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Sony Recalls 18,000 VAIO Laptops 374

STFS writes "Reuters has a story about Sony having to recall 18 thousand VAIO laptops because apparently there is some risk of users receiving a small electric shock "if you have connected your PC (laptop) to external power, you have disabled your phone line, (while) simultaneously being connected to a grounded peripheral, and you are touching a metal part of the PC, and your phone rings"!" I can't begin to count the number of times that happens ;)
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Sony Recalls 18,000 VAIO Laptops

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  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Arthaed ( 687979 ) <.arthaed. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:36PM (#6408258) Homepage
    OMG! Thank goodness you stopped me in the nick of time!! I was _just_ about to do that!!
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

      by dspeyer ( 531333 ) <dspeyer@w a m . u md.edu> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:07PM (#6408540) Homepage Journal
      Am I the only one who really wants to go out and get a VAIO just so that I can set this up? I'm sure I can find someone to call me!
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

      by penguinblotter ( 599271 ) <bradNO@SPAMdsource.org> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:25PM (#6408662) Homepage Journal
      "if you have connected your PC (laptop) to external power, you have disabled your phone line, (while) simultaneously being connected to a grounded peripheral, and you are touching a metal part of the PC, and your phone rings"

      ... off the building, over the bridge, through the park, nothing but net.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

      by cshark ( 673578 )
      That's; BZzZzzt; not; BZzZzzt; funny!
    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

      by nolife ( 233813 )
      I found an easier way, just type xyzzy and upon pressing "enter" you will get shocked.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

      by pjrc ( 134994 ) <paul@pjrc.com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:17PM (#6409382) Homepage Journal
      Of course Sony's going to downplay the seriousness of the problem with a lengthy description that makes it sound like the problem is so rare all the stars have to line up just right for it to occur. But they're recalling for a reason!

      The key part is that you can get a shock when the phone rings. Very bad. That means the user is exposed to a low impedance connection to the phone line, which is illegal (FCC part 68 [fcc.gov]). Sure, to feel the shock you need to have a return path to earth ground... and the circumstances spelled out make it seem highly improbably.

      But consider that those 2 wires from the phone line are supposed to be galvanically isolated, via a transformer, optocoupler, high-voltage low-value capacitors, or some other safe barrier. Consumers are never supposed to be exposed to those bare telephone wires, which run on telephone poles with high voltage power lines overhead.

      Sure, the 50 to 100 volt ring signal can give you a bit of a shock. But the real danger is that those telephone lines are not safe if there is a failure like a tree falls onto the lines or they're hit by lightning. That's why all telephones are required by the FCC to isolate those wires from the user.

      The FCC also has strict requirements that all telephone equipment fail as an open circuit (equivilant to not taking the phone off the hook), even if the lines are hit with extreemly high voltage such as 12,000 volt power lines coming into contact with the phone line momentarily.

      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pjrc ( 134994 ) <paul@pjrc.com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:57PM (#6409683) Homepage Journal
        I should have mentioned that the reason for the FCC's open-circuit failure requirement is because in the event that a high voltage power line or lightning strike hits the phone line, hundreds or even thousands of telephones will be destroyed. When the carrier attempts to restore service, if a significant portion of those damaged phones are conducting (equivilant to you answering the phone and leaving off the hook), they will tie up all the available circuits and service can't be restrored to that area without physically removing all those damaged phones.

        The key point is that those tiny, seemingly harmless little telephone wires actually run out of your building and (often times) directly into large bundles strung on telephone polls underneath high voltage power lines. It is not safe to allow consumers to come into contact with those wires. It is also not legal, which is why Sony is recalling.

  • At Least Once (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aadain2001 ( 684036 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:37PM (#6408270) Journal
    I must have happened at least once, or they never would have done the recall. Basic formula, if the cost of a recall is less than the legal bills, they do a recall. Guess someone got zapped pretty good to scare them into a recall.
  • This is why I don't buy Sony products. My Dell laptop has never electrocuted me.
    • Yeah I guess you only have to worry about it catching on fire.
    • OK, I'll bite (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PhysicsGenius ( 565228 ) <physics_seekerNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:47PM (#6408383)
      The article doesn't say anyone was electrocuted. It was a "small electric shock". I think everyone is overreacting on this one. I get shocks bigger than this just walking across the carpet in the winter.

      This is just like that whiny guy that was apparently expecting his McDonald's coffee to be ice cold.

      • Re:OK, I'll bite (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JesterXXV ( 680142 ) <jtradke AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:12PM (#6408572)
        True, no one was electrocuted, but a phone ring is generated by a 90 VAC charge down the phone line, IIRC (probably because of the older phones which needed that kind of voltage to operate the mechanical bell). I've actually been shocked by the ring charge before, when I was fooling around with an old desktop phone with the cover off, dialing my own phone number to cause it to ring while holding down the hookswitch standing on my concrete basement floor in bare feet. Yes, I'm an idiot, but while I wasn't anything more than a little soiled in the pants, I could see how this could potentially be a HUGE problem if someone with a pacemaker or just a weak heart were to find themselves in this quasi-unlikely situation with their VAIO.
      • Re:OK, I'll bite (Score:5, Interesting)

        by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:33PM (#6408734) Homepage Journal

        A large electric shock across my hand (ie both contacts on my hand) may cause temporary numbness and some pain, but quite probably no lasting damage.

        A small electric shock, passing from my hand to my feet, can kill me if the current passes through the heart.

        It doesn't really matter how big it is. It's how you use it.

        (Now let's see if I'm allowed to post this or if I'll get yet another of those "You've already moderated this discussion" errors I can't get past, despite the fact I haven't even been given mod points in the last year.)

        • Re:OK, I'll bite (Score:5, Informative)

          by zenyu ( 248067 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @03:13PM (#6409017)
          A large electric shock across my hand (ie both contacts on my hand) may cause temporary numbness and some pain, but quite probably no lasting damage.

          I've had one of these, both contacts on fingers on one hand. While there was no lasting damage, I wouldn't catagorize the pain as "some pain." More like incredible pain in my whole arm lasting for hours followed by a day of numbness.

          I've also caught one of those ring tones through my body. Sharp pain, but it only while the current was flowing. It was a very different type of pain, the large current through my hand didn't hurt while I was being electrocuted, but hurt a lot afterward, the ringtone "shocked" me but didn't hurt afterward at all.
      • The article doesn't say anyone was electrocuted. It was a "small electric shock".

        The phone ring voltage is 70 - 90 VAC. I found this out when I decided that the phone wire looked puny enough to strip with my teeth.
    • (Though with the three batteries I've gone through being completely non-functional, it's had less opportunity.)
    • Re:scary (Score:2, Funny)

      by cristofer8 ( 550610 )
      Yeah, but don't forget about the guy who had to go to the hospital after his dell laptop burned his crotch.
  • ZZZZT! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tsali ( 594389 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:38PM (#6408275)
    Let me comment... There's the phone.... ARRRRRGHGHGHG!

    (no carrier)
    • by Mayak ( 688458 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:01PM (#6408503)
      Its the original electro-hilarious man! Some of the classic masters of slapstick simply use falldown jokes. While this elicits a few chuckles, none compares to your wildly dangerous and positively shocking stunts! How can you even type after being so succinctly and hilariously electrocuted??? I can't believe you were able to time the phone ringing whilst in the middle of a serious Slashdot post! I am hardly able to type this because I have been hit by sizzling bolt of laugh-lightning! Someone has charged you up the funny-bomb and placed it squarely in the clouds for all of us to be struck with. I'll bet the person on the other end of the phone got a jolt of pure hilarity as well. You have taken a serious discussion of the dangers associated with Vaio laptops and turned it into an electrified romp into the nether-regions of comedy! I would tip my hat to you good sir lest it was not fused to my head! Mods, mod this master of improv +5 High-Voltage-Hilarious!
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:38PM (#6408279)
    when the line is disabled?
    • If your phone (the one you talk on) rings while I guess your laptop is plugged in to the wall, phone jack, and you're connected to a grounded prephrial (don't ask me what would qualify), you could get a hair-raising experience (positively shocking!)

      At least that's the way I understand it... the whole matter sounds awful confusing.
    • by Alric ( 58756 ) <<slashdot> <at> <tenhundfeld.org>> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:50PM (#6408413) Homepage Journal
      Umm. I think they mean that the user disabled the phone line functionality in the Vaio, meaning the computer doesn't respond when someone calls that phone line.

      Here's how I interpeted it. Your laptop environment meets the previously outlined criteria. Someone calls your phone, which can be thought of as a small electrical current being sent to your phone. Because the the phone line is disabled on the Vaio and Sony didn't design the system correctly, the electrical current from the phone travels into the laptop hardware, the metal frame I guess. The computer is grounded, and you are touching some metal part of the laptop (read conductor). Therefore, the electrical current is passed into you, resulting into a minor shock.

      I am certainly not an EE, but that makes sense to me.

      • From the article:

        " Sony shocked investors in April ... "

        Actually, phone ringer voltage can hit 70V. Plenty to give you a shock. Normally this would not go into the telephone ringer, but when thats disabled, there is probably a much smaller voltage leaking through the filter components (required to meet FCC lemissions limits). Thats what is getting to the case and giving you a shock.

    • The signal that causes the phone to ring is ~90VAC. With older phones - the big Bakelite ones you got from The Phone Company(TM) - it was possible to hook the tip and ring lines up to 110VAC and make the phone ring. I did this several times when doing sound for a theater production. Another amusing thing is to hook them up through a dimmer switch. As you turn up the dimmer, you can make the speed of the ringing vary. It's worth noting this only works for phones that have actual bells in them.

      But, I d

  • by carl67lp ( 465321 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:39PM (#6408289) Journal
    In the US:
    Sony Returns and Replacements
    100 Sony Drive
    Sony Hills, CA 99888
    Attn: Rube Goldberg
  • by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:39PM (#6408297)
    If only they could get all computers to do this when the user does something "stupid".
  • by deuist ( 228133 ) <ryanaycock AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:39PM (#6408298) Homepage
    Sony has had to recall 18,000 of its CD's. It seems that listeners are shocked to find out that they paid $20 for an albumn with one good song, 50 minutes of filler, and a media which cannot play in a computer's CDrom drive.
  • A while back, over in Great Britain, a woman complained to the telephone company about her phone. It would sometimes not ring when someone called. The strange part, she said, was that when it *did* ring, the ring was invariably preceded by her dog barking. So she was convinced she had a broken telephone and a psychic dog. Now, in Britain, the ring signal is a high-voltage low-ampere current sent from the local office to the phone. The wire which carries this signal is run from the pole to a large metal spike in the yard, which grounds the circuit. In order to isolate the problem, the phone company sent a repairman out to climb the pole and manually send the signal down the wire. Sure enough, when he did this, nothing happened the first time. The second time, the dog barked just before the phone rang. Investigation revealed that the dog was chained (with an iron chain) to the spike that grounded the circuit. So this is what was happening: the ground was dry, preventing the ring signal from grounding itself easily through the spike, so the current ran down the chain to the dog, paralyzing him. When the current released the dog, he yelped and urinated, which wet the ground, so that the second ring signal made it through and the phone rang. (yes i copied this off the web [purdue.edu] somewhere.)
  • by grimani ( 215677 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:40PM (#6408315)
    Nobody's died from the electric shock when the phone rings.

    But it sure isn't pleasant.

    I got hit with it last time I was mucking around with the wiring in my house. I called myself with the cell to see if it worked.

    You know you're stupid when you zap yourself like that...
    • YASD (Score:5, Funny)

      by dmeranda ( 120061 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:49PM (#6408405) Homepage

      I just know there's some sort of Nethack joke here!

      "You zap yourself with a telephone, it rings...you die!"
    • A phone ring has very low current so it is unlikely to kill you, but the voltage is reasonably high (90 V) and the wave is 20Hz. My father worked at the telco for 30 years, and he said that was the really painful part: the 20Hz cycle produced a very unpleasant feeling.

    • Homer trying to connect his own phone because the phone comapny cut off their service because of an unpaid bill of a call to Breazil (made by Lisa).

      Homer: Let's try.. the red one!
      Homer: Ok. Let's try.. the blue one!
      Homer: Ooooh. The green one?
      Homer: Nope. Let's try.. the red one!

      Cut to Homer, on family couch, clothes ripped and burnt.
      Lisa: We found you smouldering in the bushes.
  • imagine a beowulf cluster of those!!!
  • And yet... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:41PM (#6408330) Journal
    I can't begin to count the number of times that happens...

    And yet, they've received "fewer than 10 complaints", not zero, so someone must be doing it, especially since only a minority of affected users probably complain. I wonder what "disabled your phone line" means.

  • by dmeranda ( 120061 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:42PM (#6408337) Homepage

    You can get the same effect without a computer. Just hold the end of a phone line with one hand and anything metal and gounded with the other and have somebdy call you. If anything this is a defect with the phone system, not the freaking computer!

    This is because the phone company sends a 60-volt (if I remember correctly) pulse down the line to cause a ring...a leftover from the days when it they had to send enough energy to drive the electomechanical bell.

  • I'm surprised that this issue only afflicts 18k laptops.

    In this era of mass production, how come the glitch only affects a few? Since the Reuters link is down, I can't read the article, but...

    How can a hardware glitch be confined to such few laptops? It can't be cost effective to design something replicated only 18k times...
  • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:43PM (#6408348) Homepage
    as a former vaio laptop owner.. I will never buy a Sony product again. Dead after 15 months and extortionist prices from Sony to replace the bad motherboard. Was cheaper not only to buy new, but better laptop as well. Its amazing how much a company can turn you off to their products - not so much because something broke - but by their failure to offer any reasonable resolution. After all, we're not talking $50 calculators. While this recall is a step in the right direction I really wonder if it just caused an *internal* short, instead of perhaps 'shocking' the user, would they even bother.
    • I'm a current VAIO owner, as well as a loyal Sony customer, and I've had absolutely no issues with any of my devices. My VAIO is a year old now, and the only problem I've ever had was losing a few screws in the bottom.

      I have also owned 3 different Clie devices, and after the first one had some dust under the screen, Sony customer support overnighted me a package in which I packed the Clie, sent it back with the included postage, and had my Clie fully cleaned and returned within a week or so. For free.

      As f
      • by Dasein ( 6110 ) *
        WTF? My VAIO is great except it's falling apart because Sony can figure out to tighten a screw. Jeez -- you've been fed too much marketing, buddy.

        BTW, I am a former VAIO owner who:

        1) Had most of the screws fall out
        2) An HD make that "I'm about to die." squealing sound.
        3) Tried to return it to Sony for service 4 times.
        4) Each time I was promised a shipping box and documentation.
        6) No shipping box or documentation ever arrived
        7) The HD finally died
        8) Two weeks after our house was burglarized
        9) Insurance pai
    • I had the exact opposite experience. I bought a Sony Vaio Superslim 2 years ago, and it's still going strong. I have yet to have a single component break or fail. I fully expect it to last me another year or two, and believe me, I BEAT on my computers. This laptop runs 24/7 most of the time, and goes through things you wouldnt wish on ANY computer.
    • I tend to agree with you, but I'm on my 2nd VAIO Laptop, and would happily buy a 3rd. The build quality of the machines is good, but certainly not up to ThinkPad quality. However, the real problem with Sony is technical support policies, and their warranties. If your warranty is up, and something breaks, you're really out of luck. This is why I suggest that laptop owners buy an extended warranty of some sort for their machines. It's not like you can go to your local PC shop and get a new mainboard if this o
    • by loopWork ( 688474 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @03:52PM (#6409237)
      I am also a former vaio laptop owner -- never again will I knowingly purchase from Sony.

      Last July I purchased a vaio and the 3 year warrenty off sonystyle.com.

      Last August, during school, my roommate's cat scratched though my LCD diagonally. I contacted Sony, but elected not to send the laptop in for repairs because I had too much work to lose my primary machine and I could deal with the marred screen.

      A few months ago my harddrive died, and Sony incorrectly told me that I had an extended warrenty through another company even though they had my full purchase, including warrenty, in their database. I wasted 2 weeks on the phone with this company, calling back to Sony numerous times asking for help, as the other company had no record of my warrenty with them. Finally, the other company and I determined that Sony must have made a mistake.

      I finally got an RMA form from Sony, and sent in my laptop about 2 1/2 weeks after my initial call. For a week, I heard nothing, so I called them to check on the status. Sony informed me that:

      They wouldn't replace the harddrive (unacceptable)
      The keyboard was damaged (and it wasn't!)
      The LCD couldn't be fixed (that's acceptable)

      Sony stated that they wouldn't fix anything on the laptop, regardless of warrenty, unless I paid $1200 to have EVERYTHING fixed. I declined the $1200 offer only to hear that in order to *GET MY LAPTOP BACK* I'd have to pay a diagnostics fee (and return shipping).

      Needless to say my warrenty statement contained no provisions for this, nor did it contain any clause that the warrenty statement could be updated. It turns out that the new provision were in the fine print of the RMA form.

      Sony argued that since the LCD was scratched and the shock-absorbing pads on the bottom were missing (they melted off from extreme heat -- look up the professor who got 3rd degree burns from his Vaio) I was obviously abusing or dropping my Vaio and the warrenty was irrelevent.

      When I finally got my laptop back from Sony it wouldn't turn on anymore. So, now I can't buy a replacement harddrive for it.

      Never again, Sony.
  • I wonder if Sony considered an exchange program with other users rather than replacing the laptops.

    I am sure there are quite a few people out there who would like to have their lap stimulated while sitting around the house clicking on the Boobies links on FARK.
  • Suck up and deal (Score:2, Informative)

    by TSMABob ( 685023 )
    Mary EcEvoy, a spokeswoman for Sony in the United States, said a user could receive a shock such as that from static electricity

    Does it really hurt that much to warrant such a recall? Static electricity is fun to play with, not a violent killer. Go run around a carpet with your socks on and then attack somebody, its great!
  • I mean OW what are the chances OW of OW doing all those OW things at OW (damnit) OW at the same OW time?

    OW I know OW when I use my OW Sony Viao OW this OW never OW happens! I'm OW using it right nOW.
  • I can see this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:48PM (#6408386) Journal
    a mix of a incorrectly spec'ed out transistor or something like that, and a bad ground circuit.
    • connected your PC (laptop) to external power,
    • you have disabled your phone line,
    • simultaneously being connected to a grounded peripheral,

      (say a printer or an external monitor)

    • and you are touching a metal part of the PC,
    • and your phone rings"!
      • The metal case is obviously a ground, and the phone being disabled probably grounds the phone out. So if there is a probably with a ground, the phone ringer signal grounds out through the person holding the metal ground portion of the case.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:48PM (#6408388) Homepage Journal
    There is some risk of users receiving a small electric shock "if you have connected your PC (laptop) to external power, you have disabled your phone line, (while) simultaneously being connected to a grounded peripheral, and you are touching a metal part of the PC, and your phone rings"!

    Wouldn't Senator Hatch just love [slashdot.org]this:

    There is a high risk of users receiving a small electric shock if you have connected your PC (laptop) to external power, you have disabled your phone line, (while) simultaneously being connected to a grounded peripheral, and you are touching a metal part of the PC, while sharing files and your phone rings"

  • If Sony makes it easier to get the shock going they will have something. At which point, I'm sure some geek will combine this with the shocking jacket [wired.com] and the shocking controller [techtv.com]. Imagine the hours of fun.

  • by dlc3007 ( 570880 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:48PM (#6408399)
    ... being the poor person working the help desk who had to try and reproduce the problem?
  • by chia_monkey ( 593501 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:49PM (#6408403) Journal
    The Vaio (and only the Vaio, mind you *sarcastic grin*) also has a problem when you've got it plugged into the wall and are using it while bathing. They're having to recall all their laptops because someone might get shocked if all these events occur in unison:
    Computer is plugged in and turned on
    Bathtub is full of water
    You are in bathtub full of water
    Laptop that is plugged in falls into water

    Damn them for shipping out unsafe products.
  • by WeeLad ( 588414 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:50PM (#6408412) Journal
    Obviously someone did a poor job of testing this easily reproducable condition. They probably didn't even test what happens when you hold your Vaio over your head, and stand on one foot, eating a twinkie. And I'm certainly not going to try using my Vaio in a box, with a fox, and wearing socks. Just to be safe, I'm going to disconnect my doorbell when using my playstation and unplug my fridge when listening to my discman.

  • Ouch (Score:3, Funny)

    by Upright Joe ( 658035 ) <uprightjoe.gmail@com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:51PM (#6408423) Homepage
    Speaking from experience, getting hit by the current from a ringing phone line can be extremely uncomfortable. Back in the dialup days I always had a second phoneline. I also moved a lot. So most places, I would have them bring the second line to the outside of the house/apartment and then wire it myself to save cash. The last time I did this, the apartment was already wired for two lines but the second one wasn't connected to any of the jacks. So, being a moron, for some reason I was holding the wires for the primary line in my mouth while I was stripping the wires on the second line when somebody decided to call me. Wham! It was like chewing on an electric fence. Very unpleasant experience.

    Needless to say I don't put wires in my mouth anymore whether they're connected to anything or not. Looking back I'm not sure why I did it in the first place. I think maybe the wire was wanting to fall back into the wall and I was in a hurry.
  • Can't count (Score:5, Funny)

    by garethwi ( 118563 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:52PM (#6408437) Homepage
    I can't begin to count the number of times that happens

    Perhaps that's because the Vaio has burned your fingers off.
  • by Anonymous Freak ( 16973 ) <prius.driverNO@SPAMmac.com> on Thursday July 10, 2003 @01:54PM (#6408445) Journal
    Back when BBSes were popular when I was in high school, a friend ran one out of his house. One day his computer died, and he was replacing something in it, so he had it open. He was doing it as quickly as he could, so he just pulled out various cards and laid them wherever was handy. His leg happened to be the 'handy' place to set the internal modem (a 2400 baud, IIRC.) He set it component-side-up. With the phone cord still plugged in. Now, his BBS was reasonably popular (for a one-line BBS.) So, inevitably, someone called while he was working on it. Sent him a decent sized jolt through his leg. He had little burn marks where the phone line connectors were touching his leg for about a week.

    Yes, I was there for this adventure. The three of us who were there (aside from him, of course,) were laughing histerically.
    • by morcheeba ( 260908 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:18PM (#6408611) Journal
      He had little burn marks where the phone line connectors were touching his leg for about a week.

      You'd think that after about 3 seconds he'd figure it out and not let those phone line connectors touch his leg... leaving it there for a week is a bit excessive -- how many calls did he get in that time and how'd he go to the bathroom?

      oh, I love the english language!!
  • by u19925 ( 613350 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:00PM (#6408486)
    in britain a lady complained that many times, her phone rings but noone is there at the other end. also, whenever this happens, a neighbours dog barks! the coincidence happened too often to be accidental so the phone company investigated it.

    they found that there were some loose wires and whenever dog used to pee on them, it used to create short circuit. this used to give shock to dog (guess where) and that is why it was barking. also, due to short circuit, the phone used to ring.

    well the phone company fixed the fault and so should Sony do in this case.
  • cheat code (Score:4, Funny)

    by ccwaterz ( 535536 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:01PM (#6408492)
    "if you have connected your PC (laptop) to external power, you have disabled your phone line, (while) simultaneously being connected to a grounded peripheral, and you are touching a metal part of the PC, and your phone rings"

    Wait a minute, somebody told me that was the cheat code to get unlimited gold in Warcraft 3...
  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @02:21PM (#6408634) Homepage
    If you've disabled your phone line, why would an incoming call cause a shock? Shouldn't that be the point of disabling it? I'm confused.
  • by AlphaOne ( 209575 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @03:00PM (#6408927)
    Even as obscure as this seems, it could easily kill you if delivered in just the right way.

    It takes just MILLIamps to stop your heart. If you had just gotten out of salt water (or were sweaty...) and grabbed the laptop in one hand and a grounded water pipe with the other and your phone rang, it could potentially kill you just like that.

    I'd think people with pacemakers would be even more vulnerable, but I don't know enough about them to comment further.

    Sounds like Sony grounded the phone line to the laptop chassis, which is then grounded (probably) to the negative DC end of the power supply which is in turn grounded to common and/or ground on the wall socket. If you disconnect the power and hold the laptop and are then grounded in some way via holding a faucet or something you'd be the return path for the ring voltage.

    The fix might be to run it through some sort of heavy resistance to reduce the voltage to something negligible in this situation.
  • by gblues ( 90260 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @03:35PM (#6409144)
    Finally! You know how many tech support guys have been begging for that functionality??

    Too bad it's being recalled. :(

  • by cyberon22 ( 456844 ) * on Thursday July 10, 2003 @04:11PM (#6409340)
    The VIAO is designed for extreme computing, driven by a double-capacity battery and equipped with an integrated CD-RW/DVD combo drive. It's arsenal includes a Memory Stick Media slot, for easy control of countless digital devices. It's body chassis is ultra-lightweight, and hardened against minor household accidents.

    You'll find a way to destroy it.

    Unlikely, I'm an obsolete design. The VIAO is a far more effective killing machine.
  • Jeez.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Thursday July 10, 2003 @11:42PM (#6412315) Journal
    If I was Sony, all I'd do is send out an addendum to the manual that says "Do NOT do this - You'll get zapped"

  • by Bud ( 1705 ) on Friday July 11, 2003 @02:21AM (#6412890)
    [...] you have disabled your phone line, [...] and your phone rings

    Apparently "disabled phone line" has a different meaning on the west side of the Atlantic. I thought it meant that no phone calls are allowed through.


  • by geoff lane ( 93738 ) on Friday July 11, 2003 @02:43AM (#6412958)
    18K factory reconditioned VAIOs will shortly come onto the market :-)

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." -- Albert Einstein