A Day in The Life of a PC Technician – Day 8

The cat, the tablet and the mysterious virus

A few weeks ago an elderly lady phoned me sounding more than a little distraught, explaining that her much loved Toshiba tablet had stopped working and could I pay her a visit as she’s practically housebound. Naturally I agreed and once we’d gotten the pleasantries out the way, confirmed her age as being 85 and obviously a pensioner, she introduced me to her Siamese cat, Robert (well, it sounded like Robert although it could have been Poppet), whom she described as a monster, but a lovable monster all the same, being responsible for her broken tablet, having catapulted himself from one side of the room to the other using the Toshiba as a convenient trampoline on the way to the bookshelf on the other side of her dining room. The end result of these feline acrobatics being  a pretty lifeless tablet with a broken screen and a grief-stricken pensioner who, by the way, was only half-way through paying a four year credit plan on the tablet. Having jokingly asked her if she’d like me to throw Robert out of her sixth floor window, I took the broken tablet with me in the forlorn search for a replacement screen…

A week or so later I was back with Robert and the elderly pensioner breaking the bad news that I couldn’t find a replacement screen in the entire country, earning Robert a severe telling off and a saucer of milk, when a new problem arose in the form of her laptop which had become as slow as molasses and could I try to fix it please?

Back at the lab, I managed to get the pensioner’s HP Presario booted into safe mode, only to find that every single directory, folder and sub-folder contained duplicates of HTML, text and image files, each uniquely named and multiplied throughout the entire machine. Naturally, my first thought was a Virus and/or Trojan-type infestation, but Malwarebytes, SuperAntispyware, Spybot Search and Destroy and Avira Antivirus (which was already installed), proved unable to either identify the problem files or remove them. I even managed to carry out a global search (for deletion purposes) in the machine which brought up thousands of the offending files, but when deleted, simply duplicated themselves somewhere else.

Furthermore, each of her personal files such as photos and documents were corrupted, so wouldn’t open and the thought of backing up infected files was out of the question, so I nuked the hard drive and re-installed Windows.

Ms. Pensioner was pretty sanguine about the whole episode, I must say, and Robert was simply ecstatic as he had yet another toy to dig his recently sharpened claws into when he wasn’t sitting on my shoulder, that is. And the really good news is that her son bought her a brand new tablet, as I knew he would, and I do like a happy ending.

Fire in the hole!

During tea and biscuits later that afternoon, whilst I was simultaneously scanning an errant laptop and watching someone make a fool of themselves on a Harley, compliments of YouTube, a young lad walks through the door in a cloud of white dust carrying a gaming PC under his arm. I recognized the computer immediately as I’d not long rebuilt it in a new case and fitted some very expensive new water cooling. It’s odd, I can remember PCs but not necessarily their owners these days, but anyway, it transpired that fire and smoke had started coming through the top grill of the case and they were tempted to throw a bucket of water on it but thought better of it, so instead, his dad broke out the fire extinguisher and emptied the entire contents into the gaming machine as you can see here.

I’m not an expert on powder filled fire extinguishers, being the first time I’ve witnessed the aftermath, but clearly, they’re preferable to a bucket of water and boy do they make a mess! My first priority was to locate the cause of the fire which turned out to be a Molex-to-SATA Adapter connected to the DVD drive as you can see in the first picture. So, with that isolated and with no other obvious damage anywhere else, I tentatively fired up the machine to test it and breathed a huge sigh of relief that it didn’t go bang again. I spent the next couple of days stripping the machine down to the last nut and bolt, cleaning with compressed air, a vacuum cleaner, brushes and soapy water, vowing never to use Molex-to-SATA Adapter leads ever again.

Return to Mrs Angry

Following my recent Day 7 experiences, many asked, “Whatever happened to Mrs Angry?”

Well, nothing happened to her as far as I know, although I did ride past her on my bike the other morning as she was walking her dog. I beeped at her mischievously just to rattle her cage, but I didn’t even receive a scowl, which was a little disappointing, but there may be interest in how our doomed and short-lived relationship evolved.

A few months ago, I injured my shoulder falling off the bike, and no matter what the treatment, I couldn’t relieve the pain. At around the same time someone had popped a leaflet through the shop door offering therapeutic massage services, which I glanced at and considered for further use if the pain persisted.

Some days later an attractive blonde lady came into the shop clutching an Asus Eee Netbook to her chest saying that I had been recommended to her by a shop around the corner and could I please help her as her machine had become unusable. At the time I was still suffering from a painful shoulder that wouldn’t respond to any kind of treatment whatsoever, and when she gave her name, it turned out to be the masseuse from the aforementioned leaflet. Frankly, I was prepared to try anything, so I asked her if I could book a treatment session to which I was given a very firm negative reply on the basis that she’s had all sorts of problems related to massaging male patients in the past. I replied saying it needed no further explanation, changed the subject rapidly, and proceeded to examine the netbook. I did, however, notice a slightly neurotic edge to her attitude which I quietly filed away.

The netbook, which by the way, was almost falling to pieces, turned out to be chock-a-block full of pop-ups, bogus virus warnings and all kinds of other malware, some of which I was able to remove using Malwarebytes and other programs. But the main problem turned out to be corrupted system files which couldn’t be corrected, so Mrs Angry Masseuse, who also happened to be going through what sounded like a very nasty divorce, agreed that we should format the hard drive and re-install Windows, which I did, and she left as a happy bunny with a fully functional machine, free of viruses, at least when it left my shop.

Fast-forward a couple of months and the lady in question returns with her netbook in a particularly flustered state saying that her ex is spying on her, her Facebook account has been hacked, none of her passwords worked any longer and could I please, please help her? Naturally, I obliged by resetting her passwords, removing the offending photos posted on her Facebook account, scanned the machine numerous times for malware and even ensured that most of this was done with her present, as I was conscious of the neurosis I’d filed away previously and frankly, you just never know nowadays. I even went one step further and advised her to change her passwords once again when she got home, just for peace of mind.

So, imagine my surprise when Mrs Angry Netbook Masseuse threw the gauntlet down a few weeks later, crossing me off her Christmas card list.

Hey, you did ask!

9 thoughts on “A Day in The Life of a PC Technician – Day 8”

  1. Timothy Daniels

    So was it really the Molex SATA adapter or was it actually a short in the optical drive that caused the problem? It has been my experience that optical drive failures quite common. I’ve seen them fry said molex adapters, power supplies and even the occasional mainboard.

    1. I forgot to mention that this has happened before with a Molex Sata adaptor on a hard drive.
      I very much doubt that either the hard drive or the DVD drive connectors were shorting out as both were brand new.
      My money’s on the adaptor.

  2. Howard Bretman

    Hi Marc – I enjoy reading about your adventures I am a silver surfer living near Gatwick Airport in England. I have had a computer at home since summer 1975. I now try to repair pc’s and laptops for the local community and do not charge. I suggest they put something in a charity box if I manage to help them. I have IT pro friends that offer a no fix no fee service. If they reckon they will spend a lot of time and not much change of earning they often refer the people, usually of my sort of age, for me to look at. Keep up the interesting notes. cheers Howard

  3. “So, imagine my surprise when Mrs Angry Netbook Masseuse threw the gauntlet down a few weeks later, crossing me off her Christmas card list.”

    Please do tell that story!!!

    1. Sorry to confuse Roo, but that last paragraph actually refers to the previous paragraphs, after which she flew off the radar.

  4. I am not sure how you can possibly make any money as a PC technician as you must either charge like a wounded bull for all this reinstallation work that you do (not including the time you must waste talking to all these “angry” customers) or else you work for peanuts and have another income from elsewhere 🙂

    I was very disappointed that the story about the masseuse didn’t get racy. Please don’t tease us like that again. However despite your further explanation I still don’t understand why she crossed you off her Christmas Card list as by all accounts you should have made her a very happy woman (unlike her ex).

    Anyway keep up the good work entertaining us all. I can see a book or TV soap series about your experiences – “Overheated Confessions of an Argentinian PC Technician” perhaps ?

  5. Great stories! I have to say after 15 years in the computer repair business, I don’t have any quite as good stories other than the “My cat pee’d on my laptop” to which extent I tell them, here’s a quote on a new one!

    Bookmarking this site to come back and read some more! Keep em coming!


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