Recent storms are nothing compared to standing a couple of feet from a home computer and hearing it go snap-crackle-pop and seeing the stars and sparks and smoke light up the room.1 Compared to Australia Day fireworks2 the sparks and flashes and smoke that came with the snap-crackle-pop were not as magnificent nor as grand but were more intense because it was a first hand experience of why a back-up of all your computer information should be up-to-date.
This snap-crackle-pop should have created panic but instead it created a sixth sense reaction and the computer was immediately turned off to prevent a possible bonfire.
A phone call followed to computer wiz Nemo3 who (tongue in cheek) explained that because the smoke had escaped, the computer would not work because computers operate on magic smoke.
Nemo explained that magic smoke theory is proven by logic:
1. The smoke witnessed coming from the computer proved that smoke had been inside the computer.
2. The fact the smoke inside the computer had never been seen previously proved it was magic smoke.
3. After the magic smoke escaped from the computer, the computer would not work.
4. This proved that it must be magic smoke that makes computers work.
5. No arguments with this logic?
Nemo advised to try starting the machine.
The loud starting chime was normal, but instead of an apple picture (the Macintosh symbol) the only evidence of life on the screen were iridescent red and blue vertical lines, each as thick as a piece of string; soon these lines turned into a ten cm vertical rectangle as wide as a pencil with thin horizontal lines of pale orange – beyond that the machine was as dead as a doornail.
Nemo’s translation of the above information was more positive, “It was probably only the graphics on the mother board that were affected and the hard-drive (with information) had probably not fried.”4
Informed that the recovery of the hard-drive was simply a matter of unscrewing a few screws, it seemed helpful to proceed with this task, only to be informed that this could result in electrocution.
Apparently a computer only needs about 12 volts of electricity to operate, a capacitor inside the computer converts our 240 (Australian) voltage to the lower 12 voltage.
Even after computers (and televisions) are turned off the capacitor still holds a charge of electricity therefore retrieval of electrical parts is best left to experts, like Nemo who can avoid the lethal elements that may kill.5
Footnotes / Resources
1. On February 6, 2010 the Before Canberra computer died and unforeseen technical difficulties arose (articles for <www.beforecanberra> were scheduled until February 12, and it was hoped all would be fixed before anyone knew. But that was wishful thinking as a new computer had to be purchased; data rescued from the old computer and transferred to the new computer; new programs to learn and understand and then work to get back on track – PLUS buying a new “time machine” external hard-drive to do the back up automatically.
2. Australia Day is celebrated on January 26, each year. On this day Captain Phillip landed in Sydney Cove with the First Fleet and white settlement began on January 26, 1788. A Firework’s display is a popular way to end Australia day in Queanbeyan as well as in many other towns and cities.
3. Nemo is the ‘bloke’ who sponsors this site, fixes it, trains the operator who sometimes stuffs it up. In other words without Nemo there would be nothing.
4. My guess is that “fried” is a “technical” word that means the hard-drive has heated and burnt out and the information contained therein cannot be retrieved – in other words 15 years of research would have been lost – not a pleasant thought all because the operator never remembered to back-up even though Nemo reminded often enough – lucky the hard-drive had not “fried”.
5. Connee-Colleen © Queanbeyan Outlook (219) “Magic Smoke”, The Queanbeyan Age, February 19, 2010, p.11.
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