Static Variables

Mandy\'s avatar

  It’s winter! The season of fluffy fluffy sweaters! …and static. Lots of static. Fox assured me I didn’t need to worry about a static strap or anything like that, but I did change first…

I don’t do a lot of hardware stuff with computers, so I was overly cautious about pretty much all of it. Super gentle, super careful… then Fox would come double check things for me and just manhandle it because “it’s in a big metal box Mandy, it’s fine.”

Fox\'s avatar

If she’d let me turn the heat up in the house she wouldn’t have to dress like that.
To be certain: static discharges will destroy electronic devices. I know, cuz I’ve done it.
And that was in a very, very dry tech shop that didn’t listen to me so I went and got my own humidifier to prevent it from happening again.
I then got into an argument with a very angry and less-than-knowledgeable supervisor when he found it, who then backed down after I showed him the RAM I’d fried by trying it his way. (He believed moisture was harmful to sensitive electronics. It is, but too little of it causes other problems. Try not to be an extremist whenever feasible.)

Fox\'s avatar

I think I was around five or six years old when our family got a 386. It wasn’t long before I’d opened it up. Unlike most kids who disassembled things, I also put it back together. (Evidenced by the fact that I’m still alive. Heh, it used AA batteries to retain CMOS settings.) I’d Capsela as a kid, so I’ve always been a ‘maker’, but my first paying job was building PCs, cuz I already knew how–and did it well. I’m also a diagnostician by nature: I need to know the solution to the puzzle, but implementing the fix doesn’t interest me. (Think “House M.D.”) So while everyone else would simply opt for routes that saved time, but learning nothing, I’d fiddle with problems until I learned why it wasn’t working. The former is great for most techs. The latter literally writes the book for those techs:
Dave: “I can not get this system to boot, man!”
Stephen: “Did you bypass the switches?”
Dave: “Yeah, man! Shorted it right at the board. Tried another power supply. It just won’t turn on.”
Me, over-hearing this while working on my system, “Dave, loosen all the motherboard screws a little and shake the case. A screw probably fell behind there and is grounding it out.”
Dave pauses, looking incredulous, then tries it. The familiar sound of a few metal-on-metal clicks echos through the tech-area.
Dave: “How do you do that?! You weren’t even on this side of the room!”

Now, among other things, I get paid to work on computers that cost more than my house. Combine that with over 30 years of dealing with workstations/PCs and they don’t have nearly the mystique they once held. They certainly no longer get handled with kid-gloves. You know precisely which parts to be careful handling (namely the land-grid arrays) and and know everything else could be installed by primates.