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First post, by candle_86

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I have been asked to intentionally break a computer so we can interview a new person on our team. They want to test his ability to troubleshoot.

We will be breaking a Windows 7 computer so give me some idea's on things any tech should be able to fix but would make Windows real flaky or unreliable until corrected

Reply 1 of 37, by clueless1

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-Mess with the IP, subnet mask and gateway settings. Put incorrect values in.
-reverse cooling fans, maybe even create a vacuum case environment
-disable the print spooler service (or other services)
-pull the ethernet cable partly out of the RJ45 jack for a flaky connection
-mess with the HOSTS file to redirect google.com to see if he can find out why Google is not going to Google
-change the email ports in the mail client (eg. 994, 466, etc) and say email is not working
edit:
-pull power-on front panel header wire 😀
-disable hardware in the BIOS or Device Manager (USB, NIC, onboard sound, etc)
-use msconfig to force the PC to boot to Safe Mode all the time.

Last edited by clueless1 on 2016-07-07, 21:51. Edited 2 times in total.

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Reply 2 of 37, by Jorpho

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Incorrectly placed apostrophes, for starters.

Windows 7 is kind of robust and you'd really have to go out of your way to throw a spanner into the works, I think. You could always go out of your way to install some flaky hardware, like a failing PSU or optical drive; those are always fun. And there's always the possibility of throwing random stuff into the startup routines – perhaps some of the more obscure ones scouted by Autoruns from Sysinternals.

EDIT: Oh yes, messing with the Hosts file and disabling random services is always fun.

Maybe set a few critical processes to run in Compatibility Mode for Windows 95?

Reply 4 of 37, by candle_86

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ok yalls are way easier than I was thinking 🤣. I was thinking thats easy, mount the drive in another system and rename shell32.dll to shell32old.dll and see if he can go into recovery console and fix it 🤣.

Reply 5 of 37, by Snayperskaya

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If the "test" is going to cover hardware, I'd:

* Install a faulty (but not unusable) RAM module;
* Install the OS on a HDD with bad blocks on it.

Erratic behaviour due to bad parts is pretty cool to diagnose. Is he supposed to use his tools for troubleshooting or you are going to provide them? Almost all utility CDs pack memtest and tools with HDD surface scan. I'd also suggest using a incorrect amount of thermal paste, but this is a bit harder to spot and may damage your hardware depending on the hardware you are using and how much or little thermal goes there.

You can always unplug the ATX12V aux cable for some more fun 😀

Reply 6 of 37, by Errius

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Overheating causes seemingly unrelated system-wide problems that can be hard to pin down. Jerky video, memory errors, random blue screens and reboots.

Is this too much voodoo?

Reply 7 of 37, by Jorpho

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candle_86 wrote:

mount the drive in another system and rename shell32.dll to shell32old.dll and see if he can go into recovery console and fix it 🤣.

I think it's slightly unfair to start delving into things that really won't ever actually happen unless someone is being deliberately destructive.

I haven't tinkered much with UEFI, but I'm sure you can download EasyBCD and render a system unbootable one way or another.

Reply 8 of 37, by gdjacobs

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Install/uninstall about 20 security software products to see what fun stuff is left behind.
Install consumer HP printer software.
Install some Apple software.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 10 of 37, by luckybob

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Ooo! Set a logon password and see if they can bypass it and save my picture of my grandsons, and i dont remember i actually saved the pictures on a different computer. Then I wont pay you for it.

Thats my favorite.

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

Reply 11 of 37, by keenmaster486

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Here's a good one which I've seen come into the shop more than once:

Enable ALL of the "Easy Access" settings. Now the keyboard appears not to respond so you can't log in (because FilterKeys requires you to hold down a key before it will be detected) and Narrator is yelling at you the whole time 😜

World's foremost 486 enjoyer.

Reply 12 of 37, by konc

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If you want to give him a hard time, get a hammer and smash the PC. Then ask him to glue it back. Come on guys, you're not assessing a person's capability to troubleshoot by trying to think the most evil way to break a PC, unless you're trying to screw him. Even if he miraculously succeeds, this says nothing about his skills in real situations in a work/corporate environment.
Now I don't want to insult anyone (I don't know the team/nature of work/anything at all), but just a comment: I believe that whoever is going to assess this person should know what he wants to see from him, for example I would give him 2-3 of the most common problems that the rest of the team is facing often and don't get solved by a restart.

Reply 13 of 37, by keenmaster486

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Well, that's why I made my suggestion, because that exact thing does happen and has happened multiple times.

World's foremost 486 enjoyer.

Reply 14 of 37, by RacoonRider

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I remember a story when a class of IT students played the "I mess it up, you fix it" game inspired by their professor. Team one broke something and team two tried to fix it, obviously. Guess what? Some clever guy from team one flipped the 110/220V switch on the back. Team two destroyed the computer before they could figure out what went wrong 😜

Whatever you do, don't do that 😀

Reply 15 of 37, by gdjacobs

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konc wrote:

If you want to give him a hard time, get a hammer and smash the PC. Then ask him to glue it back. Come on guys, you're not assessing a person's capability to troubleshoot by trying to think the most evil way to break a PC, unless you're trying to screw him. Even if he miraculously succeeds, this says nothing about his skills in real situations in a work/corporate environment.
Now I don't want to insult anyone (I don't know the team/nature of work/anything at all), but just a comment: I believe that whoever is going to assess this person should know what he wants to see from him, for example I would give him 2-3 of the most common problems that the rest of the team is facing often and don't get solved by a restart.

Sadly, many of the things we described happen regularly in real life.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 16 of 37, by clueless1

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gdjacobs wrote:
konc wrote:

If you want to give him a hard time, get a hammer and smash the PC. Then ask him to glue it back. Come on guys, you're not assessing a person's capability to troubleshoot by trying to think the most evil way to break a PC, unless you're trying to screw him. Even if he miraculously succeeds, this says nothing about his skills in real situations in a work/corporate environment.
Now I don't want to insult anyone (I don't know the team/nature of work/anything at all), but just a comment: I believe that whoever is going to assess this person should know what he wants to see from him, for example I would give him 2-3 of the most common problems that the rest of the team is facing often and don't get solved by a restart.

Sadly, many of the things we described happen regularly in real life.

Yep. Nearly every idea I listed I've come across in real life, in some way, shape or form.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 17 of 37, by Zup

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A classic:
- Make a screenshot of the desktop so all icons are present,.
- Remove every icon from desktop.
- Put the screenshot as background.
- Optional: hide the taskbar
- Complain about the computer not responding.

Another way to screw it up: link .exe files to any application of your choice.

I remember an application that made strange sounds randomly (farts, burps), and there is a way en windows to execute any app as a service. Run this app as a service and look how he solves that.

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Reply 18 of 37, by ODwilly

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cut a couple wires in the ethernet cable, just enough/the unimportant ones so that it does not have a reliable connection. Iv had this happen before, fun times! Oh you could be really evil and put a stick of ram in slightly incorrectly, leading to random lockups etc. You could also isolate the machine from any networks, riddle it with viruses and tell him to clean it out.

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Reply 19 of 37, by Jo22

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Harmless stuff :
Switch mouse buttons in the control panel.
Put duct tape on the underside of the optical mouse.

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