I’m working on a problem at work that causes a computer to crash hard. The only way to uncrash it is to turn it off and then on again. I’ve spent the last couple of workdays adding print statements to the code so that when it does crash, we know what it was doing.

That was fabulous except that this PC also had a screen saver that blanked the monitor after ten minutes. The crash sometimes takes an hour to provoke, so unless someone was there to tap a key or move the mouse, the screen would blank. And then the computer would crash, and we could not see the print statements telling us what it was doing when it went down.

But no one wants to sit in front of a computer and press the any key every ten minutes, especially for an overnight test. I could have fiddled around with it and tried to figure out how to shut off the screen saver, but instead I invented a decidely low-tech screen UNsaver:

Screen UNsaver

Screen UNsaver

Yes. I draped the mouse over a fan. Contrary to what the photo might make you think, the fan is running full bore. You can see the mouse’s red laser painting the blade. My first thought was that the optical mouse would detect the motion of the fan blade, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s actually happening. Rather, the fan vibrates enough that the mouse swings oh-so-gently back and forth, and that fools the computer into thinking someone is sitting there in front of it messing with the mouse. So it does not blank the screen.

Now if only fixing this crash were so easy…