BOFH: Hammer time!
All through the tower, not a creature was stirring...
By Simon Travaglia • In BOFH • At 11:02 GMT 24th July 2009
"Ooooh, watch this!" I gasp happily to the Boss as he and I observe the PFY, from the relative safety of the webcam monitor in Mission Control.
"What?" the Boss asks.
"He's going to take a look at her PC!"
"Isn't that part of his job?"
"No this isn't a work machine, this is a home machine!" I snigger.
"Still, if it's a favour..."
"Oh it gets better," I say, gazing back at the screen. "It's not her machine - it's her parents' machine. This is so sweet!"
"I'm not sure I follow."
"OK, Basic facts about IT people time. We hate it, HATE... IT... when people bring their home machines in for us to 'take a look at'. HATE IT! Hate... it. Normal procedure is to take it out back, give the hard drive a couple of solid whacks with a rubber mallet so as not to leave any evidence (while the drive is running) - bend one or two pins of any removable chip over, then use the memory as a coffee coaster for the morning before returning it in the afternoon as DOA."
"I... Is that what happened to the machine I brought in two weeks back?"
"No, that really was stuffed. Like I said, the power supply had surged the capacitors on the motherboard, causing a backfeed of hysteresis to the hard drive's convection circuits. We were just lucky we were able to save the case!"
"Oh. But why was the case so dented?"
"The magnetic field caused by hysteresis is very unpredictable," I lie. "Anyway, here it seems that this attractive, seemingly single young woman has used her feminine wiles to lure the PFY into agreeing to look at her machine. Only it's not her machine, it's her parents' machine."
"How do you know?"
"It's a tower."
"What does that mean?"
"No one buys towers anymore, except for furry teeth geeks like us. And even then they wouldn't be the yellowed plastic jobs with 52 speed CD readers. No, that's something that's been in someone's front room hoovering up dust for the past eight years. It'll be her parents' one. Or even her grandparents'."
"It might be her..."
"It doesn't even have front USB ports! What self-respecting young person doesn't have an MP3 player than needs plugging in every now and then? No, it's her grandparents' machine alright. Tell you what though - let's make this interesting - five quid says it's full of fluff and cat hair."
"Because it's nice and warm under the fake wood mini computer table in the corner of the lounge, and the cat probably sleeps on the top of the machine."
"But wouldn't the fan..."
"A machine that old's not going to have a working fan - and if it did, it'd sound like a woodchipper trying to digest a cat. A live cat. No, that baby's pretty much just a fractional bar heater with email and access to Coronation Street chat groups."
"They might use it for keeping in touch with friends," the Boss says defensively.
"They're old people," I respond. "Their daily routine is: don't die, login, check for email, see what's going to happen in the next episode of Coronation Street, then use the online death notices to remove names from their contact list. In a couple of years the only people they'll be able to email is themselves..."
I've gone too far, I can tell. The Boss looks like he's going to burst into tears at the thought of his parents' final days being spent deleting names from Outlook Express.
"I..." he says, preparing to make some statement about seeing his folks more in their twilight years.
"HE'S GOING TO TAKE THE COVER OFF!!!!" I interrupt. "This is the best part!!!"
"Two reasons. One: in the olden days cases were designed with about 20 hidden screws that were designed to make the case as impenetrable to lay-people as possible - each manufacturer having a different secret method of putting them together."
"The cat hair. Oh look, there's a couple of open PCI slots too - double or nothing there's a dead mouse in there as well!"
"That's TEN QUID you owe me!" I roar as the PFY prises open the case, releasing a couple of dust bunnies and some shrivelled rodent corpses.
"Technically I hadn't accepted the wager..."
"That's OK, you can pay me later. Ooohhhh, he must really like her."
"Why do you say that?"
"He's actually looking inside. LOOK at the size of that motherboard!"
"Is it large?"
"Not really - if you were looking for a place to land a light plane. Wait a minute, he's powering it up... Windows ME!!"
. . Five minutes later . . .
"So how's the computer repair going?" I ask innocently, as the PFY stomps back into Mission Control.
"I couldn't do it," he snaps.
"What was it? The ancient hardware, the cleanliness of a vacuum cleaner bag or the crippled OS?"
"No, none of that."
"What was it then?"
"Turned out to be her machine," the PFY says.
"SO THAT'S TEN QUID YOU OWE ME!!!" the Boss shouts.