Windows might have frozen – but at least my feet are toasty

Not quite what we meant by Halt and Catch Fire

Who, Me? The weather outside might be frightful, but the fire is... unexpected. Kick off your week with a tale of fan-tastic idiocy courtesy of The Register's Who, Me? feature.

Today's tale from Register reader "Mark" takes us back a good few decades to his time spent in the IT support barrel. It was a heady time, and the IT team had just completed a rollout of new PCs, connected together via the magic of networking.

The PCs themselves were exciting: not the beige boxes of old, but a new generation of slimline devices that purred with power. We've not named the PC maker because, as will become clear, what transpired wasn't really its fault.

"Although the fans in these were, I thought, fairly small and quiet," said Mark, "one of the managers didn't like the fan noise."

The ungrateful so-and-so noted that the fan was in the side of the case rather than at the back where all the cables were connected. He hit on a bonzer wheeze: "He could quiet the noise by putting the PC on its side next to his desk with the fan downwards so that it was muffled by the carpet it was resting against."

Simple, right?

Not quite. Computer fans are there for a reason and while today's CPUs will throttle themselves back as the heat rises, things weren't quite so straightforward in decades past. Indeed, this hack has not so fond memories of destroying hardware by failing to consider the cooling needed for that ham-fisted attempt at overclocking.

And then there is the power supply and all the ancillary components, none of which would appreciate a fan wheezing on carpet fibres rather than doing the important job of shifting air around.

"Unsurprisingly, his PC eventually caught fire."

Ever witnessed a perfectly good bit of equipment destroyed in a conflagration caused by management muppetry? Or seen smoke seeping from every port because you'd forgotten to connect the fan? We've done at least one of those things. Perhaps you've done worse? Send us your confession to Who, Me? ®


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