Bad things happen to good laptops

Even with the best machines and best intentions Laptops seem prone to an early death and owners seem determined to kill them.


At Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, laptops have been frozen solid (a liquid crystal display is a liquid, after all), recovered from the bottom of a creek bed (along with the car it was stolen from) and sliced in half when a train suddenly rolled back a few feet, right over the laptop balanced on the tracks.

At Atlas Air, tech support once took a call from a road warrior who was driving, computing and talking on the phone at the same time... the call ended with a loud crash.

And our favourite, from an outraged Applied Materials user's actual email:

"Were you aware that at my current salary of roughly $90/hour, the requirement to log in/unlock my laptop computer more than five to eight times a day, including mistyping, takes up to 20 minutes per day, 2.9 hours per week (I work seven days a week), 145 hours per year (I take two weeks off for vacation).

"So, in effect, the security requirements for my laptop are costing the company more than $13,000 per year. When you multiply this for even 2,000 laptop users, your 'need for protection' is costing the company more than $26,000,000 a year. Can't we just turn it off and save the company money?"

Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase, "You do the math", doesn't it?

"Lost" has a whole different meaning today at BNSF, a 32,000-mile railroad route stretching between 28 US states and two Canadian provinces. At the railway, based in Fort Worth, Texas, consulting systems engineer Brad Hanson can have a tough time finding the company's laptops to upgrade them.

Because his tens of thousands of users are moving around constantly, finding their laptops when they need to be upgraded is like an elaborate Easter egg hunt, he says, where the eggs are always changing position.

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