Ask Bwog: Luddite Edition

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This week’s question for Bwog comes from Daily Editor David Iscoe who wants to know if hitting an electronic device such as a computer is a good way to get it to work? David requests an engineer’s advice. Lucikly, webmaster Zach van Schouwen was on hand to answer David’s question.

“The master walks in to find the student flipping his machine on and off in an effort to solve a technical failure. The master shakes his head, and says “It is futile to power-cycle the machine in lieu of understanding the problem.” The master then flipped the machine on and off, causing it to work immediately. At that moment, the student became enlightened,” Zach explains. He then clarifies that the official term of computer repair geeks is “percussion maintenance” and that yes, hitting a computer—for example if a laptop’s wireless slides out of the motherboard—can quite possibly get it to work.

The idea is that hitting a computer can “dislodge the heads if they’ve become stuck on the platters, or otherwise misaligned,” says Phil Dotree of Associated Content. However, he warns that the risk of damaging your hard drive is high if you choose to slap your computer around a bit.

Ask Bwog thanks the always-helpful Zach van Schouwen and Phil Dotree of associatedcontent.com, whoever he may be.

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  1. DHI  

    Man, I'm being cast as an idiot here. I knew THAT hitting something is a good way to get it to work, but I want to know WHY that is true (besides generally that it can reset things that are out of place.)

  2. that's  

    pretty much it. it can reseat chips in their holders, move around any foreign objects that might be conducting between two things that aren't meant to be connected, move dust bunnies around (that might be conducting) and dislodge physical things like hard drive heads (although if your HD isn't working and you try slapping it around and by a small chance it comes back to life, it's time to try and get all your stuff off as soon as possible)

    it's better to try removing all things that can be removed (cards, connections, memory, HD) and to reseat/reconnect them manually rather than slap your shit around... but in a pinch sometimes it works and it's good for comedic effect.

    it's generally not wise to slap things around that have hard drives in them (as mentioned above) so if your notebook is on the fritz, remove the HD first. then try gently jarring it (picking it up an inch or two and dropping it)

    also, it goes without saying, but i'll say it anyway... this will only fix certain kinds of hardware problems. so it's probably not wise to slap your shit around yourself. indeed it's probably wise to seek assistance from someone who really knows what they're doing, as if the problem is something else you can just as easily add a new problem, ultimately ending up with two problems.

    slapping something around is a last resort. don't do it unless you've exhausted all other options and are prepared to break it in a different way.

  3. Anonymous

    "for example if a laptop's wireless slides out of the motherboard." how could a laptop's "wireless" slide out of its motherboard? wireless card? even if he meant a 802.11 PCI card, if it "slides out", hitting it is not going to make it slide in. computers aren't designed like that. most laptops these days have wireless lan adaptors embedded as part of the processor/some other IC/or a stand alone surface mount part. don't smack your computer or any other electronics, if it just happens to work, you got lucky.

    the only thing smacking ever, ever worked on, were the original nintendo game cartridges.

    • DHI  

      "only thing...ever, ever"
      That's off by far. Now that I know the technical term, I found this: it works on goddamn spaceships. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percussive_maintenance

      And just this week I fixed a washing machine and vending machine in Schapiro, and an old-ass TV in my room. The question, by the way, wasn't originally about laptops. In general, it's a procedure that has a better chance of working than anything comparably quick, and it's highly underrated.

  4. you know  

    when you're done breaking your electronics, you could try maybe growing a brain. Word on the street is, those things can actually solve technical problems.

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