The Computer WAS under warranty......
The following is a true story, reported by Bill Stebbins
In 1993, sometime in December, a customer walks in with a
dead PowerBook. Fault description: hangs on startup. An
additional symptom provided was: whilst being carried from
the customer's site to our service center, a 'sloshing'
noise was heard within the machine.
"Has anything been split on this computer?" I inquired, but
no, nothing of the sort had happened, protested the client
vehemently. Taking this with a grain of salt (no one's going
to admit doing something that totally invalidates their
warranty and effectively wrecks their computer) I went about
filling in the repair order.
Back on the bench, I started the PowerBook up. Sure enough,
an address error on startup, just after 'Welcome to
Macintosh'. I lowered my ear to the keyboard, at which point
I heard a crackling noise (couldn't hear any sloshing noise
though) and became aware of a rather 'sharp' odor which
seemed to emanate from the inside of the machine. Flicking
the computer off and unplugging the adapter, I removed the
battery from its compartment, only to observe that the
entire battery casing was soaked in a fluid which appear to
have a rainbow-like sheen (kind of like what a puddle of
soapy water would look like -- oily and colorful). I also
noticed that the same fluid was leaking out of the battery
compartment onto the static mat, but appeared clear rather
than multi-colored. My first thoughts were that the battery
had somehow leaked acid out into the guts of the PowerBook,
which would account for the sharp smell (which reminded me
of ammonia), yet the battery terminals were about the one
part of the battery that was dry. No, upon closer
examination, I ruled the acid theory out. The battery was
wet, but not leaking.
Tipping the machine on its side, I watched more fluid run
out and coagulate on the bench in a puddle about the size of
a compact disc. It was definitely clear, and I observed that
the 'rainbow' effect had been caused by the reaction of the
plastic battery casing to this 'mystery liquid'. I then
unscrewed the computer and separated the two parts of the
PowerBook. The smell suddenly became a LOT stronger. The
hard disk looked like a solid lump of rust, and the
daughterboard appeared to have about three barbecued chips.
Although I was quickly forming my own opinions on what had
happened, I invited several of my workmates in to take a
sniff and offer an opinion.
We were unanimous in our decision. I rang the customer, who
seemed surprised when I asked the question: "Do you have a
cat?" As it turned out, he didn't have a cat, but he did
have a lovely fluffy bunny rabbit who was seen in the
vicinity of the PowerBook only the day before. Yes, there
was no doubt about it, little fluffy had hopped up onto the
keyboard and downloaded some incompatible data. I checked
the warranty form, but there was no provision for failure
due to rabbit urine anywhere.
I advised the customer to get in touch with his insurance
company. In the end, the PowerBook was biffed and the
customer upgraded. I cleaned up the static mat and sprayed
the service department with a healthy dosage of "Fresh Field
of Flowers." I checked in with the customer about a week
later, asked how was he enjoying the new PowerBook, asked if
he'd managed to restore his data, and, of course, asked how
was his rabbit?
"Delicious," he said.