Powerbook Explodes After Comcast Plugs In Wrong Cable

A Comcast customer’s Powerbook exploded after a Comcast tech plugged coax, connected to her computer through her modem, to an electrical wire.

Her story, inside….


    “I ordered high speed broadband internet from the local cable company. On November 16, 2006 a technician arrived to install it.

    He connected the coaxial cable that was coming into the wall from outside into a cable modem for Mac. He then connected an Ethernet cable out of the modem and into my fully loaded Apple 15″ Powerbook.

    After over an hour, and with the installation CD still spinning in the laptop, the technician said he still could not get the proper signal into the modem/computer. He said he was going to trace the coaxial cable from the wall up onto the roof and see if he could solve the problem.

    About 10 minutes later I was standing on the back porch just outside the window of the computer work desk when I saw a bright flash of light accompanied by a very loud explosion at the work desk. It was as loud as an illegal M-80 on the Fourth of July. After being stunned and confused for several seconds, I ran inside my home into a thick cloud of grey smoke which smelled like gunpowder. Then I ran outside and yelled for the technician, thinking that perhaps he had been electrocuted.

    Everything on the desk was blackened with soot and burned either partially or completely. Three external hard drives, a digital camera, videotapes, papers, CD’s, etc. The floor, wall, and radiator cover were burned, along with the tabletop.

    Every cable that was connected to the laptop, Ethernet, Firewire, Power, and USB, was forcibly shot out of each portal, and each portal covered with the black soot. Metal bits and electronic debris from the power cable hub and other cables was scattered around the room and some wires had split apart into copper shreds. Molten silver metal flecks are still lodged in the windowsill.

    A supervisor arrived later that day and after surveying the scene and materials, conceded that their company had caused the accident. He noted, in particular, the internally fried coaxial cable.

    It seems likely that the young technician connected the rooftop end of the cable to a similar-appearing, but now obviously incorrect electrical cable. In any case, both technicians stated that the company-installed “system” of cables on the roof were “a real mess” and were unsafely stretched over and near an electrical box and associated cables.

    Their company has assumed liability but has been disappointingly slow in rectifying the damage, work interruption, and substantial inconvenience they caused. I am happy to say that the technician was not hurt in the incident, and that my data was recovered by OnDeckTech successfully.”

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And that, folks, is why you should always backup your data. — BEN POPKEN

MacInferno Part II: The full story of how the cable company incinerated my Powerbook [MacWork]