back to article Kick your computer... before it kicks you

My in-laws are a boisterous clan, or so it seems to a reserved half-Scot like myself. You see, they are French... well, more of a volatile Spanish-Italian-Latin mix with an explosive temper born from a Mediterranean climate, macho upbringing and unspeakable experiences in revolutionary Algeria. Meals are embellished with …


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  1. EddieD

    From old...

    Real or fake, it's what corporate machines get.

    BYOD may make sense.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll tell you what

    CRT monitors can take one helluva beating with a screwdriver (or any other stick-like impliment) for stress relief, once I hit mine so hard it went rainbow coloured and needed to be degaussed!

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: I'll tell you what

      When I were a nipper, a common reaction from dieing whilst playing the legendary Ikari Warriors on my Spectrum would be to punch the TV. Quite hard. You can't do stuff like that with TFTs these days, with a CRT you had more chance of breaking your hand before you broke the CRT.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I'll tell you what

        One CRT monitor in my school's IT room used to go on the blink from time to time... it was enormously satisfying to thump it and have it spring back to life, everytime. If only other equipment responded so well to an 'intuitive Human Input"...

        And yes, I do know now as an adult that over time this cure would probably have done more harm.

        1. Darryl
          Thumb Up

          Re: it was enormously satisfying to thump it and have it spring back to life, everytime.

          The correct term for that is "percussive maintenance" and it was one of the first things I was taught back in Electronic Engineering classes.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: it was enormously satisfying to thump it and have it spring back to life, everytime.

            Punchline (sic):

            I'm not charging you $75 for thumping your TV with a screwdriver, Sir. I'm charging you for knowing exactly where to thump it, and exactly how hard, and exactly which screwdriver to use.

            ::eyeballs cantankerous 1955 Philco B&W in the corner::

            Beer, because ... Well, one of the cats posted for me when I had my back turned, rummaging in the office fridge. I usually don't leave unposted, unproofread comments up for that very reason :-)

            1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

              Re: it was enormously satisfying to thump it and have it spring back to life, everytime.

              I wonder who the sad bastard was who downvoted this... Never mind. I balanced it out for you.

              P.S. I was a TV repairman too many moons ago.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: it was enormously satisfying to thump it and have it spring back to life, everytime.

                That's just my fanboi, Mr. Godfrey. It downvotes everything I post, apparently without understanding that the knee-jerk button pushing completely devalues any meaning in the whole "thumbs" concept. Sad thing is that it often does this on a Friday night or Saturday morning, indicating having no life of it's own ...

                Ah, well. Humans. Go figure. Off to do the milking ... At least the critters are honest :-)

  3. TRT Silver badge

    Ah, the perversions of inanimate object.

    Mother f***ing c*** of a son-of-a-***** keyboard!

    Anyway, as I was about to say, there was some rationale to thumping the old CRT to make the field coils wobble slightly and get the field up to ignition strength. And as for sticktion in the old PDP disk packs, cold-booting was more or less an accurate description!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the perversions of inanimate object.

      Indeed. And not just PDP disk packs. On smaller systems, ST-506 and ESDI were notorious for this ... and I have a 1987 i386SX+math-co box with a MASSIVE[1] Maxtor 80Meg IDE drive that still boots & runs perfectly ... but only if you thump it in the case just a split second after you hit the power switch. Needless to say, it's been archived & is no longer used for anything more useful than teaching the nieces & nephews Assembler on DOS 5.0[2].

      [1] Massive for the time; pulled the ST-506 and dropped in the ATA in ~1989 ...

      [2] DOS 5.0, 4DOS, QEMM, and DesqView on 8 megs of RAM. It even runs Windows 3.0 in a "window" without problems ... Was faster "seat of the pants" than the 32Meg 3/260 Sun Workstation I used at work, and a hell of a lot more useful than the vaxen I left behind at DEC.

    2. Chika

      Re: Ah, the perversions of inanimate object.

      Oh yes. The booting of a PDP. I still have the boots to prove it!

      The old adage was: When in doubt, give it a clout!

  4. ukgnome Silver badge

    For at least 3 different companies that have refreshed their IT equipment I have suggested that before the WEEE man gets his hands on them, the equipment should be placed in the car park and the staff get issued bats and all the PPE they need. Then the inevitable smash the crap out of their device can begin.

    So far, none of the companies have taken on board by suggestion and I think they are missing a trick. As the keeper of the keys to the crapped out hardware I often disappear to smash a screen after dealing with a customer who is hard of thinking.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have found that machines work better with a dent in their case...

    ... or the burnt out remains of their predecessor sitting beside them.

    I also got an S5 PLC to behave by threatening to climb on the table beside it and kick 7 shades out of it. It decided to play ball. They have to know you mean business.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I have found that machines work better with a dent in their case...

      True. I fixed a whole room of misbehaving Dell GX1s by hammering a dead 486dx into the "acoustic deadening material" * in one of our DTP classrooms before I re-ghosted the standard image. I called it "my embedded processor demonstration".

      *(those old 1970s paper-fibre wall tiles with a relief map of the Grand Canyon on the surface).

  6. Putters


    Artificial Intelligence may still be an aspiration, but Artificial Bloodymindedness is a well established phenomenon.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: A.B.

      How do printers know?!

      How does your printer know you've only got 20 minutes to get to the airport, when you try to print your boarding cards? Or that the presentation's in 5 minutes, and now's the time to choke on the vital documents? If HP had this genius level of design available, they'd be Google and Apple combined. So it must be the printers themselves...

      They seem to have magical un-blockable paper-jam mode, emergency ink dump valve (to go from the full cartridge you put in yesterday to instantly critically empty) and nozzle-blocker [tm] - all available to pick from at need. As well as the ability to predict the future that allows them to know when to do it.

  7. SkippyBing Silver badge


    Who hasn't had one 'fall' down the stairs...

    1. BorkedAgain
      Thumb Up

      Re: Printers...

      "PC Load Letter? What the f* is PC Load Letter?"

  8. Chrome

    A few years back

    I was demo'ing my newly installed media machine (running on older h/w) to a couple of friends to show off full screen films, but the little sod would not boot. After a few tries I'd had enough (a few beers helped) so I took a good run across the room and kicked it as hard as I could. Side caved in and it fell over. Righted it and it booted first time and never caused me another problem

    Of course, I was in a heightened and slightly inebriated state at the time so it wasn't until the next morning I realised I'd taken my shoes off prior to the percussive maintenance. I swear I could hear it laughing as I hopped around with a broken toe

  9. Triggerfish

    Obligatory link

    1. Anonymous Coward 101
      Thumb Down

      That's not the original scene, which is much better. It used to be on Google Video but Fox blocked it on copyright grounds. Wankers.

      1. Triggerfish


        Doh you're right should have checked properly but I was supposed to be working.

  10. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    mechanical keyboard

    ... with proper mechanical switches. Something I can hit and hit and hit again when the code is not shaping up.

    And then, if my hands are not hurting, continue work as if nothing happened.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: mechanical keyboard

      In the hands of a virtuoso such as myself the clacky-switch IBM keyboard is truly a piano - the infinite variations of pace and pressure register the emotional colour of the piece that I'm working on, from subtle playful clicks to deeper melodramatic thunder, from the slow building cascade of flowing code to the staccato alternation of characters and backspace when I'm well into the woods but hoping random moves will shed light. If only my open-plan office colleagues would look beyond the banal "gee-that-is-loud" and get them too then we could form a giant cellular automaton, nerve cells of the organisation signalling one another, a Game of Life of code cutting...

      ...and best of all: it can take a pounding so severe that the connected laptop spontaneously jumps off the docking station (in the unlikely event that the bloody corporate A/V software hogs the machine so hard that the mouse cursor stops moving - for the third time this morning!)

      1. jake Silver badge

        The Model M is truly ... (was: Re: mechanical keyboard)

        ... Gawd/ess's gift to the touch typist. The first thing I attach to a new un*x system here at Chez jake is a "dumb" terminal and Model M keyboard[1] ... Contrary to the late Mr. Jobs, serial ports still have a use when it comes to modern systems.

        [1] Amazing how useful a shell prompt is when the GUI goes titsup on "the main screen". I also do most of my typing on it.

        1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

          Re: The Model M is truly ... (was: mechanical keyboard)

          Who downvoted that post! Take six of the best and stand in the corner.

          The Model M is THE keyboard. I know - I have two - the don't even die when the original cable desquamates it's insulation (aarrggh an hour or two with a 'new' PS2 connector+cable and figuring out which pins/cable corresponds to the original DIN plug prior to soldering..)

          Killed a number of 'expensive' new keyboards but my 'M' keep on going on and on ...and on..

    2. Oninoshiko
      Thumb Up

      Re: mechanical keyboard

      Two words Das Keyboard. we convinced the management to get them... they ARE nice.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: mechanical keyboard

        that's the one I have - replaced keycaps with Filco ones, when originals worn out*.

        *not really. I originally bought blank keyboard variant, but that was before they started selling UK layout.

  11. Baudwalk


    >>> there has never been a better time to physically abuse a computer, since they are smaller and lighter then ever before.<<<

    Where's the fun in that? That's just picking on those smaller than yourself.

    Now, hitting a desktop or tower cabinet of old, could hurt you too. Much more sporting. The same for CRTs, like others have mentioned.

    It was also a lot less expensive to thump a solid box like that. These wimpy notebooks we have now would break before any useful amount of aggressive energy had been spent.

  12. Alister Silver badge

    Reign of terror.

    The workstations at my place of work know better than to mess with me. In fact, I often only have to stand behind the user who complained of some obscure failure to find that the machine is miraculously working again...

    In our server room, all the racks face the workbench, where it is our practice to leave the disemboweled remains of an HP Proliant DL360 (with the screwdriver still embedded in the RAID backplane) as a salutary lesson to all who are watching.

    A friend of mine once physically threw his tower PC out of his bedroom window, after it persistently disagreed with him about the availability of a network share. Having retrieved it from the lawn, and shaken out the soil from the case, it has worked perfectly ever since.

  13. Putters


    Artificial Intelligence is proving a little difficult, but Artificial Bloodymindedness has been with us for a while

    1. Putters

      Re: A.B- Sorry

      Sorry - thought the damn thing hadn't posted earlier ...

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: A.B- Sorry

        That's alright, It's good enough to be worth posting twice :-)

  14. Stevie Silver badge


    I well remember in the days of the Commodore Pet, Exidy Sorcerer and Tandy TRS-80 that someone offered the first truly cross-platform peripheral - a foam-rubber baseball bat with which to pound these forerunners of our favourite timesucks into submission after a sustained bout of electronic recalcitrance.

    Prescient, some.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reduced to tears....sob.

    The Army in it's wisdom (now there's two words you don't often see together) decided to upgrade all the workstations in one of the HQ buildings and have the applications server based. Cue first morning and all of these super duper workstations all get booted up at around the same time. Complete logjam! (The network was due to have an upgrade in the next phase!!)

    I have never seen so many battle hardened squadies of all ranks reduced to tears in such a short time, the frustration was compounded by the bombproof windows. It is rumoured that the firing range had a few new targets for awhile ... I could not possibly comment.

    Anon..the machines might get me.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. reduced to tears

    ROFL! I have heard of Winblows update "Patch Tuesdays" causing headaches because all n machines decided to download their updates at the same time.

    20MB * 600 machines = pain and suffering.

    1. Steven Raith
      Thumb Up

      Re: Re. reduced to tears

      600 machines, 20mb line?

      WSUS is your friend :-)




  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing keys...

    I have lost count of the number of keyboards and mice I have gone through over the decades of my personal computing. I love tinkering on computers but they can bug the hell out of me and the closest part of the computer 'gets it' when it decides not to play ball.

    You also learn to bodge things back to a workable state, and your keyboard starts looking quite interesting when you have to 'steal' keys from the numeric keypad to put on the QWERTY part because one or more of the key caps went flying and disappeared somewhere when you hit it.

  18. jake Silver badge

    Why get mad at inanimate objects?

    That's a false catharsis. Computers just do what they are told to do.

    Get mad at the idiot human who made it function incorrectly instead.

    1. Mr Young

      Re: Why get mad at inanimate objects?

      Judging by the downvote per comment it looks like you got a stalker! I wiish I had one of them, I really do

    2. jon 72

      Re: Why get mad at inanimate objects?

      Am close to percussive instruction with the staff at a Mac authorised repair outfit in South Wales after they claimed the wife's Macbook that went in for a stuck power button (and would not turn OFF) was 'diagnosed' as a blown motherboard with a £500+ quote to restore her Appley goodness.

  19. Homer 1


    Oh yeah! "Load" this you mother!

    I don't get mad at my gizmos, I get even.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Favourite

    Was the Electromagnetism Prof at Uni, who pretty much owned the Electrical/Electronics dept. due to some patents he held.

    Anyway, when pissed off with said laptop he would go down to the high power machines lab where they had a high power 50,000v supply setup he would then proceed to charge up the supply (lots of very big Caps and Inductors in this thing) and pull the shunt (emergency stop, basically) generating an EMP and frying said laptop and occasionally taking out the campus network in the process.

  21. Trygve

    twang my ruler...

    hehehe. Good work.

    I remember reading some interview with Charlie Sheen where he mentioned losing his temper with an iPad and hurling it across the room to end half-buried in the sheetrock like a ninja star. So perhaps gadget abuse is just the prerogative of people with slightly looser grasp on what constitutes normal behaviour.

  22. Chika

    A bang does some good...

    My second ever computer (the first was a ZX81 which lasted for six months before I lost patience and sold it) was a BBC Micro that kept crashing after about half an hour of use. In the end, I lifted the front of the computer and let it drop back onto the desk.

    It worked perfectly from then on.

    Go fig!

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