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IBM

IBM To Repair Smoking Monitors 209

Rio writes "A local6.com story says IBM is recalling to repair 56,000 G51 and G51t computer monitors because the circuit board can overheat and smoke, posing a fire hazard. IBM has received several reports of monitors overheating and smoking, including one report of minor property damage, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Comission." And I thought all that smoke was just my mobo overheating.
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IBM To Repair Smoking Monitors

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  • MMmm! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:15PM (#5433700) Journal

    I'd like one of those monitors! I'll find myself some dremel and a steel girder to create the first monitor/grill combo ever! Steak anyone?

    • Focus, guys, focus! Thinkpad Batteries! [slashdot.org]

      • I agree. What happened to you IBM?

        On a related side note, I had one of the recalled APC UPS units (the BK350 and BK500). It was recalled for almost the exact same reasons: Component gets too hot, melts exterior casing (plastic) coating whatever it touches, and possibly starts a fire. (rhetorical) Is the reason computer parts like monitors and UPSs are running so hot because they are now required to run overclocked to keep pace with the insane speed of today's CPUs? (/rhetorical) Other than the bum capacitor theory being tossed about, I can't think of any other realistic reason for this. QA departments around the globe need to start re-evaluating their testing procedures if these products are getting out the door into customers' hands.
  • by Tofino ( 628530 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:15PM (#5433706)
    If only tobacco companies would be as obliging!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:15PM (#5433707)
    "IBM G51: The hottest monitor available!"
  • Hmm, maybe it wasn't the pyro after all, maybe Great White just set-up some IBM monitors in the back...
  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:17PM (#5433721)
    When right next to the article on the monitors, is this:

    Man Who Allegedly Ate Cat's Tail Ruled Insane [local6.com]

    and

    Thousands Flock To See Gold Toilets [local6.com]
  • As long as they go outside to do it, I don't care.
  • Will we be seeing those lame "truth" ads lambasting IBM and their nicotine laced monitors? Oh wait...
  • Smoking? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Soko ( 17987 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:18PM (#5433736) Homepage
    Can't they just *cough* *cough* patch [quit.com] it?

    *cough*

    Soko
  • What next? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:18PM (#5433737)
    First IBM hard drives, now IBM monitors. What's next to kick the bucket?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      IBM enterprise class servers.
    • by ralphus ( 577885 )
      ummm, IBM? ;)
    • What do you expect from Idiots Building Machines?

      Just kidding, I'm using an IBM hard drive myself, and it has never caused my any probl...hey what's that clicking nois&T%$%%%;%%:

  • how old are these things? i havent seen one in years! right now at work we're phasing out the G74 series and those are early 17 inch models. right now, our instructions are to immediately replace any 15 inch monitors we come across and add them to our "junk" box
  • smoke (Score:2, Redundant)

    The engineers were obviously smoking something themselves and couldn't tell the monitors had problems
    • Don't the monitors know smoking causes cancer? We need a anti-smoking advertising series targeted for youthful monitors of tomorrow. Sponsored by an mandated tax on the sale of monitors, of course.
    • Oh, I thought that was just a quake feature for every time I fired the BFG!

    (on a side note, big kudos to IBM for actually being willing to fix the problem instead of just hiding it or merely announcing the problem without being willing to fix it)

  • by Rocko Bonaparte ( 562051 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:20PM (#5433752) Homepage
    . . . from components they popped off of returned deskstars.
    • FLAME POST! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:42PM (#5433947)
      Not true dude. I'm using a Deskstar right now and it has never fai^HHHHHHHHHHHH[no carrier]

      • Not true dude. I'm using a Deskstar right now and it has never fai^HHHHHHHHHHHH[no carrier]

        Coincidental that I'm reading this since I litterly just got done boxing up a Deskstar drive for RMA less than 5 minutes ago. This is the second time I've sent "this" drive in for RMA. ("This" drive being the original purchase. "This" drive is a replacement for the first one that died.)

        I'm not messing with these pieces of junk any more. I've never had hard-drive failures like this. I'm buying a replacement drive, probably WD, and as soon as this one comes back from RMA I'm auctioning it on Ebay. Feel sorry for the winner but wish them the best of luck with it.
  • Monitors (Score:4, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:20PM (#5433753) Homepage Journal

    Do those smoking monitors have to be used outside in California?
  • Mobo? (Score:5, Funny)

    by chowdmouse ( 155597 ) <ed.murphy@sstar.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:22PM (#5433778)
    And I thought all that smoke was just my mobo overheating.

    Did you mean mojo? Yeah, Baby!

    • Did you mean mojo? Yeah, Baby!

      Yeah, as if we want to hear about Taco's Mobo. I think I might skip lunch today.

    • Re:Mobo? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Landaras ( 159892 )
      *regarding mojo overheating*

      Well maybe Taco finally figured out that what works for Perl works for the bedroom as well...

      "There's more than one way to do it"
      • Re:Mobo? (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Have you seen his Perl skills? Not exactly the Kama Sutra.
  • IBM (Score:3, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:22PM (#5433779) Homepage Journal

    Maybe IBM should rethink its business focus. Perhaps they should manufacture baseboard heaters, toaster overs, wave solder baths...
  • recall the deathstar [sheller.com] drives, we'd be making progress.

    Seriously, I had 2 drives (same manu. date/place) go within a day of each other. Coincidence? I think not. (Link goes to Class action lawsuit page)
  • In other news: Anti-tobacco treaty agreed [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2810195.s tm]

    So, IBM is catching up with the latest trends, huh?
  • by Dylan2000 ( 592069 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:24PM (#5433798) Homepage
    IBM has received several reports of monitors overheating and smoking

    sounds like these monitors just bought themselves a first-class ticket to detention. They should have smoked in the bathroom where nobody would see them.

    I blame the parents.
  • Nice to hear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:25PM (#5433801) Journal
    It's good that a company actually has the balls to recall a faulty product. It's kind of a shame that it has to be a fire hazard to make it happen, and not poor quality. I guess it's the lawyers who made the call, fearing wrongful death suits when some kid dies of inhalation while playing UT.

    The PC market is flooded with second rate, faulty, poorly designed and nonfunctional hardware.

    I once had an NEC monitor that burned out on me, had it replaced, that one burned out, replaced again, that one burned out ad nauseum - 5 in a row. By the 6th, they had stopped manufacturing them and I got a different one, which still works fine today.

    I knew the monitor was designed poorly, they knew it was designed poorly (they only made 'em for like 6 months). Wouldnt a recall have been easier and cheaper than cross shipping me 5 replacements in a row?

    Oh well. I just wish there were more corporations willing to stand behind their merchandise.
    • Re:Nice to hear (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DJ FirBee ( 611681 )
      //I knew the monitor was designed poorly, they knew it was designed poorly (they only made 'em for like 6 months). Wouldnt a recall have been easier and cheaper than cross shipping me 5 replacements in a row?//

      The answer is no. If they had a recall they would have to recall every monitor not just yours. If it would have been cheaper, they would have done it like that. They are a company with accountants and what not. They know what is cheaper.

      IBM is doing it's recall no doubt because they fear litigation. IBM did not recall it's crappy GNX series hard drives that fell apart, because they would not catch fire and expose IBM to a lawsuit.

    • Re:Nice to hear (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzr.netscape@net> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @01:12PM (#5434191)

      The PC market is flooded with second rate, faulty, poorly designed and nonfunctional hardware

      Consumers want $1,000, $500, $300 PC's. What do you expect?

      Let's go back in time a few years. The Pentium 133MHz had just come out, making the 120MHz look like a sweet deal. 16MB of RAM was pretty good, and 56K modems were all the rage. You'd get this kind of a deal for $1,999.

      A monitor back then, 14" and 15" were standard, would cost you nearly $200. A 17" was a $350-$400 luxury. 19"? $500-700. And 21" monitors would cost you $1,000-$2,000!

      Think about how cheap monitors are now. You can't GIVE away a 15". 17" are available for $69 after rebate from any retail store. 19" monitors are $200-$300. Once considered extravagant, 21" monitors are just a little more than the 17" monitors of yesterday. Hell, you can get a 15" LCD for $199.

      The problem has always been quality. Sure, the bargain basement monitors work, but the colors are bad, they lack focus, and aren't the brightest, or are too bright.

      The de facto standard has usually been the Sony Trinitron displays. I'd rather use a 3 year old Trinitron than a 1 year old bargain brand.

      Now, the PC market is flooded with crappy monitors. (Not to mention OTHER components) Take a look at the Apple side of things, or the SGI/Sun workstations. They've had their share of bad products, but much of the OEM equipment is re-branded Sony models etc.
      • Good point, but consumer electronics are a lot more complicated than that. In the early Pentium days, most people didn't own a PC. Today, almost everyone does (or so it seems, anyway :).

        In 1977 you could pay $4000 for something that is outperformed by my wristwatch today (cost: $5). Prices go down as technology matures, and *especially* with volume. Old hard drives used to cost thousands - but really, once you've paid off the R&D, there's not much to them beyond $20 worth of electronics and some aluminum platters.

        Sure, there is a lot of crap out there, but the days of $2400 for a 100% no-name PC are gone more because of volume (trust me, my Creative PCI sound cards not only do a whole bunch more but have lasted a lot longer than the Zoltrix pos that came with my 486).
    • i could be wrong, but my reasoning seems logical to me. it would seem that a recall would depend on which scenario would cost the most: the percieved cost of lawsuits etc. relating to the malfunction, or the percieved cost of constanly replacing the faulty merch. if it is something not-dangerous but annoying, they would probably go with replacements. fire is a little different however, since people would sue like crazy if their house burned down because of a flaming monitor. much like ed norton's job in fight club (excuse the cheesy referemce)
    • Once upon a time, I used to work for a large electronics retail chain that had just (finally) implemented a point-of-sale computer system about 10 years after introducing one of the first personal computers.

      The point-of-sale system, affectionately known as the POS (and boy, was it ever!) used bare-bones diskless PCs as dumb terminals. The onboard video was good old fashioned TTL monochrome and the monitors we used were 13" monochrome monitors OEM'd by a large Korean congolomerate.

      We started receiving reports of burnt out monitors from other stores and one day, as I walked by the sales counter, I noticed an acrid smell. I looked at the nearest POS terminal and sure enough, the monitor was smoking. We unplugged it and replaced it, but I never did hear of a recall of the monitors, and the retailer continued to sell the same monitors to customers.

      • We started receiving reports of burnt out monitors from other stores and one day, as I walked by the sales counter, I noticed an acrid smell. I looked at the nearest POS terminal and sure enough, the monitor was smoking. We unplugged it and replaced it, but I never did hear of a recall of the monitors, and the retailer continued to sell the same monitors to customers.

        Without either looking inside or checking a service manual you can't be sure that it was actually the same monitor. Far easier to quietly fix a design fault than issue a recall.
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:25PM (#5433809) Homepage Journal
    All this time I thought it was my bikini models screensaver that was smokin'.
  • fire? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _ph1ux_ ( 216706 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:26PM (#5433811)
    I'd say they were more of a water risk....

    If you have a smoke detection system that will set off sprinklers in the event of smoke....

    then all your machines are Toast!
    • We just built a new data center. I wanted gas, but it was just too expensive, so we got the next best thing, a pre-action system.

      We have sprinkler heads like everyone else, but the pipes feeding them are filled with compressed air. A special valve/air pump setup keeps the pipes pressurized and the water out until the alarm is set off by smoke. The pipes then fill with water but it takes a hundred mublemumble degrees to melt the sprinkler heads and dump water on everything.

      The advantage is that you can have smoke OR heat (or a busted sprinkler head) and not douse the room with water. You need smoke AND heat to spray water -- any room that gets 150 degrees and is full of smoke has some pretty serious problems that sparing the water alone won't fix.

  • Inevitable (Score:5, Funny)

    by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:29PM (#5433837) Homepage
    AOL Member: My monitor seems to be smoking.
    Customer Support: Oh. Err... [looking at breakroom longingly] Is that an IBM monitor you have there, sir?
    AOL Member: Why yes, it is.
    Customer Support: Well, then that would be the new Smell-sation monitor feature, sir. It ...uh ...tells you, by olfactory cues, how fast your internet connection is. [co-workers dying of laughter in background, turning blue] We just upgraded our network, so that's probably what you're seei ...er, smelling, sir.
    AOL Member: Oh, wonderful! Thank you! [click]
    • **POOF ** You've got SMOKE !!!
    • If this were a Microsoft product, smoking would be a feature. If you don't want smoking, you have to upgrade all your software to the nosmoking versions.

      And you would be the only customer who didn't like smoking boards.
  • by new death barbie ( 240326 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:30PM (#5433844)
    Although IBM has admitted problems with smoke, a representative was quick to point out that noone has complained about the mirrors.

  • by bdowne01 ( 30824 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:32PM (#5433857) Homepage Journal
    There was something simliar with smoking hardware that happened where I work--

    We had a developer who was coding on a Dell Latitude w/ Dell's huge (and expandable) C/Dock-II. For those who don't know what that is, it's basically an expandable dock with which you can add PCI cards, SCSI, etc..

    Anyway, the dock started smoking one day during his coding session. I just happened to be walking by and quickly unplugged it from the wall. Apparently a small capacitor inside the dock exploded and got all over everything, causing it to smoke.

    We told the developer that because his code was so ineffecient, his compile had melted the dock.

    He believed us! har har...
    • by Tim Macinta ( 1052 ) <twm@alum.mit.edu> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @01:18PM (#5434274) Homepage
      We had a developer who was coding on a Dell Latitude w/ Dell's huge (and expandable) C/Dock-II... the dock started smoking one day during his coding session. I just happened to be walking by and quickly unplugged it from the wall. Apparently a small capacitor inside the dock exploded and got all over everything, causing it to smoke.
      Heh heh... and that's not the only thing from dell caught smoking [cnn.com].
    • The Dell C/Ports and C/Docks are notorious for other things as well. Generally speaking, they were the last "true" docking stations ever made (correct me if i'm wrong), and with good reason.

      Dell wanted to keep compatibility within their Latitude CP line, and did a pretty good job of it. The docks worked on all of the CP machines from the original P-200 upto the P3 mahines. All had compatible batteries, drives, and docking ports, and were built on the same chasis. But the similarities ended there.

      Unfortunately, as the hardware evolved, it became increasingly difficult to build new machines around the existing hardware. Dell never bothered to add additional USB ports, intergrated modems, LAN, etc. to any of the models. They eventually made the chasis slightly wider for the PII models (for bigger 1024x768 screes), and thicker for the PIII models (more on that later)

      The chasis eventually expanded to the maximum size which would physically fit into the C/Dock. Then they went thicker. The original P-200 models were light and relatively thin for their time (~4 pounds). By the time the PIIIs came around, they were big, thick, and weighed 8+ pounds.

      I am currently typing this on a Latitude CPx. I can tell you that it has its share of problems due to bad design. With the new heat requirments of the PIII, they had to add a humungous heatsink to the design to properly cool the chip without having to modify the chasis, and break compatibility. Unfortunately, Dell put the fan on the back of the machine, smack up against the Dock. One night, I left my PC on in the dock. By the morning, the keys were gooey from the heat output. Even in it's undocked state, it's impossible to use "on your lap". To this day, the keys don't work properly due to the exessive heat the pressure-switches had to absorb.

      Twoards the end of the line, the Docks became increasingly flaky with new hardware, and occasionally refuse to power up, or assigns phony IRQs to devices which don't exist (P3 chipsets were obviously quite different than P1 chipsets). The docks got hot, overheated, etc. The computers apparently also had a speed-control mechanism for the fans and speed-throttling (NOT speedstep, that came out later), it apparently works in both the bios and OS. Either way, it doesn't work in windows, and often does the opposite of what it should. Audio is a whole mess by itself. The win32 drivers cause the audio chipset to produe a 1:1 signal to noise ratio (an AM radio inside a power plant would sound better)

      Switching to Linux has suprisingly helped. Even without installing the i8k packages (which aren't even compatible to my knowledge), thermal performance is much better, the fans work when the should, the keys still require a massive amount of force to work (but that's a hardware problem), and best of all, sound works properly. Finally, a computer (a laptop at that!) with better hardware support under linux than in windows. Unfortunately, the c-docks still have the same issues.
    • Same here... Bought 100 Dell monitors and had 5 of them burn up. In fact, up until the recall (months and months later) they continued to insist that nothing was wrong with the monitors.

      We had a service agreement, so they were replaced, but only AFTER they each burnt up. It's damn good they were in open spaces, and not under a shelf or on a computer desk with over-head compartments (like other monitors in other offices are).

      You can't imagine the number of "Dude, you're getting a flame-thrower" jokes I've heard because of it.
  • What a warranty! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by big_groo ( 237634 ) <groovis@gmaiYEATSl.com minus poet> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:32PM (#5433861) Homepage
    Here [ibm.com] is the link to IBM's page about these monitors. That's one hell of a warranty on a monitor.

    My guess is that most of the people that use these are business customers (ie. used as cash register displays or something like that) and they don't want to lose any repeat business.

    • Re:What a warranty! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @01:03PM (#5434097) Journal
      My guess is that most of the people that use these are business customers (ie. used as cash register displays or something like that) and they don't want to lose any repeat business.

      My experience with IBM has always been great. Twice they have replaced minor parts OUT OF WARRANTY with just a call, free. And this was just on consumer grade products. One reason I half a dozen IBM servers now. (ppro 2 dual's, never a down day in over 4 years, even the used one i bought off ebay).

      I am betting most (not all, but most) people that talk trash about IBM have never been IBM customers. As always, you mileage will vary, but they have always treated me, a very tiny customer, like gold.
    • Errr... I doubt the CPSC gave IBM much of a choice. If your has a defect that causes it to catches on fire, and you are in business, then you MUST recall it, no exceptions.
  • by greymond ( 539980 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:34PM (#5433879) Homepage Journal
    It seems like IBM is really half-assing their recent products/services. Within the last 12 months I've seen them take a lot of flak for their flaky batteries, [slashdot.org] and bad hardrives [slashdot.org]

    I know their stance for linux has improved, but still seems somewhat wisshy washy at times....IBM IMO is a really strong business, but they seem to be half-assing a lot lately

  • Quite old (Score:4, Informative)

    by rirugrat ( 255768 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:35PM (#5433886)
    The 6541 model of IBM monitors are quite old since they were manufactured from June 1997 - September 1997. It's amazing that they still work. Our company used to purchase Acer 34 and 76 monitors and they all failed within 3 years.

    And only 5 reported failures? In almost 6 years? That doesn't sound too bad to me...

    Chris
    • I have a 14" Viewsonic monitor that has a Windows 3.1 UPGRADE sticker on it that I placed there about 12 years ago. It's been reduced to being the orphan monitor hanging off a KVM switch.

      It's been in operation almost every day of those 12 years. It starts right away, syncs to different VGA/SVGA resolutions without fail, has its colors intact, the whole thing - functions like new.

      The fact that anyone considers a monitor from '97 to be ancient, useless and presumed dead really indicates that they really don't build 'em like they used to.
    • You should not be amazed they still work, you should be angry that the acer only lasted 3 years.

      I just lost my 19", but that was after 7 years. I have a 14" that is 10 years old.

    • We have several still in service as the monitors hooked up to a IBM Infowindow II 3270 Dumb Terminals. I imagine there are many that are still in service in Banks, Grocery stores...etc etc. Just because you as a slashdot geek upgrade hardware every year doesn't mean companies do too. Although these ARE getting long in the tooth. LCD's should last a bit longer in my opinion. They tend to run much cooler. We had some G54's loose horizontal size control and the image looks like it's pregnant or being viewed thru a fisheye lense. Now the Nec Multisync E1100+ I am typing this on is awesome....and quite LARGE! :)
    • My experience with Acer is that they are one step up from Korean manufacturers (eg. Samsung, Magview).

      I've got numerous CD-Rs, DVD-ROMS, Monitors, etc., that crap out (on average) just a year or so after I buy it. I wouldn't take Acer products if they were giving them away for fear that they would damage the components they connect to.

      The problem, as I see it, is that there are no brand names that strive for quality. Every brand, even if they make decent equipment, has a line of crappy products. You can no longer just purchase everything from DEC and know it'll last for years without fault... You just about have to do an extensive test of every product by every manufacturer to know what has been built well.

      Not long ago you could tell the quality of a product by the length of the warranty, but now everyone has standardized their warranties based on their competitors, so it's now useless.
  • It's a good thing that my parents only have the regular IBM 17" monitor, the one that has an annoyingly loud 16-19 kHz whine when left on for too long. They may go deaf, but at least their house won't burn down in the process...
  • by brickbat ( 64506 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:38PM (#5433908) Homepage Journal
    These things are ancient. I've gone through at least two monitors since the G51 was introduced. And a decent new 17" monitor is about $120. Seems like it would be cheaper for IBM to just give owners a credit towards a new monitor.

    Perhaps IBM is banking on the fact that most of these dinosaurs are sitting on a shelf somewhere because their tubes blew out long ago. I know I wouldn't bother getting a 6-year-old 15" monitor fixed, even if it was for free.
  • This happened once with computer terminals at C-MU. They had about 50 that had accidentally been built with a star washer on the power supply connection to the motherboard. All of the current going through the small contact area of the points of the washer caused the PCB to heat up, char and finally catch fire. Some unlucky soul got the job of dismantling them all and replacing the star washer with a flat washer.

  • Just make sure you don't leave your weed next to the monitor. It may mysteriously disappear. If the monitor starts acting funny, you may not want to believe the excuse that its just degaussing itself. If you notice that there is a lot of red in the picture, or a glazed over look in your screen, your monitor could very well be a pot smoker.

    In that case, hey, let the monitor smoke, you may notice improvements when playing games.
  • smoke test... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mike77 ( 519751 )
    silly engineers, when I worked for motorolla and we had a new product, the FIRST test we put it through was the smoke test. We went for lunch, and on the way plugged the devices into the car lighter socket to see if it smoked.

    we rolled the windows down alot....

  • More than 56,000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by EinarH ( 583836 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @12:51PM (#5434017) Journal
    From the IBM-site [ibm.com]. :
    Between 1997 and 1999, a total of approximately 700,000 G51 series monitors were manufactured for IBM in Malaysia and China by LiteOn Technology International, Inc. Approximately 117,000 monitors that could potentially include this component were shipped worldwide, and about 56,000 were sold in the U.S.

    They are withdrawing all the 117,000:

    If you live outside of the US, click here [ibm.com]. for a list of phone numbers to contact a repair center.

    [rant]
    It's only the US-centric slashdot, who want us Europeans to burn... ;-)[/rant]

    • If you live outside of the US, click here [ibm.com]. for a list of phone numbers to contact a repair center.

      Strange how they list what looks like an international freephone number for Turkey. Unless Turkey, like North America, has a non standard numbering plan.
  • Nuttin new.

    The IBM monitors that shipped with IBM PS/2 computers in the late 1980's were notorious for bursting into flame. Flames would shoot out of the monitor's vents at the top of the case. One morning I found one had charred the top of its case overnight. Luckily it burned itself out without tripping the office sprinklers. THAT would have been more exciting.

    Which reminds me of the sick joke I dreamed up for our IT boss at that job. We were thinking of calling him up on his honeymoon vacation, and saying, "Don't worry about the fire in the data center. The sprinklers put it out!"

    Around that time I was interviewing at a 100% "True Blue" IBM shop. I mentioned that the new IBM monitors are known to burst into flame. The response was, "Oh yes, the monitors do often catch on fire. But then IBM replaces them for free under warranty!"

    IBM's immediate response was to send adhesive labels for the monitors that advised powering them off when not in use. New monitors came with the sticker pre-applied at the factory.

    • I saw one of these smoke itself spontaneously through code.

      When I was in college, we had a couple of labs full of PS/2 Model 50s (286-based). One night, a friend of mine was testing calling assemply language routines from Turbo Pascal. She must have gotten some parameter passing or something very wrong, because as soon as she ran the app, it crashed and smoke started pouring out of the top of the monitor. At the time, we all thought that was the most impressive damn thng we had ever seen - a program that crashes so badly that it kills the machine. That takes more than a 3-finger salute to fix. Today, I'm a little more doubtful of the exact cause. It could have been a flaky monitor, but it would be a BIG coincidence for it to have had nothing to do with the program. (I wanted to try running the program again on a different machine and see if it happened again, but that seemed like a bad idea.)

      On the subject of crappy IBM hardware, the PS/2s were far way from five 9s. I wasn't impressed by their service, either. Out of 35 or so systems, there were always about 3 or 4 dead ones. The service rep would come by about once a week, open them up and fiddle around inside, and then leave with at least one still dead. Admittedly, they were in regular use by student goons, but these were supposed to be high-end professonal quality tools. We had less trouble with the Leading Edge 8086es in our old lab.

      Oh, and don't even get me started on the Microchannel architecture and the proprietary IBM configuration floppy you had to use to add new hardware and tweak the BIOS. Feh.
      • Reminds me of what is one of the only viruses I've ever heard of which could cause physical damage. It was for the venerable old BBC Micro Model B (ancient british home micro for you yanks). Legend has it that when originally designed this thing had some kind of rechargable backup battery for storing state, but it turned out to be too expensive for the final product. However, they left in the charging circuit, just disable. Someone figured out how to switch the thing on through an undocumented system call (well, actuall a POKE in the right place!). Wait 30 mins while it overheated, and voila, molten mainboard. That's worse than even RedAlert ;)
  • I thought that new Photoshop filter was a little too realistic...
  • by 3-State Bit ( 225583 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @01:06PM (#5434129)
    apparently a true story [frivolity.com]:

    I used to work in a computer store and one day we had a gentleman call in with a smoking power supply. The service rep was having a bit of trouble convincing this guy that he had a hardware problem.

    Service Rep: Sir, something has burned up within your power supply.

    Customer: I bet that there is some command that I can put into the AUTOEXEC.BAT that will take care of this.

    Service Rep: There is nothing that software can do to help you with this problem.

    Customer: I know that there is something that I can put in... some command... maybe it should go into the CONFIG.SYS.

    [After a few minutes of going round and round]
    Service Rep: Okay, I am not supposed to tell anyone this but there is a hidden command in some versions of DOS that you can use. I want you to edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT and add the last line as C:\DOS\NOSMOKE and reboot your computer.

    [Customer does this]
    Customer: It is still smoking.

    Service Rep: I guess you'll need to call Microsoft and ask them for a patch for the NOSMOKE.EXE.

    [The customer then hung up. We thought that we had heard the last of this guy but NO... he calls back four hours later]
    Service Rep: Hello Sir, how is your computer?

    Customer: I called Microsoft and they said that my power supply is incompatible with their NOSMOKE.EXE and that I need to get a new one. I was wondering when I can have that done and how much it will cost..


    An old but good story...
  • Magic Smoke (Score:4, Funny)

    by victorchall ( 169769 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @01:10PM (#5434166)
    Everyone knows computer components run on Magic Smoke (TM). If too much Magic Smoke (TM) escapes, it costs a lot of money for it to be put back in.

    It looks like IBM has a Magic Smoke (TM) leak in their monitors.
  • Rule #1 (Score:4, Funny)

    by wackysootroom ( 243310 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @01:19PM (#5434282) Homepage
    Smoke is an essential component in all electronics. Don't let the smoke out. Period.
  • Q: Do you smoke after Unreal Torunament?

    A: Gosh, I've never looked.

    <rimshot>

    I'll be here all week, folks. Try the veal!

  • It's simple arithmetic.
    It's a story problem.
    If a new monitor leaves Chicage, is delivered to a home and the rear circuit board starts smoking, and the monitor crashes and burns with everyone trapped in the house, does IBM initiate a recall?
    You take the population of monitors in the field (A) and multiply it by the probable rate of failure (B), then multiply the result by the average cost of an out-of-court settlement (C).
    A times B times C equals X. This is what it will cost if we don't initiate a recall.
    If X is greater then the cost of a recall, we recall the monitors and no one gets hurt.
    If X is less then the cost of a recall, then we don't recall.
    -chuck palahniuk
  • by TarPitt ( 217247 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @03:19PM (#5435491)
    The best way to stop smoking is never to start!
  • When I used to work as tech support for IBM POS, I had a Burger King (back in the day) call in to tell me their monitor was on fire, they asked what to do. I told them to call the fire department.
  • Everybody knows computers run on blue smoke. Please! Keep the blue smoke INSIDE!

  • For Immediate Release IBM Recall Hotline: (866) 644-3155
    March 4, 2003 CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
    Release # 03-088 CPSC Media Contact: Scott Wolfson (301) 504-7051

    CPSC, IBM Announce Recall to Repair Computer Monitors

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is voluntarily recalling to repair 56,000 computer monitors. The monitor's circuit board can overheat and smoke, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

    IBM has received five reports of monitors overheating and smoking, including one report of minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.

    The recalled IBM monitors include the G51 CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) and G51t Touch Screen CRT models. The G51 and G51t monitors have the following model numbers on a label on the back of the unit: 6541-02N, 6541-02E, 6541-02S, 6541-Q0N, 6541-Q0E, and 6541-Q0S. The label on the back of the recalled G51 models also has a date of manufacture between June 1997 and September 1997. The "IBM" logo can be found on the front of the units, which were manufactured in China and Malaysia.

    IBM, MicroTouch Systems, and major retail stores nationwide, including Best Buy, CompUSA, Office Max, and Radio Shack, sold the monitors from June 1997 through December 1998 for about $370.

    Consumers should stop using these monitors immediately and contact the IBM Repair Center at (866) 644-3155 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for a free inspection and repair or replacement. For more information, consumer can log on the company's website at www.ibm.com/pc/g51recall [ibm.com].

    To see a picture of the recalled product(s) and/or to establish a link from your web site to this press release on CPSC's web site, link to the following address: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml03/03088. html [cpsc.gov].
  • Between 1997 and 1999, a total of approximately 700,000 G51 series monitors were manufactured for IBM in Malaysia and China by LiteOn Technology International, Inc. Approximately 117,000 monitors that could potentially include this component were shipped worldwide, and about 56,000 were sold in the U.S.

    No wonder Liteon sells CDRW drives now...
  • by evil_one ( 142582 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @05:57PM (#5436837) Homepage
    And I thought all that smoke was just my mobo overheating.

    Well that makes you look pretty stupid, doesn't it?
  • by Hubert_Shrump ( 256081 ) <cobranet.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 04, 2003 @07:16PM (#5437266) Journal
    I put it on the patch, it said it would try. I think it'd be a breach of trust to send it back.

  • I can't be the only one who thought of Fight Club when reading this.
    Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.


    Woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?

    Narrator: You wouldn't believe.

    Woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?

    Narrator: A major one.

Take an astronaut to launch.

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