The Wayback Machine

If “The Wayback Machine” doesn’t ring a bell, it’s a reference to Sherman and Peabody cartoons. You know, from Rocky and Bullwinkle… Yeah, I’m that old.

I work with a few machine shops.  Most machines are run by a computer.  While it’s expected that a machine will last for decades, the attached computer rarely ages as well.

This week, I got a call from someone who bought a used water jet machine and was having trouble with the computer attached to it. The computer would not recognize some devices. Oh yeah… he mentioned that the computer runs Windows NT4. I haven’t worked on an NT4 computer in a long time. I was trained on it back in 1999. It was NOT a forgiving operating system. There is no “Safe Mode” to bail you out if something goes wrong.

When I saw the computer, the first thing I noticed was NINE ribbon cables coming out of it and attaching to various parts of the machine controller. It was unusual, to say the least.

I’ve come to call this waterjet cutting machine a Wayback Machine!

I looked inside the computer case and noticed the cards were not fully seated in their slots. It turned out the motherboard was not mounted correctly in the computer case. I took the computer with me, disassembled it, repositioned the supports for the motherboard, and reassembled it. The next morning, I was able to deliver the computer and reconnect it. A few tweaks and we were up and running.

I have no idea how many hours this poor guy spent trying to make things work. I just know that when the system came up without errors, he was elated.  And that, in turn, made me pretty happy.

Funny – Who would have thought the problem was mechanical?

Working on your own system is fine – as a small business owner, I totally understand. But please don’t struggle for too long before you call us!