Re: @Mephistro (was: FAIL - the most incompetent IT pros)(@ jake)
Sorry for the delayed answer. Four years! That must be a record!
The first time this happened to me I was a newcomer to professional IT. I had read articles (in paper magazines!) about electric issues and how they affected IT equipment.
About a dozen new IBM XTs and ATs were misbehaving badly. Memory errors, HDD errors, shutdowns and the whatnot. Our techies had been visiting the customer's facilities for two weeks without any success. As I was beginning to get some fame in my employer as the official smart-ass who fixed hairy issues involving both hardware and software, I was sent to the client's facilities to try to identify and solve the issue.
The building had been erected in the forties, the floor was made of stone tiles, with a metallic separation between the tiles. In my opinion, a kind of floor in which it's difficult to accumulate static.
When I touched the computer I was zapped. I told the client to send in his in-house electrician to check the installation with a special focus in the grounding, and phone me later with the results.
The in-house electrician claimed that everything was OK, so I went back the next day with my multimeter and found out that everything wasn't OK, as the earth wire was connected to one of the power wires. I seem to recall also that they obtained 220V50Hz by using two leads from a three wire plug, at least for part of the machines affected.
After a chat with the "electrician" -for lack of a better name- and his superiors (sorry, that couldn't be prevented, though I tried to soften the pressure on the poor chap) they all agreed to adapt their electrical installation at least to second half of the 20th Century's standards. ;-)
It took them a week, and when the fixes were finished I was called in to check if everything was OK. The PCs worked like a charm, and the plant manager invited me to a cup of coffee and offered me a job on the spot.
I've had several similar cases and when carpets were involved, my advice was invariably to use an anti-static carpet (which were somehow common back then). One of these clients improvised a cheap workaround inserting wires and metal bands below the carpet, and the guy swears it worked!
Anyway in all these cases the vast majority of problems vanished after updating the electric installation. And in all those cases I used myself as a multimeter. Masochism? Death wish?
Again, sorry for the delay! :D