Like a bolt from the blue

Flashback to the 1980s, when this consultant pilot fish's client has a mysterious problem with its mainframe terminals: They keep dying, and no one knows why.

"The client, a savings and loan, had a history in which the terminals would stop working, and I would replace the logic board and repair the RS-232 serial port integrated circuits on the logic board," says fish.

"One day, driving back from a service call at another client's office, I passed the S&L and saw a flash as lightning struck the canopy in front of the building.

"Sure enough, by the time I got back to the office, there was a trouble call for the terminals not working. This time, I knew what was causing the issue.

"Fast forward 10 years to the early 1990s: I was manning a technical support desk where we supported satellite communication systems for auto dealerships. They still used RS-232 serial ports for connection to PCs.

"And guess what? Different clients, same issues. When the connections blew out, I was able to explain how lightning strikes spiked the serial port's drivers, blowing out the ICs.

"We found a solution with an RS-232 connector that had fuse links. The fuses would blow, but were cheaper and quicker to replace than a serial port."

Feed the spark -- er, Shark! Send me your true tales of IT life at You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

Get your daily dose of out-takes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration guide
Shop Tech Products at Amazon