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IT blooper #47: Monitoring seasickness

The hazards of excessive exposure to computer monitors and the magnetic fields they emit are known. But this developer found out it is not the only ill you can get from a monitor.

You've probably read about the hazards of excessive exposure to computer monitors and the magnetic fields they emit. But as developer Torin Blair found out, that is not the only ill you can contract from a misbehaving monitor. This is his story...

I got a call early one morning from a user who had problems with her monitor. The monitor was waving back and forth slowly on the vertical axis. Being the prompt and speedy technician that I am, I immediately brought a new monitor to her desk and set it up. A few minutes later she called me back to her desk. Apparently, changing monitors hadn't solved the problem; the screen was still waving back and forth.

I proceeded to check drivers, lower refresh rates, lower desktop resolution etc., all to no avail. Figuring that there was either an OS or hardware problem, I brought in another machine. Lo and behold the new machine didn't solve the problem either. The monitor was still slowly waving vertically back and forth. I swear it was starting to cause us a bit of seasickness!

I was really starting to lose my mind now (and almost my stomach). I turned off the machine, brought back her old one and proceeded to open up the machine to put in a new video card. While I was working, I suddenly noticed the items sitting on the client's desk. Sitting right next to her monitor was a "kinetics toy" (it was sort of a perpetual motion machine running off MAGNETS!), and then the light went on in my head. I put everything back together, and calmly told her to move the new toy to the far side of her desk.

I couldn't believe that after nearly three hours of troubleshooting it was electromagnetic intereference from that toy that was causing her problems! Moral of this story? Don't bring toys to work!

Share your bloopers with us. E-mail them to Read more of our past IT Blooper Series, which originially appeared at, part of the TechTarget network.

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