X-files: a Computer Jinx
This is a compilation of some 30+ responses I received when posting a query to LM_Net, December 1999 about a teacher who was having a bad effect on computers…
We have a teacher who seems to be a technology “jinx.” That may not be the best description, but a computer that works just fine in the shop and works fine for another person, shows all kinds of problems when this teacher uses it. We have watched as she turns the machine on and off and have not seen that she does anything out of the ordinary. This is her second computer. The LCD panel on her last laptop also blew up. She also blows fuses in her own home when she touches a light switch and telephones don’t often work for her.
Alas, Scully and Mulder were absolutely no help on this one, but you fine folks on LM_Net and MEMO-L (Minnesota Educational Media Organization List) shared quite a few interesting examples of people whose presence seems to have a deleterious effect on things electrical and mechanical. I’ve listed the 25+ of these “cases.” One person reported an anti-jinx who repairs a computer by simply sitting at it!
Another writer gave the address to a website that also lists claims of people who have similar experiences. Cool!
Quite a few folks also suggested possible solutions or avenues of further exploration. Again, I have tried to categorize these responses which range from the practical to the delightfully medieval.
So far I don’t believe I have come across anything authoritative or scientific, but certainly have found this question to very interesting. And I guess the best questions really can never be fully answered. The truth IS out there!
Thanks to everyone who contributed!
(Does anyone else ever have problems remembering which one is Scully and which is Mulder?)
When I worked as a computer technologist there was a girl student who would always freeze up our Macs. She always wore a scarf around her neck. We figured it was static built up from the scarf. When we told her to take off the scarf she had fewer problems.
Sorry, I have the exact same effect on sewing machines. My mom watches me and I do everything right, but the machine will still break down and not sew right.
This too has been quite a problem for one of our teachers. I honestly believe that some people put out a type of energy that does not work with the computer. My teacher has similar luck with all types of AV equipment, the copier, as well as the computer. I think part of his problem is the way he approaches the equipment. He is a very rapid person, and likes things to be done as fast as possible. He quickly grows impatient, and therefore I think his problem solving skills are the same as a patient person.
Case four (sort of)
PERSONAL AREA NETWORKS that use the natural electrical conductivity of the human body to transmit electronic data has been demonstrated and can transmit a pre-programmed electronic business card between two people with a simple handshake. Source -IBM Research.
The basic idea is that due to
the natural salinity of the human body it is an excellent conductor of
electrical current. PAN technology takes advantage of this conductivity by
creating an external electric field that passes an incredibly tiny current
through the body, over which data is carried. The current used is
one-billionth of an amp (one nanoamp), which is lower than the natural
currents already in the body. The speed at which the data is transmitted
is equivalent to a 2400-baud modem. Theoretically, 400,000 bits per second
could be communicated using this method.
PAN developed because of the shortcomings of various conventional methods to facilitate intercommunication between personal communication devices. For example, wiring all these devices together would be cumbersome and constrictive to the user. Infrared communications of information, used on TV remote controls, requires direct lines of sight to be effective. Radio frequencies (such as those used with automated car locks) could jam or interfere with each other, or be imprecise in crowded situations. <http://www.ewh.ieee.org/r10/bombay/news3/page3.html>
Maybe she’s one of those people who transmit static electricity at a much higher rate than normal. I know I have to hold onto the metal baluster when going up a stairway with nylon carpeting (and that’s when wearing rubber-soled shoes) or I shock the next person I shake hands with!
I don’t know any technical term for this and don’t know how to solve it but —- I had a parent come in one evening wanting to do some job searching online. She had a list of web sites from her college class but had never been online. I got the machine set up and showed her how to type in the addresses she wanted. Machine and connection worked fine for me, she sat down typed 2 letters and the machine froze. I restarted and got her up again and as she sat down and touched the keyboard the machine froze. This went on for a couple of times more because I couldn’t believe it “would happen again”. I tried a different site on her list each time with the same results. Finally I gave in and told her that I would find the information she wanted and send it home with her child the next day. After she left the machine worked fine again. She has never been back.
This is what happened in our situation. Weird. A response from one of our tech people.
We actually have someone like that in this very building. I won’t say who she is, but one thing that seems to have worked recently is that we removed her plastic floor mat that she had to protect the carpet. The mats seem to help build up static electricity.
Yes, these people are out there, all right. I used to work nights with a librarian who often had the same problems. I don’t know that there is a fix for it, as it seems to be some kind of electromagnetic field surrounding them. If anyone else on the list comes up with a solution (some kind of “scrambler”, perhaps?) I’d be grateful if you’d post a hit. The friend I mentioned would be glad to hear there is hope….I know she’ll also be glad to know she is not the only one!
I forwarded your letter to a friend, who, while not a techie, nonetheless has had a certain amount of experience with “X”-file type questions. This is his reply:
“Heck, I used to sit down in front of the VDTs when I was training in word processing. The system would bomb from my station, and I didn’t even have to touch the keyboard. It may have something to do with the individual’s electromagnetic field. I also fuse the old-style watch innards. Must be those multiple lightning strikes.”
I live with a person like Doug described. I have often accused my husband of having some sort of electromagnetic force field on his person that causes his computer problems. I can have three web pages loading at a time with Word and Outlook running without a problem, but he can freeze our computer by playing solitaire. He has problems with his laptop all the time and his techs can’t explain what happens to him. What sold us on this idea was when he held our daughter’s new Furbie to his face and said, “Dad rules,” and the Furbie died, never to be recovered. Perhaps that is also why we have so much trouble with our Christmas lights.
I’ve seen the same phenomenon close to home — my daughter. As near as we can tell, it has something to do with personal “electricity” - esp. anything that depends on lithium batteries for power. The only kind of watch that works consistently for her is one of the old analog wind-up ones; She’s had two cell phones go haywire, and she has really bad computer karma. (I won’t even let her in the room with my Mac.) Flashlights don’t seem to be a problem, but forget portable CD players. Every time she flies cross-country (she lives in CA, we live in NJ) I track the plane flight verrrrry carefully.
I know that I have never owned a watch that didn’t get to be two minutes fast! We do have electromagnetic fields in our bodies.
I have the same problem. If I wear a battery-operated watch, my system seems to neutralize the batteries. Also, I had a period of time where the vending machines would not take my money. The coins would just drop through. I found that if I stepped on the coins on the floor and got a little dust on them they would then work. Either that or have a colleague of mine put the money in the machine for me. Annoying but you learn to live with it. I once read somewhere that some people have a higher electrical field in their bodies than others and that’s what causes these things to happen. Also, we tend not to photograph well because our electrical personalities cannot be captured on film.
I too have had people at my old district that could never seem to keep their technology running. I don’t know anything about any mystical reasons. I tend to lean on more explainable answers. I would sure hate to be that person.
I knew a guy in college who had the same problem—crashing computers whenever he worked on them. And let me tell you, at a time when computers were running with 64k RAM and 5 1/4 floppies (forget automatic backups), it got so that the other students would avoid the lab when he was in it. Pete did find an “X-files” solution, though, to be honest, I question the science behind it. He got about a 10” length of brass chain with fairly small links, wrapped it around his ankle, leaving the rest of the chain to trail on the floor. According to Pete it was important to keep the metal in direct contact with his skin and the rest of it on the floor—a grounding thing, I think. It was probably all psychological, but the computers did stop crashing when he was around. Go figure.
We do have a teacher with some strikingly similar qualities. She indicated that some people at Radio Shack told her about this phenomenon when she had cell phone problems.
You outdid my strange experience. We used to call into a homework hotline and tell stories. Students could then call the number and hear a story from one of our librarians. We had a LMS who had a voice tone that exactly duplicated the tone they system used for DELETE. She would get a few words into the story and the recording system would delete what she said and disconnect her.
We had the same situation with a student last year, with our portable keyboards (DreamWriters) She would get all kinds of gobbedly-gook on her screen, instead of print - it was weird! She said she couldn’t wear watches, either, as they wouldn’t work
After my brother broke his arm, he can’t wear a wristwatch. I don’t know about his computer technodifficulties. I’ll keep him away from mine just in case!!
Also, my husband can barely touch an electric fence and get the works shocked out of him while his father can grab one without barely a tingle.
Somewhat related, though not exactly the same, my sister has always had difficulty wearing a wristwatch. In her teens she killed several, just with what we always called an “electrical field”. She tried Timex as well as more expensive ones. The final straw was when the graduation gift my parents gave her quit running after only a few days. Unexplained, maybe unexplainable…
I know what this person is talking about. I can’t wear a watch with a metal band because I can kill the battery in about 20 minutes. I can also shut down a computer if I walk on carpet in a very dry room. I get terrible electric “shocks” sometimes at home when I go to turn on a light. I remember a long time ago my doctor told me I may have too much of some chemical in my body (but I don’t remember what it is). I am glad I don’t have it to that poor woman’s extent!
I must reply to this - I have never had the experience you are having with this teacher and computers, but my dad, who died in 1985 was never able to wear a watch. It would run just fine until he put it on his wrist and then it would promptly stop. He always wondered if his body had some magnetic field or something. He never pursued it, just accepted the fact after many tries over time, that he could not wear a watch.
My mother is a person whose watches break all the time. She never, ever takes photos, barely operates the VCR, and she’s terrified of computers, even though my dad is very techie, her 3-year-old granddaughter uses them easily and two college-aged grandchildren are majoring in computer science. She doesn’t have fibromyalgia.
I have NO IDEA of this might be a factor, but I seem to have “too much” electricity in my body. A few years ago I had a camera whose professional style flash (not built into the camera) would flash “at will” when I tried to use it. My husband and others would take camera, use it and have success. I would get it, try to take a photo and the flash would invariable go off prior to me trying to shoot the photo. I finally got a finger cot from drug store (rubber glove for only one finger) used it and was successful with the camera. At one time there was an anti static spray on the market to use on carpet around computers. Perhaps this might be useful in this situation.
I had a friend who insisted that “negative ions” caused him problems. No scientist, I immediately thought of that when I read your post. Perhaps this teacher has some sort of force field or irregular magnetic field around her. Hey! Screwier things have happened!
I met someone who claimed he had the same problem. He said every object (including people) has an electromagnetic field around it, and his was so strong (?) or something, that it affected computers and other machines. He said magnet therapy worked. I suggest she also use humidifiers at home and at work.
I have had some experiences myself with wrist watches. Every time I put one on my wrist, it would inevitably go haywire (i.e., speed up, slow down, completely stop). It was discouraging, and also expensive. Of course, when someone seemingly blows out an LCD panel, then you’ve got a bit of a problem! I suspect it has something to do with one’s electromagnetic field, one of Nature’s four fundamental force fields. We are all electromagnetic, to a certain degree, and your colleague’s field could really stand to be adjusted. On the subtle level, there are folks out there called “dowsers” who can do just that. That is, adjust the electromagnetic levels in one’s environment. This might sound kind of “ugga bugga” to you, but I have healer friends who do just this sort of thing. There are also planetary influences that can be reeking havoc in this person’s life. These days two malefic planets, Mars, the planet related to technology, and Saturn, another malefic, have been in inauspicious placements. That affect will last until May, 2000, so your colleague could really be in for a long school year. I hope you have a big budget for replacement items!! Good luck…
I worked with a woman about 30 years ago in the halcyon days of mainframes. The huge chemical company that we worked for (anonymous) has the second largest net in the world at the time, just after ARPANet (now the Internet).
The global net would crash at mysterious times, and after 6 months of writing search code, the IT guys discovered that she was the sole cause of the crashes.
Whenever she sat down to a terminal and typed for more than a few seconds, it would crash the entire system. (Most of the time, she only typed a few characters, so the system did not crash.)
The cure: move the keyboard away from the terminal 5 inches or more.
It turns out that she had nearly been killed by a 550 volt shock on her Dad’s farm when she was seven years old. You may find that this is a common denominator.
I am an electronics engineer who has been shocked twenty or so times in my life, and I must now be well grounded to work on anything. I do not, however, crash modern PC’s, and I attribute this to the fact that since modern PC’s operate at very high frequencies, they require much better RF shielding than previous versions. This shielding provides the protection to the computer from my altered electrical field.
One benefit of significant shocks: your bodily impedance (resistance) goes way up, and one can handle live wiring without as much severe pain as before.
I have also worked with master IBEW electricians, and they report identical phenomenon.
It is my pet theory, based on a lifetime of work, that people who have been shocked significantly live ten years (or so) longer than they otherwise would have.
Maybe you could get a National Bureau of Statistics grant and confirm or deny this?
Thank you, and
Last case- the anti-jinx
I’ve known a couple of people who have the opposite effect…. they can go and turn on a computer, etc. that isn’t working and it will do just fine for them! Interesting.
There is a website that has documented similar claims. <http://www.amasci.com/weird/unusual/zap.html> (Be very thankful your case isn’t on this page!)
(Do I sense some hostility in some of these replies?)
Reduce static electricity
Does she glow? Spray her with static guard.
Does your unlucky teacher perchance wear fuzzy sweaters or anything comparable that would cause a lot of static electricity? Just a thought.
Some people have either a high magnetic or electric field in their bodies. It sounds like excessive static electricity and might need to ground herself with a rubber mat or wristbands that electricians use for grounding. I hope this helps.
Have you tried having her use an anti-static mat for her feet and maybe even an anti-static strap for her wrist? Maybe she’s one of those people who transmit static electricity at a much higher rate than normal.
Ask your teacher to ground herself before touching anything electronic. Touching any uninstalled metal object can do this. It may be a long shot but some people are more apt to carry electrical charges. Couldn’t hurt to try.
Two things to try handle a piece of metal to discharge the static before touching the computer and the other is removing static bearing garments before touching the keyboard. I am not kidding or sarcastic.
I suggest she also use humidifiers at home and at work.
One thing that seems to have worked recently is that we removed her plastic floor mat that she had to protect the carpet. The mats seem to help build up static electricity.
Ask the person in question to not wear nylons that may be building up a static charge as the person walks and moves (honestly).
Wear a grounding strap whenever using the computer.
Does she seem to have a lot of static around her? (clingy clothes, or she zaps you if you shake hands?) Does she have problems only in that room (carpet static)?
I think we all have energy and pass energy off —- she may have an abundant amount or more than ordinary if she is touching light switches etc —- remember in the early computer days where we had to ground ourselves if we were on a carpet before touching the monitor because we would ‘spark’? I wonder if this has something to do with it. Yeah, a really X file question
Pete did find an “X-files” solution, though, to be honest, I question the science behind it. He got about a 10” length of brass chain with fairly small links, wrapped it around his ankle, leaving the rest of the chain to trail on the floor. According to Pete it was important to keep the metal in direct contact with his skin and the rest of it on the floor—a grounding thing, I think. It was probably all psychological, but the computers did stop crashing when he was around. Go figure.
I finally got a finger cot from drug store (rubber glove for only one finger) used it and was successful with the camera. At one time there was an anti static spray on the market to use on carpet around computers. Perhaps this might be useful in this situation.
Maybe some of the people that are pushing those magnets for everything these days would have more information.
Did you think that she might be using magnetic therapy?
He said magnet therapy worked.
Could it be the wiring? Could it be program? Could it be the user?
I don’t know if you have had this question answered, but I may have an idea to the problem of the teacher who blows computers. If she takes her laptop home and plugs it into her outlets that may be the problem. Sounds to me like she has problems with the wiring in her home. This is just an inference based on the available information
Hmm. seems that this happens a lot here with special ed teachers. Part of the problem is that we use a troublesome database program for special ed tracking. Make sure they have a fairly high-powered computer with trouble-free system version, like 7.6, 8.1 or 8.6. Maybe they should use a grounding clip
I’m wondering if it is something around her or within her such as some type of implant (pacemaker? heart valve replacement? metal rod due to surgery?) Does she wear magnetic bracelets or other magnetic jewelry, etc. (it’s kind of a trendy thing now - supposed health benefits)? A hearing aid?
Does she eat or use anything unusual (unusual herbs, teas, beverages) that might cause a metallic build-up in her skin tissues? (O.K., I’m stretching it here, but you’re baffled, right?) Does she wear a lot of gold, particularly jewelry that’s about 50 years old? Or lots of fillings? Another long shot: I recall reading a while ago that some people were experiencing physical problems because the gold in the jewelry had been exposed to radioactivity before it was melted down and recast as jewelry. Seems to me that since around the 1950’s or later all gold had to be free of contaminants before being used in jewelry, but I really don’t know anything about it nor do I recall any source of information.
Have these symptoms been exhibited since childhood, or puberty? Or just since being hired? Or moving to this building? Can she pinpoint when she began to notice these occurrences?
Seems that folks with fibromylagia (spelling?) often have the symptom of jinxing technology. In fact, one person who suffers with the disease says that many books about it list this as a symptom.
Is your teacher a patient person?
Is she a relative of Harry Potter?
This person has an electrical personality :-)
There is no immediate solution besides “energy channeling” with psychics, or so I have been told. Either that, or you could give her electric shock to see if it reverses the effect. :)
She may be part of the alien jinx conspiracy (AJC), which you seemed to have stumbled on. Now that you have the knowledge, be careful, no one is to be trusted. Seems when you discover one conspiracy, you find many more
There are also planetary influences that can be reeking havoc in this person’s life. These days two malefic planets, Mars, the planet related to technology, and Saturn, another malefic, have been in inauspicious placements. That affect will last until May, 2000, so your colleague could really be in for a long school year. I hope you have a big budget for replacement items!! Good luck…
It’s all energy at some level. We have two as well…early retirement is the only solution I can foresee.
(I suggested workman’s comp to our business manager and he frowned - Doug.)
Reader Comments (6)
I lived with my boyfriend for 2 years now. Recently, the aircond in his room stop functioning properly.. and eventually stop blowing cold air. He turned to me and said "must be your electronic jinx again". I stopped for a moment to think. For the past 2 years staying with him, he has changed most of the electronic items in the house, especially in our room - the water heater, the PC, room TV, room vcd player, vacuum cleaner, cellphones (my own cellphone keeps restarting by itself), multiple alarm clocks and too many flashlights. The lightbulb in our room keeps blowing. The washing machine was about to break down until I stop using it. There was a time when I was watching too much of our pay per view satellite TV out in the living hall, the satellite TV decoder crashed. The TV itself started to show signs until I completely stop watching it, then it was ok again. This does not only happen in my boyfriend's house, it happened in some of my friend's house too when I put up nights there. So then, I'm an electronic jinx.
Sounds like you are one of those super-charged people for sure.
Good luck to you and thanks for sharing your experience. (You must have a patient boyfriend - better keep him!
By now, you probably know that magnetic bracelet are used for hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder pain. You may also have heard that golfers and arthritis sufferers wear them, and others wear them as a preventative measure.
I'm not sure if this particular journal entry is a joke, but the issue is no laughing matter. Replacing computers, phones (both cell & landline), breaker boxes, appliances and televisions, not to mention the constant discomfort of getting shocked and shocking others, is a real downer--plus, it's very, very expensive. For people with this problem (some sites call them "SLI-ders" or "electric people"), buying anything with a power cord or battery is pointless because it'll fry in no time for no reason. From what I've gathered from your site, if this "technology jinx" thing is real, the only recourse is to spray yourself with static guard, wear a grounding chain or magnetic bracelet, and use a humidifier (I live in the South... it's pretty darn humid here). Am I missing any other solutions? It seems to be getting worse as I get older. Please advise.
I am reporting for a friend who cannot go within four feet of any computerised equipment because he causes them to shut down. He is an elederly man with a bad heart condition and he lives in fear of his life. Heart monitors, X ray machines, Scanners, Blood pressure readers - all fail unless he is removed to a four feet distance. Should he become unconscious he could lose his life because of the technology failure. Does anyone know anything about any possible cure or prevention please he is desperate.
Since childhood I've had this problem with the electro-magnetic field around me. My watches have always run at least 2-10mins ahead, clocks around me do the same and electronic devices of all kinds respond uniquely to me. Computers are always a bother as they mainly freeze, don't download or upload a lot of the time much to my chagrin. I only wear natural fibers and I drink lots and lots of water so it can't be something I wear causing the problem. A friend and colleague of mine at work thinks I'm from the "Twilight Zone" or something like that because of these challenges. As much as this static annoys me, I've also come to accept what I can't change.