He's never touched a PC. Hey, what could go wrong?

It's many years back, and this newbie IT pilot fish is tasked with setting up a new top-of-the-line 386 PC -- the first PC he's ever touched.

"Taking it out of the box and connecting almost all the wires was easy enough," says fish. "All that was left was connecting it to the network and downloading some stuff.

"PCs being new in the area, first I had to find a network wall jack. That took some hunting and moving of boxes but eventually it came in sight. I plugged in that end of the cable."

That brings fish to the other end of the wire -- and now he's puzzled. The modem and network jacks on the back of the PC look identical. But he carefully squints at the markings, and when he pushes the connector into the network jack, it clicks into place.

Then he turns on the PC -- and hears an unexpected crackling sound. OK, he thinks, must just be something that it does.

Then the PC starts smoking. OK, he thinks, this is not something that it's supposed to do.

He yanks the power cord. The smoking stops. But opening the case he finds a ribbon cable that's melted and charred. Oops.

Rechecking the cables, he discovers that the wall jack he assumed was for the network was really a phone jack -- with voltage that's a bit more than the network card likes.

"I quietly removed the 'network' wire and closed up the PC," fish says. "Then I called support and told them that the PC wouldn't turn on. After walking me through some basic checks, they said they'd send out someone to fix the PC.

"I was away when the tech dropped by to fix the PC and left a pointed note about the damage. But I didn't mind. I hadn't put it together. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

Sharky wants your story, and he's sticking to that too. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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