back to article PC survived lightning strike thanks to a good kicking

The sun came up, the world kept turning, another Friday rolled around and so, therefore, did another edition of On-Call, The Register's weekly recount of readers' reminiscences about odd jobs. This week we'll start with “Frank”, who told us about the time a client called with news of a PC gone TITSUP* after a lightning strike …

  1. Conundrum1885

    Pauli Effect

    Had a few cases of "talented" people breaking stuff, mostly of the "OMG you blew up my broken power supply with your flaky MB, get me a new one right now!" then "Actually thanks, the replacement solved my PC problems which have been going on for months, k"

    Recently had a spate of motherboard and HDD failures which I traced back to glitchy power.

    Somehow despite the units being behind 2 (!) layers of surge protectors the mere act of turning off power was enough to eventually corrupt the CMOS and trigger a failure.

    There is an argument that MB CMOS batteries are prone to failure and even just knocking the PC can be enough to break them.

    I had a machine which somehow lost its CMOS settings when doing a routine test, despite the battery being at 0.01V it somehow managed to hold its memory because the board did not work after that.

    Pretty sure that they have sneaky software that detects a date/time change in any files past 2006 because thats about the only thing which changed when battery was replaced.

    The act of metering it was evidently enough to wipe everything so its going to be very hard to fix.

    Also had SSDs kill the attached machine, seems that people end up replacing hardware because they swapped HDD for SSD then laptop boots fine once or twice and never again when cold started.

    Pretty sure this qualifies as "strangest fail ever" as the SSD tests fine in a USB and works in my laptop

    perfectly well but going to send it back anyway because its firmware won't update at all.

    I am going to check the screen memory because this is a well known problem with 10 on some chipsets and it wipes out a crucial byte in that 8 pin memory used to ID the panel.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Pauli Effect

      I once had a USB hub with own power, and that hub was badly constructed - backfeeding power to the computer. This also caused all sorts of problems, and to this day I wonder if it might have damaged the MB in some subtle way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pauli Effect

        I have some USB cables with pretty LEDs in the ends. They act as a reminder that the PC has been powered down by the OS - but not switched off at the rocker switch. They are powered in that state by the "standby" rail from the psu.

        One day the lights were lit - but the mains switch was off. The problem was a new powered USB hub. It was back-feeding 5v into the PC psu's stand-by rail.

    2. Fihart

      Re: Pauli Effect

      Oddest failure I've encountered was when a desktop PC refused to boot having worked perfectly for months. Forgetting the rule about removing boards to see if that fixes things, I concluded that the hard drive had failed and swapped in a new PC.

      Eventually, when I placed the Netgear wireless adapter in another PC and that refused to boot, I twigged that the wireless adapter failing had caused the previous PC to lock up.

      Most amusing fault was hearing a persistent beeping at home. Eventually traced to a PC with a kitten asleep on the keyboard. "Individual PosturePaedic Springing" obviously appreciated.

    3. Rattus Rattus

      Re: Pauli Effect

      I had a cracked power connector on an SSD which I had not noticed and after some movement due to other fiddling inside it let the 12v line short across the connector itself. The insulation on the wires leading from the power supply immediately burst into flame and melted most of the rest of the wires. I yanked power to the machine right away and waited for the smoke to dissipate and the wires to cool down. Fortunately I had a spare power supply which I swapped in to see if there was anything salvageable of the box. Surprisingly it booted straight up, everything worked apart from the SSD (which wasn't even the boot drive, I have another SSD for that), and all I needed to do was finish properly connecting the power!

  2. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Joke

    Lightning strike ?

    Did it happen to ask for 'input' afterwards ?

    //no disassemble...

    1. wolfetone Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Lightning strike ?

      "Hey laser lips, your mother was a snow blower"

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Lightning strike ?

        "Beu-ti-ful Stephanie!"

        Number 5 is alive (and the closest icon available).

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    My long standing prejudice against wireless mice came after the MD of an associated company bought two of the early ones for himself and the financial guy. They both complained of random mouse movements. Their desks were effectively back-to-back with only a thin partition wall between and he hadn't read the instructions so both mice were using the same channel. It wouldn't happen now I guess.

    This was the same person who bought, against all policy, a Sony Vaio from PC World then 13 months later demanded we sort out the problems. We scrapped it, it had been a DSG group special purchase form Sony in Japan, thrown together with whatever cheap components they could find and there were no drivers available and, or course, he hadn't kept the recovery disks.

    1. Olivier2553

      In 2011, we bought four iMac, to install in our lab. It was very common, at boot, that one machine would pair with the first mouse and keyboard that would answer.

      Obviously, the pairing did not survive a reboot, so I installed wired keyboard and mouse (in a lab used by students, wireless would have been lost very fast anyway).

    2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      We banned Vaios in our company after the motherboard failed on the bosses one and there was no way to get at the disk drive (which contained all the boss' photos in a non-backed up location) without disassembling it, voiding the warranty- a fact the support droid in Sony's call centre was all too gleeful to point out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        we called them Sony vile's

    3. GloomyTrousers
      Unhappy

      In my last (small) company we had a couple of dozen Vaios over a few years, various models, and I recall almost all of them stopped working less than a year after warranty expiry. That is some quality manufacturing to achieve that kind of engineered-in failure rate! However, one of them was obviously sub-standard as it failed a few days *before* its warranty lapsed - took weeks for them to fix it though.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    Ghost Keyboard

    Reminds me of this oldie but goodie...

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/01/21/qwertyoops/

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Ghost Keyboard

      Is a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse more secure than those mentioned from HP?

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Bluetooth probable issues

        Not fully qualified to answer - Bluetooth wireless devices have to be "paired" and usually you have to click Yes on the PC (without using the new Bluetooth mouse), so messages shouldn't be accepted by the wrong PC. I suppose that one Bluetooth device might interfere with another's messages although they probably are supposed to be designed to not do that. The messages are in digital code, so if interfered with should just not work. However, if Vladimir Putin or just the local manager of Maplins wants to know what you're typing, it may be accessible.

        Watch out if buying Microsoft - their "Bluetrack" products could be mistaken for Bluetooth if you're in a hurry. Some in fact are, some aren't. "Bluetrack" seems actually to mean that the device has a blue LED light in it, or on it. So, you could have a wireless Bluetrack mouse that requires a proprietary dongle.

        Why isn't all this stuff Bluetooth, though? You can get a Bluetooth USB plug for the price of a good bar of chocolate.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Was the keyboard being operated by my project manager?

    a ghost keyboard that a user complained would produce “spurious letters, random apps opening or closing” and other “strange stuff.”

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Was the keyboard being operated by my project manager?

      Maybe that's why I've never seen a project manager actually working...

    2. Little Mouse

      Re: Was the keyboard being operated by my project manager?

      "spurious letters ... and other “strange stuff.”

      Not a keyboard issue, but definitely counting as a "ghost in the machine":-

      A VAX mainframe application crash as seen on a VT terminal - resulting in a full screen of frozen random ASCII, including squiggly control characters interspersed with alphanumeric, plus the word "Bollocks" as clear as day in the middle of it all.

      Much head scratching as to where exactly that came from.

      1. Huey

        Re: Was the keyboard being operated by my project manager?

        plus the word "Bollocks" as clear as day in the middle of it all.

        Much head scratching as to where exactly that came from.

        Hmm my ex-colleague probably! Have been to a clients site before where he'd obviously been having problems with some code and ended up using $bollocks as a variable name to kludge a fix. The kludge worked and was left in I changed it many years later when going through the code with one of the staff after they had a sharp intake of breath and just pointed at the screen. I didn't say much just did a search for other code in the system using that variable but was only in the one project so search replace for the 4 instances of it to something more suitable and forget all about it.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Was the keyboard being operated by my project manager?

          to something more suitable

          $arse

  6. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Interfering mice

    Oh, the good old days when an office full of wireless mice would all interfere with each other. On a good day, someones mouse just wouldn't work. On other days, everyone had 'random' cursor movements.

    We suggested a timeshare scheme, or revert to wires... the key person still kept a wireless one and everyone else reverted. Eventually got replaced with more modern 2.4GHz ones which don't suffer the same.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Interfering mice

      And that is one thing I hate about the newer wireless mice and keyboards - if you lose the wireless usb dongle, you toss said mouse and keyboard as you will not be able to sync them to another usb dongle again.

      Rather get a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. You can use these on Android devices as well.

      1. MOV r0,r0

        Re: Interfering mice

        ...if you lose the wireless usb dongle, you toss said mouse and keyboard...

        Already solved: Logitech 'Unified' adapters will sync to any of their Unified peripherals. I gained a collection as the adapters outlast the micro-switches in the mouse buttons.

        1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

          Re: Interfering mice

          "Logitech 'Unified' adapters..."

          I love therm so much!

          Was recently on a trip where I remembered the mouse and keyboard, but cleverly forgot the dongle. Fortunately I keep a spare mouse in the travel bag, so I just migrated the keyboard until I got home.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Interfering mice

        Unfortunately some computers and devices get into a state where they completely ignore Bluetooth if something goes wrong booting, but if you use a USB wireless adaptor it will be seen as a standard USB keyboard or mouse which works unless something is seriously screwed.

    2. Goldmember

      Re: Interfering mice

      Yes, we had this in a company I used to work for. Complaints of "I'm being hacked!" or "Someone is controlling my computer!" at spurious mouse movements, apps opening and words being typed always turned out to be some else's wireless keyboard and/ or mouse interfering.

      To be honest, why anyone even requires a wireless keyboard and to a large extent, a mouse, when they're using a desktop PC, is beyond me. They're nothing more than a colossal waste of batteries.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Interfering mice

        Probably the same crowd who insist on the "freedom and flexibility" of wifi connection when their machine never actually leaves their desk, and the boring old Ethernet cable gives them usually at least twice the actual network speed...

        1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

          Re: Interfering mice

          "Probably the same crowd who insist on the "freedom and flexibility" of wifi connection when their machine never actually leaves their desk, and the boring old Ethernet cable gives them usually at least twice the actual network speed..."

          Not me. I always go wired when I can, and recommend it to others. I keep a wire on the desk for when I bring my laptop to work.

          It's really not the same thing at all.

      2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Interfering mice

        "To be honest, why anyone even requires a wireless keyboard and to a large extent, a mouse, when they're using a desktop PC, is beyond me. They're nothing more than a colossal waste of batteries."

        Because the wire on the mouse pulls slightly, more if you let it dangle off the edge. The keyboard is less of a problem but likely to get kicked around as I'm restless.

        And being a gamer, I'm extra sensitive to it, even when I'm not gaming.

        If your company policy is not to indulge your creative people by buying them input devices they're comfortable with, that's fine, I'll bring my own. It's just cheap Logitech stuff anyway.

        As for colossal waste of batteries, yes, three or four primary batteries every year or so is a horrible expense.

        At home I use rechargeables.

        I can't speak for anybody else, of course. Those are my reasons.

      3. Nolveys Silver badge

        Re: Interfering mice

        To be honest, why anyone even requires a wireless keyboard and to a large extent, a mouse, when they're using a desktop PC, is beyond me.

        I find that 99% of wireless issues can be solved with wires.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Olivier2553

          Re: Interfering mice

          With a cramped desktop, the last thing you want is a keyboard too easy to stash. Else you quickly end up with no more room to lay your keyboard and you have to type on your knees.

          I have a cramped desktop, I keep a mouse pad so I know that at least that space remains free of junk.

    3. agurney

      Re: Interfering mice

      I gave up on wireless mice after losing one on a boat .. slide bounce splash.

      1. Danny 4
        Pint

        Re: Interfering mice

        You can prise my PS/2 mouse and keyboard out of my cold, dead hands...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interfering mice

      I was the PFY to a BOFH in an office full of wireless keyboards & mice. One day the BOFH & I randomized all the locations of said devices so the dongle they paired to was nowhere near the keyboard nor the mouse. Cue mass confusion as folks worked out which keyboard & which mouse worked on which computer.

      Meanwhile the BOFH & I had a "revision & regression testing meeting to discuss interoperability of key corporate infrastructure"... aka "Do you think they'll have worked out who gets what yet? No, me neither. Let's have another pint & give them a bit longer!"

      I liked my BOFH boss & was sad when I had to dispose of the body...

  7. Conundrum1885

    Re. Interfering mice

    Or my favourite, a system that one day just stopped working.

    Found evidence of mouse infestation, including possible urine traces on MB and cables after we went "Full CSI" on the machine. Got replaced and mice dealt with sternly.

    Ended up using hacked traps with a hair trigger, that would set them off if we used an air duster on them from 5 feet away.

    Guess what, leaving laptop in bag outside, in the rain on a motorbike = bad keyboard in short order.

    You can guesstimate the amount of pollution in atmosphere by timing how long a new keyboard lasts before bad keys show up, in some areas this is a six month MTBF.

    1. Vic

      Re: Re. Interfering mice

      You can guesstimate the amount of pollution in atmosphere by timing how long a new keyboard lasts before bad keys show up

      Years ago, I worked in IT support for a Regional Health Authority. Back then, you were allowed to smoke in many offices.

      It was readily apparent which ones, too - all you had to do was look at the rate of failure of terminals. Keyboards and CRTs both suffer in smoke-filled rooms...

      Vic.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad vibrations

    A customer complained about random disconnections from the lan - but only on one terminal. The problem was solved when someone noticed it coincided with the take-off and landing of a "jump-jet" on the near-by pad. It was a loose connection in the PC's wall mounted lan connector.

    1. Michael Strorm

      The problem with some sans-serif typefaces...

      "A customer complained about random disconnections from the lan"

      Maybe Ian was doing it as revenge for the impersonal way people referred to him.

  9. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    "Ghost keyboard"

    Not exactly, but the bloody Microsoft branded wireless sucker in front of me is unable to produce some shifted keys in quick succession. So far I discovered that shifted (no caps lock) SH und AG turn out to be Sh and Ag respectively if hit to fast. That keyboard almost drove me crazy until I discovered that it actually is the keyboard.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Go

      Re: "Ghost keyboard"

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_M_keyboard

      We don't need no stinkin' Windows key. Not wireless, though.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: "Ghost keyboard"

        Unicomp still sell brand new versions of the Model M, and they're quite reasonable in price.

        But, some guy turned his version in to a Wireless keyboard. So yes, we can have our cake and eat it!

        https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=43173.0

      2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: "Ghost keyboard" - Model M

        I have one. A real one. UK layout too! A bit of registry mangling has remapped the right Ctrl key (who uses that?) to be "Windows".

        I love it.

        The others in the office not so much....

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: "Ghost keyboard" - Model M

          I just recently bought second Topre Realforce (UK layout - but the wait was long) so I can have the same level of comfort both in the employer's office and my home office. If you like mechanical keyboards but people around are complaining about noise, give this model a try. In my very personal opinion it is sublime.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "smiled politely, tried not to condescend and got on with it.”

    This, every flipping day!

  11. lee harvey osmond

    "rather than any anatomical reference"

    "That's a Total Inability To Support Usual Performance, rather than any anatomical reference."

    Actually tits-up is an anatomical reference; however the tits are the teats on the udder of a dead cow lying on its back. See also "tits-up in a ditch".

    1. MOV r0,r0

      Re: "rather than any anatomical reference"

      Or, variation on 'belly-up'? In drowned humans or animals, a phase when belly and breast fat has a buoyant tendency to float the corpse upward against the mass of limbs turning it face down. In females there may be less limb mass and more breast fat, hence the somewhat indelicate expression.

    2. Vic
      Pint

      Re: "rather than any anatomical reference"

      however the tits are the teats on the udder of a dead cow lying on its back

      Or, indeed, on any one of us after a particularly fine Friday Night out...

      Vic.

  12. Tom 7 Silver badge

    A lightening breaks

    Used to work on a GEC 4000 and it could detect lightening at 30 miles and protectively switch itself off. During storms these days my fingers still tap out the cassette tape boot code!

    1. CaptainCorrection
      Headmaster

      Re: A lightening breaks

      Lightening and lightning are two different words. Please use the right one - thank you!

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: A lightening breaks

        Lightn up!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sleepy Time Admins

    I've worked with two narcoleptics.

    One guy was a top-notch Windows/SQL Server admin, so his screens always had near fatal commands on prompts and he'd suddenly drift off and there were many times he'd wake up to the incessant beeping of his stuck keyboard where he'd lay his weary head, thankfully never haven't caused any damage.

    The other guy was a DBA who'd sit up until 5am tinkering with his PC and then come into work and promptly fall asleep, quite often in the middle of team meetings. Many times we'd finish without him and just turn off the lights when we left the basement meeting rooms and he'd wake up very disorientated in a darkened room!

  14. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Lightning.

    My then-shiny-new top-of-the-range Pentium Pro 'puter got struck on New Year's Eve, December '96. Dead.

    Had to wait for shops to re-open after the holiday season to find out how bad it was. Turned out it was fine with just a new power supply (phew). But parts of the motherboard were blackened, and a corner of it curled up, forever after.

    That 'puter never actually died. It got re-purposed as a server, co-located on a server farm. It was then lost when the company hosting the server farm went titsup. RIP.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Lightning.

      About two decades back I had a lightning strike right across the street, about 30m away. And kind of out of the black*, there had been a few very distant rumblings some minutes earlier, then a single almighty explosion-like clap, with an eerie silence afterwards. Also, the street lighting was out, my GFI had tripped, as clearly had quite a few others down the street. Landline phone was out, and after I had reset the GFI it turned out that cable TV was dead too.

      Damage to my PC** was a blown-up soundcard and a dead external modem. The soundcard was literally blown up: around the connectors the circuit board was at least twice as thick as it had been before, but not otherwise visibly damaged or scorched.

      * it was just past midnight, so not blue.

      ** I had just the one, back then.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Lightning.

        Haven't lost any PCs to lightning but have lost 2 surround sound systems in succession. What was really annoying though was they were the old Acoustic Solutions systems that had about 5 different inputs on the back so you could plug in the PC, TV, Stereo, Games Console and still have spare capacity if you needed it.

  15. MOV r0,r0

    "But at the time it seemed so bad"

    Had a user claim the PC we supplied (but didn't install) was trying to kill them. Apparently the back panel was 'electrocuting' them. Yep, Cat5 to another PC on a different mains phase, back plate of the NIC had the difference on it. Chargeable.

    In another case, PFY asked for help when his malware scan went into the *second day* on a very slow customer's box (the PC was slow, not the punter - although we had them too). Was it Intel? Yep. Had it been dropped? Hmm, happened less after the change to rivet fixed coolers but it still happened - they just resorted to dropping from higher up. Always chargeable, AMD even more so.

    In another, the boyfriend-that-Mum-didn't-know-about got into the Autoexec.bat of the family W95 machine which subsequently booted with some very rude remarks indeed. Clean-living, God-fearing daughter swore blind she knew nothing so Mum naturally assumed it must have been us, the supplier right? Actually not a free-fix ploy, Mum genuinely believed her darling teenaged daughter couldn't possibly know what a **** was or that it could be ****ed until it **** all over her pert ****.

    @ECHO OFF

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "But at the time it seemed so bad"

      All those asterisks displayed on the screen while booting up. Ban this sick filth.

    2. DocJames

      Re: "But at the time it seemed so bad"

      Clean-living, God-fearing daughter swore blind she knew nothing so Mum naturally assumed it must have been us, the supplier

      So how did this problem resolve? The boyfriend provided a demonstration? You took the blame?

  16. adam payne Silver badge

    I remember when our then MD purchased a Sony Vaio from duty free on his way back from holiday.

    What could go wrong?

    First day back from his holiday he wants it on the domain and it's XP Home.

    A couple of days later it's on the domain after i'd installed XP Pro, purchased the a Pro license and struggled to find the drivers I needed as the drivers on the recovery disks were included in the recovery image and you couldn't extract them.

    Less than a year later the laptop has a dodgy motherboard but I can't do anything under warranty because it's an Asian model and Sony UK won't honour the warranty. Expensive doorstop after that.

    Best thing about the whole thing was the laptops asset tag number 000666.

    1. MOV r0,r0

      Sony laptops, so many acronyms! VAIO, RMA, DOA...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    back about 15+ years ago we had a load of Gateway PC's they had PSU's with a 110v\240v selector switch visible. I expect you're ahead of me here........ "What does this little switch do?" said user. Click BANG!, blue smoke, opppsss

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      After the first two went up in smoke, we started using CA to lock them into place. Problem solved.

    2. Mark York 3
      Pirate

      Had that the repair & recovery bill for the client was satisfyingly pleasing (even if I didn't get a penny of it) to recover his data from a HDD that basically screwed its FAT at the worst possible moment & contained his entire companies accounting records.

  18. Andytug

    Ghost in the machine

    Best random typing I ever dealt with, an XP laptop where the user had inadvertently enabled dictation (which only showed up as a 1 pixel wide bar across the top of the screen, easily overlooked).

    Random words appeared as the laptop's poor microphone struggled to pick up the correct words, but only created random sentences including the words "obama" and "sheep" for no reason. The user was convinced she had some sort of virus!

  19. breakfast
    Holmes

    Since you ask me for a tale of a psychic keyboard...

    A few years ago I heard a rather brilliant story about someone whose computer appeared to be psychic. Often while they were using it, an erroneous word would appear that they hadn't typed. The creepy part was that it would be something they were thinking about at the time, as though the computer was somehow reading their mind. They would be on the phone and look back at the screen to see the topic of their phone call had appeared somehow in their document.

    This spooky behaviour occurred fairly consistently for some time before someone realised they had accidentally enabled the speech-to-text system and the computer was picking occasional words that it could make out uncallibrated.

    1. CaptainCorrection
      Thumb Up

      Re: Since you ask me for a tale of a psychic keyboard...

      Finnemore reference!

  20. JJKing
    Mushroom

    I so dislike those switching power supplies.

    "What does this little switch do?"

    Had the same sort of switch on some 150 Compac PCs with their lovely proprietary PSU in a school. Ended up going round with a tube of Liquid Nails and bogging up the selector so the little turds would stop blowing them up. Did that after I took one home during school holidays so I could built a clean image and the thing went BANG!. Bloody stupid me.

    1. Manolo

      Re: I so dislike those switching power supplies.

      I am not an electronics engineer, but I don't think that is what "switching power supply" means :-)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched-mode_power_supply

    2. molletts

      Re: I so dislike those switching power supplies.

      I had a bunch of Compaqs like that in a school too (evo d530s, I think). Usually, they would trip out the breaker for about a third of the classroom when they went bang, which was inconvenient but not disastrous. Sometimes, though, they would trip the next breaker up, which was the whole IT department including the server room. The servers were on a woefully-undersized HP UPS which ran for about 90 seconds on batteries - nowhere near long enough for the sluggish ProLiant servers to shut down cleanly. (Seriously, HP, why were your RAID cards so slow?) Being a Private Finance (PFI) school, I had no access to the electrical cabinet so I couldn't simply sprint down and turn the power back on before the batteries ran out.

      The annoying thing was that, having glued the voltage selector switches on "230", HP then quibbled when I tried to return a genuinely-failed power supply under warranty, saying that the one I had sent back was "damaged or modified".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I so dislike those switching power supplies.

      Been there, done that, 400 bloody Dells!

      Fun times.

  21. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Ghost mice

    In my experience it's usually some USB-to-Serial adapter which Windows has decided is a legacy serial mouse when the system boots up.

  22. heyrick Silver badge

    "There was an almighty thunderclap. I jumped out of my skin and kicked the case of the PC under the desk!"

    Surely by the time the sound made it to his ears and caused a physical reaction, it'd be way too late for the computer if it was a direct strike?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Oh, I see!

      Yes - the damage wasn't caused by lightning directly, entering the computer.

      Damage was caused by lightning entering the atmosphere, makes loud bang, bang enters ears of the computer owner, stimulates bio-electrical activity in brain, bio-electricity travels down arms and legs and causes user's foot to kick the computer quite hard, causing fault.

      At least I think that's the truth of the story.

  23. sisk Silver badge

    Ghost Keyboard

    At one point everyone in my office was given wireless keyboards and mice all of the same model. By some fluke a couple people with adjacent cubicles ended up keyboards and mice that were using the same frequency and their computers were on the very edges of the maximum range for the receivers. This being a tech office, it didn't take long to figure out what was going on and correct it (by moving the receivers further away from each other) but hijinks involving them occurred sporadically for years. Often around this time of year in fact.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hates Sony. I bought one and tried to upgraded it from 2000 to XP. BSOD. And when I finally installing it, no sound, no nic video set to 16 colors. I looked it up and sony says it will only work on windows 2000.

    1. J. Cook Bronze badge

      Same here:

      I had* a Vaio FXA that would occasionally BSOD. It was running XP, at least.

      I traced the problem down to a fault with the video driver, which was a ATI Mobile Radeon or some such that had custom bios and firmware on it that sony wrote and then abandoned a year and a half later with exactly *one* driver update to it.

      * Still have, actually- the batteries are trashed, but it'll still spool up and boot, albeit into a freeBSD image that I no longer remember the root password for. For a 'daily driver' of a laptop, it did what I wanted to pretty decently.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I had one too, £84 keyboard, anyone?

      GTFO!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lightning stikes twice

    I also had a user with phantom keyboard commands. Same cause - discarded wireless keyboard under a stack of books - and my name is Pete!

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