Sock it to them - a drive of destruction

The lighter side of the IT industry

Sock it to them - a drive of destruction

Everyone knows that computers can be fragile, but some users still treat them as though they were indestructible. Hard disc recovery firm Ontrack has compiled its top five stories of data loss in 2006.

Fifth place belongs to a user who left a banana to rot on top of his external hard drive. The rotten mush seeped through the casing, where it wrecked the circuitry, preventing the drive from running. The circuit board was repaired sufficiently to enable the drive's data to be recovered.

In at number four is that perennial favourite, the people carrier. Someone left a laptop in the path of a moving one earlier this year. Similar examples include a rucksack full of hard drives that was backed over by a truck.

Third place goes to a manufacturer of expensive underwater digital cameras. Unfortunately for one unhappy customer who took the camera on a snorkelling holiday to Barbados, the camera was far from waterproof.

Proving the cliché that academics have brains, but no common sense, is a university professor who heard a squeaking noise coming from the drive of his new PC. The nutty professor removed the casing and sprayed the drive with WD-40, thus stopping both the squeaking noise and the drive itself.

But the award for 2006's most unnecessary assault on a disc drive goes to a user who sent his damaged hard drive to Ontrack wrapped in a pair of dirty socks. The original problem was unremarkable the damage caused by the combination of sweat and fibres was not.

Do you have any tales of hardware hardships? Send them to Downtime at the address below.

IT helpdesk reflects on its glaring mistake

IT users often like a moan, but Downtime especially likes it when their complaints make no sense.

A reader on a helpdesk contacted Downtime recently to relate the tale of a user who had just been moved to a window seat. Rather than celebrating his good fortune, the user complained that the extra light prevented him from reading the keys on his keyboard.

Downtime is suspicious. Could he really see his own face in the keyboard? Could he reflect light from the keyboard into his colleagues' eyes?

But the story has a happy ending. The helpdesk found a beige Dell keyboard from circa 1983 and the user went away happy.

It's no yolk - feathered friends are film stars

Harrods' IT department faced an unusual challenge recently when it was asked to set up in-store screens showing webcam images of hens laying eggs.

The feathered friends in question are responsible for producing Harrods' free-range eggs. The screens were installed so customers could see that the eggs were genuinely free-range.

It's enough to make even the most well-balanced hen paranoid. Downtime hopes for their sake that someone isn't employed solely to zoom in on the hens as they roam several acres of farmland.

Bum's the word for Christmas party antics

IT managers, just like any others, usually approach the office Christmas party with a sense of trepidation and a healthy fear of being sued.

At least one drunken reveller can usually be relied upon to photocopy his bum or, um, some other part of his anatomy.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), which seeks to resolve employment disputes before they reach court, has just published its guidance for companies that employ photocopier offenders: burn the evidence and tell no one.

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