I needed an antihistamine every time I opened the computer

CALL: DIRT FILE The On Call mailbag is full of comments from readers who want to add Registers Dirt File, a seasonal sequel to the weekly On Call column about tech support nightmares. It focuses on the filthiest, nastiest, grittiest and dirtiest environments readers have been asked to work in.

Open this installment by meeting reader Regomize as Wright, an assistant IT manager at a very, very large US airport.

We had a 22U cabinet installed in the public area of ​​our airport with a mains switch and uninterruptible power supply, explained Wright. The cupboard was tightly locked.

However, the facility team at the airport frequently called and asked for keys to access the locked bin.

Wright arrived to find the rack nearly full as people jammed debris through the cable connector at the top.

Among this rubbish were bottles and cans, which had inevitably not been completely emptied.

As readers will no doubt appreciate, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) contain a lot of batteries. And when batteries get wet, all kinds of nasty things can happen, like fires and explosions. Which are not popular anywhere, but are of particular concern at airports.

Fortunately, this UPS did not suffer.

Amazingly, the devices even survived beverage containers that leaked their contents, Wright told On Call. I can only assume that the first layer of debris protects or disperses liquids.

Do not try this form of defense thoroughly at home, dear reader.

Next we meet Howard, who plied his trade in Monaco, including at the home of a woman who offered dog grooming services to residents of the principality.

He often had 10 to 15 dogs free roaming around the house at any given time, Howard told On Call. And even though those dogs weren’t allowed in the room in her home where the computer was, dog hair still got in.

Computer fans and motherboard require regular cleaning every 3-4 months to remove about 0.25cm of clumped dust, dander and the occasional dog hair to prevent overheating.

Howard suffers from allergies, so working on this home got him going.

I had to take an antihistamine at least 30 minutes before I got to her place to get through the visit, she wrote.

He had the same problem at a nearby sports bar, where the four machines near the main entrance suck up all kinds of dust and dirt and needed regular cleaning (or replacement) of the frame and especially the CPU fans, despite daily hygiene duties.

The information center got me drunk. For real

We now meet a reader called Dennis, who was once asked to update the web at a winery an hour or two outside of town.

The communications room sat in the cellars, which contained thousand-gallon barrels of port wine, Dennis explained, adding that some of the barrels were 100 years old and the winery installed a new barrel every year.

All that booze sat there, flooding its way into the compartments into the communications room, where the air conditioning sucked in heady, yeasty fumes from inside.

Being inside for several hours had an inevitable effect, Dennis told On Call. I had to call my manager and tell him that I was staying at the hotel next door because I wasn’t feeling well to finish work.

Denniss boss assumed he was sampling customers’ goods.

I took some time to explain that not a drop had passed my lips, Dennis wrote, before bemoaning the truth of his statement because they made and still make great wines.

Finally, we meet a reader named Bobby, who luckily didn’t have allergies, when asked to fix the fan, he peered inside the server and wondered who the heck had decided to line it with thick felt felt.

Except it didn’t feel like it.

It was 15 years of caked-on dust from floor mats and cigarette ash and smoke that had been sucked up and forced into the case from the PSU fan, taking up every extra inch of space inside, Bobby told On Call.

His attempt to clean it went badly.

It burst into the room like a cloud of spores. Once airborne, it quickly entered the building-wide air circulation system, causing the entire building to smell like a stale cigarette for several days.

Share your story about the dirtiest places you’ve worked by clicking here to submit an On Call email. The Dirt File returns next week.

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