LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Talk about this week's LRRcast and what you'd like to see in future ones.
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LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby Paul » 13 May 2015, 16:34

This week Paul, Graham and Alex talk about their worst tech disasters.

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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby King Kool » 13 May 2015, 17:49

Oh my GOD, who the hell is breathing right into the mic!? It sounds like I'm trying to listen to this outside when it's windy.

EDIT: Holy crap, you brought up the Riddle of Master Lu! I wrote a FAQ for that game like a decade ago! I didn't even realize they were based in Victoria until I went there for DB.
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby the amativeness » 13 May 2015, 19:10

King Kool wrote:Oh my GOD, who the hell is breathing right into the mic!? It sounds like I'm trying to listen to this outside when it's windy.

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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby theknightofiron » 13 May 2015, 21:40

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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby GNRC_SRNM » 14 May 2015, 02:06

King Kool wrote:Oh my GOD, who the hell is breathing right into the mic!? It sounds like I'm trying to listen to this outside when it's windy.

Ironic to have this on the podcast on Tech Problems.
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby jkefka » 14 May 2015, 03:54

1) My favorite LRRcast in a long time, and I'm only halfway in.

2) Great opportunity to share my favorite ye olde HDD failure story: Aside from the head getting misaligned, you can also have the disks themselves get misaligned, or even shake loose. While they are spinning at very high speed. When I was about, let's see, eight or nine years old? Sometime in the mid to late 90s, my family had a new-ish computer (think this was our first Pentium) and one day it just straight died, totally without warning, and with the most awful noise I have ever heard from a computer. Then we noticed the smoke. At this point nobody in the house was particularly tech-saavy, so we called our "computer guy" and hid in the corner. He came over, and pulled out the HDD, which had an ugly tear in the casing with the disk stack poking out. I think, at that point, the conversation went, "So it's dead?" "Oh yeah."
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby Jonci » 14 May 2015, 06:32

Back in college, as part of my course, we received a laptop to do our programming work on. It was just a basic laptop with a Mobile-grade graphics card, since we'd be programming video games on it. But give a gamer a computer, they will play games on it a lot. This laptop wasn't made for that, and after a year, the HDD in it was dying. It would run, but it would fault if it spent too much time reading. So I had to backup files in small chunks as I burned what I could to CD-Rs.

More recently, my current computer I put together myself. Within a few days, it would have a lot of problems. Just programs crashing and random freezes. I was freaking out thinking I f-ed up putting it together. Turns out, 2 of the 4 RAM sticks I bought were bad (one was REALLY bad). So I pulled them and the computer worked perfectly. A year later, programs crashing and random freezes. Another of that set was going bad.
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby Master Gunner » 14 May 2015, 07:44

One of my company's clients had their server room catch on fire once, but fortunately my company was handling backing up all their stuff off-site, so we were able to get them up and running again pretty quickly. However, there was of course one DBA at the client who didn't trust our backup solution and insisted that he would handle the backups of his databases himself. Those databases were not up and running again quickly, and it ended up being a five-figure bill to get the databases recovered from those hard drives.

For Windows 2000, I assure you that there are machines still running it out there. I even know of Windows 95 machines still in service, with millions of dollars riding on their continued operation, and no plans to have them replaced.
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby ChainedNBeaten » 14 May 2015, 10:55

i actually run a gateway 2000 with maxed out parts costed me $65 i want to upgrade now that it is 5 years later but it works fine i can watch LRR and other video and run office 2007 so I am good as long as i can do that
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby CamelKnackRambleHort » 14 May 2015, 11:20

I was an IT guy for 7 years (and I am a professional software developer now), I have all the tech horror stories. In my experience, Macs fail less often but are much harder to fix. They are meant to be taken into the shop I think, which is really annoying for a beyond power user like myself.

But holy crap is it annoying when people are OS zealots. I use and develop for all 3 major desktop OS and both major mobile OS, They are just tools. They have different strengths and weaknesses. It is like insisting that wrenches are better than screw drivers, it is asinine.

On a funnier note, I used to kind of run a computer graveyard for my work, where any computer that got old or broke would get passed to me, so I had like 30 crappy old computers and none of them work. I scrapped them all for parts, and got permission from my boss to make a Frankenstein computer for myself from all the crappiest still working parts, which I used to play old games. I eventually ended up selling that computer to my sister for a hamburger.
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby TMC_SHerpa » 14 May 2015, 17:25

So many moons ago I was attempting to record a stop motion animation thing where I built a Lego castle. It turns out the camcorder I had available didn't have a flying erase head. What that means is the first two seconds are lost as the camera spools up and the last second gets rolled back after you hit pause. If you were doing something boring like play, count to four, pause, repeat then you would get a series of images of you saying three, three, three.... I figured this out after several hours of recording. I was not a happy bunny.

As far as tech goes, I think the best one was when I had a friend over who was a programing wizard but thought the computer ran on magic smoke. I convinced him to open the thing up and he was so excited when he pulled the last card (EVGA, look it up :)) he swung his hands back and hit the light over the kitchen table. Which caused one of the shades to drop out of the fixture. Which landed IN his computer case cracking his 286. Don't worry, the lamp shade was fine.
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby jamesklock » 19 May 2015, 17:21

Oh my goodness, this was brilliant and I absolutely loved both the disastrous tales of technology and the nostalgia of just how far our technology has come.

I was reminded of my senior year of college (1995), when my 10 hour/week work-study job was helping out my department's IT person. One professor had an already-then-ancient PC (circe 1984, an 80286 IBM desktop PC/AT) with a custom-made analog-to-digital signal converter (it was an engineering department, and he used it with some analog accelerometers to do a lab in which students would shake a model building-- pretty cool, actually).

My senior year, I set up this desktop and the related equipment (which was kept in a closet for 50 weeks each year and only set up when needed), only to find that the computer wouldn't boot. The BIOS could see the internal hard drive (a whopping 20 MB!), but couldn't access it. Booting it with the case open, I determined that the drive wasn't spinning up.

So, in the same spirit you described in the pod, I figured there was nothing to lose here. I grabbed a screwdriver, and opened the hard drive up, revealing the 8 platters on a single spindle which occupied the 4 inches of height inside. Channelling DJ Dazzy Jeff, I spun the turntable with my finger-- and sure enough, that unjammed the spindle (which I assume was *actually rusted* into immobility). I closed up the enclosure, mounted it back in the case, and it worked just fine!

I did let the professor know that he should *definitely* not expect it to work for much longer, though. Anyway, I was graduating, and wouldn't be there to deal with it the next year...
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Re: LRRcast - Tech Disasters

Postby Antitonic » 21 May 2015, 00:58

On one of my first computers, I managed to move my C:/ drive onto the C:/ drive, causing a bit of a lockup issue.

This was before they built in the "make a shortcut" feature in, so...

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