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"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

The Foolish Things We Do With Our Computers

By Mike "Iron" Orr

By Andrei Vrincianu

A friend of mine lent me an old 40 MB HDD -- a real old one, weighted about a quarter kilogram (half a pound), real bulky -- as I needed to carry some files home from college. The "upload" went fine (slow, but fine). The "download", on the other side, didn't go that smooth... Well, you know, the common procedure, grab an IDE and an power cable, firmly push the connectors into the slots and then...power up Mr. Spock :).

Well, not quite. When I "carefully" inserted the power cable, one of the connectors to the HDD's board broke. What the heck, I thought, it's an old thingie, you should expect such a thing to happen. After the required soldering, I re-plugged everything, turned on the power and took a seat, waiting for the "Press DEL to enter setup" message to show up. Actually, the first thing that showed up was not the message, but smoke. Not from the connector, but from one of the resistors on the HDD board, that heated up so badly that it actually fell off. It had the time to do so because I didn't see the smoke first and only reacted to the sound of the resistor hitting the metal case. Luckily, nothing else got fried.

That was the last time I ever touched a soldering iron.

Morale of the story:

  1. Never let smoke out of circuits for they will malfunction.
  2. When you see smoke, push the ON/OFF button instead of trying to pull out the main 220V power cable, as I did (in panic). It takes 2-3 seconds less.

Andrei Vrincianu,

[If you have a story about something foolish or ingenious you did to your computer, send it to]

Mike Orr

Mike ("Iron") is the Editor of Linux Gazette. You can read what he has to say in the Back Page column in this issue. He has been a Linux enthusiast since 1991 and a Debian user since 1995. He is SSC's web technical coordinator, which means he gets to write a lot of Python scripts. Non-computer interests include Ska/Oi! music and the international language Esperanto. The nickname Iron was given to him in college--short for Iron Orr, hahaha.

Copyright © 2002, Mike Orr.
Copying license
Published in Issue 79 of Linux Gazette, June 2002

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