:31AM (#4242656)
    Only 17 comments so far and the server's melted. I happenned to get a few picts myself, but that's about it.

    We really need a slashdot cache! Come on commander taco, surely you can program that!
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:35AM (#4242664) Journal
      Only 17 comments so far and the server's melted. I happenned to get a few picts myself, but that's about it.

      In about a week we will see a new photo labled, "And this is what slashdotting did to my server. Worse yet, here is a shot of my telecom bill....".

    • Re:Slashdot Cache (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Entropy_ah ( 19070 )
      From the slashdot FAQ:
      Slashdot should cache pages to prevent the Slashdot Effect!

      Sure, it's a great idea, but it has a lot of implications. For example, commercial sites rely on their banner ads to generate revenue. If I cache one of their pages, this will mess with their statistics, and mess with their banner ads. In other words, this will piss them off.

      Of course, most of the time, the commercial sites that actually have income from banner ads easily withstand the Slashdot Effect. So perhaps we could draw the line at sites that don't have ads. They are, after all, much more likely to buckle under the pressure of all those unexpected hits. But what happens if I cache the site, and they update themselves? Once again, I'm transmitting data that I shouldn't be, only this time my cache is out of date!

      I could try asking permission, but do you want to wait 6 hours for a cool breaking story while we wait for permission to link someone?

      So the quick answer is: "Sure, caching would be neat." It would make things a lot easier when servers go down, but it's a complicated issue that would need to be thought through in great detail before being implemented.

      Answered by: CmdrTaco
      Last Modified: 6/14/00
      • Re:Slashdot Cache (Score:5, Interesting)

        by quintessent ( 197518 ) <my usr name on toofgiB [tod] moc> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @02:29AM (#4243025) Journal
        Dear Taco,

        Here's an easy solution to your conundrum:

        Dear site owner,

        We will be posting a link to your site in about 30 minutes, after which it will receive hundreds of thousands of hits. If you're not equipped to handle that, please reply with the words "cache please" and we will do what we can to cache what is on your site.


        C. Taco

        Remember: Only you can prevent the Slashdot effect.
        • Good idea, except as I look at the clock, and notice that it's ten to three on a Thursday morning, I can't help but wonder when these suckers are supposed to sleep. Maybe if they had a filter that would pass an official Slashdot email to a voice system, so you could wake them up or something. Any good admin's used to that anyway, right? :-P
        • Or Better Yet (Score:3, Interesting)

          by 0x0d0a ( 568518 )
          Dear site owner,

          We will be providing a link to your site in about 30 minutes, after which it will recieve hundreds of thousands of hits. If you're not equipped to handle that, you may wish to consider having your site mirrored. OSDN is a leading provider of low-cost quick-turnaround web hosting services.


          C. Taco
        • Re:Slashdot Cache (Score:4, Informative)

          by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:12PM (#4245654) Homepage Journal
          What a lot of people seem to miss is that Slashdot stories are actually delayed anywhere from four hours to up to a month (in extreme cases) before being posted. The editors are allowed to say "have this story appear at a certain time" when they accept them - they do this to space out the time stories appear, so that when an editor goes through the submitted story queue, they can accept a story and have it appear at a staggered point later in time.

          Which creates an interesting side story about when Hemo talked for my college's local ACM chapter. He was scheduled to start at 6pm, and at around 6:01 according to Slashdot, he "posted" a story. Obviously, editors can tell stories to appear at a later time!

          Actually, that really isn't secret. It's a well documented feature of Slashcode. Another feature is to accept a story but not post it at any time (I think). This would easily allow CmdrTaco (synonym for "Slashdot editor") to send off an e-mail altering the site owner to a potential overflow of hits. If after one day there's no response, then just post the story - it's a free Internet, and if you don't want the hits, there are ways of ensuring you don't get them.

          But I'm really sick and tired of interesting content being permenantly removed off the web because it was posted to Slashdot and those hosting the content could not afford to keep it online. Implementing a caching feature and then asking the sites being hit if they wish to cache the content seems not only like a good solution, but also the polite and courteous thing to do.

          But I've posted this before... I suppose the next thing to do is to actually code up a caching module and send it in as a patch to Slashcode. Maybe then things would change.

  • by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <slashdot2@anthon ... m ['in.' in gap]> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:32AM (#4242657) Homepage
    I got to see the first page before it got /.ed

    All I can say is WOW....I mean I've fried components before, but nothing with this kind of visible damage.....well, except for the time I burned out my zip drive, scsi card, motherboard and floppy by accidently pluging my speaker transformer into my zip drive (they look identical and have identical connections, except as I noticed afterwards one is 12VAC and the other 2.5VDC).....left pretty burn marks all over my scsi card and motherboard. And then there was the time I was serviceing my old laptop (loose connection somewhere inside) and I forgot that when I moved workspaces I had slipped the battery back into its slot....ZZZTZTZ....smoke, and a fried out chip on the motherboard.

    Luckly everything I've destroyed since then has not had such spectacular effects associated.

    So....I guess I can see how this stuff happens.
    • Speaking of Zip drives...

      I remember one time when I had an early internal SCSI Zip drive. I brought it over a friend's house to transfer a few files (could've been the wee early days of mp3's, take that RIAA!).

      After transferring the files to her machine (had to install the SCSI card and Zip drive into her machine), I totally forgot to eject the Zip disk out of the drive after I already disconnected everything from the drive and her computer was already in mid-boot.

      Like an idiot, I quickly stuck the power back in the Zip drive and ejected it!

      Bzzzt! Burnt out the drive and burnt the ends of my hair. The sound of shock was so loud I thought my toes blew off.
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:38AM (#4242678)
    Ever wonder how much damage some users can inflict on their computers?
    No, because I know how much damage some users can inflict on websites.
  • by delta407 ( 518868 ) <slashdot@lerfjh[ ]com ['ax.' in gap]> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:39AM (#4242680) Homepage
    Obligatory Google cache [], though it seems to be largely a picture collection, so it's not too helpful.

    According to the news on this page [], the URL posted originally belonged to []. But, unfortunately, the Wayback machine's archive for that site goes back to just after it was displaced, so it appears we're SOL until the server comes back to life.

    Oh well...
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:42AM (#4242689) Journal

    Something to try: Put a copy of all those photos on a bogus web page with the title, "Here is what Microsoft software does to your computer."

    Then show the page to your "favorite" manager.

  • So he came to me with a question about causing a break or failure in the computer that looked like an accident.

    I told him flat out, that the best thing about computers is that if one thing breaks, that component can be replaced. It's also the main problem with what he was trying to do.

    In the end, I told him to just live with it. Thats the best he could hope for in that case. Tech support might sound like they were picked up off the street, but when money's involved they look really close at what caused the accident.

    Wow. That was a whole lot of nothing. Cool.
  • by E-Rock-23 ( 470500 ) <lostprophyt AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:44AM (#4242702) Homepage Journal
    My parents are the typical lot when it comes to machines. When we first got one, they felt that it was "their toy" and wouldn't let me have at it. Not that I was taking computer classes in Elementary School or anything. Even at 10 years old, I was more way more qualified.

    Since that time, my parents have learned to scream for me whenever something goes wrong. I'm sure alot of the rest of the /. bunch goes through that as well. And it doesn't stop when you leave home, either.

    I remember that first PC. No hard drive, DOS on a 5.25", and another floppy with something called "Microsoft Desktop 2.0" Call it the prelude to windows. On to the mishaps. Dad thought he could take it apart and tinker as if it were some sort of Ford model. Genious that he is, he has it on and is looking in complete awe at some of the parts. Inside was a 1200bps modem. He had no clue what it was, even though I told him several times. Guess 10 year olds don't know much, do they. Anyway, while this thing was still running hot, Dad rips the modem out. Two chips on the card, toasted. Several other resisters, capacitors, etc. fried. The 8 bit slot it came out of, useless. From then on, my father couldn't, for the life of him, figure out why the machine would screw up every so often. Later I learned that he'd semi-fried the motherboard, and continual (ab)use wore it out.

    Then came the 486. This was the first one with anything that resembled Windows on it, that being 3.1. Well, mom wanted to see what she could do with Windows (and again, new machine, I wasn't allowed to play). What she did was got into the settings area, played with numbers, changed addresses, and basically sent Windows to hell. Then she discovered that F1 gave her setup options. Thinking that would solve the problem, she proceeded to lock herself out of the BIOS (by forgetting her password in a matter of moments). This was at the advent of Prodigy and AOL, so I found my way around after learning that BIOS passwords could be cracked hardway, and fixed the problem.

    Since then, I'm the PC fixit guy. But with all the advances we have, I'm still trying to get them to move forward. I can't wait to see what they do to Cable lines and modems, network hubs, and next-gen stuff. No matter how inept our fellow peons in the workforce get, the people we know at home always seem ever the slightest bit worse...
    • by Pac ( 9516 ) <> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:47AM (#4242911)
      Let me tear down any hope you might have left: it doesn't stop even when you marry and give them grandchildren. It only stops 10 or so years after that when, if you raised your children correctly, you can pass the gramma/grampa computer support contract to your son/daughter. Believe me, I speak from experience.
    • Okay, I have to share my owb computer abuse story.

      My wife's granmother complained that her computer was beeping strangely. I went to take a look at it and determined after a few minutes that it was beeping because of a stuck key. So I started checking them. Sure enough, the 3 key was stuck. I didn't know why at that point.

      You see, my wife's grandmother has a parakeet. This bird is essentially allowed to fly where ever within her home at all times.

      I carefully pried the 3 key lose and found a surprise underneath. The entire keyboard was loaded with parakeet poop! I was thouroughly disgusted and have avoided her computer at all costs ever since.

  • by fireboy1919 ( 257783 ) <> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:44AM (#4242705) Homepage Journal
    You have to use the "delightful tree" subroutine, so named because its job is to find files that are missing and put them back into the directory tree. Of course, this program requires that your memory management system is shut down.

    To ensure this, first turn your computer on and off 10-15 times in rapid succession (don't worry about power down; thats just a marketing gimick). After this, hit F8 which will allow you to use the "delightful tree," aka "deltree" subroutine.

    Just type deltree *.* on the command line and wait for it to finish. When it does, restart your computer.

    It may take several boots before your computer begins to work properly after this. Continue the process of powering on and off quickly. If this is not successful, its quite likely that you have lost connection between the power supply and the motherboard. The best thing to do to improve this connection is to tape a metal object, such as a fork, to the motherboard, and seal it down with an aerosol, especially acrylic based paints. Then repeat the cycling process. This should eventually clear up all the problems that you have with your computer.
  • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:49AM (#4242729) Journal
    I interned with the IT department of a company over the summer, and whenever a user came to us with a problem that they obviously inflicted, we'd tell them to send it to the hardware guy with an error of either ID-ten-T or PEB-ChAK (Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.

    My personal favourite was a new member of the staff complaining that she was tring to access some old 5.25" disks, but the disk drive was making a horrible sound when she would put them in. It took me 5 minutes to figure out that she was putting it in a CD-ROM drive, not a 5.25" disk drive

    • With attitudes like that I hope you realize that your place is no where near the end-user. You should lock yourself in a bunker, surrounded by machines and other programmers of your same superior intellect.

      If you can't deal with the fallibilities and foibles of average people when it comes to technology -- then don't get yourself into a position where you need to deal with average people.

      • by NeMon'ess ( 160583 ) <> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:53AM (#4242929) Homepage Journal
        Do average adult people stick peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the slot of their VCRs? No. Denis Leary's kids do, though. Why shouldn't those who know better make fun of total idiots? I suppose you think the Darwin Awards are cruel and mean too? People who don't know what they're doing should either get help, or RTFM. People who think they know what they're doing and are dead wrong have only themselves to blame unless there's a good story to explain their actions.
  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:49AM (#4242730) Journal
    ... was a former classmate of mine.

    That was 22 years ago. He bought a Commodore PET (the big one, with 32 megs), floppy disk drives and printer.

    Two weeks later, he comes back with a box, and asked us if we would buy back the printer from him. In the box was the printer.

    Totally disassembled.

    Down to actual TTL chips, resistors, diodes and transistors. Heck, he even took apart the printhead and separated the tiny coils and the actual needles!!!

    We laughed for days about this, and since he was a classmate of mine, I got teased pretty well with that afterwards...

  • True story: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlashChick ( 544252 ) <<zib.acire> <ta> <acire>> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:50AM (#4242735) Homepage Journal
    I used to be the Windows system administrator at a small (300-person) company. Before we got mail filters installed on our server, we would just get nailed with viruses. We were on about our third round of Melissa at that point, and each time, I would send out a company-wide email telling people not to click on attachments.

    Well, I knew most of the people in the company quite well, including the sales guys. One of the sales guys happened to be a pretty close friend of mine, and the thought he really knew a lot of computers. In fact, he was so cocky about the belief that he would never get a virus that he didn't usually read my emails.

    In this particular case, I happened to be sitting a few feet away from him when he was going through his email. He came upon my email and asked me if he could delete it. I said, "Sure, as long as you don't click on attachments." Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him delete the email and click on the next email in his box. Then I watched him double-click on the attachment and immediately get nailed by the virus.

    I sprung into action. "What are you doing? That's the virus!" I yelled. I disconnected his Ethernet cord so he wouldn't spread it, and spent the next 20 minutes cleaning the damn thing off his computer.

    This company was full of people who really thought they knew their stuff when it came to computers. I watched one of the Linux gurus there sheepishly admit that he didn't know that removing an NT box from a domain removed his ability to log in with his domain account. (Since the IT staff was the only group with the local administrator password, he actually had to log a helpdesk ticket saying that he couldn't log in to his NT box.) I watched our VP of sales call our network admin away from an off-site meeting because "ALL OF MY EMAIL HAS DISAPPEARED! OH MY GOD! YOU DELETED IT!" (In actuality, he had scrolled all the way to the right in the pane that showed his mailboxes, so he couldn't see any of his mailboxes. One very pissed network administrator had to explain to him that there was a scrollbar at the bottom of the screen that he needed to scroll back to the left.)

    It happens all the time, but before you spout off that those users are stupid, I must remind you that we all have those things we know nothing about. Do you know the correct usage for its vs. it's? (Hint: Only use it's in place of it is -- no other time.) Can you fix your car every time something goes wrong, or do you take it into a mechanic? Do you know how to ballroom dance?

    The moral of the story: We're all stupid sometimes. Learn to laugh about it. Heck, that's the only way you're ever going to get through a single day as a sysadmin. ;)
    • When I did helpdesk work, that was the advice that kept me sane - remember that people sometimes just don't KNOW. Sure there are morons who'll attempt to cover up the daft things they do, like screwdrivers in cdrom drives and the like... but they're an utter minority. 90% of people just don't completely click with how a computer/gui/etc works. The remaining few know what they're doing, know what needs to be done but have to get hold of situation specific info (passwords and the like)

      Any kind of help/tech/admin type who deals with users has to be more than simply a box of knowledge, but able to click with people. See what they know, what they don't, and you can prevent so many problems before they happen. It's as much a skill as working in IT itself

      That being said, I did feel like an idiot the few seconds after I once put an axe through my only PC ...

      a grrl & her server []
    • Re:True story: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shepd ( 155729 )
      >Do you know the correct usage for its vs. it's?

      Yeah, but when I forget I simply avoid using the words.

      >Can you fix your car every time something goes wrong, or do you take it into a mechanic?

      Yeah, but when he says "your tires would last longer if you didn't brake so hard" I take his advice.

      >Do you know how to ballroom dance?


      The moral of my story is that if you don't know how to do something with something that is either not yours, or is quite expensive, you have three choices:

      - Don't try.
      - Learn how to before you try.
      - Bring it to someone who can.

      The other moral is that when someone who is clearly knowledgeable about something gives you advice you _follow_ it. Especially when it's their personal responsibility to keep that something working.

      Last moral: If your job depends on you properly operating a device, you damn well should memorize 100% of its basic functions (in the case of a VP, how to operate a GUI environment, or in the case of a delivery man, how to drive a car).

      But hey, maybe I have done something to annoy someone at some point. Ok, I _know_ I have. :-)
    • Re:True story: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by horatio ( 127595 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:26AM (#4242861)
      Sure, but how many people are dumb enough to open the hood of their cars and rip out the distributor or pull on the spark plug wires really hard, just to see what happens? What about kitchen appliances, or the VCR? Most people claim they don't know how to set their clock (and admittedly, they're right they don't know.)

      So what are these dopes doing cracking their computer case open, figuring they're smart enough to "repair" a very complicated and delicate piece of electronic equipment? More than likely, figuring that they can just blame it on lightning or play dumb. Whereas, its pretty obvious if you foobar'd your engine by putting coolant into where the oil should go.

      Not knowing the difference between "it's" and "its" isn't going to cost the IT department 3000$US to replace a high-end workstation because some dope stuck a pencil into one of the fans trying to make it go faster. You're talking about apples and oranges.
  • I had the side panel off of my tower off... I put it back on, it had sparks and smoke when I just put it against it. The computer shut off. I turned it on again, never happened again. (ATX style, K6-300).

    To this day I never actually figured out what happened.
    • Unprofessional, quick diagnosis: Solder points on the back of the motherboard touched the metal casing (or something else metallic that they weren't supposed to touch).

      One time while building a system I failed to fully secure the motherboard against the metal chasis. Somewhere, somehow the back of the motherboard was touching the chasis. When I fired it up, this exact same thing you described happened. Fortunately, it still worked after I put it all together properly.
  • by Zakabog ( 603757 ) <> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:51AM (#4242739)
    Reminds me of my friends computer, the case has a nice dent in it (on the top) from when he hit it a few times with a bat. I also hit my computer alot (back in the IBM PS/2 days, and if you had one of these computers you'd understand why I would beat the crap out of it) I dented the case with my fist, very painfull but it relieved alot of stress.

    I also have a keyboard missing alot of keys from when I smaked my computer with it. After I started learning alot more about computers I stopped attacking mine. Well it crashes alot less and when it does crash I can actually read the error message and understand it (and fix it). Whenever people call me for help with computers, I always say "Well did you kick it? Good! Now doesn't that feel good?" or "Ok now go to your window, open it. Now stand near the computer, bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight, now lift the computer and carry it to the window. Drop."

    Saying you've never gotten angry at a comptuer would just be a flat out lie, I bet there's millions of people who have typed up a term paper in 6 hours right before it's due, go to print, computer freezes and you realized you haven't saved the file since you opened it. Or you could be momemnts away from capturing the flag in your favorite CTF style game when suddenly the game closes for some stupid reason (IM received, accidentally hit windows 95 key, game crashes.) Most of the problems are user related but the computer makes a good outlet for your anger.

    Then there's the stupidity errors,

    "I was banging my mouse against the desk because the button got stuck and now it doesn't work anymore, why not?"

    "My cd-rom drive doesn't work!" (open it up to find an upside down CD)

    "My computer turns on for 5 minutes and then it crashes and won't turn on", spent 2 hours looking for a problem with the PSU or something like that then hear "Oh yeah the fan doesn't spin." looked at the fan, was covered in dust and wouldn't even spin if I pushed it with my finger

    "I think my motherboard's bad" "why?" "Well the computer keeps freezing, oh here it goes again, don't try the power button just yank the cord from the wall and plug it back in"

    "Our printer doesn't work!", opened it up, the ink cartrige was leaking everywhere since someone tried to clear up the nozzle with a pen

    Those are all problems I had to fix for people I know.

    Probably the worst thing I ever did was fry three athlons. One was a XP 2100+, the next was a t-bird 1.4 ghz, and the last was one of two MP 2000+'s. Two motherboards fried too all because I installed a heatsink with no thermal compound.) Although I turned the XP 2100+ into a nifty 1.73 GHz keychain. The MP 2000+ was replaced free, but the other two I have to pay for myself (although I still haven't gotten a new motherboard so I've been stuck with my 600MHz PIII for a while)
    • Two motherboards fried too all because I installed a heatsink with no thermal compound

      A buddy did that with a P4. We still rag him about it.

  • That website might actually come in handy when Palladium comes out.
  • by singularity ( 2031 ) <> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @12:58AM (#4242761) Homepage Journal
    I was running some normal telephone cable for a friend of mine behind a desk. Modem, answering machine, and two telephones, all from one jack. I was running the cable and trying to get all of the power cords set up, as well. I was running out of hands, so I held one or two cables with my mouth. I was under the desk, so it was hard to work with.

    I was getting things set-up when I plugged in one telephone cable to another piece of equipment. Sure enough, the telephone cable that was in my mouth just became live.

    I cannot describe to people that have not felt their tongue being fried what it feels like. Not a good sensation at all.

    It also caused me to hit my head on the bottom of the desk.

    All in all, not a great install at all.

    This may or may not be related to what the site says, but it is not responding (even at 1am EST), so I thought I would add my own little story.
    • I was trying to fix an RJ31X connection (for a house alarm) after messing with it (DSL, and filters...) and I shocked myself a few times... not on the tongue mind you.

      BTW... does anyone know why an alarm would cut out the line (putting the % from 100 to 0 on the telephone guy's meter on the outside of the house) every few seconds? It didn't affect the voice communication, but we think that is what screwed up the DSL we used to have. Is that normal for an alarm, is there a way to bypass that or anything?
    • I was rewiring the phone in my house because the cable drop in the basement was a total disaster. 2400bps had line noise problems.

      Figures, red wire/green wire both touching skin of same hand.

      Phone rings. Ouch.

      (For those who are unaware IIRC a normal phone carrier is +5V, and a ring signal is +40V, if I am wrong please correct me it's been a while with phone stuff, but I def. felt it that day.)
    • Reminds me of a friend of mine who was doing the old "paperclip the payphone mouthpiece" trick to get some free phone calls on his campus.

      Apparently he was doing it while holding the phone up to his face (to hear when he got a dialtone), and managed to zap himself nicely when a spark jumped from the paperclip to his lip.

      It was the last time he did that trick I believe...
  • A year ago, I dropped my monitor (sony e210) a distance of about 2 feet onto a marble floor. It landed on its front-top-right corner, and it still works perfectly!
    • I did that 3 feet onto concrete. It fell off of a cart. Luckily, the monitor still worked, but we swapped it with a lab monitor, since it was off a desktop.
  • I had been doing general troubleshooting on-site in people's homes when I went to one genius' home to fix his modem problems. I did the usual check to make sure that the software has set to the right com port (this was Win3.1), right IRQ, etc.. based on what the default setting was. Nothing seemed to work. So, I determined that it was a hardware issue.

    So, I start to open the computer (which is the FIRST thing I should have done, but, oh well..) to make sure that the modem was jumpered correctly, etc.. and the (l)user tells me that, "I can't believe how amazing computers are. You just place a modem board in the computer and it's supposed to work!" Needless to say, when I looked in the computer, the modem was just laying on the motherboard, not plugged in anywhere (but nicely screwed into the case) and shorting out god-knows-how-many traces.

    With the door-knob standing over me, and me trying not to call him a moron to his face, I plug the modem into the mb and again attempt the software fix. Not surprisingly, the modem was fried: the computer was working (amazingly!). I told him to bring the modem back and get it replaced--and this time, don't try to install it yourself. I never heard back from him, but, I can only assume that the next-time round his computer blew up and killed him...
  • by puto ( 533470 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:26AM (#4242860) Homepage
    When I was on the tail end of my college years I kept up my habit for comps by buying and reselling them fairly quickly.

    I had just picked up a p-90 for a very good price and had a buyer for my dx266. Check these specs.

    16 megs of ram
    2 meg video
    windows 3.1
    15 inch monitor
    Colorado 250 Tape Backup(still hearing it whining on these late lonely nights)
    and a 540 meg Connor drive(worst comp in history).

    Well I had a buyer for 1600 bucks, I had paid 2400 for the thing, buyer was getting a fair deal. 2 years warranty...

    I had opened the box for whatever reason and it was running on the kitchen table at my place.

    I go out the night, get a little ripped with some friends. Come home, crash, and up bright and early cause I had to deliver the box.

    So I do not notice that the case is back on. Probably in some hangover funk it swept by me.

    I deliver the box. And a week later my customer calls and tells me there is this horrible funk coming out her new computer.

    I go over and crack the box, and there is some rotten scum in the bottom of the case. Slightly boozie smelling. I clean it out, tell her I do not know what it easse, but looks like a rodent got in... she buys it.

    I go home and my roomate says that he had come home drunk and was about to finish doom and he got motion sickness from the game but instead of running to the bathroom, he yacked in the case. He freaked, mopped mostof it out, and put the cover back on.


    • That reminds me; I used to have a 286 system with a second disk bay chassis - This was pretty souped up; IIRC it was 20Mhz clock w/287 - woo hoo! I ran 4 hard disks on it by using an AT and an XT hard disk controller - very unusal for the time, a cool piece of software called 4drives let you do that. But I digress... Anyway because I had the second drive chassis sitting next to the main PC, the ribbon cables were only about 20" for the MFM drives, so the covers were off the two chassis's side by side. This brings me to the point; all went well until one day my cat Monty barfed in the chassis with the motherboard. Yack!! Disgusting! Not only was it disgusting, by the time I discovered it (maybe 2 days later) it had etched off the traces on the motherboard under the puke piles. Arrggghhh!!! The motherboard was a basket case after that, and prompted my arrival into the wonderful world of 486's.
  • My relatives asked if we had any spare CDROM drives as they had just bought some new software
    that required 4X CDROM and they had only one.

  • Some pictures here (Score:5, Informative)

    by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:57AM (#4242941) Homepage
    Google has a few of the pictures here [].
  • by BoneFlower ( 107640 ) <`george.worroll' `at' `'> on Thursday September 12, 2002 @02:07AM (#4242965) Journal
    My fiancee calls me for help getting a new HD to work. Go through everything- even oddball BIOS settings that in no way should help, just on the off chance they will. Everything that should have helped was tried and failed.

    Turns out, she had plugged the hard drive into the floppy connector because the hard drive cables wouldn't fit. Whenever I run across that, I go get a new hard drive cable that has a keying method that works with my mobo and drive. But thats me. Surprisingly, no damage to the hard drive. Not even bent pins. And she showed me later the cable she used, it was indeed a floppy cable, and wasn't just poor phone skills leading me to believe it was.

    Then there were all the calls and visits to get the system stable. Finally I go to the temperature monitor in the BIOS. It reads 110 degrees CELSIUS. Yes, you could have boiled water according to that monitor. MY foolish self didn't believe it, so I powered it down and touched the heat sink. Pain was immense. I recommend that you trust the hardware monitor in the BIOS, if you have reason not to trust it, get a handheld thermometer to place against the heat sink, DON'T use your finger. Looking more closely, I discover that at some point she has disconnected the CPU fan.

    The system is now running quite well. But was annoying getting it to that point.
  • Misguided (Score:4, Funny)

    by nfras ( 313241 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @02:20AM (#4242992)
    Back in the stone age, a friend of mine was a supplier of BBC computers. Now, these came either complete or in component form. Both were mail order. He received a letter from a customer who had bought the kit and was having problems getting the computer to work. Nothing happened, not a sausage, no lights, no beeps, so my friend paid the postage to have the computer sent back to him. Upon opening the case he could easily see what the problem was. All of the components had been fitted with precision, with care, with glue.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @02:26AM (#4243013) Journal
    Pretty amazing what people can do to computers in the middle of the information age.
    Saying we're in the "middle" implies you know when the end is coming.

    Is there something you want to tell us about the interesting angles of Mars and Jupiter? Are the lights on your DSL modem blinking messages to you in Morse code again?

    Personally, I think we're still very close to the beginning in the scheme of things.

  • true story... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @03:25AM (#4243157)
    My company bought a Gateway laptop a few years ago. The backlite went out on it after about a year of service. It was still within warranty so the sysadmin called them up to get it fixed. They wanted the serial number. This is the amusing part: The serial number was located on the bottom of the laptop, right about where it would rest on your knee in 'lap mode'.

    After a few trips across laps, the serial # was worn away. Even though all the components of the laptop had the right ID #, not having the serial # itself on the laptop was enough cause to have Gateway accuse the sysadmin of stealing the laptop.

    I promise you, nobody got bored and rubbed the # away, it was just badly designed.

    I can't help but think that the support people at Gateway floated that story around, only twisting it to say "some dude rubbed his serial # off and wondered why we wouldnt fix it, herrr herr herr."

    That was the last Gateway machine we ever bought.
  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @03:46AM (#4243196)
    220v -- 'nuff said
  • EPROM programmer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @04:36AM (#4243324) Homepage Journal
    I worked at Apparat from 1980-1982. They were best known for their NewDOS-80 operating system for the TRS-80 Models 1 and 3, and other TRS-80 related products, but they also had a few products for the Apple II, including an EPROM programmer. I wrote the 2nd generation software for that EPROM programmer.

    One month, the plan for their full page color advertisement in Byte magazine fell through. I'm not sure what they'd originally planned to advertise, but they ended up advertising the EPROM programmer instead. It wasn't unusual for EPROM programmers to be advertised in Byte. But it was somewhat unusual for there to be a full page color ad for one.

    The ad was very successful. We started getting a lot of orders. And as far as I know, most customers were happy with them. But we did get a few customers who called us saying things like "I installed it, now what do I do with it?" You'd think that people wouldn't buy a $250 accessory for their computer without some idea of what they planned to do with it.

    Anyhow, one of these customers was really irate and demanded that we refund his money. Company policy at the time was to only allow exchanges of defective products. So he said it was defective and sent it back. When it arrived, we discovered bullet holes through the box. Looked to be the result of a 9mm, though I could be wrong.

  • by nhavar ( 115351 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @08:04AM (#4243741) Homepage
    I'm at a local computer store and the kid before me is there with his mom seeing if he can get his processor "fixed". The owner of the store opens the case to see the 486dx266 chip laying mangled on top of the socket. All of the pins are bent, the chip is cracked and blackened, and there's still a nice little burnt smell even from a couple of feet away.
    The shop owner asks the kid what happened. The boy confesses that he and a friend were monkeying about on the computer and the friend decided they should overclock the processor. Surely overclocking must be achieved by putting the processor on in a different direction. The friend puts the processor on backwards. Doesn't work. They try and try to "overclock" the machine and eventually *POP* the processor dies. The kid states that he got mad took the processor out of the machine threw it on the floor and gave it a gentle coaxing by jumping up and down on it. After that they attempted to fix the pins and put it back it the right way. No luck though just more ZZZZT ZZZZT ZZZZT from the processor.
    This kid must have been 13 or 14 years old standing there with his mom. His mom just had this little smile like "You poor stupid kid, you'll be living with me until your 36" kinda smile both frustrated and amused.
    It took everything I had to keep from falling down on the floor with laughter.
  • by Croaker ( 10633 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @08:37AM (#4243833)
    I worked in the early 90's for a VAR in western MA... man, that was an experience, even aside from the customers. But there were a few memorable repair calls we had.

    We came in one night from a repair call and dinner to find the following message on the answering machine:

    "Um.... hi... this is Jane Doe. My Commodore 64 started smoking earlier, and I shot it with a fire estinguisher. Um... do you think it's safe to turn it back on?"

    Another call we got was:

    "Hi... I was wondering if I could buy a Q, L, and C key from you... my parrot ate those keys off the keyboard."

    While sort of not a supid mistake by users, I did see one specatular mess made by a power supply that flamed out. As we did the autopsy, we realized that the thing had gone up because the airflow was blocked because of some buildup. We realized, when we visited their site, what this was. THey were in a small auto-insurance office packed with five or six chain smokers. I couldn't stand it in the office more than a minute or so. I suspect that the PSU had gotten a fair amount of ash from a nearby ashtray in addition to just general gunk from the smoke.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @08:45AM (#4243858) Homepage Journal
    Ok, its not much, but it still amazed me.

    At my old job, we had a lot of interns (wich the boss saw as free labour), one particular intern once had his computer screen go blank on him. So he called me up to help. I go there and knowing the computer, and the guy, I figure he had kicked off the power cable again. But I could still hear its fan humming... I turn the case around slowly, all the cables are still pluged in, so I proceed to push 'em back in (the case was at the cable's limit...big stupid table, not my idea, anyways...).
    The guy (same intern who admitedly didn't know much about computers) reaches across me and YANKS THE POWER CABLE OUT.

    Long story short it turns out the monitor was defective and would shut itself down when it got hot, but I came very close to punching that intern in the face .
  • by livitup ( 27795 ) on Thursday September 12, 2002 @01:02PM (#4245587) Homepage
    "The mishaps page was hosted on (aka "TTB").
    The site was linked from the front page of

    Typically when a site gets linked by slashdot, also known as "slashdotted", it tends to encounter large bursts of traffic.

    Due to the gross incompentence of the hosting service, the server crashed twice under the pressue of being "slashdotted".

    The complaints of the other clients that were using the same server and therefore also experienced outage prompted Webmasters to threaten to permanently close the TTB acount.

    Of course, the account has always otherwise been in good standing, but the folks at Webmasters don't even have the mental capacity to limit bandwidth for a particular site so it does not bring down the entire server, so why would they take TTB's otherwise "good behaviour" into consideration?

    Please forward any hate mail to: (this is from whom the mail about the account cancellation came from).

    Thank you.

    Jon "jonny" Gerow (pronounced muck like "Guru", hence the handle)

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.