You might find this hard to believe, but I was an inquisitive child.
I loved finding out how things worked and as part of this fascination, I had a Meccano set.
I loved my Meccano set. It had 'No. 8' printed on the side of its box and I could see it on the top of my wardrobe as I lay in bed. I must have been about seven or eight years old at the time, but for the life of me I couldn't work out what that No. 8 meant.
Was it that there were no item 8s in the box or was it perhaps that no eight-year-olds were allowed to play with the set? I really did sweat on this question and in the end I looked it up in dictionary - no internet then alas - and was most disappointed to find out it meant number 8. I guess that must be the same for all eight-year-olds, right?
Anyway, it was a mere stone's throw from Meccano to Airfix kits and then balsa wood flying things. Making things has always fascinated me, and so a couple of weeks ago, I was fascinated to find myself witnessing a DIY disaster unfolding in front of my very eyes.
The office I was working in at the time had decided to buy 10 PCs and then save money by building the machines themselves. I was an interested bystander - actually bysitter because it turned out to be a rather long job. Very much on the outside and with the vaguest of bad feelings I watched as first the bits were ordered, the systems put together off site and then brought in and run up.
It was a fascinating experience and y'know what, I was astonished by what I saw. Forget the standard stuff, such as IRQ problems with the internal modems which weren't the 56Kb ones that had been ordered, but were in fact 33.6k flash upgradeable - they were returned replaced with external ones. And forget the data cables for the CDs that were completely missed off the shipping list.
What about the two failed hard disks, the failed graphics card, the case with the broken on-off button, the failed floppy drive? Christ, it was like a computer graveyard in there.
We only got 10 of everything and about 70 per cent of the bits we got in suffered a 1 in 10 failure. That's got to be wrong, hasn't it? I mean, I'm not being naive thinking that we should be expecting better than 1 in 10 working systems, am I?
Interestingly, the processors were all OK (well done Intel) and it looks as if all the motherboards were fine too (well done Gigabyte), but the rest?
I thought we could try to get some reader interaction going here. Drop us a line here at PC Dealer and tell me the highest number of failures you've had in a shipment. You don't have to name names (although if you want to we don't mind) but give me an idea of the size of the problem we're looking at. Is it as bad as it looks?
Whatever the case, the most technical thing I'm ever planning to build is going to be a wardrobe.
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