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Children are filthy and disgusting, and that’s why I’m going to buy these keyboards

Even when they aren’t wetting themselves, vomiting due to Norovirus, or expelling more snot than Slimer from Ghostbusters, children are still disgusting, filthy, disease vectors. And their hands are all over the lab keyboards. We do some cleaning, but there’s a very fine line between effective disinfecting and destroying the keyboard.

That’s why I’m extremely tempted to kit our labs out with these:

Hopefully we can get the price down a bit lower than the £34.99 RRP.

This disc will self-destruct in 5 seconds

The ticket came in just as I returned from break.

“Just inserted a disc into machine – made awful noise and ejected the disc with it in 2 pieces!”

They weren’t kidding. This is what the disc looks like now:

100 All New Broken Maths Lessons

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What’s wrong with this fibre ducting?

If last week’s puzzle over a non-functioning network port was too challenging for you, you might find this week’s easier.

What’s wrong with this fibre ducting?

Fibre duct

Answer: click here.

Yes, that red arrow is pointing at my optic fibre. Astonishingly, it is so far undamaged.

I am… displeased.

What’s wrong with this network port?

“We’ve plugged the laptop in,” came the call from the exam room, “but it’s not letting us log in… we think there might be something wrong with the network port though…”

Normally I try to discourage too much technical self-diagnosis from my users, but in this case, they were not wrong. See if you can determine what’s the problem is with this network port though a simple observational test:

What's wrong with this network port (apart from it being a single socket and being labelled 'RM')

Answer: click here.

Now, I’ve tried to replicate this ‘fault’ through normal use, and it’s not easy. The question is which little snotbag managed to do this in a room that is normally only used under exam conditions…


Take a good look at that face, and answer me one question:

Would you trust this gerbil?

If you answered yes, then you’ve been taken in. Fooled by a cute and cuddly exterior that hides a devious and cunning mind.

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Mysterious Blue Smoke

As Adam Savage says:

“…when you see the mysterious blue smoke, electronics don’t work any more.”

Curiously, it also smelled like TCP.

A delicious beverage

Hot chocolate is a delicious beverage, and co-incidentally the only hot beverage I will drink. Yes, that does mean I don’t drink coffee. Try not to fall off of your chair in stupefied shock.

Hot chocolate is not, however, particularly conducive to enhancing the performance of your laptop in any way, as a teacher recently found out when her ham-fisted son managed to spill some straight into his barely-new home laptop.

And then waited a week.

After an initial diagnosis this week, the laptop has gotten off pretty lightly. The last time I saw this sort of thing, a £1000+ machine was a complete write-off. This one seems to have suffered only a dead hard drive and keyboard. On first inspection, the hard drive damage seemed mysterious; other than the fact the drive would not even spin up, it appeared relatively unscathed. However, once the drive caddy was peeled off (and I should note that normally you don’t have to ‘peel’ a drive caddy from a drive), the damage was clearer.

The combination of heat and dissolved sugar has not only corroded the exposed metal parts, but also quite literally eaten away at the PCB, leaving these small craters on the underside of the drive. This is why I have a closed-container-only policy even in my own office, and why I will practically crucify any student found in an IT lab with a drink.

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Accurately Broken

Well, yes, I suppose that probably is what my office looks like at night.

This... is an ex-camera.

This is why you’re not getting a new laptop

We’ve had this discussion before. It’s rule #2 of getting into my good books, and you are apparently incapable of following it, so let me make this abundantly clear.

I’d be much more inclined to give you a nice new laptop if the last one I gave you hadn’t ended up looking like this:

You see, it’s really quite simple. If you don’t respect the equipment, I don’t respect you.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.


When your motherboard capacitors start leaking magical orange dust, you know this is one computer that is not turning on again any time soon.

When it happens to two identical computers at the same time, you know the manufacturer used cheap capacitors on that model.


When it also happens to the capacitors on the video card, it’s a good indication they used cheap everything.