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True IT blooper #56: Mr. Handyman

Indulging his MacGyver fantasies, an IT pro creates a new gadget for the data center.

For IT pros, the temptation to take a hammer to an unruly system is great. In this true story, an IT pro uses his...

home toolbox to cover up a system's shortcomings.

We rigged stuff like this all the time when I was growing up.
Brian Fields,

Here was the predicament: Brian Fields, a IT pro at an Army hospital, had upgraded from a 386 Zenith PC to a 486 Zenith. The system had a special, full-length communications card that allowed it to talk to another PC and an automatic drug dispenser.

Problem was, the new 486 Zenith cover was shorter, and the communication card was too tall and prevented the metal cover from fitting.

Fields, who describes himself as an "intelligent country boy," decided to remedy the situation at home with his toolbox, a MacGyver move.

"We rigged stuff like this all the time when I was growing up," Fields said. "I cut a slot long and wide enough to clear the communication card. It looked kind of goofy and was a little flimsy, but I knew it would be fine."

The next morning he took the modified cover to work. Fields was replacing the cover during the day, so he couldn't shut down – unplug -- the system. No big deal, he thought.

As Fields carefully slid on the metal cover, one side brushed the communication card, and the card short-circuited.

"The whole computer came crashing down," he said.

Fields figured the job was so minor he didn't have to unplug the system.

Now he had a different problem: The burned out communications card was old and no longer available. Fortunately, Fields had a spare 386 Zenith in the warehouse that had the right communication card. He installed the card and everything worked fine.

What to do with the modified metal cover? Fields tossed it and covered the computer with cardboard. Not sure MacGyver would've done that.

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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