"The Powerbook That Leaked" joke
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.
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