Sunday, 10 November 2013

Red wine, computers and accidents

Pre-Festive Greetings from the itsgonefunny team!

Today I will be lecturing on the evils of drink. Specifically we will be looking at the equation:

lovely drinkies + computer = trouble

Now then, I know there is nothing sweeter than to curl up with a laptop, a glass of something nice balanced on the arm of your chair and do a little bit of shopping. 

Everything is super till the dog jumps up and the contents of your glass go over the keyboard.

I expect you will do as you please, but when it all goes wrong, please observe the following drill:

  • shutdown - turn the darn thing off and remove the charger. Your laptop may assist you in this by turning itself off
  • battery - remove it. If you don't know how, wake up the 3-year old to  show you. I know this seems cruel but this is an emergency
  • flip - open up the laptop as far as it will go and put it somewhere safe upside-down. Kind of like a tent shape
  • wait - be patient. We're talking 2 whole days. Take this opportunity to rediscover more antique occupations. Knitting, stamp collecting, watching TV - all fine
  • itsgonefunny - when you turn it on, everything will seem great except your keyboard won't work. Bring it down, we'll replace it. We may shake our heads at you and look slightly patronising, but don't be fooled - we've all done it.
DO NOT, DO NOT, I say again, DO NOT turn on the laptop and carry on surfing immediately after the spillage. The chances are, till your beverage dries out and the sugar becomes toffee, the laptop will work. Later on it will become a doorstop.

As the weather gets colder and Christmas mania kicks in, we see more and more of these sozzled laptops. The vast majority of these accidents seem to involve red wine, though recently I had one that had been fed Calvados. Why red wine though? Possible research direction there.

A keyboard replacement costs from £40 here, though some laptop keyboards are more expensive. We recently worked on a laptop whose keyboard cost £60. (And we charge £20 on top for fitting). Investigation showed that the reason was because it was a special spill-resistant keyboard. Many ironic eyebrows were raised that day, I can tell you.

I have only scraped the surface of the dangers of drinking and surfing, but that's enough nagging for one post. Meanwhile - if you have any stories to tell on the topic, send them to me at and I will publish them, anonymously or attributed, according to your desire.

Happy November!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Halloween Tale

In the gathering dusk on All Hallows Eve, the itsgonefunny phone rang, making me flinch in a startled manner. Since it has been ringing almost continually for the last three months, my startled flinch is beginning to look like a nervous tic.

But I need not have flinched.. it was P....r R-W, a man so charming that he can ask you to please bring his computer round at 8pm on a Friday evening after a horrendously busy day and you will do it happily, considering it a bit of a treat.

Concern clouded my lovely/characterful (delete as applicable) face as I listened to his story.

"Helen, I'm terribly sorry to be such a nuisance, but my computer seems to have somehow contracted a terrible virus. Not only has my mouse frozen, but there is a picture of a witch on my screen, with a thing that look like you're supposed to click it".

I explained that long experience had taught us that the only way to be sure of removing a virus was to do our lengthy checkup/cleanup routine on a computer. Remarkably this takes us about 24 hours, involving a complete hardware checkup, a multitude of scans, a screen clean for the laptops, a dust for the desktops, pruning of those items that we consider dodgy or superfluous, and a through clean of all the routine garbage that silts up in Windows. All that for £60! We love the checkup/cleanup because computers you were about to throw away in annoyance become young and perky again. Actually you all ought to book in your computers for an annual checkup/cleanup, virus or no virus.

But I digress into a soft sell.

24 hours is a long time for me to be hanging around a customer's house, so it works much better if we can get the computer into the workshop. Mr R-W agreed to bring it down and he soon arrived with his top-of-the-range Dell desktop.

Intrigued by the unusual nature of his virus, I invited him to wait while we fired up his computer and looked at it together.

The mouse thing was soon explained. At home he was using an uber-fancy Microsoft mouse that had downloaded new software and was asking him to accept the 1078 page license agreement. Unfortunately. the software had disabled his mouse and he was unable to click the Accept button. What fun! We negotiated through that poser and then I idly opened Internet Explorer. I nodded with satisfaction on seeing that the home page was set to Google. I glanced smilingly at P and was surprised to note that he had gone white and was raising a shaking finger towards the screen.

"There's the witch! Look how evil she looks!"

I looked back at the screen. There was my customer's virus. It was the amusing animation Google had put on their home page to bring some  timely fun to their users.

I looked back at P R-W. And then I regret to say, I laughed at my respected and valuable customer. Loudly.

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