Blue Smoke

Todays post has been put on the back burner (way too literally, as you will come to find) while we have an interesting scientific discussion.

For todays lesson I will be discussing “The Blue Smoke Theory” and how it effects electronics. Particularly of interest will be it’s potential effects on computers and their peripherals when connected to the Internet. As an example, my laptop.

The theory is actually quite simple. You will read about “gates” and “processors” as well as “power supplies” and “ram” all being made possible by sophisticated little wires and switches that are so small you can only see them under a microscope. However, I was also taught to only believe what I can see. Last time I looked I did not have an electron microscope in the garage.

I do have a magnifying glass in my toolbox for reading small part numbers and burning holes in things, but it is unable to see these alleged “microcircuits”.

In reality all electronics are made possible by top secret “blue smoke” technology. It was  originally developed during the cold war in an effort to make missile guidance systems compact enough to fit on a rocket smaller than the empire state building. Since that time blue smoke has been carefully concealed within almost every electronic gizmo made.

The blue smoke is contained within specially designed devices, most commonly called “components”.  It is commonly believed that the shape of the component and number of connections it has is directly related to how much blue smoke is sealed inside. Careful observation of these components will show that they are all carefully sealed against smoke loss. In short, its the smoke contained inside that makes them work.

The theory is supported intense scientific research. These experiments are generally conducted by people trying to make the stereo go just a little bit louder or the computer go just a little bit faster. The results are pretty conclusive.

If you attempt to make something louder, faster, brighter, or in any other way “more uber” it is about 99 percent likely that you will get one of two results.

  • The device in question accepts the change and runs better, enjoy your new uberness.
  • The seals on the components fail under the load allowing the rare blue smoke to escape, throw it away it’s wrecked.


The problem with this technology is that the blue smoke will often escape even if you are not trying to make a 5 watt speaker rattle the windows in your house.  The escape can take place in one of two ways.

The first and by far the most common is leakage. Ever noticed how after a time your electronic devices work less efficiently? Cell phones start dropping calls and chewing through their battery life like I go through fried rice at the Chinese buffet. Computers will run slower and slower as time goes on, no matter how many spyware scans you run. Televisions will start to show fading colors. The remote needs to be thwacked with a stick just to change channels. These are all signs of a slow leakage of the blue smoke that makes them go.

Less frequent, but far more dramatic when it happens, is a complete seal failure. The seals on one or more components within your electronic doo-dad fail catastrophically, releasing large amounts of blue smoke into the surrounding area. This will often be accompanied by a sharp almost ozone like smell and the sounds of cursing coming from the devices user.

Noooooo!!!!!! Not my Data!!!!!

Such was the case yesterday when my laptop suffered multiple catastrophic seal failures at the same time.


Game play, research, and posting will be very limited for the next week or so. I should get back in the swing of things once Dell ponys up with the new laptop that I ironically ordered Tuesday.