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PC tech turns doctor to diagnose PC's constant crashes as a case of arthritis

Customer with a magnetic personality also had a significantly magnetic wristband

On Call Welcome once more to On-Call, The Register's weekly column in which we retell readers' stories of being asked to fix contraptions that display confounding, confusing, or cockeyed behavior.

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Kevin" who once worked as a remote tech and was sometimes asked to fix problems for a very large tech company that sells plenty of PCs and bears the name of its founder, Michael.

Kevin came to the gig after a long career in manufacturing and hoped that a job roaming around the UK to drop in and fix computers might make a pleasant change.

The reality of the work was "Shirty managers pointless jobs etc."

But one job lodged in Kevin's memory for the right reasons.

"I was doing a call to a lovely place in Cumbria – a lovely man who used to fly early Royal Air Force jets."

But this chap's PC was not lovely: for three years techs had tried and failed to find the reason the machine would often shut down for no apparent reason.

Kevin looked at the customer's case file and found a long list of call outs, and a longer list of parts that had been replaced – only for the problem to recur.

Our hero decided he needed to observe the machine in action, so asked the customer to demonstrate the glitch.

"He started typing and the laptop shut down – no crash, no corruption."

During the demo, Kevin noticed the customer wore a rheumatism bracelet – a magnetic adornment whose advocates claim it can ease the aches and pains of old age.

Kevin asked the customer to remove it, and lo – the problem stopped.

Why was this so? Many laptops use a magnet and accompanying sensor to determine when their screens are folded down – so the machines know to turn off their power-sucking screens.

Kevin hypothesized that the bracelet was triggering the sensor. He dove deep into the system's settings to disable the sensor, and the PC finally started behaving – even when the customer wore the magic bracelet.

"I never was paid for the fix. When I logged it and the reason for the problem, the help desk but could not grasp it wasn't a faulty part," Kevin lamented.

"That was one of the last jobs I did for Dell."

What odd issues have you diagnosed when fixing devices? Click here to send us your story and we may offer it up as a prescription for fun in a future On-Call. ®

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