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User jams up PC. Literally. No, we don't know which flavour

Plus: the PC that ate disks and was sated with sticky tape

By Simon Sharwood, 17 Mar 2017

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, The Register's weekly trawl through readers' memories of dealing with dim users or dangerous bosses, often at ridiculous times.

This week, a pair of sticky situations starting with one sent to us by “Tim”.

Tim's tale comes from his first job when he was “fresh faced out of University and on the first rung of the IT career ladder working on the 1st line help desk of a financial services company.”

Most days on that job started with requests to sort out password problems. One such came from a chap who Tim says just couldn't get his password to work.

“As per the usual steps, I unlocked his account and asked him to try again.” Which didn't work, so Tim reset his password … and it still wouldn't work.

After a bit more of this kind of back and forth, Tim made the inevitable visit to the chap's desk and entered the password himself. And wondered why it still wouldn't work.

At which point Tim got up close and personal with the keyboard and notice “a blob of jam between the 'B' and 'N' keys.”

We're guessing the user ate some toast at their desk. Whatever the sauce source, the jam hardened to the extent that attempting to type 'N' produced it and the letter B.

Tim's solution was ingenious: he changed the password to “QWERTY1” and walked away without cleaning up the jam.

Our second sticky situation comes from “Victor” who told us that in the early 1990s he worked “for a PC maintenance company dealing in mainly Olivetti PC clones along with any other flavour we were paid to support.”

One of Victor's clients called in to say her PC was “eating floppy disks”.

“We were of course skeptical, and as each site visit was a cost to us, we tried desperately to sort the issue over the phone. Alas our efforts were fruitless, the user insisted that the PC was taking the floppy disk and not only was it not returning it, but it would not read it either.”

There was nothing for it but for Victor to go and see the PC for himself. Upon arrival he approached the PC, popped a 5.25” floppy into the slot and watched everything behave properly.

“It's working now,” said the user, but insisted things had previously gone awry.

“After much badgering from the client I agreed to open the machine,” Victor told us. “Upon removing the case, I found the issue. Under the 5.25 inch drive was a small pile of floppy disks sitting in the case. It appears that the gap between the drive and the blanking plate in the front case looked just like the drive slot, she had been posting disks into the machine through this slot.”

“Some sellotape sorted the issue.”

Have you been asked to fix something silly that should never have made it out of the fridge? If so, let us know and you could end up in next week's On-Call. ®

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