Proof girls are as bad as boys at breaking laptops...
One reader, Joe Lee, thinks that the technology to combat teenage boys breaking laptops at 50 paces is already out there. "It is very cheap, cannot be broken or hacked, and is probably the most effective solution ever," he begins, giving it the big build-up.
"Make the cases pink."
So that takes care of the boys, perhaps, but what about the girls, armed now, in all likelihood, with their shiny new pink kit?
Unfortunately for our brave notebooks, another reader, Helen Russell, is adamant that the bigger danger lies here. "Teenage boys are a minor threat compared to the real danger of the teenage girl," she says.
"My daughter has rendered a laptop 'completely useless' (ie. it cannot be used for MSN). First, she melted the slot for the wireless card by using the laptop as a stand for her hair straighteners, and later she rammed a USB cable into the wired network connection.
"The laptop is now a model adolescent. It is essentially functional, but completely incapable of communication."
Helen closes ruefully by noting, "As a woman working in IT, I can really do without this."
... although forgetfulness also rates a mention
Staying on the theme of destroying laptops, reader Ian Mountain zeroes in on forgetfulness as the real culprit in many cases.
All the laptops sent to their doom from the roof of the car of a forgetful salesman bear testament to the problem, and Ian says his own brush with laptop near-death taught him a valuable lesson.
"While a teenager I worked one summer for a local authority highway department and got to use some highly ruggedised laptops for a road condition survey.
"As we finished for the day, my colleague put the laptop down on the pick-up truck fuel tank and we drove off unaware of the blunder.
"As we pulled up to the office half an hour later, my colleague went white when we realised where he had left this very expensive bit of kit. He stepped gingerly out of the vehicle expecting the worst - only to find the laptop still happily sat where he had left it.
"Score one for a set of four small rubber feet on the bottom of the notebook. Perhaps all new notebooks should come with large rubber pads on the back so that they can cling on to slippery, shiny salesmobiles?"
Ummm... just what is a 'website' exactly?
Downtime was depressed - but hardly surprised - to read this week on Yahoo News that a British judge was forced to admit that he was struggling to cope with puzzling terms such as "website" in a trial of three men accused of inciting terrorism via the internet.
According to the newswire, judge Peter Openshaw broke into the questioning of a witness about a web forum used by alleged Islamist radicals to complain, "The trouble is, I do not understand the language. I do not really understand what a website is."
Prosecutor Mark Ellison briefly set aside his questioning to explain the terms "website" and "forum". An exchange followed in which the 59-year-old judge acknowledged, "I have not quite grasped the concepts."
You need not doubt for a moment, of course, that the British judiciary remains firmly in touch with the workings of modern life and is the finest in the world.
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