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Author Topic: Why do some people blow up electrical equipment/computers simply by using them?  (Read 13934 times)

Offline OldDragon

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I'm not sure if this is posted in the right place. If not, please move it.

I have just heard that a colleague has blown up yet another of his work's  computers and taken out much of the electrical circuitry in part of the building in the process... for about the seventh time!

In the past, this has always happened at times when he is playing a particular online, and mentally stimulating, challenge game with various colleagues, and not when undertaking his normal work duties. In this instance he was/is challenging me.

While he is offline (and likely even suspended from work :D ) perhaps it may give me an advantage to better get to know and understand my opponent's Achilles heel? :D

It might be relevent for you to know that he does have a battery operated prosthetic lower arm/hand. However, it only seems to happen when he gets especially excited and mentally stimulated by planning his challenge strategies.

Thanks.


 

Offline RD

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The high voltages produced by static electricity can destroy computer chips.
http://www.build-your-own-cheap-computer.com/static-electricity.html

A plastic covered prosthetic forearm rubbing on clothing (sleeve) would probably accumulate static charge.

Static electricity discharge (spark) is more likely at a metal point, (e.g a metal hand).

However, as the fault only occurs when he was playing a game, then a more likely explanation
is that the game was too demanding for the computer, or contained malware, rather than electrostatic discharge.
« Last Edit: 15/06/2008 18:35:00 by RD »
 

Offline OldDragon

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Please note: This is Mike here, the OD's would-be other half, if she'd have me, and not the Old Dragon.

The game in question is not a standard computer game but one of individual challenges made between players and to win small prizes from one another on behalf of various charitable causes.
http://petcraftproject.proboards24.com/index.cgi?board=Comps&action=display&thread=7486

The computer in question was only being used to browse clues and for communication purposes at the time. The power pack probably blew. Much smoke but no fire. Knocked out the trip switch and upset a few folk with unsaved data and half-cooked meals.

This is, however, the eighth machine in the recreational area to have blown in this way and around that chap - but ONLY when playing these mind games. No one else has even experienced this amongst the users of the recreational computers.
 

Offline turnipsock

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However, as the fault only occurs when he was playing a game, then a more likely explanation
is that the game was too demanding for the computer, or contained malware, rather than electrostatic discharge.


I would think that all the computers are different in some way, is there any computers that haven't blown up.

The common factor seems to be high brain activity with this one individual.
 

Offline SIMike

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That would be correct, David, and after our long discussion earlier, when I explained additional factors not mentioned here, you are correct. The common factor is high brain activity with the individual concerned.

Yes, there are computers that haven't blown up and that he has used - but not for these mind game challenges, unless its ones at a lower game level, thinking about it. Let's say when playing against people with lower skill levels and/or lower IQs and at a lower position on the boards, as that relates to the games. People who aren't prepared to take as many risks, even. Some of the higher level challenges take real courage, because forfeits are for real. For example, one challenge I had earlier, and that David witnessed, albeit on line, was pretty humiliating for me. What we call a jugular challenge and aimed at my pride/ego, in no uncertain terms. We all have our weaknesses.

During our private chat, I recalled another two computers in different locations that had blown their CPUs in these circumstances, which makes ten machines, but there could more. This has been going on for years. Since 1987 to my knowledge - and therefore before he lost his arm and gained the prosthetic one, although he had been in the RTA that caused the original damage to his arm and hand at the time when I witnessed the first computer's destruction.

I have been trying to recall whom he was playing against on each of these occasions. Three times for certain it was the Old Dragon. Once he was playing me, but the OD was my back up partner. There are always  three people involved, and although I am backing up the OD now, it seems Grumpy Old Mare could have been backing up the team mate known in that team as their 'Shaman'.

After much discussion on MSN with David, we have concluded that it defies logic - but would like to be proved wrong.

The majority of the computers concerned were old ones that staff members had upgraded and donated for use in the recreation area at work and known as the Wreck Room. Seems apt. They were all an assortment of makes and models.

Usually, they have been situated on old wooden or formica topped tables, and the floor in that room is wood blocks.

When the last incidence occurred, the shaman was dressed in a cotton t-shirt, denim jeans and wearing cheap trainers. (He has a reputation for keeping moths in his wallet and even begs cast offs from my 18 years old son, as well as his own student son. Tight, does not begin to describe him!)

I need hard evidence to put him up on charges to satisfy the folk who lost data or their Sunday dinners as a result of this event. (All part of the challenge game and for charitable causes.) All I have so far is circumstantial evidence, and it's not enough to charge him, let alone get a conviction, even under our game's kangaroo court rules.

I am also running out of time that I can hold him in the game's virtual jail. Some of us don't even get 36 hours, let alone 42 days.

I am trying to think of anything else that could be relevent, but the only thing I can come up with is that he was born on the Ides of March! Coincidence or what?
« Last Edit: 16/06/2008 04:04:04 by SIMike »
 

Offline SIMike

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Just thought of another coincidence. The shaman, the OD, Grumpy Old Mare and I all have some form of neurological damage. In my case resulting from a motorbike accident and, like Grumpy Old Mare, affecting one leg in particular - and like her, I've had epidurals. Like the OD, I react badly to medications.

Clutching at straws here, and need some help. That preferably before we have to release the shaman back into the game.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Coincidence. You said he took out part of the electricity in the building, just sounds like bad electrical infrastructure.
 

Offline OldDragon

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It tripped the trip switch, and, I think, blew a fuse and the smoke triggered a fire alarm, hence the people in the whole building had a fire drill. ;) (It's manned 24/7 and the Wreck Room gets used for fun and games at weekends too.)

It's an awful lot of coincidences for the same person to wreck ten computers - 8 of them in one location - and all of different types, ages and so on, over a 21 year period, when no one else has experienced it there. What are the odds, likely to be in a bookmakers, for example?

What would the odds be for a jockey to ride in the same races ten times in that length of time, and eight of those on the same racecourse, and all the horses dropped dead from heart attacks under him? Somehow I doubt any trainer would want that jockey on their horse after perhhaps only the second horse dropped dead.
 

Offline RD

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You said he took out part of the electricity in the building, just sounds like bad electrical infrastructure.

I think Madidus may be right, the computers are like canaries in the coal mine:
they are not affecting the power supply, they are being destroyed by intermittent abnormal high-voltages in the power supply.

If you manage to destroy a battery-powered laptop (not connected to the mains) then I'll have to think again.


 
« Last Edit: 17/06/2008 00:17:01 by RD »
 

Offline LeeE

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Ten failures over a period of twentyone years isn't all that unreasonable, especially for old cast-off systems.  It would be interesting to know exactly what failed in each computer - whether the failures were simlar in each case, or whether they were different.

RD makes a very good point in putting the horse before the cart - one thing in common to all these systems is the power supply and that's a much better candidate for causing these blow-ups.

You'd also really need to look at some usage stats i.e. how many hours each person spends using these computers.
 

Offline OldDragon

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I had the opportunity to find out more info about this yesterday.

All the electrical wiring and sockets on the circuit were checked thoroughly after that event, and the suggestions made here. This by qualified electrical engineers.

Everything was found to be fine.

In 8 of the ten PCs it seems it was the CPUs that had gone, and some with further damage. We don't know about the other two. Only one other person has had one of those comuters die on them, and it was the mother board that went, I'm told.

Those computers were used by numerous people during their lunch-beaks and heavily so over the weekends by anything up to 20 - 30 different people and including children. At holiday times more than that could have used them over the same period.

They are going to invest in some of the anti static bracelets, just to try and safeguard things.

I was also reminded that the same chap had once triggered a problem with the electronic doors in a different part of the building, but then it was put down to his prosthetic limb, but an earlier version of the one he now has.

« Last Edit: 22/06/2008 02:39:25 by OldDragon »
 

Offline chris

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Does using this computer to "browse for answers to clues" involve moving back and forward to / from the computer from elsewhere in the room?

Perhaps this person's choice of clothes and underwear is a particularly static-friendly combination, and the repetitive movements are charging him up?

This same mechanism has been postulated to explain why women are more likely to be the victims of car fuel-tank fires at petrol stations than men - because women are much more likely to get in and out of the car several times (usually in the US where filler nozzles can be locked on until the tank fills).

chris
 

Offline OldDragon

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Thanks, Chris,

We'd all like to get to the bottom of this, and also try and discover why the usual work related computers have not been affected. (Thankfully.) Staff are not permitted to use those machines for any personal activities at all (strictly enforced), hence why the various old ones are made available for staff use/fun and games stuff.

Does using this computer to "browse for answers to clues" involve moving back and forward to / from the computer from elsewhere in the room?

Yes, this would be so on most occasions, although when he was using the office here, and the one PC that blew up, its CPU here at this location, that wasn't the case. Then he was stationary and seated on a wooden chair, and writing an am-dram pantomime script. High brain activity, though, and all challenge related. That particular PC was on an old, wooden ex-school's teacher's desk, and the PC only about 3 years old. One that our Writers' group had built for themselves. It was only used by a handful of people besides myself, and during weekly Writers' group meeting sessions. There is, however, carpetting on the floor in that little office. Where most of the PC's that have blown something were situated, the floor is wood block.

Quote
Perhaps this person's choice of clothes and underwear is a particularly static-friendly combination, and the repetitive movements are charging him up?

We have thought a lot about this, but the chap mainly only wears cotton - cotton boxer shorts (with some nylon fibres in the elastic waistband), cotton T-shirts, denim jeans (but with metal studs & zip, as per most jeans), cotton/polyester shirts (but possibly the thread used to stitch these might contain other fibres and the buttons are likely plastic material); occasionally he has been wearing a polyester fleece jumper/zip fronted jacket, depending on the weather. Footwear has been trainers.

« Last Edit: 22/06/2008 15:17:48 by OldDragon »
 

Offline OldDragon

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Apart from the wrist bands, can anyone come up with any further suggestions that can help with this, please?

It would help the chap concerned, as he obviously feels concerned and a bit guilty over his record for PC destruction at times when other's have lost data or had their games and challenges affected etc. It may not represent quite one PC per two years destroyed, but it does seem more than coincidence involved, in the light of the available information? Thanks.
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Purchase a surge protector, these are very cheep these days and can be found in a multi socket extension lead used for computers etc.

The problem is probably a surge of power from your electricity provider. You may find the problem arises when they have to boost the supply probably through a huge demand coming online from a large manufacturer that has a huge power demand. The fact that the person playing the game is the most likely to experience the problem at first hand is because of the amount of time spent playing the game spans the surges of power output.

You may find that others locally are experiencing the same problem, but you will need to find people that have an unprotected / buffered power supply to the computer, and are online at the same times. The modern computer is indeed the canary down the pit in this case.
 

Offline OldDragon

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Every one of those computers have had surge protectors fitted, Andrew, including the two that were situated at different locations.

The electrical engineers that recently checked everything were totally baffled, because they could throw no more light on it than we have or anyone here.

Had it been a case of nine PCs blowing over the period and with different users active on them at the time, no one would have given it a second thought, but with it being eight of the nine going kaput with just the one of many users, it does seem to defy some law of probability - and especially when the use to which they were being put at the times, hasn't been all that much - i.e. researching clues via Explorer and communicating via msn or email. Maximum of three  or 4 windows open at the times? Often I have upwards of 30 windows open spanning many screens and slowing the machine up incredibly with it having to access more memory. Over the same period, I've only had one CPU go on me, and my machines have often used for up to 20 hours per day! (This with a surge plug fitted, but no anti-static precautions.)

« Last Edit: 24/06/2008 10:36:57 by OldDragon »
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Anti-static protection comes with an earth lead anyway, A 3 pin plug provides this function so we can safely rule that out also.

Has the same surge protector been in place with all the comps?

« Last Edit: 24/06/2008 17:03:10 by Andrew K Fletcher »
 

Offline OldDragon

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There are usually several individual PCs available that are not networked/linked (or whatever the right word is) that have their own surge plugs fitted and that are plugged into separate wall sockets rather than into a block of sockets on an extention cable. It's impossible to say if it was the same surge plug each time, but I would imagine some must have been replaced over the period involved.

By a very strange coincidence, I went out to lunch today, and the only available seat was at a table opposite a woman of about my age. We got chatting and she happened to remark that she'd tried to learn some IT skills at the local college, but she'd given up because the computers she'd used kept blowing up! The college had asked her not to return! This woman also only wears natural fibre clothing, mainly cotton, and said that she also can't wear a watch because they can gain time rapidly when she does. She had had various tests to try and establish why this happens, also why she was getting electric shocks of equipment that is switch off and unplugged when she touches it. She had burns on her fingers that had gone right to the bone from attempting to repair the bushes on her washing machine only recently. Those occurred after the machine had been disconnected from the electricity supply.

The chap who blow the CPUs on the recreational PCs also cannot wear a watch as it will gain time, and he has felt mild tingling sensations if he's touched metal parts of my industrial sewing machine wen that's not switched on, but when it has been plugged into the socket. The sensations have been enough to make him jerk an arm away from the machine bed if he's rested his normal forearm against it.

I asked if the woman was also able to bend spoons in the same way that Uri Geller does. It was meant in jest, but it seems she has been able to do that since childhood. I recalled an occasion when the chap was fiddling with one of my forks while eating a Chinese take-away meal here years ago, and talking about an am-dram script we were working on with other Writers' Group members - that fork ended up bent, and he wasn't trying to bend it or putting pressure on it at all at the time, simply using it to gesticulate during an animated conversation and whilst rubbing it between his fingers at its narrowest point.

Without being asked, the woman revealled that she saw 'spirits' - odd, because the chap who blows up PCs sometimes answers questions that colleagues are thinkking, but haven't voiced aloud. He can't seem to do it to order, or under experimental conditions. Usually when he does it, the situation he's in has an element of stress or excitement present. Ask something of him aloud, and he doesn't give other than a normal answer - e.g. 'Who is going to with the Derby?' might get the response 'How should I know, I don't even know what's running in it?'

Sit and wonder to oneself what to have for tea, and he might say, 'You want to use up that bacon in the fridge before it goes off.'

To that I once said, 'How do you know what's in my fridge? Have you been snooping or looking for an extra meal?' I knew perfectly well he'd not had the opportunity to go in my kitchen, let alone the fridge and for weeks!

He couldn't explain, so said it was a guess, as he knew I liked bacon. I looked and the use-by date was up the day prior to him visiting me! (The bacon was fine, for all that!) :D

There are lots of anecdotes about that chap and similar things happening around him. Perhaps that has some sort of connection to the dead PCs? Does anyone know if Uri Geller blows them up too?  ::)
« Last Edit: 24/06/2008 20:31:52 by OldDragon »
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Just looking for a logical answer here. Certain motherboards have chipset fans that fail and generate a lot of heat, smoking and can easily burn out the chipset. My wife and i both give off impressive sparks from our finger tips, you can hear the cracking noise as the spark jumps to another person or a metal object, namely the car door or the shopping trolly, yet we have not blown up any computers without a logical reason for it. Having said that ive just ordered a new chipset fan for my Asus Motherboard that sounds like its ready to go into melt down, so ive unplugged it for now and its so quiet :P
 

Offline OldDragon

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Would those be static electrical sparks, please, Andrew, or what? Also, would you and your wife be wearing similar, cotton or natural fibre clothing as the chap who blow up the PC bits?

What about brain activity when you and your wife 'spark'? Would that be considered 'normal' or perhaps 'animated' at the time it happens, please?

There has to be a logical explanation out there somewhere.

This chap is very creative, and the problem does seem to affect and dampen his creativity now, which we don't want to happen. Although he can write with a pen and using his left hand, being naturally right handed means it's much less effort for him to use a PC keyboard. Also, when writing with his left hand, he writes from right to left and incorporates symbols and/or hieroglyphics that only a handful of others seem able to decipher, and that not always accurately.

It all combines to make the whole process complicated, and impacts on the natural flow of the chap's writing style, and the rhythm he can create in characters dialogue and exchanges for things like the pantomime scripts. Right now he has ideas for a new panto script that his wife is trying to record for him as they emerge, but her first language isn't English, and his kids that are still at home (second family) are too young yet to be in a position to help. He's gone back to using an old, manual  typewriter, but even that is impacting on the flow - not to mention deciphering the spelling errors when someone else tries to copy-type to get the script onto a computer and CD.

The latest Am-Dram script is emerging with flat dialogue instead of with their usual lively voice and natural, rhythmic bouyancy.
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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The spark is clearly visible and makes an audible cracking noise at it makes contact with an object or another person.

During a visit to our local supermarket, my son and I were discharging sparks. You can feel a tingly senstaion run up and down your spine and the hair on your neck and head rises, then you know you can fire. It's fun. We deduced at first that this must be the shopping trolly and the plastic / rubber wheels. However, having just discharged a spark and not gone near the trolly while at the checkout, I felt wiered feeling of a recharge up the spine almost like a spooky goose bump feeling and thought Hmm this looks like a good time to see if it is the trolly. I discharged one almighty spark on my sons earlobe and saw it leep from my finger tips as he jumped out of his skin. Jase was not a school kid either but an adult acting as daft as his Father-who may never grow up.
 

Offline OldDragon

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Very interesting, Andrew, because those same sensations - especially the hairs on the neck standing up, have been described by the chap, and a few other things besides. His daughter and son (twins) that I have discussed this with have said the same thing, and the girl even gave the sensations a name as a child - 'prinkling' - but, like you and your wife, neither she nor her brother blow up CPUs!

We need to get this chap back on form as much as I need to get myself moving and not searching the net for obscure clues that keep leading me into metaphysics, sci-fi realms and so on, and where I am totally lost! Lol

We are arranging a supply of obsolete old machines for him to play with (one at a time) and a special, individual electrical circuit wired up for his sole use, plus the anti-static bracelets. If it happens again, perhaps it won't be for 6 months, and at least no one else will lose out. Lol
 

Offline Flyberius

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This happened to me on two occasions working for an IT firm.  Literally I plugged in a powersupply for two similar and slightly old PCs and then BANG.  Electric flames came shooting out ze back!  Quite shocking.  Not as shocking as the time I plugged in a tft monitor and it caught fire.  That was a classic moment.
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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Maybe a wireless keyboard and mouse will suffice?
 

Offline OldDragon

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I am wondering how far apart we can locate the base unit from the monitor, keyboard, mouse etc., and whether increasing the distances would help?

Been asking questions and guess what? The Shaman - cum Big, Bad, Red Riding Hood Panto Wolf gets that 'prinkling' sensation when he's getting really into the creative stuff and heavy charged excitable bits of the challenges. That (he says) on a par with having a full body orgasm and he is sure that has been the case whenever a PC has blown!  ::)

With a fellow involved, I might have known that sooner or later sex would rear its head, and in some way!

Does this mean we could have finally resolved this matter and with a massive climax?

Something tells me to wait! From what Mike says, when they once shared a flat, he couldn't sleep for all the rabbit action going on all night in the adjacent bedroom. :o

Now, let me see... how long is it since we had 'Alice in Dragonland' as the summer panto, and when the wolf was playing the White Rabbit? Nine or ten years ago, at least, or was it eleven! I am sure that was the year three PCs blew up during the scriptwriting process so, recalling that script and the rabbit's action scenes, it's easy to make a connection there and which head the writer was likely thinking with at the time.

If this vasectomy fails, perhaps we need to consider castrating that rabbit?

Now, if you are looking in and checking up, Mr. Mincemeat, perhaps it would be wise to get cracking on the script for 'The Shaman's New Clothes', and before someone digs out those little orange rubber rings and the castrating pliers from wherever they left them after the last lambing season, else you'll be bleating your innocence in a higher pitched voice, my shape-shifting, rapidly-going-grey-and-getting-older, mate.  ;D
 

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