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Thread: What was your worst PC disaster?

  1. #1
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    What was your worst PC disaster?

    Or your most memorable one? The one that embarrasses you to even think about? What did you learn? Did you use Knoppix to fix it?

    Here's my story.

    One summer day in '92, we bought our first PC. I wanted a Mac, but the wife insisted. It came with Windows 3.1...and if you think Win3.1 was a dog, you should have seen Win3.0. Anyway, after we set it up, I sat down to play, and she left on an errand.

    I knew next to nothing about Windows 3.1 besides how to use the GUI, and I soon uncovered an intriguing drop-down dialog that would let you change the graphics card driver (the list was in the form "Graphics card X - Screen resolution Y - Bit depth Z"). I didn't stop 'n' think about what might happen if I chose one corresponding to a graphics card that I didn't have...and soon I was staring at a black screen. The first day, and I've already BROKEN THE COMPUTER! What will my wife say?

    I did what any newbie would do: Reinstall Windows. But that didn't help. And the wife was coming home. Tick. Tick. Tick.

    I finally admitted defeat and called Microsoft tech support. The tech guy's name was Ray. You could tell Ray was an uber-geek because he said "DOT" instead of "PERIOD". He also refused to give his last name. Wise man. Who knows how many people would drive up to Redmond, look him up in a telephone book, and totally stalk him if he did?

    Ray stayed with me past his quittin' time, and walked me through the solution. I was expressing my profound gratitude and saying goodbye as my wife walked in. Whew.

    I've had worse disasters. One time Norton WinDoctor decided that all the COM/ActiveX CLSIDs in my registry were invalid and deleted them. Or the three separate occasions I tried installing LILO (once) and GRUB (twice) and ended up with an unbootable PC. ("Backup"? What is this thing you call "backup"?)

    But that experience taught me a valuable lesson about how talented I am at screwing up computers.

  2. #2
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    Well, I once wanted to erase the contents of a directory and while as root I issued IIRC: rm -rf /* (don't try this at home). After a while I started wondering what's taking so long and when I hit Ctrl-C I had already lost /boot, /dev and half of /etc. To make it worse I had decided to postpone making a backup until the install was tuned to exactly what I wanted and I was almost there

  3. #3
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    hmmm, this is hard one. I have had many mini-disasters in linux. But major, even going back to windows I can't remember one on my home computer. But work, different story.

    My first sysadmin job - easy task! reinstall W98 over itself on PC of one of the bosses. I had convinced the netadmin (prev sysadmin, small comp LOL) that that was what he needed for the plethora of blue screens and other assorted windows features he was experiencing. I pop in the CD like I had done dozens of times before, and then. Didn't know what went wrong, at some point an unfamiliar error, and PC no go no more no more. Not past the c prompt anyhow. hmmmm

    I called in the reinforcements, the netadmin. He was at a loss, also. At what point HE nuked the boss' data I don't know, but nuke it he did. I may have been unable to reach the OS and I couldn't reinstall it, but I didn't blow away any directories! Then as a last resort he called Compaq. Turned out that starting with like IE4 you could no longer reinstall windows over itself if you had done like any upgrade to IE, it would prevent the system from booting. T'was ugly. The boss whose computer it was was kind of understanding about it...he patted me on the head and said he didn't lose too many years worth of data

  4. #4
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    Major Meltdown

    My first Dell computer about 15 years ago was humming along nicely. I decided after about 2 months to upgrade the bios. I downloaded the file, transferred it to disc, and booted with the disc as the instructions stated. The system got half way through the upgrade and hung, apparently a bad disc. Not knowing what to do I shut down the system and upon restart absolutely nothing happened. Still under warranty I called Dell to be told, sorry your eprom is toasted. They had to send out a service peson with a new motherboard.

    Now while I have had other mini disasters, like doing an apt-get upgrade with Knoppix and trashing my system this bios upgrade problem was certainly numero uno.

  5. #5
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    Hmm.

    Guess it must be dist upgrade on my knoppix.

    One line to spoil it all!!

    Lucky for me, I played with partimage before apt-get

  6. #6
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    One time I installed windows on a pc. The machine kept rebooting, Viruses and spyware appeared and took control of the machine as if by magic. IE kept giving away sensitive information. It was horrible.

  7. #7
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    This really isn't a "disaster" technically, but it was rather costly...

    Working for this company as a Computer Tech., Network Tech, Backup UNIX Sys Admin, and terminal ( dumb ) repair... We didn't have that many PC's, the company manufactured CAD / CAM software, and at this time, MAC's were a major proliferation...

    We had a dozen or so of the MAC Plus', or what has been come to know now as the "Mac Classic" - problem was they only had half the memory in them, and the company wanted to "beef them up" to all the memory they could handle... Upon doing research on the subject, I found we only had on SIMM card, where we could have four, in every single MAC Plus in the whole company... So, I wrote up the requisition, and the company bit the bullet, and bought more than $1,000 worth of memory chips. It was a time where SIMM's were pretty pricey...

    My package arrived, one big box, of more than 100 256K SIMM's, the idea was, to take all the "old" SIMM's out of every MAC, pool them with the new ones, and then MAX OUT all the MAC's with 1 MB of RAM. In a specific order, the "big guys"; president, vice, and then down the line, to the "public" ones. I did further research to find that these "Mac" SIMM's are extremely static sensitive, so, I used a hundred or more of the money, to buy static matts, wrist straps, static pads, and even a complete suit, to keep any "rogue" transmissions from getting to these little chips...

    The day finally came, and I looked like someone who was working in a clean room, in a room that was specifically set up for this task. I had all the matts, pads, straps, and myself, linked to a common ground, and a clip that would ground the chassis of the MAC I was working on. The removal went well, cracking open each MAC, I removed each SIMM from eavery one, and placing them in the pool of SIMM's I was going to use for installing. Each MAC was grounded, the SIMM was placed on the static matt with the rest. Then came the install. Taking the first MAC, making sure it was grounded, then placing four cards inside. I then removed the ground, and test fired it up - The MAC showed the, what is commonly known as the "Blue Screen of death" to a MAC, the "unhappy" MAC icon...

    Figuring that the MAC could have had another problem, I went on to the next MAC, and thought I'd come back to it later, when I am done with this memory issue. To make a long story short, all the MAC's exibited this same "unhappy" MAC Icon, when I was done... My first thought was that "maybe" we got some bad memory cards. So, I took one, and started removing, and exchanging the memory, to try an isolate which one could be the culprit. All of them, the new cards as well as the old ones, were bad.

    The company decided to bring someone from the "outside" in, to get this working. They walked in, saw how much work I had done to isolate static, and began laughing. They reached into one of the MAC's, tore out the memory, and replaced it with four fresh ones they had brought, no static anything on, in, or attached. Turned the unit on, and it was happy. For the next three weeks, at "consultants" pay, four guys, came in, and did the same thing, to each and every MAC. To save my status within the company, I came to find out that "maybe" a few of the chips were bad in the first place, but, that these memory cards were a lot more "robust" than anyone would tell me, and that by doing all of this, from what I heard, the "right" way, I was trashing them.

    What hurt the most was the cost... Initial purchase of the new SIMMs was garbage, four "consultants" at "top pay", and there cost of the SIMMS, which the price had gone skyrocketting during this time frame. Not to mention, being humbled in the company, and the going joke was: "Don't let 'so-and-so' work on your MAC". The only good thing to come out of this, was, that these "professionals" had the "widget" that cracked open those MACs, it was one of those "seamless chasis" units, and they had a tool to get inside the seam, and break it open, the nice way. So, the units didn't look like someone took a screwdriver and tried to pry the thing open ( unfortunately, most of them did, because thats what I did)

  8. #8
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    eeeh. you mean like:
    setting fire to a powersuply (shortcircuited it when making some fan conection).
    having lightning strike disable computers (5 computers on 4 occations), hmm, otoh that is no fault of mine.
    the dumbest i thinks was when i pluged in the wrong powersuply to my laptop. it used a 12V DC unit but i had a unit looking alike, only diference was that one lable said 24V~ and the other 12V =
    oops nothinbg works, wonder why??? what is that smell.

  9. #9
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    LOL, Cuddles. Ouch.

    Incidentally, a Mac tech friend of mine got me a Mac Classic for my birthday that same year -- one that had been smoke-damaged in a fire. For some reason, Apple wanted the case back (maybe cuz it had the serial number on it), so my friend rigged it up in an old PC case he scrounged somewhere. The thing looked like Darth Vader. Later he managed to scrounge a real Mac Classic case for me. (My friend still has the "case cracker" tool and the long Torx screwdriver you need to get to the screws in the handle.)

    So those suckers are actually pretty hardy. It still works, too, all 4MB RAM and 40MB hard drive of it. Even if it does think the year is "4" and not "04".

  10. #10
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    Well once I over loaded the motherboard and killed the processor fan connection, effectivly melting the processor. Second on an older computer, it had an option to up the clock speed of the CPU. While working the in menu I accedently upped it by 200mhz (it was a 300 machine) and the blew the entire motherboard.

    Yea, lots of fun.

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