Apr 032010

One lousy plastic bit. That’s all that was needed to take out my main workstation while I was in Hungary.

Fortunately, it did not interfere with my ability to access my data, as I was set up with a backup workstation that I could access using Remote Desktop while traveling. But still, it was most annoying when my wife called and asked if it was me that was messing with that computer, as it was at first making some strange noises, and then went dark.

The plastic bit in question was one of the bits to which the CPU heat sink is latched. It broke. The heat sink didn’t quite fall off, but as it was no longer pushed securely against the CPU, the CPU overheated and shut down. (A good thing, too. Some older generation CPUs failed to shut down under such circumstances and instead, burned a nice black hole in the middle of the motherboard.)

Grumble, I am old enough to remember when TVs had tubes and the repairman was a regular visitor. Back then, solid state electronics held a promise: it was supposed to last forever. But that’s because nobody at the time foresaw all the innovative ways modern computers have come up with to die at the most inopportune moments. What worries me is that the same thing, a computer disabled because of one lousy plastic bit, can happen anytime anywhere… even if said computer, say, is the one running the fly-by-wire system of a modern jetliner or controls the X-ray dose you receive in a medical device.

Of course those systems are redundant. But so was mine… I did have that backup workstation, after all. Nonetheless… I wish these things were a tad more reliable.

 Posted by at 11:41 pm

  One Response to “One lousy plastic bit”

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