Try placing a potted plant directly above your CRT monitor – it really ties the desk together • The Register

On guard The week is over again. Celebrate with an aquatic On Call tale involving a cathode ray tube, a potted plant, and a distracted user.

Our hero, Regomised as “Sean”, had taken his first steps into the glorious world of IT as an intern support technician for a housing association at the incredibly young age of 18.

“One afternoon,” he told us, “I got a call from a restless lady in the same building complaining that her monitor screen was all folded up.

Eager to impress his new employers with his diligence, he came down to investigate.

“Sure enough, the CRT screen displayed the desktop, but was tilted to the sides.”

There are some who have never experienced the pleasure of CRTs, nor the pleasure of playing with focusing or adjusting the image, or even the simple joy of pressing the demagnetize button. Sean’s entry into computing came as CRT monitors exhaled their last breath (he told us that the heavy devices in this story were replaced with Compaq-branded TFTs soon after).

For now, however, he was confronted with a CRT showing an hourglass desk.

“Initially,” he told us, “I went to adjust the monitor settings (no automatic readjustment here, only the dials!), But that only made it worse.”

“Make things a little worse” seems like a good motto for some parts of the computing world these days, but Sean persisted. He had some hope for the desktop settings in case the turn was caused by the software, but in the end he had to admit defeat. He decided to replace the monitor.

He disconnected the cathode ray tube and lifted it off the desk. That’s when he saw something that shouldn’t have been there: a sad little puddle where the CRT was sitting.

He looked up and saw a shelf above where the monitor had stood, “and of course, a flowerpot!”

Sean asked the user if she took care of the factory – you know, took care of her needs. Watered. That sort of thing. The user’s retort faded as she realized what she had done, 10 minutes before her desk got all weird and bent.

At this point, we need to make it clear that water and computer screens don’t mix. The cathode ray tubes of old were able to hold enough charge, even when unplugged, to deliver a horrible shock. We suggest that Sean and his user may have had a rather lucky breakout here, as water had entered the monitor case and caused the distortion.

Don’t try this at home, kids.

Sean simply replaced the monitor. The user, delighted with the new kit, has learned an important lesson. Sean also kept it a secret on how she had managed to purchase Housing Association materials.

Till today.

Have you ever found yourself faced with a fluid where no fluid should flow? Or underestimated users’ creativity when it comes to destroying material? Share your story via email to On Call. ®

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