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Friday, 18 February 2011

When Nature And IT Collide

(In your best Irish accent) "What’s going on like, this just doesn’t make sense"? Lillian’s computer (i.e. the HBC secretary’s computer) suddenly starting giving trouble this afternoon, just before I was due to Malaria with wingsgo to lunch. The CPU was running at 100% and my database server was failing to start. I have already had one laptop die where I had previously installed the server and although I can’t prove anything and indeed for that very reason, I am cautious about the other computers running the software. I had a quick look around, tinkered a bit but without much luck. I decided it was time to go to lunch, to err, "think about further solutions". Yeah, definitely not to stuff my fat face anyway… After thinking about further solutions (while stuffing my fat face) I decided to do some research online around 100% CPU usage and MySQL. Nothing of interest turned up other than a handy little process explorer that I am sure will continue to be useful in the future. After post lunch coffee (one has to have some luxury in one’s life), I took this utility back to the office and sat down to do battle.

Forty minutes later, the machine was still running at 100% and I was left scratching my head. The weird thing was that when I started the computer, I got a warning about the fan failing yet I could feel the fan pushing out hot air when I put my hand to it.
Having exhausted the software options I decided it was time to get my hands dirty and explore this fan error a bit more. I unplugged everything except the power and lifted the computer up and out of its little (dusty) corner. I immediately noticed the second fan and I tried the power button in front again. Sure enough, the second fan jerked and then stopped. BINGO! So I totally disconnected the computer and brought it to another table, unhooked a side panel and gasped at the layer of dust inside. Zambian dust gets into everything here and everyone covers their computers and other electronics when not in use. Anyway, I set to work dusting with a paintbrush. I then took off the broken fan to give that a good dust. What I found next was definitely a first…

You first need to understand that we have a plethora of geckos in Chikuni. They are harmless and in fact eat mosquitoes, which is a very good thing. They have been breeding in the office for a while now and I often get jerked out of my developer trance by the sound of sweet love in amongst a pile of papers or the empty printer toner cartridge box on top of the cupboard. Or you see them slip-slide over the smooth, well-polished and shiny surface of the concrete floor. Anyway, I digress. What did I find inside the fan? Oh yes, the chopped off tail of a gecko, 5 cm (2 inches) in length. God only knows how it managed to reverse itself into the fan from the outside when the fan is approximately 20cm off the ground. I laughed out loud when I saw it and took it to Lillian to show it off. The now infamous tailThis of course resulted in her shrieking and running off in horror, a most delightful reaction if I do say so myself. I was tempted to keep the specimen as a trophy but decided a picture was less likely to rot. Now though, I’m keeping an eye out for the silly bugger with no tail. Preferably so that I can pick it up and chase Lillian with it… bwahahahaha

Til next time, your IT expert in the middle of nowhere


  1. When you're done using case fans to butcher innocent little geckos you'll realised you missed the first shorts day of the year in the office :)

    Geckos are very cool. Don't know what they're like once they've tasted Irish beef!