Should auld connections be forgot...

This environmental testing company has strict data-retention requirements -- and they go beyond the data, reports a pilot fish on the scene.

"Per federal law, we had to keep all testing data for seven years," says fish. "We also had to keep the equipment used to originally process the raw data for that long. This means that we had all sorts of old computer equipment in storage or on tables or shelves.

"One fine day many years ago, my assistant had to set up a new PC on a table right next to an old S-100 bus minicomputer -- remember those? -- that probably hadn't been turned on in years.

"He unplugged the S-100 computer and plugged the cord into the new PC and switched it on.

"With a loud bang! and a puff of smoke, the PC gave up the ghost. Power supply dead, motherboard dead, PC now an expensive paperweight smelling of burnt insulation.

"My assistant, who had a very sheepish look on his face, had overlooked the fact that although the end of the power cord that plugged into the computers was the same, the end that plugged into the wall wasn't. In fact, it was plugged into a 220V outlet -- that being the voltage used by the old relic.

"After that, he checked both ends of the power cord before he plugged anything into it."

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