Missing question #576: 'And when did this start?'

It's fashion-show week in New York City, and for this apparel maker's IT department, that means all the users will be in one place, according to a pilot fish who has to support them.

"This is one of the few opportunities we get to work on their laptop computers in person," fish says.

"One user reported that her laptop would randomly shut down. I ran the usual hardware and software tests, and checked event logs, but I couldn't find a cause or replicate the problem. I did find the BIOS was out of date, so I updated it and called it 'fixed.'"

But it's not. A few minutes later the user calls back: The laptop has just shut down again.

Fish returns and combs through the event logs but, again, finds nothing unusual. So he has her log back in and use the laptop while he watches.

She types in her password, starts to launch a few applications -- and suddenly the screen goes black.

"I tried the same sequence she did -- no problem," says fish. "I had her try again. Everything worked for several more minutes than before but, as she reached for the Delete key, the screen went black again.

"Hmm...her hand was in the same position during the previous failure. Was she accidentally hitting the nearby Power button?"

Fish watches her carefully log in again. Her hand moves near the Delete key and, even though both fish and user are sure she hasn't touched anything, the screen goes black.

While fish is pondering this strange symptom, the user suddenly asks, "Is it my bracelet?" Excuse me, what? fish asks. "My bracelet," user says. "It has a magnetic catch."

She takes off her bracelet and restarts the laptop. Everything works fine. Fish waves the bracelet over the lower-right corner of the laptop, about where her wrist would be when reaching for the Delete key. The screen goes black.

Sighs fish, "The magnetic lid sensor was located under the plastic there. The laptop assumed the screen had been closed and promptly went to sleep.

"Then she told me, 'You know, the laptop worked fine all morning, and only started having problems when I got back from lunch. I bought this bracelet from a street vendor on my way back to the office.'"

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