by Mike Robinson
Dear Mr. Manufacturer Guy,
My knuckles are bleeding again. I think I may have ruined this hard disk, and there is smoke coming from my motherboard. Is that supposed to happen? I don't think so!
Why am I in such a good mood? I've been assembling a personal computer. I got hold of some used parts and, having disassembled and reassembled PCs for nearly six years, I figured this would be just one more excursion into the realm of infuriating frustration brought on by the inevitable, insensitive shortsightedness of PC component manufacturers.
Let us begin. Why is it that the power supply connector slides into the receiver of the hard disk with the ease and fit of a yacht into its home port slip, but comes out only with the detonation of a small ordnance of C-4 explosives?
Not only does it take a prybar to get the connector to come out, but the printed circuit board the connector is soldered to is like a peninsula of the printed circuit board, and about as strong as a saltine cracker. Worse yet, the connector is positioned close enough to the platter chassis that the only way to grip the connector is with my already torn fingernails.
Having never built a computer in your sheltered, plush-carpeted, polished-oak, executroid lives, you probably don't realize that us computer jocks have soft hands, just like you. You see, floppy disks, mouse pads and keyboard keys don't exert the same kind of callus-building, nail-breaking, wear and tear on a computerist's hands as the torqued-down bolts of a rusted-tight exhaust manifold on a Chevy 350 engine.
Since it takes exactly 436 foot pounds, applied in a sideways pull to the barely accessible, sharpened winglets of the power supply connector, when the connector finally comes loose, the applied pressure is not diminished until the hard disk slams into the sidewall of the case, and my sensitive hands have impaled and sliced themselves on the needle-sharp solder joints of the nearby, solidly mounted and eagerly waiting, controller boards.
These controller boards are the same ones that secretly live two very satisfying lives. The first, to serve faithfully in their intended design, processing ones and zeros. The second, to remain sharp as razors for a fulfilled lifetime of repeated use as meat graters. The best butcher shops in Oklahoma's cattle country would be jealous to the bone (pun intended), at the efficiency of the PC board in its ability to clean the unwary knuckle of its beloved skin.
There sits my hard disk, leaning precariously in the corner of the case. Resting against the serial port connector and the power supply. The heads have probably been shattered into a zillion, iron-oxide-scraping pieces of silicon, rattling around in their "not to be removed without voiding the warranty" sealed tomb.
It doesn't matter, though. I didn't know how many heads there were anyway. Nor did I know how many cylinders there were. Nor did I know how many sectors the cylinders would have been divided into. Why unknown? Because you, Mr. Manufacturer, have neglected to label the outside of the disk with these desperately needed numbers. Every meticulously crafted, class-10-room assembled, jewelry-precise piece of technological wonder you have ever produced has lacked this critical information.
Three numbers. That's all I ask. Three numbers: cylinders, heads, sectors. You know what they are. You know what they are months before the HDA (Head Disk Assembly) is sealed beyond the average data maker's reach. So close, and yet...just print a label and stick it!
Sorry. I just thought something as simple as a label might make it easier for every living computer user in the entire civilized world! Sorry again. It's just a label. Like the labels next to the power connectors on the motherboard. J3 and J10, or PS1 and PS2, or and . (Yes, those are blanks.) That's where you instinctively know to connect the power supply connectors with the large black text clearly painted on them, P8 and P9.
Helloooo! Mr. Motherboard guy, the power supply connectors have been labeled that way since about 1981. Do you think, Mr. Motherboard guy, you could call Mr. PowerSupply guy so he could tell you that one is labeled P8 and the other one is labeled P9 and you might consider labeling your motherboard correspondingly.
What a concept!
Oh, and Mr. Motherboard guy, as long as you are near the phone, call Mr. ComputerCase guy and have him send you the dimensions for the holes in the bottom of his case. You see, Mr. Motherboard guy, your motherboard is supposed to fit into his case, which means the holes in your board are supposed to line up with the holes in his case. That way, I, Mr. DumbAssembler guy, don't have get out my three-quarter-inch drill and relocate those strategically misplaced holes.
"On the international scene, the Taiwanese, Korean and Chinese computer components manufacturers have hit it big in the American computer marketplace." By the way, Mr. FarEastern computer guy, would you send your manuals and hardware to me before you ship them to your American victims. I will redline and proofread your manuals so the end users will have a fighting chance of using your hardware. They will have a much better chance with me proofing because, and I hope you're sitting down, the guy that writes your manuals doesn't as English he speak as says he good does.
Finally, Mr. Manufacturer, I don't know anyone that uses the keyboard lock for securing their computer. I, however, like to rewire mine to be a switch that turns off the speaker. That way when my boss, Mr. OakLovingCarpetSquishingRealWorldSheltered executroll comes by to see if I'm proofreading manuals or measuring mounting holes, I can quickly silence the gunfire of Nuke Nukem as he bravely charges through those Nazi-infested prison corridors, and I can keep my crucial job.
A Note from the Emperor:
This is probably copyrighted material, and used without permission. Since I am the Emperor, I don't require permission (see below). Technically, I own this copy, anyway, as I paid for the copy of the magazine I cut it out of, many years ago. I saved this article because, at that time, I was working as a computer tech, and experienced the same problems. I personally testify to it: this article is based on fact! The magazine was ComputorEdge, July 16, 1993 which is still being published and you can subsribe to it, or view it online.
NOTE: WHEREAS this article is reprinted here without permission, and WHEREAS there is no commercial intent, and WHEREAS We stole it fair and square, and WHEREAS it is here solely for Our personal enjoyment, THEREFORE, We do hereby grant a special dispensation from copyright law. -- Norton I, Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico, and prospective consort to the Queen of Great Britain