View Full Version : Demon Technology

28th May 2012, 12:56
A former colleague of mine went back to his home in Stockholm one autumn where he visited his old dad. On noticing his dad still had a small old-fashioned television he went out and bought him a new one, quite large, which necessitated a change-around in the room to accomodate it.

On his next visit home a few months later his dad said "don't like that new television, son". My friend asked what's wrong with it - picture, brightness, sound ? "No, son" said his dad, "it sucks all the heat out of the room".

Son, being an electronics engineer, burst out laughing and told his dad it was impossible.

"Well, you sit there and I'll put it on and you'll see" said his father.

He did and they sat there. About an hour later my colleague said the room was freezing. "See, son, I told you what it was doing" said his father, "it's sucking all the heat out of the room. Can't turn it on unless I have a blanket around my shoulders."

My colleague went over and looked at the television, and he found......

28th May 2012, 12:59
I'll admit to being stupid. What on earth did he find?

28th May 2012, 12:59
... a total sucker in there?

28th May 2012, 13:03
The door on the Fridge TV was ajar

The latest convergence trend: fridge TVs | Crave - CNET (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9717743-1.html)

or,the guy's Dad pulled out the plug for the heater to plug in the telly.

28th May 2012, 13:10
A black hole.

28th May 2012, 13:16
If you left the fridge door open, the room would get warmer.

28th May 2012, 13:19
No, but when he looked down the back of the television and saw what was there, he burst out laughing !

C'mon, it's easy ! Call yourselves engineers ?

tuned cavity
28th May 2012, 13:25
The termostat for the room heater?

28th May 2012, 13:26
Thermostat. Relocation of TV placed it in front.

TV warmed up, thermostat turned the heating down as sensed the room was hot enough.

Solution - relocate TV somewhere else.

B*gger - shouldn't have waited so long explaining.... ;)

28th May 2012, 14:00
Yup, the thermostat for the room, maybe for whole apartment, was about 8" above the back of the TV.

Anyone else got stories of simple technology baffling entire communities ?

Solid Rust Twotter
28th May 2012, 14:33
Possibly apocryphal story of a certain bed in a high care ward in a hospital in SA that was meant to be jinxed. A fair number of occupants snuffed it on what was looking like a regular basis. The mystery was solved when it was found a cleaner would come in and unplug the life support systems so she could plug her polisher/hoover into the socket.:ooh:

Loose rivets
28th May 2012, 14:34
There was the huge photo in a daily paper of council officers trying to help a man beleaguered with a cockerel's cries. The tenant is pointing this way and that, and the 'experts' are looking that way and this. They seemed unable to find the source.

What did they eventually find?

Windy Militant
28th May 2012, 14:49
We've had a few similar things here at the lab.
The Thermostat that had worked fine for years until the conjuntion of sunrise and a clear frosty spell. It was spooky watching the temperature plot on the BMS rising with the rest of site and then suddenly starting to dip as the sun came up. Move the stat problem solved.
Or the building that suddenly went cold and constantly required the radiators bleeding.
Coming back from lunch one day we saw the header tank on the roof of the building eject it's entire contents like old faithful. A quick check in the plant room revealed that the thermostat repeater was showing about 34 which meant the circulation valve was closed so the steam which was meant to heat the entire building was only heating the calorifier who's contents then also turned to steam and when the pressure overcame the head of water thar she blew.
Turns out that the thermostat for the entire building was in a small office, who's occupant was the site exotherm.
We found him sat there wearing a duffel coat with three electric fires around him going full blast.
The thermostat was moved and the problem went away.
Which in some ways was a shame, as bleeding the radiators meant crawling around under the desks of the girls in finance department.:E

28th May 2012, 16:56
Some years ago, there was a huge to do about a small mine tailing pond around ywg which was found to have high cyanide levels. The powers that be were all set to throw millions at the apparently environmentally critical threat and pump out all of the water into trucks and ship it to a facility where the cyanide could be extracted and disposed of.

Just about then, some high school chemistry teacher pointed out in a letter to the editor of the winnipeg paper that the addition of 10 gallons or so of javex and a few days of sunny weather would result in the chemical dissolution of the threat...

Lance Murdoch
28th May 2012, 17:02
Reminds me of a similar story. Mate of mine installed one of those automatic security lights outside his house. When it got dark the light went on, and then off and then on repeatedly. He then realised that he placed the photoelectric sensor underneath the light :ugh:

28th May 2012, 19:01
The test firings of a live missile constantly went off course.

Numerous further tests using identical dummies in a wind tunnel failed to reproduce the problem.

It turned out that the live missiles had a metallic sticker on the nosecone stating 'live warhead'. At a certain speed, this sticker would begin to peel off, curling into the airflow and upsetting the trajectory.

What about the cockerel, LR?

Loose rivets
28th May 2012, 19:51
It was his wristwatch alarm. Believe me, they are very loud and very real. I got ticked off for setting mine off in the pub.

None of them realized the direction changed cos he kept pointing in different directions.

as bleeding the radiators meant crawling around under the desks of the girls in finance department.

I thought you were going to say, girls in frilly nickers.

He then realised that he placed the photoelectric sensor underneath the light

Reminds me of Paddy asking Michael to check the indicators were working. "yes, they are . . . no they're not . . . yes, they are . . ."

28th May 2012, 20:42
I got ticked off for setting mine off in the pub.

Speaking of Paddy, people got life for doing that in days gone by.

28th May 2012, 21:34
The mystery was solved when it was found a cleaner would come in and unplug the life support systems so she could plug her polisher/hoover into the socket.

A terrible end, but a lovely finish... :E

28th May 2012, 22:25
Irish mate worked in Dublin in 1980's for the electric supplier, when new local cereal producer set up in place called East Wall, the machines were tested for ages in getting taste and texture correct.

Every day same thing happened in that the mixers went off line, German manufacturers called in and machines worked as specified.

Course Dublin was installing its new Rapid Transit system (all electric) and was tested during the day. Train went by and power dropped off for a couple of minutes and then went back up.

I believe the issue was overall lack of capacity in available electric power and transmission problems, to be fair my mate who now works as a contractor has made his money working through issues like this with an impressive record in many countries.

28th May 2012, 22:32
A TV on the frig to keep a cold one handy? (Not everyone prefers beer warm.)

"Honey, I'll be in the kitchen washing dishes." (wink, wink...)

Had dinner with a colleague who had a TV in nearly every room. We watched it while dining. :confused:

Loose rivets
29th May 2012, 03:32
To quote me from 3rd Apl (getting so I don't have to write anything anymore)

I had a boss in the recession-hit 70s, that was more than a little norty. He schemed a RR Dart onto a trailer, with a sizable generator fastened to it. And a long black line into the client factory.

Come 3PM the factory had to shut down to save juice. They'd fire the Dart up, making an unholy noise, but the factory was back in business a moment later.

It seems someone in the factory had to throw the main switch back on, because the line in was a rubber hosepipe.

29th May 2012, 04:04
A cleaner in local radiology rooms placed a metal bucket on a bench. The bucket immediately shot into a large hole in a machine where is stuck to a surface.

The machine was an magnetic imaging machine containing some sort of magnet that could only be switched off at great cost.

They eventually winched the bucket off the magnet using a non-magnetic block and tackle from a nearby maritime museum.

Solid Rust Twotter
29th May 2012, 06:13
While working in the IT industry in a former life, we had a site that lost their microwave link around 4pm each afternoon. Couldn't find a fault anywhere until someone noticed a line of hills near a farming community between the two towers. After watching things for a while he saw a cattle herder walking home with his herd along the hills, where they passed between the two stations for a few minutes around four pm, effectively disrupting the signal where it skimmed the top of the hill.

The towers were raised a few feet and no more interruptions were experienced.

29th May 2012, 07:17
Old maiden aunt, 80's, called me in to find/dispose of the mouse she could hear squeaking in the hallway.

She looked a bit upset when I burst into laughter. Then I told her that the battery in the smoke alarm was getting low.


Airborne Aircrew
29th May 2012, 11:44

You remind me of a situation I had here. There was a cluster of three residential facilities for the aged that needed their offices networked. Like you we used a wireless link between the three buildings. All was well for a few months when, on morning the central link went down. I got in the car to go and see what happened but by the time I got there it was back up.

This went on for months. Every few days the central link would go down but we could see something of a pattern. Every time it occurred it would happen at 0800hrs. In order to catch it occurring I would go to the building every morning at 0800 to see if I could find the problem. Lo and behold, after about a week the link went down. After climbing up a 15' stepladder I found that the wireless equipment in the ceiling was without power.

A trip to Facilities Management found that when power was requested up in that ceiling the worker had selected the closest circuit to the location the outlet was required. It was a circuit that belonged to one of the apartments. We went to the apartment and upon being let in we found that one of the old lady's circuit breakers was popped. A check of what was on the circuit found several things in the kitchen including her coffee maker.

What was happening was that most mornings she slept through to about 0830 and would get up to coffee. But, some mornings, she'd wake up early and turn on the TV and start making herself some toast. The toaster was a bit iffy and if it was on when the coffee maker came on it would pop the circuit and bring down the wireless. It could take her varying amounts of time to notice this and when she reset the breaker the coffee maker would stay off allowing the toaster to do it's work. By then she had set up the coffee maker again and started it manually thus, with the toaster off, the circuit stayed up.

We gave the wireless it's own circuit. :8

29th May 2012, 11:53
Does that mean the old lady was paying for the wireless link's electrickery? :hmm:

Airborne Aircrew
29th May 2012, 16:23

I never thought about that but I do believe that the electrickery is a fixed cost and paid as part of the rent... But you did bring a smile to my face... ;)

30th May 2012, 10:09
Not sure if this counts as the same thing, but it is unusual:

Clifton Cafeteria: Neon light left on for 77 years discovered during Los Angeles restaurant renovation | Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151843/Clifton-Cafeteria-Neon-light-left-77-years-discovered-Los-Angeles-restaurant-renovation.html)

30th May 2012, 15:15
SRT. Lot of years ago I worked for a few months testing a RDS link, from Le Havre to The USA on a sealed line (all the connections from LeHavre to Pittsburgh were soldered. Job was a doddle, just stuff data up and down the line, show the thing to be capable of taking 100k transactions. Only thing was the line kept dropping out for no apparent reason. Happened at random intervals except it always happened about 08.30. So I'm sat there one day, feet up on desk, time 08.29, looking out the window and waiting for the link to fail. Which it did. But for some reason I noticed the swing bridge just down the road was lifting. Hour or 3 later the connection failed again - and again the bridge was lifting. Turned out that what was happening was the motor driving the bridge was next to the telephone companies junction box and the interference was enough to screw up the link (it did cause a bit of a crackle on the line for a person to person call as well).

30th May 2012, 17:12
Ah yes. Our data circuits from Redu (B) to Darmstadt (D). Worked fine from 17:00 - 08:00 and from 13:00-14:00. Outside those times, a lot of random noise. Chased down to Belgian PTT engineers "running tests".

Moral: if it's working, leave it alone.

30th May 2012, 18:01
I know of one office where there was a server farm in the basement. It was setup with an uninteruptable power supply (battery backup).
My colleague was very puzzled why the system would have multiple seemingly random errors happening every Friday afternoon. He spent weeks checking the software.
In exasperation he spent a Friday afternoon sitting in the basement, when a senior manager came down to test that the backup power supply worked, during which he threw the master switch...


At my university, the internet connection appeared unstable, only on the coldest days. The engineers replaced wiring and power supplies but this problem kept happening. Then someone went onto the roof on a cold day and discovered a row of seagulls perched in front of the microwave transmitter, warming themselves!

30th May 2012, 19:53
Light posts reminds me of one company worked at.

One set of lights always on and having a few boring weekends inside I checked out every single light switch to turn it off and couldn't find a single one.

I notified facilities as was annoying me and after an indeterminate time the said engineer game in and finally reported that it was wired incorrectly and there wasn't an off switch.

Given that facilities had ignored previous building issues it was nice to see them going around like crazy sorting it out and having to be onsite when every other electrical circuit was checked.

Course same flunky had been very outspoken that I had dared park in Facility Managers car space one day. I quoted obscure Elf and Safety guidelines that facilities should be in when wiring checked over a hot sunny weekend:E

HR confirmed week afterwards it wasn't required, HR gal normally on top of her game, she said she knew it was B/s about H&S but guy had pissed her off so much she just liked the payback option.

Airborne Aircrew
30th May 2012, 20:44
Oh... Another good one.

Seemingly centuries ago, (1990), I got my first experience with T1's. My company had just got a contract that required us to download all the data for the previous day from the East Coast processing facility for all bank transactions in the NE USA and turn them into microfiche and get it back to them by 10:00am.

It was set up so that we would start the download of jobs sat in the queue at the remote company and it would stream directly to cartridges which, when full, would be switched out and loaded onto our machines.

It was installed, set up and we started testing. It worked perfectly except it was only moving about 250k/sec instead of 1.5M/sec. We called in AT&T who tested exhaustively only to tell us that it's us. We worked with the tech chaps at the remote site to see what we could do... Nothing... We called in AT&T again... same result. We went back to the remote location. Eventually, after three weeks, I got a phone call, "We think we found it".

The remote location had set us up with a "virtual computer" on their mainframe so that we were isolated from their other processes. The was a setting in the setup that allowed the virtual CPU to be put to sleep after a period of inactivity and a setting for how long. This saves actual CPU time. The unfortunate thing is that these settings come with default settings. A quarter and three quarters of second each...

So... During every second the "computer" went to sleep for 3/4 of a second and stopped transmitting the data.

"I've changed the settings, try it now"... Lo, more data per second than you can shake a stick at... :D

31st May 2012, 09:33
Varying voltages on a lighting circuit in one of our bedrooms when I was checking it. 130V before tea (130??) and about 180 after when I went back upstairs. Turned out the previous owner had taken a feed from above the ceiling rose in the living room, then at some point fitted a dimmer switch to that one. :ugh:

Loose rivets
31st May 2012, 16:09
Then of course, there was the Rosenheim Poltergeist.

The most closely investigated paranormal activity in the world. And indeed, one in which the bods from Munich university witnessed and measured some of the strangeness.