(Image courtesy The Smoking Gun)
I present this story under the assumption that it didn’t come straight from Apple’s PR department:
A Colorado man says he has no regrets after unloading eight rounds into his dysfunctional Dell desktop, though he faces a fine for doing so.
“I just had it,” Lucas Hinch, 38, told The Smoking Gun (via Ars Technica). Apparently the PC had thrown up one too many blue screens of death in recent months, so Hinch took it into an alley, loaded up a 9mm Hi-Point pistol that he’d purchased on Craiglist, and let the bullets fly.
“It was glorious,” Hinch told the Los Angeles Times. “Angels sung on high.”
Hinch admitted that the murder was “premeditated, oh, definitely,” and that he’d made sure there was nothing behind the desktop, and nothing from which the rounds could ricochet. The deed went down behind Hinch’s home, where he and his girlfriend also run a homeopathic herb store.
Despite his precautions, Colorado Springs police issued Hinch a citation for discharging a firearm within city limits.
Back when a 500MHz Pentium III was still a screaming machine, I owned a Dell. While I was never — OK, almost never — tempted to pump eight bullets into it, it was the source of the strangest tech support solution I ever heard.
Once on a reboot, the system powered down and refused to power back up. It was, as Dickens wrote, dead as a doornail — assuming that doornail was a thirty pound desktop tower priced at $2999 in 1998 dollars, and hooked up to a then state-of-the-art 19″ Sony Trinitron monitor. To have that thing bricked (nailed?) had me seriously cheesed off.
I tried everything I knew to try before finally calling Dell’s tech support line.
The tech guy tried walking me through the usual — “Have you tried turning it off and then on again?” — but I interrupted and walked him through all the steps I’d already taken. Tech guy said something like, “Good, then I know what this is and we can skip right to the weird part.”
The weird part — and he assured me a couple of times that he wasn’t pranking me — was Dell’s documented method for unbricking their XPS PIII 500.
“What I want you to do,” he finally told me, “is switch off your power strip and swap the tower and the monitor power cords.”
“You want me to unplug the power cord from the back of the monitor and plug it into the back of the tower, and take the cord from the back of the tower and plug it into the monitor.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“What if I just unplug them both and plug them back in where they go?”
“Then you’ll still have a bricked computer.”
“But if I swap the identical power cords, it will work?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
So I did. And it worked. My computer was unbricked.
And then I asked the tech guy how the hell swapping identical power cords made any difference.
“Nobody knows. We just know it works.”
And it’s significantly cheaper than eight bullets at today’s prices.
UPDATE: I should have added one more thing. Several more times over the lifetime of that Dell, the same issue occurred where the machine powered down on a reboot and refused to power back up. Each time, I dutifully swapped the power cords, and each time it sprang right back to life.