For Northerners, think of it as Christmas in July

It's a summer day at the dawn of desktop computers, and this pilot fish gets a call from a friend who complains that his computer works fine for him -- but crashes for everyone else.

"At the time, I wasn't working as a IT pro but, in my Texas town of 100,000 people, I was about as close as you could find to a real expert at the time," fish says. "So I agreed to take a look."

Fish accompanies his friend back to his business, a security and alarm company, where the computer is being used for business records. It's a brand that doesn't have a great reputation for reliability, and the machine is also sitting at the corner of a counter, where users have to stand while entering data -- something og an ergonomic nightmare.

Fish asks for a demonstration of the problem. An employee walks across the carpet to the computer, and as soon as she touches it, it dies. Then she reboots it, makes her data entries and walks away.

Then fish asks his friend to do the same thing. He walks over to the computer and rests his left forearm on the counter as he bends over the machine and types with his right hand -- hunt and peck, of course.

And fish notices that as he slouches against the counter, his left hand is resting against conduit running down the wall.

And he can't help laughing. "This was in central Texas in the summer -- hot, dry, humidity zero -- and there was a nice fat spark as people touched the keyboard," says fish.

"The pragmatic cure consisted of installing a humidifier, topping the carpet with insulated mats, and adding grounding to the computer itself.

"Oh, and collecting my first fee as a computer professional."

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