ON-CALL Welcome to another Friday and therefore to another edition of On-Call, The Register's regular recycling of readers' recollections!
This week, meet “Donald” [Why did that pseudonym come to mind? - Ed] who shared a tale that riffs on last week's dark, magical On-Call.
Donald's tale starts with a late eighties gig “doing tech support for a K-12 school” that had “a lot of ageing computers”.
Donald had to get to know this diverse fleet, because different machines had different quirks. One family of machines, for example, “had the hard drive mounted vertically inside the case.”
Sometimes Donald and his colleagues noticed “the drive motor would 'stick' upon system boot. We theorized that the drive and/or spindle lubricant had gummed up.”
The fix was easy: “A good nudge would free up the drive and allow the system to boot.”
So Donald used that knowledge to make himself look great.
“An industrial tech lab had a few of these PCs,” he told us, “and I walked into the lab one afternoon without the classroom teacher noticing.”
“After finding the non-cooperative computer and noting the lack of noise from a spinning drive, I moved the monitor to the side, lifted the PC about six inches " off the desk, and dropped it. As the teacher's head whipped around I tapped the reset button on the PC and the Windows startup screen appeared while I was placing the monitor back on top of the PC.”
On another occasion, Donald popped into a classroom while a lesson was in progress, determined that the drive was stuck and “Then, in the style of Arthur Fonzarelli, I pulled my arm back about two feet and hit the side of the PC with my palm hard enough to move the PC and monitor about an inch across the table.”
And then walked out as nonchalantly as he could manage.
The effect was twofold: the disk started, and “the students in class were astonished that I 'punched a computer to fix it'.”
Can you top Donald's tale of being too cool for school? If so, write to On-Call and you could end up on next week's version of this page. ®