Awhile back, in preparation for Halloween, we asked CNET readers to send in their tales of tech terror--and we got some doozies. From creepy crawlies in the machine to large-scale backup disasters and close encounters with sharp objects, the submissions spooked us out more than (almost) any blood-drenched zombie ever could. Here are a handful of our favorites. And thanks, readers, for sharing the scare.
The PC and the poison pen When I had an internship last summer, I received a brand new IBM ThinkPad laptop, along with an optical mouse, an LCD monitor, Ethernet cord, and laptop dock. My cubicle was located a floor below my immediate manager's cubicle.
Well, during the internship period while working on a project, I got a notification through e-mail that I had to come upstairs to have a progress report. I closed my laptop with the presentation file and everything, put it in the laptop bag, and headed to the meeting room. About 15 minutes past the meeting, I said I have the demonstration to show and took out my laptop to find out...my laptop's screen was completely broken!
What happened was I mistakenly put a pen between the keyboard and the screen and closed it and put the laptop inside the bag. The result was a laptop with black, cracked screen. Fortunately, my manager was kind enough to give me a desktop, though lower in performance, for me to continue to work on my project while the laptop was sent to the repair shop. To get the laptop fixed, I had to wait about one week and kept talking back and forward with the help desk. I later received the laptop back like new, but I definitely learned my lesson.
--Ji Son, Austin, Texas
Oh, rats! I got a call from a friend asking if I could come take a look at their computer, as it wasn't powering up. They said they had a burning smell and all of a sudden the machine turned off and wouldn't power back up. I assumed it was a power supply issue and headed over. Once I got there, I pulled out the tower to find a fried/dead rat that had chewed through the power cord running to the power supply. An easy fix, but definitely gross!
--CNET reader "idlehand326"
Gecko in the machine My boss brought in his home PC because it was booting up with a strange crackling sound and apparently there was a funny smell coming from it. OK, let's take a look at it. I plugged it in turned it on..."BANG!"--a flash and all the lights and power in our section of the office went down. Smoke and noxious fumes were emitting from the PSU. It was safe to turn off the machine--the fuse had tripped.
Unplugged the unit, took out the PSU, a nice expensive Antec, hmmm now why would one of those blow? Peered inside, the smell was revolting, putrid even. Lo and behold, one severely fried and dead gecko inside!!!
--CNET reader "Mikeybabes"
Curse of the black cat Our vehicle has automatic safety door locks that engage at about 20 mph. As I was driving home, a black cat crossed my path about four car lengths ahead of me...I got a good look at it, all black. I heard the automatic door locks engage at that very instant that I saw the cat. The rear passenger door has not opened since. It refuses to unlock.
I've tried everything, hip-checking the door, disassembling the handle mechanism etc., all to no avail. The dealership wants over $400 to repair it. This would not have happened if that black cat had not crossed my path. It worked perfectly for years until that very moment.
--CNET reader "digipixx"
A real cutup Back in the day when I owned a computer storefront, a client came in and bought a brand new desktop from me. I offered to install it for free (how things change) but she informed me that she knew how to do it and had owned a computer for years. She paid in full and was on her way.
About three days passed and I get a phone call from her. Her old system used 5.25-inch floppy disks and her new system only had 1.44MB 3.5-inch disks. She told me she had a book she had been working on for 25 years backed up on floppy and that the reason she got a new computer is that her hard drive had died. I told her it was not a problem, that I had an old 5.25 floppy drive I could install and would even be happy to transfer the data to the 3.5-inch disk free of charge (again, how things change). She thanked me and stated that she would be at my office shortly.
About 30 minutes later she walks in carrying a large box. My first thought was, "Oh man...what the heck did I just get myself into? That's going to take me days to read if that box is full of disks."
She sits the box on my desk and thanks me once again for my help, explaining that it was her life's work and that she was almost finished with it. I opened the box to find a huge pile of cut-up floppies. In horror, I asked her what happened. She stated that she figured she could just trim the edges of the disks off so they would fit into the smaller drive and it would work fine. I asked her if she still had the old computer but she had trashed it more than a week before.
About two hours later I was able to get her husband on the phone to come pick her up from my office. She was so shaken she was not able to drive herself home and so stunned she could not even tell me how to get to her house (now we have GPS...more evidence of how things change).
--CNET reader "Nyteblade" … Read more