Monday, July 05, 2004

from a discussion on slashdot about the worst computer accident you've ever had....

You know, while reading the stories here, I realize that I have been quite fortunate over the-

Oops. oooh. Oh yeah. . . That.

Whew. I'd actually blocked that one from memory. . .

Okay. . .

So way back when a 486 was something special, I was young and didn't have a cool computer of my own. Upstairs where the adults lived, (I slept in the basement, would you believe?), my father had just such a gleaming-cool 486 with many bells and whistles, the most significant being a sweeeeet laser printer he'd just wrangled out of his job.

We're talking a top-of-the-line Hewlet Packard beast. This was back in the day when HP made good printers rather than the cruddy consumer-level, guaranteed to break within three years junk boxes they sell today. It was a very nice machine and my father was pink with pride about it.

I was working on an art-project at the time, which involved animation cell-painting onto clear sheets of acetate. I'd been running heat-resistant acetate sheets through printers and photo-copiers for a while, outputting line-work for painting on later, so I was all knowledgeable about this. Cocky, even.

But that evening, I'd just used up my last sheet of acetate right in the middle of a job I was really enthusiastic about. I didn't want to wait a whole night just to go out and buy more, so I dug around and actually found a stray sheet. Only problem was, I didn't know where I'd gotten it from, and I didn't know if it was treated for high temperatures or not. . .

Can you see where this is going?

Erg. My palms are sweating at the memory. . .

So there I was, with this rogue sheet of clear plastic poised over the paper intake of that HP thinking, "Come on! I'm sure it's heat treated. Why would it not be? And anyway, even if it isn't, how bad could things get? Probably at worst, it'd just go a bit warped, right? Just put it through and quit worrying so much, you dork!" So I put it in.

It didn't come out again.

In its place issued a series of interesting sounds and smells. Panic.

My father was in the next room half an hour into watching some hour-long television drama. I remember, clearly, because I can still see in my mind the clock dial telling me that I had exactly 32 minutes to smuggle tools up from the basement, casually walk past the television and into the back room where I was silently, desperately dis-assembling a damned printer.

Have you ever tried to take apart a thirty pound computer appliance on a hardwood floor in total silence as fast as you can? It's difficult! I mean, you drop a single screw and it will bounce off that hardwood with the loudest, "TACK!" you ever heard. And my dad is the suspicious sort who perks his ears up to any unexpected noise. --He spent most of my childhood convinced that his son was a dangerous klutz who could burn down the backyard fence playing with fireworks if given half the chance. (That was a LONG time ago!)

Anyway, my point is that nothing, nothing adds stress to a situation in quite the same way a father does.

While in the process of cutting free a mess of baked-on crusty plastic from the innards of that HP beast, I managed to gouge out big wads of pink rubber stuff from one of the rollers which was certainly not designed to be gouged. That's what you get for rushing. Take the job slowly; you'll only regret it later if you don't. It doesn't matter that you're going to DIE in. . . 14 minutes and counting.

"How's it going in there, Son?"

"Hmm. . ?" Panic. Fear. Adrenaline. Please, please, please, don't come in! Just keep your gnarly head turned toward that flickering TV screen, old man, because I have your fucking printer in pieces all over the floor and crumbs of pink rubber stuff on my guilty fingers. "Oh, just doing some work in Corel Draw, Dad."

"Oh, Corel Draw? Do you need a hand with that? I upgraded to the next version. It's very complicated."

"Nah. I've got it worked out."

"Are you sure? It's very complicated. If you need a hand, just let me know."

"Gotcha, Dad. Thanks." ARGH! WHY AM I STILL LIVING HERE?!?!

--I remembered suddenly a, Calvin & Hobbes strip, current back then, where Calvin was walking back and forth through his parent's living room with a water bucket, (empty one way, full the other), to and from a botched bit of hack-saw plumbing in the family washroom. Amazingly similar, when I think of it. . . Except, somehow, unlike Calvin, I managed to put everything back together and I'll be damned if that stupid HP printer didn't work perfectly; --even with big chunks of pink rubber missing from its guts.


Yeah. That was a trial. And it just goes to show that under pressure, the impossible can be done. It makes me wonder how much shit actually goes on in the world which nobody but solitary, terrified individuals ever know about.

I'm not sure I really want to know. .

contributed by this fine fellow


At 9:16 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Once a PC shop that I loitered at had an interesting problem.

Seems this PC they were working on hadn't been opened for a while had sucked in a large amount of dust, which as we all know, is made up of powdered skin, nail, and scab.

So a small colony of [tiny insect] had made its home inside the case: it would have been generating a little bit of heat as well, handy that. So what else is there to do once the first few living requirements are met? That's right, reproduce like the dickens.

Thus, as the case is opened, a small swarm of [tiny insect] falls out. 'Bug' on the hard disk indeed :P


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