The ultimate horror, my computer would not boot-up! Of course, I am a very modern man, I have a desk-top, a lap-top and a tablet as well as a smart phone. But, I am old-fashioned too, I cannot function without my desk-top computer. I immediately recognized that there was a severe problem, not one of your little minor problems, like a loose fan that had happened to me before. This time the poor machine (it’s 5 years old) was really sick.
I called my computer guy (everyone should have one) and he said he would come over. I had opened up the side of the computer to gaze disconsolately into the intricate labyrinth of wires, boards and capacitors. It was like a foreign language, incomprehensible. Finally the computer guy came, and with him he carried an electronic box. I asked him what it was and he said “a power supply.” I asked him why he had brought that, and he replied (and this is the main point of this digression) that 90% of the repairs he is called on to make is replacing a burnt-out power supply. He turned the computer on and it failed to boot up. He sniffed the power supply in the computer (at the back where the power plugs in) and he pronounced his verdict – yes, it smells of burnt plastic, its the power supply! So he disconnected it and took out the old power supply, and on the back of it there was an area of actual burning, you could see the blackened area even on the outside of the power supply box.
Then I remembered smelling such a smell a few days before, but I had not taken it seriously, and since I could not find a source, and since it seemed to dissipate quickly, I gave up. If I had known that the human nose is a powerful problem detector for computers I would have realized immediately what was the cause. It was the smell of burning plastic, like the hard kind, bakelite, burning. Anyway, he replaced the power supply, reconnected all the myriad wires and in less than 5 mins, lo and behold the computer worked normally. Of course, for this valuable piece of specialized information I had to pay, but not exorbitantly, since it was obviously routine.
So it seems that in order to run hi-tech machines, lo-tech detection can still be very useful. Next time, using your dog to detect computer problems.