Infocus Blog

Murphy’s Law:  Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

There aren’t many things in the world you can believe in 100% of the time, but you can take Murphy’s Law to the bank!

While the rest of the world was enjoying the winter holidays yours truly was fighting for survival and trying to keep his head above water as the electronic gremlins created havoc with my imaging workstations and networks.  Over the course of the last two weeks I’ve lost over 15 pieces of computer equipment on three separate days!

It started with all three of my 21.5” LCD image monitors going bad.  After 5-6 years of service I figured they were due and promptly took them to a local repair center where they’re still being serviced.  Parts should be in soon and hopefully I’ll have my monitors back.

Several days later my main imaging workstation stopped working.  This is a special water cooled high powered graphics workstation that I designed and built just to bring to Thailand and use in the heat.  With a quad core processor, two high-end video cards, and 8tb’s of storage I learned to depend heavily on this workstation.  Using it has been a pleasure and for three years I didn’t have a lick of trouble.

When it stopped working I placed it on the operating table and opened up the clean and shiny tower case.  Inside I found enough accumulated dirt and grit to start a small garden.

Inside Workstation

By the time I disassembled everything my hands and clothes were so dirty it felt like I’d been working on an old car.  It took two days of careful cleaning to restore everything to it’s original state. 

Dirty power supp;y

Above you can see that my server class 1000 watt power supply was more than a little dirty inside.  The fan sucked in air and the dirt in the air and filled up every crack and space inside.

Dirty power supply

In the picture above you can see about  a ½” of dirt covering the regulator circuit board!


In this picture above you can see why the power supply went bad bringing down the entire system!  Even though I regularly cleaned the outside vents and filters I never took the PS from the case to clean the input vent.  It was almost completely blocked impeding the air floor.  Heat is the number one enemy of electronics.  Power surges is number two.

Hard drives

Here are the 12 SATA II hard drives that make up my RAID array and system storage.  Fortunately they’re fine as is all the data they contain.

Once was a dining table

This is the operating table with all the internal organs removed.  Two days after disassembly everything was cleaned up and reinstalled.  Air cooling systems have greatly improved over the last 2-3 years so I removed the water cooling radiator, water pump, holding tank, and anti-freeze and installed a super air cooling tower in its place.  I’m currently awaiting the replacement power supply (under warranty) which I hope to have this week.  Once it’s back together I’ll snap a few more pictures to share next week.

You’d think that would be my share of electronic problems for quite some time.  Unfortunately 4 days after the workstation went down I woke up smelling burned insulation and discovered that my office was full of smoke.  I had a 1500ma server class Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) powering my secondary workstation, color laser printer, image printers, network storage drives, routers, modems, gigaswitches, and all my battery chargers and other photography chargers.  The UPS had failed in a big way taking every AC/DC transformer plugged into it with it.

I spent the next two days hunting down new transformers and installing a brand new UPS to get my intralan network back up and operating.  I’ve still a few transformers to hunt down, but I’m mostly up and operating.

This weeks column was produced on one of my laptops which while fine for light duty use, are not even close to being as nice and powerful as my workstation.  Hopefully I’ll have my workstation back on line before I start on next weeks column, which will give me access to my image archives.

What can go wrong, will go wrong.  With this in mind I’ve avoided my car and major appliances and I’ve made it a point to take the stairs down the 16+ floors lest the lift decide to be controlled by the gremlins.  Speaking of lifts the following is a true story.

My son and I had just exited one of the four lifts in my building.  We were almost inside the apartment when we heard a very loud screeching metal on metal noise getting louder and louder and then passing our floor.  Suddenly this 32 story building shook and a very loud BANG was heard.  The building settled down and stopped shaking as my son and I looked at each other in alarm.

The next day we noticed one of the lifts was out of order and it stayed out of order for over three months.  One day it was working and inside was a brand new lift car!   Considering the recent fire at the Santika club and Thailand’s notorious lack of safety regulations/inspections I’ve started rethinking the stairs. 

A neighbor recommended I rent a gaggle of monks to come to my place and bless everything and perhaps that’s not a bad idea.  I wonder how many monks will squeeze into one lift?

Until next time..