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Odd mishaps cause computer grief -
Lesson plan
Computer disaster

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Preliminary information

Time: 80 minutes??

Level: Intermediate up

To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To review when direct & indirect speech is used.
To extend the stds' store of vocab connected to computers & data
To give freer speaking practice

That the stds will be computers-users.
That the language in the text will not be too difficult.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
Some of the vocabulary may be challenging - stage 4 will help with this.

The article texts from the BBC News Technology site:

For more material on this topic:
Computer Stupidities - The following is a large collection of stories and anecdotes about clueless computer users


Stage 1 - Intro to the theme - discuss attitudes to computers - if your students don't have computers at home or work, adapt this stage to suit.
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Set up the task - discuss in pairs their attitudes to computers through the question sheet
2. Handout sheet - stds read to see if any problems.
3. Task - monitor.
4. Feedback - elicit answers & list the types of problems on the board in a list - for use in the next stage!

Computers - discuss the following with your partner:

1. How many computers have you got & how long have you owned it/them?

2. How proficient would you say you were with your computer?

expert - good - fair - just starting

3. Have you had problems with your computer? What kinds of problems?

4. Have you ever lost any data? What happened?

5. Do you take any precautions so that you don't lose data?

Stage 2 - Reading 'Odd mishaps cause computer grief'
20 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Set the extensive task - quickly read to find any of the problems mentioned in the previous stage turn up in the article. Check & give a time limit of one minute.
2. Handout texts - stds quickly skim the article.
3. Feedback.
4. Set the more intensive task - stds individually write five comprehension questions for their partner.
5. Stds write - go round & correct the questions in necessary.
6. Stds swap questions & answer.
7. Stds hand back questions for correction by original question writer.
8. Verbal correction to each other if needed.
9., Feedback - anything interesting in the article? Know anyone who these have happened to? etc..

You might have a vocabulary task after the extensive task & before the more intensive one if you feel they will find it too challenging, focusing on crucial items.

Stage 3 - Language focus - direct & indirect speech
15 mins tch<>stds, std<>std
1. Ask stds to identify all examples of direct & indirect speech in the text - at the start of each part they write 'I' or 'D' .
2. Individually stds find.
3. Stds compare ideas:
4. Ask stds in their pairs to discuss why certain parts are in direct speech & others in indirect speech.
5. Feedback - the stds will probably come up with stylistic choice - pick up on some examples & elicit why the choice was made by the writer, possibly highlighting through a transformation into in/direct speech to show how it sounds better in the original.

You could also work on some of the vocab - the lexical field of 'computers' in the text & then expand it.

Stage 4 - Speaking - roleplay
20 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds
1. Handout the computer problems written by individuals below - one to each student.
2. Stds read & consult each other about vocab.
3. Set up the mingle - stds have to talk to all explaining their experience & decide who had the worst computer disaster = the communicative purpose. You could briefly review the language of giving sympathy with a few stems on the board.
4. Task - all up mingling & chatting - monitor & take notes on problem areas, as well as the good things said!
5. Stds sit down & in pairs they decide on the worst experience they heard - this will give them a chance to clarify any of the stories with each other if they didn't understand it the first time.
5. Feedback - Content feedback: which was the worst disaster & why? Linguistic feedback: put up some errors & some good things on the board - the stds decide which need correcting & do so & you give them a pat on the back for the good things said.

Stage 5 - Round off - class discussion
5-10 mins tch<>stds
1. To round off the lesson, if time, y
ou could then have a general class discussion on computers, the internet, dangers, benefits etc to round off the lesson

Odd mishaps cause computer grief

A man so angry with his laptop that he shot it has topped an annual league table of the oddest computer mishaps.

Data recovery experts say although machine failure is blamed for the majority of lost files, humans are getting more careless too.

But while ways to rescue files are increasingly sophisticated, people have to do more to protect and back up data.

The list of the strangest ways data was lost was compiled by recovery experts Kroll Ontrack.


Experts say the technical breakdown of computers is still the main cause of data loss, although human error in the form of neglect, rage and clumsiness is fast becoming one of the main reasons files need rescuing.

"Despite being the easiest problem to prevent, we are seeing more cases where human error is to blame," said Adrian Palmer from Kroll Ontrack.

"Interestingly, we see a 15 to 20% increase in calls to recover lost data on Mondays.

"This could be a result of the rush to complete work and leave early for the weekend on Friday afternoons, as well as a lack of staff concentration on Monday mornings," he told BBC News Online.

The top 10 shows all is not necessarily lost when the computers become casualties of fire, wine and rage however.

Taking the number one spot is the US man who was so frustrated with his laptop, he shot it in a fit of e-rage, then realised there were important files he needed.

Hot on his heels is the company director whose soapy bath time ended in disaster when his laptop slipped in with him.

"People always think 'It will never happen to me' when it comes to losing data," said Mr Palmer.

There is also an emerging trend in the different ways men and women handle their loss.

More men than women are apparently more likely to try and retrieve the data themselves before asking for help from the experts, which sometimes causes more damage, said Mr Palmer.

Doctor doctor

Data recovery experts are the technological doctors and nurses of desktop or laptop hard drives.

Using increasingly sophisticated techniques, "lost" files or information can be rescued and rebuilt into a usable format.

This can happen in a matters of hours through remote access, but in more serious cases computer patients may have to be admitted to the lab.

The majority of mishaps in the top 10 list involved laptop computers, which are more susceptible to damage. There are countless examples of people forgetting them on public transport and in cafes or bars.

Experts recommend data be backed up daily or weekly and regular checks are made on back up systems to endure they are working.

In all the cases of the top 10 data loss accidents, computer files were rescued and restored.


• Laptop shot in anger
• PC thrown out the window to destroy evidence before police arrived
• Laptop fell off a moped and was run over by lorry
• Laptop dropped in bath while doing company accounts
• Stolen PCs rescued after three weeks in a river
• Red wine spilt on laptop over dinner
• Server rescued after running unchecked 24/7 for years under layers of dust and dirt
• Computer thrown against a wall
• Latte-covered laptop rescued
• Laptop left on car roof as owner drives off

Have you accidentally lost important files through clumsiness, rage or forgetfulness? Tell us what your worst data disaster has been.

My mother was so infuriated that she couldn't get something to print, she proceeded to completely rip the keyboard and mouse out of the sockets and throw them out the window
Brian, Scotland

I carried my laptop from the back door to the car. I had trouble finding my keys so I placed the laptop in its carry case by the wheel. I then found my keys and got into the car and turned on the engine. Checked my mirrors and start to move. By the time I remember that I had left my laptop behind it was too late. The laptop became very flat after that!
Daniel, UK

A friend at university had completed a 10,000 word assignment the evening before the morning it was due to be handed in. During the night there was a thunderstorm and his house was hit by lightning which fused the entire house's electricity and blew up his computer. He lost the entire assignment.
Rob Nicol, England

We had just finished a huge huge project for a customer. The backup server was full so everytime a tape was put in for the daily backup, it actually overwrote the tape with gobbledegook. When the server crashed we went back to the tapes to use the backups, every tape was empty and full of nonsense. Shocking, 18 months work all gone ! Our company eventually told our customer that it was a virus, we worked days and nights, thankfully got lots of overtime and finally delivered it. Huge mess though.

I recently had a hard drive physically overheat and burn up on me taking more than 30 gigabytes of data with it - the solution? Dump the hard drive in a plastic bag and then into a bucket of ice to keep it cold enough to recover the data. This worked so well, the drive (which I had been told was "beyond saving" by an 'expert') provided me with all of the missing data and allowed me to make archive copies of it too once it was transferred to a good drive.
Darren Gillett, United States

IT were not impressed when I tried to print off 4,444 pages of information! To cap it all, the person whose printer I had clogged up was on holiday and the problem only came to light when they tried to print their e-mails. Nowadays, I am very careful where I send my printing. All I wanted was the summary
Nicola Jennings, UK

Back in the days of XT machines, I was training a group of middle executives how to use spreadsheets. It was only an exercise but some of them clearly were not saving their work, so I just suddenly pulled out the power plug they were all connected to. The air was blue for a bit, but I think they learned the most important lesson in computer use!
Graham, Belgium

A friend of mine ran a clip art company, back in the days of 5.25 disks. There was a problem with one of the 5.25 disks that had been sent out to a client and he asked for a copy to be sent back so the problem could be resolved. When the parcel arrived, it contained two A4 pages of a nicely photocopied disk.
Steve, UK

I had my Toshiba laptop on the desk with internet cable hanging. My one-year toddler pulled on the cord and crashed the laptop on the floor. The shock discharged the battery. Fortunately, no files or data lost, no damage to the computer. I was so relieved. Now I am more careful when my son is around.
Deepak Darshan, India/Switzerland

Several years ago I was walking out of the office with a senior manager. He was trying to carry too much and his Compaq laptop, which wasn't even in a bag fell. It tumbled down half a dozen concrete steps going perfectly end over end. We picked it up and the screen was cracked, the keyboard had popped out and the case wrecked. We feared the worst but when we plugged in an external monitor and keyboard it booted up fine and all the data was recovered before the machine was sent for repair. A tribute to the build of the machine.
Steve UK, UK

Last year I went to Nairobi in Kenya. I was not aware that Nairobi has a great problem with monkeys which cause a lot of nuisance. I unpacked and left my laptop on a table by the window. During the day I was in the next room when I heard a noise coming from my bedroom and when I went to investigate I saw a monkey hopping out of the bedroom window with my laptop. It then sat in the tree clutching it and watched me. When I went outside and tried to entice it down it just continued to stare at me. I then started shouting and as the monkey became frightened, it promptly threw the laptop away. The result was a cracked and bashed laptop that would not work anymore. Moral of the story - if you leave your laptop unattended in Nairobi - leave a banana on top of it as a protection offering.
Bill, UK

On one occasion I had my nine-month old daughter in one hand, laptop in the other as I loaded the car. I put down the laptop against the front wheel to place her in the car seat and then got in to drive off. I thought the local kids had put something like a brick under my wheels (which was not uncommon) so I just powered over the obstruction. As you can guess, it was my laptop. Lucky I didn't put the laptop in the car first. I also destroyed another laptop by spilling a glass of extremely salty water into it (I'm told salt really aids the total destruction of the laptop). It was highly salty because I'd had a tooth extracted earlier that day.
Martin, UK

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