back to article A History of (Computer) Violence: Wait. Before you whack it again, try caressing the mouse

Join us in celebrating another week on Earth with a dive into the bulging bag of Register reader tales of user misadventures, misunderstandings and mindless violence in our regular On Call feature. Today's tale of base-unit battering comes a reader we'll call "Luca" and again transports us back more than two decades, this time …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    How did the HDD survive that abuse? :)

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      We had a user kick a dent into the side of his new computer because it was slow. This wasn't the worse thing he did while we worked there, but it was the most visible.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Devil

        The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

        My worst was receiving a PC that had been shipped internationally on a pallet with a bunch of otherwise non-delicate items. Somehow a forklift operator had managed to run one of the tines of their forklift through the original cardboard/styrene packaging and deep into the interior of the PC case, just above the card slots.

        Fortunately this was in the days when there was a lot of empty space inside PC cases and despite destroying the case, the interior components were unharmed (aside from a remarkable curve introduced into the PCB of the graphics card). However, it all still worked, drives included, running happily in a new case for 3 or so more years.

        1. englishr
          FAIL

          Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

          In the mid-90s I once received a $1000 video card where the outer packing box had a mysterious triangular hole (roughly 20mm per side) on both sides. Upon opening the box, the video card retail packaging also had a 20mm triangular hole on both side.

          You will be unsurprised to hear that the video card exhibited the same defect; it looked like a pretty clean cut, and where the hole intersected chips, the chips were neatly sheared. Needless to say, I returned the card without actually testing it's function.

          I have no idea what might have punched such a hole - any thoughts?

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Pirate

            It's a mystery wrapped in an iron bar

            I'm guessing a star post, though not sure what the circumstances would be to introduce one to your parcel.

          2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            My guess - a Predator hunting Arnie...

            1. FeRDNYC

              Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

              GET TO DAH C:\GAMES\CHOPLIFTAAAAAAH!!

          3. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
            Coat

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            Fast moving Toblerone?

          4. FeRDNYC

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            They thought it was a Phalanx XR-12 computer. They only take triangular disks.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

              "Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic. The Phalanx XR-12's floppy disks are neither floppy, nor disks. Discuss!"

        2. Red Ted
          FAIL

          Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

          I've seen the results of a test rack (think full height server rack) stuffed with very expensive RF test kit that was in a packing crate suitable for international shipping being dropped off the fork lift as it was being loaded in to the plane at Heathrow.

          The rack itself was bent, the controller PC was wrecked, but the RF test kit? That all still worked fine!

          That's still better than the poor UK Class 70 Locomotive that was dropped as it was unloaded from the cargo ship at Newport. One end of the 127ton railway engine landed on the dock first and gave the loco an interesting banana shape!

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            I saw a 7ft safe tip over and some silly sod attempt to hold it up. How he wasn't killed I'll never know.

          2. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
            FAIL

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            Not IT related, but when I was working as a development engineer for a very large electrical manufacturer in the Midlands, we had a rush job to refurbish two cabinets of circuit breakers for BR Southern Region. The final assembly was being done in a bay we called "The Elephant House" because of its high lift capability, by our two Elephant Trainers, Sid and Sam. Because of a delay in procuring some vital parts, the build was not completed until late on Friday afternoon, and Dispatch and Transport were waiting impatiently outside with the Commer TS3 (sounded lovely, ever heard one on full song?) low loader. Eventually, Sid and Sam completed buckling up the cabinets, which were about four feet square and eight feet high, and lifted them with the overhead crane onto the low loader. Without waiting for any strapping down, the driver (who was anxious to get home) drove off down the yard to D&T. Everything was fine until he started to back it into their loading bay, which involved negotiating a slight ramp up from ground level to the building floor level. As he was approaching at a 45° angle to the threshold, one side of the semitrailer rose and tipped both cabinets off the other side, where they crashed to the ground, destroying all of the circuit breakers inside and distorting the cabinet frames. They were eventually lifted back onto the low loader and returned to the Elephant House, but, needless to say, they weren't delivered that week (or the next, either).

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            Did it still work ?

          4. deep_enigma

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            "...in a packing crate suitable for international shipping being dropped off the fork lift... The rack itself was bent..."

            Then it was not in a packing crate suitable for international shipping...

        3. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

          I, too, have a forklift story.

          In 2001, I was working for [multi-national ISP], and we had ordered a Juniper M160 core router with a bunch of cards in it- total value was over the $2million USD level.

          The shipping company had dropped it off the truck at some point, and used a forklift to up-right it, as there was a tine-shaped hole in the wooden crate, along with all the shock-watch and tip-n-tell stickers being tripped. In the process of righting it, they put a nice dent in the back of the router. Fortunately, the innards were still OK, and it fired right up in our burn-in lab.

          There was also the time that UPS dropped a pair of 'just-released' Cisco ASR10000 access/edge routers. They were badly damaged (chassis was deformed, dented, and a couple of the line cards were trashed) and we ended up sending them back, IIRC.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            I, too, have a forklift story.

            Moi Aussi..

            Years back was re-certifying for forklift driving.

            The certification was done at a company that provided forklifts for rent (among other things).

            Whilst there I watched a new forklift mast being unloaded from a truck. First a couple of pallets of other items were removed including some nice and somewhat expensive looking screens. As the workers at the firm renown for providing training in the area were starting to remove the mast, I called a stop to our proceedings and suggested everyone watch a very good training demonstration.

            The new mast was lifted, the forklift backed, then turned. And of course the mast (at however many ton) proceeded to topple. First it hit one of the companies vans taking out a mirror and headlight/indicator, then finished it's journey by landing on the pallet of screens. No idea how many were damaged but the damage to the van would've been quite pricey.

            The tutor asked me what I would've done differently, and I said "simple - lashed the new mast to the mast on my forklift". Something I learned in much the same way many years back, but thankfully with neither witnesses nor damage.

            I'm kinda glad I was training outside, not within earshot of the driver's boss when he no doubt got given a very polite bit of advise on future job prospects.

        4. FeRDNYC

          Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

          Any mention of a forklift requires this obligatory link, courtesy of El Reg commenter allthecoolshortnamesweretaken, whose original 2016 comment I shall simply quote verbatim:

          Everything you never wanted to know about about operating a forklift and couldn't be bothered to ask.

          It starts like the usual work instruction/safety regulations training video... and turns into something very much like the "Salad Days" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. Don't mind that it's in German, you'll get it without the dialogue.

          1. d2

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            ✔gruesomely/ highly entertaining BFTP✔taa, v.much,FeRDNYC

            cheers

          2. d2

            Re: The tine of a forklift wielded like a scalpel

            even better...

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPpwLCvPAME

            Fork Lift Driver Klause - English Dub

            oferiniowa

            youtube.com/watch?v=rTMnUNaGMOQ

            Amazing forklift tricks! Picking up a coin with a forklift and placing it on top of a water bottle

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Hard drives per pretty tough considering their tiny tolerances, but if it was in the screensaver the drive was likely inactive with the head parked anyway.

      1. FeRDNYC

        I'm not even sure drives at that time had auto-parking heads, TBH.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          I'm not even sure drives at that time had auto-parking heads, TBH.

          I had a friend tell me how newer drives would park themselves. He'd 'gone home' by the time 95 came out (lucky bugga) so they must have been available by then.

          1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            auto-park

            No, in '95 it was not on the market. Only in technology news. First laptop drives appeared around '97 and desktop drives after 2000.

            There is a HGST whitepaper about it, but original links are now dead.

            www.scribd.com/document/327046650/LoadUnload-White-Paper-FINAL

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: auto-park

              Accrording to Seagate, they had auto-park on their drives as early as 1991, see "ftp://ftp.seagate.com/techsuppt/mfm/st251.txt" (sorry, el reg doesn't seem to allow clickable FTP links). This was not the unloading by moving the heads onto ramps off the actual platter (it's not the heads themselves but the arm next to the heads in drives I've looked at, the heads themselves 'dangle in mid air' so-to-speak) The system in the Seagate text used a roughened area of the disk surface to prevent stiction between the heads/platters when parked.

              The link at https://www.coursehero.com/file/17308847/LoadUnload-white-paper-FINAL/ gives a little more of the paper you mention. It also references the Seagate system (in fact that's where I got the 'roughened surface' mentioned above)

              From what I can tell all IDE drives have had some form of auto-park, and I have dismantled pre-2000 drives with such features. I may even have one or two around still that can be donated to a viewing someday, but first I must get some data of them (and some old Conner SCSI drives) before I have a look at them.

              The mechanism in IDE drives is very simple, a "return spring" on the head arm is always pulling the head back towards the park. In the event of a power loss the spring pulls the heads back hopefully before the drive stops spinning, otherwise the head sticks quite firmly to the platter. Once that happens you maybe have a 50/50 chance of getting it working again, less of working perfectly, bit more if you send it to a proper recovery lab.

              That said, the context of the original discussion is closer to heads parking/unloading while the computer is idle, not any form of auto-parking when the power is cut.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: auto-park

                That said, the context of the original discussion is closer to heads parking/unloading while the computer is idle, not any form of auto-parking when the power is cut.

                Just-missed-edit-window to add : My Adaptec SCSI card's Win311 driver software had an 'automatic spin down idle drives after [user-set] minutes function, along with spin up and spin down buttons for each drive. I think I know where the card is so could find it after a few hours digging over the weekend to find out what vintage the card was (if I put it in the box with the drives mentioned earlier, it'll take all of a minute to get to it when I get there)

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Stone age technology

      At that time the capacities were about 0.2 to 2GB. FAT16 could only handle up to 2GB per partition and there was a bad chance that a 'modern' BIOS would limit you to 2GB per disk (recently improved from the 500MB limit). As hard disk tech improved more rapidly than software the near uselessness of a 2.5GB hard disk gave the better manufacturers the opportunity to focus on reliability.

    4. phuzz Silver badge
      Meh

      You can drop a harddrive from above head-height, onto a solid floor, and it will still work well enough to take an image, go into a customer's PC, and pass QC and be shipped out.

      Erm, just don't ask me how I know.

      Or how I know that motherboards don't require every single capacitor on them to be attached...

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Yes, but you dropped the hard drive whilst it was turned off, and probably with the heads parked properly. It's still surprising it survived, but if you do it with drive turned on it's a lot less reliable.

        Various parts of motherboards can die without killing the whole board, but you may lose functionality or stop meeting emissions or power management targets..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE: but if you do it with drive turned on it's a lot less reliable

          Yes that is too true.

          I had a laptop that was annoying to no ends by hanging randomly for several seconds at a time.

          I found out the hard way that pounding on my desk in frustration was not helpful.

          After that the laptop's problems included random pauses for disk retries and sector relocations. It was getting old so I just got a newer laptop.

      2. xhosa

        gravity is a bitch but not nearly as bad as ppl creating "eng. change orders" (ECO:s)

        I remember sitting on an island, hours away from the mainland, finding an ECO that ordered the service personnel to cut an etch connecting the input of an operational amplifier to ground, effectively creating an antenna to all and any radio signal happening to be around. That day's mobile phones included.

        That took some work.

        Those Dasher printers had some real problems...

        Regards,

        ex_Data General employee

        p

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because whacking a big hunk of metal with your hand will cause very little force to be exerted on the innards of said box? It would be the equivalent force of hitting the desk with the same effort.

      Unless you knocked the box off the desk and onto the floor that is...

    6. Blackjack

      Compaq computers back then were only slighty less sturdy than Ataris, I had one that lasted 16 years before the hard disk died and since the bios was on the hard disk that was it. I still recycled the floppy drive and the CD rom drive.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      abuse

      DEC computer enclosures were beefy suckers. The question is: how did the user's fist survive that abuse?

    8. Baldrickk Silver badge

      My brother just moved house.

      I've just replaced the CPU cooler (had one to hand) and discovered that the DVD drive is now inoperational.

      Seems it's been knocked around or dropped.

      HDD is ok though.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They don't make them like they used to, in our day......

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    Whacksing benefits

    My one year old HP printer that my wife bought for me when the previous one died of old age, seized up after 3 months in a box after moving house.

    The jets dried up, cleaning didn't help, the paper pick up was intermittent and when it did pick up the registration was random, I tried everything I could think of including an almost complete rebuild of the bits I couldplay with.

    Nothing made the slightest bit of difference so in the end in exasperation I gave it a whack, the the scanner glass broke and I had the immediate opportunity to consign the fecking thing to a landfill.

    Now looking for a domestic but decent laser jet.

    1. dv

      Re: Whacksing benefits

      Brother MFC-L2712DN. A surprisingly good printer for the price tag.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Whacksing benefits

        I use some old Brother printer at home for so long that I would like to replace it, but the thing just keeps going. The only trouble is that drivers installation in Linux is less than ideal - only supports certain few distros and requires 32bit libraries.

        1. Is It Me Bronze badge

          Re: Whacksing benefits

          I can also recommend the Brother laser printers.

          I didn't check the size when I ordered my Brother HL-L8250CDN, but as it was less than £150 when I got it from Amazon I was expecting a small colour laser and get a workgroup one.

          That said it has been in use for over 3 years, still on the delivery toner and hasn't missed a beat.

          Google print allows me to print from Chrome at work, or on my phone from anywhere, which is something I never thought would be useful but has turned out to be.

          I also supported a fair few of them in heavy use in schools in the past and they seemed to be rock solid there, and anything that survives the abuse some teachers gives out must be good.

          1. Antonius_Prime
            Joke

            Re: Whacksing benefits

            I'm in no way knocking the printer reccomendations, but it seems t'me that you gents are popping up more and more in every thread I read these days!

            You sure you aren't working for Zuck or Bezos?

            XD

            1. xhosa

              Re: Whacksing benefits

              absolutely NOT!

        2. FeRDNYC

          Re: Whacksing benefits

          I'm going to guess it's somewhere vaguely around the age of my own Brother (MFC-5460CN, purchased in like 2007), which is ostensibly in the same situation. The only downloadable driver packages for my (Fedora) installation are mfc5460cnlpr-1.0.1-1.i386.rpm and mfc5460cncupswrapper-1.0.1-1.i386.rpm. However, it's not really all that big a deal, because as it turns out...

          1. The scanner utilities are available as 64-bit packages, for some reason

          2. The printer binaries aren't linked with any 32-bit libraries other than glibc

          3. For at least some of the printer tools, source is available (yay GPL!), so it's possible to compile your own 64-bit binaries.

          I ended up having to patch /usr/bin/brprintconf_mfc5460cn to correct an issue (the media_command string length was only 100 characters, which was too short for complex configuration), so I went to Brother's site and downloaded the ink3_GPL_src_101-1.tar.gz source (which matches my printer generation, ink2 was for even-older, ink4 for slightly less ancient... you get the drill), patched it to change 'char media_command[100];' to 'char media_command[500];', compiled it, and now I have a 64-bit /usr/bin/brprintconf_mfc5460cn that doesn't crash when I choose too many options in the printer configs.

          I do sort of want to replace the printer (which is so past-it that the yellow ink line is irreparably clogged, meaing I can only use it to print grayscale), but I use it more as a scanner than a printer these days, it's still a better-than-average network scanner, and replacing it would mean having to deal with new drivers, new utils, new ink supplies to purchase, etc.

          So... meh. One day it'll actually die on me for real, and then I'll probably replace it. I mean, hopefully when it does die, it's because the scanner lamp craps out or something, at which point my hand will be forced. Because if there's any way I can keep it shambling along in some sort of half-alive zombie form, history has shown that I absolutely will.

    2. simonlb Silver badge

      Re: Whacksing benefits

      I had a HP Photosmart printer which TBH never worked right in the 18 months I owned it. When it decided one day that it also would not pick up paper from the front cassette or the rear tray I unplugged it, stood on a chair and dropped it onto the floor from about 8 feet up. Once it had stopped bouncing I jumped off the chair and gave it both my size elevens as well.

      Felt much better afterwards, and also got some curious looks from the staff at the local tip when I took the shattered remains for disposal the following Saturday.

      1. Fortycoats

        Re: Whacksing benefits

        Straight outta Office Space!

        1. Richard 111
          Devil

          Re: Whacksing benefits

          Lyrics not safe for work

          Office Space - Printer Scene (UNCENSORED)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9wsjroVlu8

          1. J. Cook Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Whacksing benefits

            The phrase Peanut butter jelly time also comes to mine, specifically the line "with a baseball bat". :)

            (youtube link is not a rick-roll, but the usual class 3 meme warnings are in effect.)

          2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: Whacksing benefits

            I once worked at a GEC 4080 installation with an absolute dog of a GEC badged band printer. The maintenance guys forever had the panels off trying to coax it into printing *and* moving the paper up in synchronism (among other problems). After much agonising by the PTB I was tasked with sourcing a replacement. GEC's offering looked suspiciously the same as a DataProducts printer but with £10k added for the GEC badge and the blue spray-paint job. DP's salesman did an excellent job of working out what else GEC did to prevent the DP product from being a direct replacement, as well as giving (legal!) tips for ensuring he got the business if the purchase were to go out for tender.

            Having successfully replaced the printer I had to go through the hoops of disposing of the original from the asset register. The department handling the bidding process rang me shortly after the closing date and said "This bid for 2.5p, is it a serious bid?" Turns out one of the maintenance guys had put in a joke bid and this guy is telling me that if he's not careful Mr Maintenance man would be committed to take said unit off the premises as his was the highest bid.

    3. xhosa

      Re: Whacksing benefits

      Brother L2375DW works like a charm over WiFi. Both me an my fiance can use it from Linux 18.04. The installation was no easy thing, but the result is stable and the printer is faultless after 2 yrs. I wrote some notes that may help (or mislead you) in case...

      per.funke @ gmail.com

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whacksing benefits

        Brother MFC240C for me. Had it for years, scans and prints just fine, and best of all, aftermarket cartridges are $12 for a 12-pack on Amazon!

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    Back in the day...

    The old square metal cased Microvitec CRT monitors had an occasional issue, I believe due to the top connection to the tube being a bit close to the metal case. Occasionally the users would complain of a wobbly picture.

    Standard practice was to visit the user's desk and explain that you had to carry out a very technical and delicate procedure that required special training. Once you'd lulled them in to a false sense of security giving the monitor an almighty whack, simultaneously on both sides, would generally cure the problem and make the user jump in the air.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Back in the day...

      Sounds like a stuck relay for demagnetizing - a whack and it gets unstuck and the constant demagnetizing ends.

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Back in the day...

      The old square metal cased Microvitec CRT monitors had an occasional issue, I believe due to the top connection to the tube being a bit close to the metal case. Occasionally the users would complain of a wobbly picture.

      I remember that! Had a couple of those screens back in the day, and for whatever reason they were the envy of several friends (especially as I got them free). Cannot recall what happened to them.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Percussive maintenance

    Usually with a big hammer? I heard stories about some old Apple gear that needed a whack to get the HD spinning in order to boot.

    I'm wondering who the PFY was that set the screen saver setting to black? I'll have to remember that one!

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      I had a work 486 box with a sticky HD. A quick twist of the PC in the correct plane at startup would get it spinning.

      We did have a 5 1/4" HD that refused to spin up at all. As a last resort we took the top off, plugged it in and then spun it manually. Once it was running it kept going long enough to retrieve the data.

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Percussive maintenance

        Done the same with a 3 1/2" drive - around 250GB IIRC.

        Also had one that only worked when cold, so being in the depths of winter had it hanging out of the window by its IDE cable to get the data off it.

        Others with sticky bearings required a percussive start (seagate barracudas of a certain vintage)

        Can't do any of that with SSDs though :-(

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Percussive maintenance

          @AC

          "(seagate barracudas of a certain vintage)"

          O dear lord. I think *everyone* I knew at that point had one (or more) of those. And brought them to me to get the data off when they replaced them.

        2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          Re: Percussive maintenance

          access to a freezer, stick it in a bag, leave in freezer overnight, keep room cold, attach hard drive and grab what you can before it warms up...

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Percussive maintenance

            access to a freezer, stick it in a bag, leave in freezer overnight, keep room cold, attach hard drive and grab what you can before it warms up...

            Leaving it in the freezer could sometimes help.. Not often but sometimes :)

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      The SCSI drives in the Mac II series sometimes needed a whack to unstick them if they hadn't been used for a while. I did this once with my IIsi's drive (banged it side-on against the floor, to be precise).

    3. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      I've used a hammer a couple of times on a stuck HDD, a smart tap on a dead drive worked wonders and caused the users eyes to almost pop out. Similarly with an ipad when the graphics go all vga (or worse) a gentle bending brings it back. Amazingly daft design.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      There was a batch of HD (don't recall the maker) that had a coating on the platters that was sticker than normal, especially when the drive was cold.

      One place I was at had a server within one of these disks, and it ran fine for many years until there was a long-duration power cut over the weekend. Came in on Monday morning to find the server reporting "failed to boot" and the outer case nearly too hot to touch.

      The heads had, as designed, landed on the platters and everything cooled down. When the power came back, the extra stickiness meant the platter motor was not strong enough to spin up the drive. Unfortunately, the controller didn't care and left the motor powered at a stall, resulting in the drive getting so hot that the platters de-laminated. Luckily there was a decent backup in place.

    5. PickledAardvark

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      Apple made some very strange choices for hard disk suppliers in the 1980s. Rodime supplied a mechanism for the HD20, a floppy port hard disk for the Mac 512. By standards of the day, it was fairly reliable but if it went wrong, there were no replacements. The first Mac SEs and IIs used internal hard disks from MiniScribe (unreliable, incredibly noisy) then Sony (unreliable and withdrawn under warranty). The same SCSI mechanisms were used in Apple-branded external hard drives.

      For all hard drives suffering from stiction, the "fix" is to throw the drive like a discus -- but without letting go. Throw it three times and plug it back in. Note that strange noises do not necessarily mean that a drive is faulty.

      Few polite things can be said about Microsoft screen savers. The OpenGL based screen savers of Windows 2000/XP actually increased power consumption when the PC was "idle".

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: Percussive maintenance

        I used to work with a cruddy Beowulf cluster - Pentium 4s, IIRC, and it was decided to disable the screensavers because they were using up CPU cycles we wanted to spend predicting the future.

        Problem was that corporate policy required unattended machines be locked to prevent unauthorised access.

        So, naturally, we just put them all in a climate-controlled room (a tiny cupboard-like space that was once the office for a presumably small manager), and locked the door to the room instead. Proper keypasses and stuff so only certain people could get in there, and it was all tracked and logged.

        Audit were happy, and so we were we, at least until the air con died one autumn (leaves in the vents - this was the same year the trains failed because of the wrong kind of snow, IIRC).

        1. FeRDNYC

          Re: Percussive maintenance

          a cruddy Beowulf cluster

          Now there's a name I've not heard in a long, long time. A long time.

      2. Andy A
        Holmes

        Re: Percussive maintenance

        It was Rodime who made the drives for early hard disk Apricots.

        They ran reasonably well until people arrived at work on a cold morning. They refused to spin up.

        Investigation found condensation on the platters, and surface tension meant that the heads were acting as brakes.

        The official work around, suggested by Rodime, was a thump on the right hand side of the case with the heel of the hand,

        The heads bounced, and the platters turned!

    6. PM from Hell
      WTF?

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      Percussive maintenance was a real thing on Mainframe kit. Especially printer and hard disk drives.

      Over time the arms holding the disc read write heads would drift out of alignment. This would start to cause read write errors as they were drifting outside the track. Left long enough then the disc would become unreadable when they were re-adjusted. The initial official repair was to loosen the mountings and adjust the orientation of the arm. Needless to say making an adjustment of 1/10 millimetre then tightening the bracket always lead to extended outages and much swearing by the hardware engineer.when the work was complete to the 'correct' specification the data was often unreadable and would need to be restored from a backup.

      One senior engineer decided to tackle the symptom and instead of returning the drive to spec, 'adjusted' the position of the arm by hitting the heavy aluminium bracket with a 3 pound hammer. a heavy tap would result in a tiny deformation. the fix time generally came down from a half day to a few minutes with access to the data retained. But as the engineer said it's not hitting it with the hammer that's the skill its knowing where and how hard to hit it. Line printers had similar issues as the print band slipped out of alignment but that was a far rarer event. what was quite hilarious to see was the hammer used for the job, Most Mainframe engineering tools were works of art, carefully crafted to both do the job and re-enforce what a wonderful device was being worked on and how skilled our engineers were. as the hammer wasn't an official tool it tended to be one used in a previous life as a tech in the Royal Air Force or Royal Engineers (most senior engineers had learned a trade doing National Service)

      1. Andy A

        Re: Percussive maintenance

        Where I first started work, the site engineers had a device labelled "CPU REPAIR TOOL", those letters having been burned, probably with a soldering iron, into the wooden handle of an ordinary claw hammer.

        When the processor developed one of those intermittent, irreproducible problems, they would remove the backs of the cabinets, then run the hammer smartly along the edges of the boards in the frames.

        This reseated the hundreds of boards into their sockets in seconds, and the machine would run perfectly again.

    7. Oengus Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      My boss used to tell users that we were specially trained in the delivery of percussive maintenance. He explained that there was a lot of training in not only knowing where to apply the maintenance but more importantly exactly how much maintenance to apply .

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Percussive maintenance

        Sometimes the best solution to a problem is to apply the percussive maintenance to the user themselves, as that's often the root cause of the issue.

      2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Percussive maintenance

        My boss used to tell users that we were specially trained in the delivery of percussive maintenance. He explained that there was a lot of training in not only knowing where to apply the maintenance but more importantly exactly how much maintenance to apply .

        And in certain all-too satisfying cases, knowing when to stop before your desire for vengance on the thing outweighs the need to fix it...

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      Had one of the crayon chewers turn up to work with a venerable Macintosh SE that wouldn't start a few months ago, when he was trying to show off... Cue a comment to me as I wander past the desk if I knew of anything.

      One big hit to the back and it fires right up. Said professional doodle botherer couldn't figure out if he was horrified or impressed. It was fun watching him try to settle on one of them.

      Anon to protect the bemused..

    9. swm Silver badge

      Re: Percussive maintenance

      Generally the way to get a stuck disk rotating used to be to rotate the cabinet back and forth.

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Boffin

    The ways of "The Mouse" are manyfold

    That's just one of the ways new users are taken in by this evil entity.

    About a year ago I was asked to look at a problem one of the office ladies had with the scroll wheel. It would go 'up' with no problem, but when going 'down' after a short distance the pointer stopped moving. Rather to my surprise it did behave exactly as described, so I grabbed a spare one and that behaved perfectly. The boss was quite happy to order another spare, so I took the faulty one home to examine.

    I confirmed it still did this on my computer, then opened it up. At first I couldn't see the problem, but when working the wheel with the top off I spotted a tiny lump of crap moving. It turned out there was a hair wrapped round the wheel spindle which when scrolled one way, would pull this over the photodetector. This wasn't wrapped tight enough to stop the wheel moving though. As soon as you scrolled in the other direction, it would drop back out of the way.

    The user was delighted to get 'her' cured mouse back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The ways of "The Mouse" are manyfold

      You broke the first law of tech salvage there. If it doesn't work in the office and is deemed US and you take it home and fix it, it's yours. I wasn't able to take advantage of that early in my career as I was a mainframe tech. Whilst I had the opportunity to obtain some heavy iron for free I didn't have the aircon raised floors or 3 phase power in my garage.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: The ways of "The Mouse" are manyfold

        Very true... normally, but that rule is rescinded when said lady, supplies tea/coffee (and hobnobs) with seeming telepathic awareness of the need - all out of the company's petty cash.

      2. PickledAardvark

        Re: The ways of "The Mouse" are manyfold

        A former colleague and University of Manchester mates acquired some intriguing bits in the 1970s. They fired them up using a home brew distribution board which drew feeds from three different floors at their hall of residence.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The ways of "The Mouse" are manyfold

        Hmmm, but it's open to abuse...I think enough time has passed...

        We had a deal a my palce when hardware upgrades on PCs happend. £30 for a working box and £15 for a dead one to be stripped for parts. Well the testing team weren't the most tech savvy, so I'd head into the store room, open the boxes I fancied and flip the dip switches in the casing, close up. Sent boxes for checking and only bought the ones that were "busted"! Got 'em home, flipped the switches back and sold them to friends and family for £50 a pop!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good old percussive maintenance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I love percussive maintenance, especially when done with gusto (and leaving zero evidence of said percussive maintenance), and get the Beancounter's RAID to drop offline.

      Preferably in the middle of a data backup session.

      Muhuhaha.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just don't do it when they're doing the payroll run...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the good old days of Marquee screensavers suggesting inventive ways of knocking the desk such that the mouse moves.

  8. Symon Silver badge
    Coat

    "Luca [was] dispatched to resolve the situation."

    Upstairs on the 2nd floor?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Luca [was] dispatched to resolve the situation."

      Ah yes...I think I might have seen him before

      1. FeRDNYC

        Re: "Luca [was] dispatched to resolve the situation."

        Dammit! Now I have Madonna stuck in my head.

        ...That may require some explanation. You see, my brain is either a clever DJ not afraid to wander outside his comfort zone, or a psychopath (#WhyNotBoth), because at some point in time the opening to that song ended up getting spliced seamlessly into "Papa Don't Preach", inside my head.

        I have No. Idea. how the song goes past the first four lines, anymore, because in my brain this is the only way I can hear it:

        My name is Luca,

        I live on the second floor

        I live upstairs from you,

        Yes I think you've seen me before.

        The one you told me all about,

        The one you said I could do without,

        We're in an awful mess

        And I don't mean maybe! Please...

        etc, etc.

      2. OzBob

        Re: "Luca [was] dispatched to resolve the situation."

        Ah yes, that Susanne Vega song about performing "percussive maintenance" on a child (double points for includng both topics in your response). Bring back those days when it was legal here, I was beaten regularly as a nipper, never did me any harm (except for the desire to belt children when they misbehave, of course).

  9. Frogmaster

    Pain and Fear

    I has a colleague who left a cricket bat dangling on a piece of string by his PC. To "encourage it to behave". His view was as soon as computers could be given feelings the first should be pain, closely followed by fear.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Pain and Fear

      Was he called Ian Faith?

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Pain and Fear

      As I have recounted here before, we have a 10lb lump hammer hanging off a rack in the server room, where all the servers can see it.

      And a friend of mine leaves the carcass of a Dell PE850 on the bench, with a large screwdriver embedded in the motherboard, as a salutary warning to others who might stray...

      1. ma1010 Silver badge

        Re: Pain and Fear

        "Pour Encourager Les Autres," so to speak?

        1. Mark Allen

          Re: Pain and Fear

          When my clients tell me a printer is playing up, I tell them to place a hammer on the scanner and take a scan. Remind the device who is in charge.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pain and Fear

      I have a couple of hard drives from former PCs sitting on top of my machine. It behaves itself.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Delicate adjustment

    We used to have an old dot matrix printer - an Oki Microline 3320 I believe, that had a habit of intermittantly picking up 3 sheets of paper from the feeder, rather than the traditional 1 at a time.

    It always seemed to do this in the middle of a long print job, meaning that the user would get a bit miffed with the printer.

    Strangely, once the printer was picked up and thrown to the floor by the miffed user, we would pick it up, plug it back in, and then it would start printing normally again - rubbish paper handling, but superb damage resistance!

    1. J. Cook Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Delicate adjustment

      Oh gods; the ML 320 (and later, the 320 turbo) are bloody tanks. I worked at a financial place that used a huge number of them as receipt printers back in the 90's, and the tellers abused the utter crap out of them- We had some come in that had broken covers and control panels (but still worked, and the tellers were rabid about us not replacing them!), worn gearing, and other bits of damage. I got to the point where I could completely re-build one in under an hour and have it printing as good as new, unless something like the plastic base was broken. (Had one of those come in, it was one of the few that we had to scrap, after gutting it for parts)

      It's a good solid printer that you could (in theory) drop on someone's foot and the printer would still keep right on going, even after the owner of the foot it was dropped on threw it back at you...

      Beer, because it's almost beer-o'clock on this side of the world.

      1. Andy A

        Re: Delicate adjustment

        Had a fault on an ancient OKI (ML184?) where it started off OK, then after about 15 seconds the print head slowed and eventually stopped.

        I realised that the print carriage had done so many millions of trips back and forth along its shiny metal guide rod that it had an oval cross section rather than the original circular one.

        This being an engineering place, a can of WD40 was to hand, and full speed head movement was reinstated. The folk there then gave it a quick spray whenever they changed the ribbon.

        The ML320 boxes normally lasted about 3 months in that place, where the old printers were approaching the end of their second decade.

  11. wayneinuk

    I had a lovely user in the company Marketing department that was constantly complaining that the monitor she had was blurred and was giving her headaches. Having looked at it several times and finding no fault I retrieved it back to our IT Department where I changed the company asset sticker and returned the same monitor back to her (with a different shiny new asset sticker). She thanked me several times during the week saying the new monitor had made such a positive difference :-)

  12. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    Does punching 'reset' count?

    It was 2003 and I was 3hrs into a Win98 install on a 486 (and my 8th reboot* after driver install) when I installed the motherboard chipset driver (from board mnfr}. Reboot

    You all know what happens next. Windows takes 8-10 mins to respond to each and every button press or mouse click.

    Safe mode reboot failed to improve matters (or my mood as experience said reinstall would be 3hrs + another couple of hrs for Office.

    I punched the case hard (it hurt). Then I punched Reset and shouted "f**king Windows. F**k you. Take that"

    Shoved a Mandriva install disk in drive (never tried before).

    45 minutes later in bed. ONE reboot, all system and Appli(???) Office installed AND dialup configured; all emails collected

    Never put Win on a home PC since.

    *Had to create an msdos boot disk to load cdrom drivers so that the Win95 install disk would be readable and I could manually call setup.exe...

    1. Annihilator

      Re: Does punching 'reset' count?

      "It was 2003 and I was 3hrs into a Win98 install on a 486 (and my 8th reboot* after driver install) when I installed the motherboard chipset driver (from board mnfr}. Reboot"

      Kids today don't know they're born - even Win XP probably needed 5 or 6 attended reboots to install. (wait 20 minutes, reboot, enter product key, reboot, wait 20 minutes, enter user settings, reboot, wait 20 minutes, enter network settings...)

      And that's without the memory of 3.x and the multitude of floppy disk swaps. Thankfully was never crazy enough to do a Win95 install from floppy...

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Does punching 'reset' count?

        I've done that once. The PC in question was an old 486 that was already ancient at that time and didn't have a CDrom drive. I don't remember it being any more difficult to do than doing it by CDrom.

        1. FeRDNYC

          Re: Does punching 'reset' count?

          Yeah, it really wasn't that bad. Where things got ugly was installing stuff like Visual C++ from floppies, because with the MFC libraries and everything there were like TWENTY-SOMETHING of them!

      2. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: Does punching 'reset' count?

        Really?

        I always used to configure those from the admin cmd prompt while installing.

        And then fire up solitaire...

      3. herman Silver badge

        Re: Does punching 'reset' count?

        I did a Win95 install from 20 floppy disks and I am still suffering the consequences.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Does punching 'reset' count?

      The last and fasted AMD-486dx4 for normal PCs was around 1995. And you installed Win98 on a machine which was, at least, eight years old, maybe even ten+ years old. The last P5-Penitum of that era was from 1997.

      Now to your year 2003: You still choose to install an OS on a machine which, by the time that OS was released, was already considered slow and low end. Probably with less than 16 Megs of RAM. Maybe with other things not in order, like SMARTDRV not loaded and buffers in config.sys way too low, things which Win98 installation automatically cares about when booting and formatting from the CD. And then you complain?

      If it was a 486dx, without any /2 /4 number, the PC would have been, in 2003, about 12 years old. Before DOOM 1 was released.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Does punching 'reset' count?

        My guess is OP is a little maso. Installing '98 on anything slower than a P2 was an exercise in frustration and tears.

  13. Tom 38 Silver badge

    His name is Luca, he lives on the second floor

    And they only hit until you cry - after that, you don't ask why, you just don't argue anymore.

  14. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
    Unhappy

    Percussive maintenance in the car

    The driver's window controls occasionally drop out, and I've found the best solution is a solid whack (or three) against the side which somehow gets the connection working again. It's been annoying having to do this just to get the window down to order at a drive-thru. This has been going on at least a year.

    Speaking of the driver's window controls: one of the "up" contacts in the push/pull rocking switches (front passenger) is completely gone (last 2-3 years), so I can only use that window when someone is in that seat and can use the control in that door. The rear passenger switch is similarly starting to fail.

    Also recently, I've had left-side speakers drop out: rear one permanently, front one intermittently, coming back either at louder volumes (TOO loud) or semi-randomly based on dashboard temperature. (I haven't worked out the causality yet.)

    (I should note, this is one of our actual family cars -- both "American" SUVs -- not the "other car" from my handle. Windows? HA! And that radio only brings in chatter a la C.B.; no music channels available.)

    I don't like pulling apart my car's interior just to fix annoying wiring as long as the engine is running fine (at least, ever since I had the timing chains fixed). I'm going to eke out a few more years then probably invest in a pickup truck when finances improve. The other car for the missus is a lease which we just swapped out and are fine sticking with leasing. Maybe I'll lease that truck also.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Percussive maintenance in the car

      Are your failing speakers in the doors? Moisture can penetrate and slightly corrode the terminals leading to intermiitent contact. Had this in an old Vectra (I believe that's a.k.a. a GM Saturn for you left-pondians), a gentle kick to the door panel would sometimes restore the connection.

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        Re: Percussive maintenance in the car

        "A" pillar for the front (between windshield and front door) and the rear bodywork near the cargo area.

        The most troublesome part is the car's alert sounds (headlights left on, door open with keys in ignition, etc.) are routed through the radio to only the driver's speaker, so I don't get many of those dings any more. Subsequently, I have left the lights on, but the "You idiot!" circuitry turns them off after a while and I haven't killed the battery (yet).

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Percussive maintenance in the car

      In the 80s I bought a new FIAT which turned out to be like many Italian cars of that time, great to drive but not very well built. Things really did come off in your hand when driving, window winders, gear-lever top, driver’s mirror... The next car, a Volvo, was an overcompensation - Totally reliable, built like a tank, but dull to drive.

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        Re: Percussive maintenance in the car

        Your Volvo sounds like those Strykers I keep referring to:

        - Reliable -- Once we got the bad splices in the CAN bus wiring fixed, at least the powertrain worked.

        - Built like a tank -- It IS a (light) tank

        - Dull to drive -- Admittedly, I never drove one (I'm an engineer, not a union mechanic, but I did read the driver's manual), but they're pretty dull to ride in: no view and lots of nausea from sitting sideways to the direction of travel, combined with the fact that we only needed to ride them to take telemetry to fix problems during shakedown tests, often involving figure-8s and other tight maneuvers. Add the stuffy atmosphere and my motion sickness was on high on those track days. I actually preferred my desk, even if it was a fabric-walled box; I just like to brag about what I work on to strangers.

  15. Russ Tarbox

    Shovel attack

    I once got a deal on a PC that had been attacked by the owner's neighbour ... with a shovel.

    The (at the time impressive) 19" CRT display had a couple of nice gashes in the top of the casing, but still worked. The base unit was a little worse for wear but I transferred all the components into a new case and it worked fine. The hard drive *did* have a few bad sectors marked, but it didn't deteriorate in the time that followed.

    I never did find out what made the neighbour so angry, and why he decided to take out his anger on a poor, helpless PC with a shovel, of all things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shovel attack

      Windows ?

  16. brotherelf

    Ah yes,

    I used to have the reverse. Remember those computer desks with pull-out keyboard/mouse drawer? If your mouse cable is just so, or your mouse is optical, pushing the drawer back in will register as movement and cause screenload/unsuspend. Easily fixed by getting a trackball, though.

  17. M. Poolman

    that reminds me

    Around the same time when EVERYONE in the building having their OWN personal computer was really rather exciting. One (fairly senior) chap, complained that his PC would spontaneously turn itself off at random intervals. Cure the usual visits from BOFH types. No hardware problem, but as this only seemed to happen two or three times a day at unpredictable intervals, a bit of nightmare to diagnose.

    After a couple of weeks of to-ing and fro-ing the cause was finally identified: the machine was in a tower format, and installed under the desk at the back. The power button just so happened to be at almost exactly knee height ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: that reminds me

      A proper BOFH type would install a taser and connect it to said power button, so every time Mr Knee comes in the vincinity of Mr Power Button, the taser would sing its joyful song.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: that reminds me

        Pavlov was a great teacher.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the other side...

    HP, also pre-acquisition.

    An old boss of mine (OB) used to be on the EMEA Management Accounts team. Nothing too fancy - basically compile the accounts from each region into a single coherent report for the EMEA directors and to be sent Stateside. Well, he had an HP workstation (he never did elaborate on what type) with a habit of freezing. Called IT who asked if he'd hit it...

    OB - "Of course I've not hit it!"

    IT - "Ah - you're new. We'll send somebody up."

    Somebody appears, whacks the side of the case in a particular place, and the machine unfreezes and continues.

    IT - "Right - if it freezes again, just whack it right there, and it'll be all good."

    ...couple of weeks pass...

    Computer freezes. Cue gentle whack. Nothing. Balks from beating the machine up. Calls IT. IT appears.

    IT - "So, did you hit it."

    OB - "Umm - I hit it where your guy showed me to."

    IT - "Show me what you did."

    [hit]

    IT - "Ah - not there. Here, and a little harder."

    [hit] - computer unfreezes, OB becomes more bemused.

    ...rinse and repeat for a while...

    OB goes on holiday skiing, comes back at year-end, accounts team are working 24 hours a day. OB's group are working past 2230 at night when his team leader (TL) calls break time and they disappear to the canteen. OB says he'll be there in 2 once he's finished something.

    [freeze]

    [hit]

    [hit]

    [HIT]

    [WHACK!]

    Strange American - "Hi there. You working late?"

    OB - "Hi. Trying to."

    SA - "Mind if I come in?"

    OB - "Well, not much else going on."

    SA - "What's the problem there?"

    OB - "Well, I've got this stupid machine, and it keeps freezing. I'm trying to work and it freezes. And I call IT, and they say to hit it. [whack] But not here [whack]. Gotta hit it here [whack]. And the whole thing is frankly a bag of shit [kick] and I'm fucking sick of it [boot]."

    SA - "Sure - I understand. I'm kinda new here - what's it like?"

    OB - Diatribe on the computers, the systems, the management, the stupid fucking computer, punctuated by many kicks and thumps.

    TL - "Hey, OB - where'd you get to? Oh, hi , sir!"

    OB - [all colour drains]

    Turns out he'd been chatting candidly and in a fairly uncomplimentary way to the new president of HP EMEA whilst nonchalantly booting the shit out of company property. The new president who'd arrived while OB was on holiday, and whom he'd known nothing about. He's then politely invited to go home, get some rest and start fresh in the morning.

    ...morning comes...

    OB arrives to a nice email from SA thanking him for his honestly with respect to highlighting the issues within the organisation, a promise to have a new computer on his desk by lunchtime, and an invitation to contact him directly if there's something he finds concerning in the future. Nobody had had the bottle to point out the problems to him, so it took an oblivious OB to expose it all.

    And the new computer arrived by lunchtime, and didn't freeze. And they all lived happily ever after. Well, until Accenture, I guess.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the other side...

      Unusual for an IT bod to share the info about exactly where to hit something - I thought that sort of thing was a closely guarded secret

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: On the other side...

        I thought that sort of thing was a closely guarded secret

        Exactly, How can an IT department work up any sort of mystique, if you show everyone how it's done?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: On the other side...

          From the way OB told it, it sounded like a very common occurrence. Given that there would have been hundreds of these machines through the building, I'd imagine the IT folk would want to offload a recurring, simple fix to the users.

          Empowerment, see?

          Edit - It would have been in the early/mid 1990s, I reckon, and according to hpmuseum.net they employed "almost 2000" on that site at the time Agilent split off in 1999. That'd be a fair number of computers to hit every few days.

  19. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Ever watched a user administer a decent thrashing to a recalcitrant bit of hardware when a gentle fiddle with a mouse would have done an equally good job?

    no, usually it was me thrashing the recalcitrant bit of hardware* and saying to them:

    "dont try this yourself - i'm a professional!"

    .

    .

    * otherwise they'll never learn**

    ** the computers not the users, we *know* they'll never learn

  20. 2Nick3

    Intelligence isn't always transitory

    I sold one of the first Logictech Trackballs (big square base, 3 buttons) to a Comp Sci PhD, who is still to this day probably one of the most brilliant people I've ever met. He returned it 3 days later - he just couldn't see how having the buttons on the bottom was ergonomic in any way...

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Intelligence isn't always transitory

      @2Nick3:

      Oddly, my mom still has my original model logitech trackball, sitting on a shelf alongside the TI99/4 that *she* built. For fun. Funnily enough I suspect that if I could find a *working* serial port connector, I could prove that it still works.

  21. Peter Christy

    Not specifically computer,

    But many years ago, I worked as an engineer for a big broadcasting company. On one of the studio floors was a large monitor, with a bulls-eye marked on the side along with a note saying: "Flashing. Hit here."!

    This was a very big and bulky monitor, and no-one wanted to carry it up to the maintenance department two floors up. Since thumping it at the marked point fixed it, it never got the TLC that perhaps it deserved!

    Which reminds me of the difference between a Technician and an Engineer: A Technician knows where to thump it. An Engineer knows WHY you have to thump it just there!

    1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

      Re: Not specifically computer,

      In my experience the engineers have less knowledge of why it has to be percussively maintained than the techs.

      Engineers know how to design to theory, technicians know how to make theory work in the real world.

      *I have known a few engineers who worked as techs to pay their way threw college. They rock.

  22. riffrafff

    Kids these days.

    In my day, that's how you fixed your TV.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Hmfff - A good kick with a steel toe cap boot, is how you fix a radar set.

  23. cman52

    Worked with one of those people who will spend hours and tons of effort to get out of doing actual useful work. He reported that he could not work because his computer was broken. The tech picked it up and about a pint of water spilled out.

    1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

      That user didn't listen to *all* of the instructions. First acquire some distilled water. Make sure power is off and disconnected, pour in water. Power up with rubber gloves on. After appropriate smoke and lightning show, power off unit and drain excess water. Allow to air dry and THEN call support.

      I gave those instructions to a lovely lady who had a quite erratic monitor that her boss refused to replace - but wouldn't authorize overtime to catch up on work delayed due to waiting on monitor to be percussed. She was very discrete and never let on how her monitor finally met its maker.

  24. firu toddo
    Facepalm

    Don't worry, that's normal.

    First day of a new contract at an NHS hospital, arrived in the office and the first thing I saw was a tech stood behind his desk holding a 21" CRT monitor in his hands and using it to hit the system box and screaming at Windows.

    The explanation really was 'don't worry, that's normal....'

    Almost as normal as a doctor who threw a Dell laser across the office.

  25. Chris King Silver badge
  26. 080
    Linux

    Better Now

    "Ever been tempted to administer a jolly good thrashing to Windows?"

    Not since I've been drinking the Mint tea

  27. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I was sent by a Dutch company to their German subsidiary to implement a corporate NT domain over two decades ago. One German engineer was shadowing me to basically take care of me, and he was not enjoying that. On the second evening I tested the Group Policy and he got locked out of the network, and rather than ask me to unlock it he picked up his laptop and smashed it into his desk until it was little bits and pieces. I said, "Okay, let's call it a night then."

    The German MD was a lovely guy, but some of the staff acted as if they've been invaded by the Dutch.

    It was also the only time anyone ever tried to bribe me. A local subcontractor was rejigging the network cabling and making an arse of it, and their manager had noticed I was a Scot and a drinker and offered me a very old Macallan, worth several hundred pounds. It was just sitting in his house and he'd thought I might like it. I was a tad insulted but politely and repeatedly declined. When I was back in the Netherlands I told my manager and he was shocked - "Of course you should have taken it and given it to me, can you phone him up and ask if it's still on offer?"

    I was never sure if he was joking, but I know he was delighted that I'd annoyed the German engineer so much that he'd trashed his laptop.

    I was in the Netherlands for years, and the sole time anyone bought me a pint was when Scotland beat Germany at football.

  28. Kiwi Silver badge
    Linux

    Kick boxing..

    My computer beat me at chess, but I beat it at kickboxing..

    I did have a case that had a front that suggested "rebooting windows" was something I did a little more literally once or twice..

    Strangely I've not had such problems much since.. (then again, I did switch --> something --> minor which cut such issues considerably! :) )

  29. Chronos Silver badge

    Work, you vicious bastard!

    I find that the most notable cause of this phenomenon is manufacturers (HP, I'm looking at you and your piss-awful ultrabooks) who omit the ubiquitous HDD LED. I can't tell what the machine is doing, if anything, and the bloody thing looks like it's sulking. Right! I warned you! You're now going to get a bloody good thrashing!

    /FX half a tree hitting a laptop

    I really do wish a certain purveyor of logistics services had a BYOD policy. This, on top of having fifteen disparate interfaces to a similar number of back-ends open, many of which don't render properly on the aforesaid craptops, Windows' inability to copy selects to the clipboard without being told, utter lack of middle-click paste, various UI "innovations" that maximise a window you really want to bog off from view and trying to organise collections for various route drivers who don't want to do them is a fast-track to male pattern baldness and asset damage.

    I really should have stuck with torturing users myself. Being on the other end isn't any better.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I opened a multifunction printer once to see why it wasn't working and found a great big black boot print inside.

  31. Bruce Ordway

    Compaq

    >>new (Compaq) computer is great, but sometimes it freezes

    I remember "new" Compaqs, purchased from a 3rd party who also deployed and would support these units.

    This was for an engineering department in the 90's and they included Compaq monitors that were huge for that time.

    Users really liked them except for freezes... which in this case were "real", had to reboot to clear.

    Over a few months several motherboards were replaced with no improvement.

    Of course the 3rd party went bankrupt at some point ( if I remember their name was OPM and the collapse/mass layoff made the news).

    Anyway, I was elected to take over support for the department.

    Purely by luck I discovered that installing a video card and disabling on-board video resolved the freeze issues.

  32. hittitezombie

    Digital DEC laptops

    I used to have some sweet (old) Digital PC laptops, very nice boxes compared to the Compaqs you could get. I ran Linux & BSD on them, sweet and fast as fuck.

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