MI5 may be well-known for leaving top-secret laptops on trains, in taxis or other public locations, but Britons have also found a variety of innovative ways to destroy their portable computers -- from running them over to dropping them off bridges.
UK computer insurer Complete Computer Cover this week compiled a list of the ten most bizarre ways its customers have wrecked their laptops, drawn from its claims data over the past five years. The results underscore just how vulnerable sophisticated computer technology can be when exposed to the hazards of the outside world.
At the top of the list was the claim of a Yorkshire university student who dropped his laptop off a 20-foot bridge into a river after being pushed by a friend. The student took the trouble to provide provided a highly detailed diagram explaining how the disaster took place.
In second place was a mother who wrecked her child's machine by dropping an iron on it. This act of destruction scored higher than the similar, but less spectacular, ninth-place entry, in which the laptop keyboard was assaulted by a falling book.
The third-place accident, reminiscent of a lost-homework excuse, involved a dog chewing through the laptop cable, shorting out the machine -- although the dog was unharmed.
Three of the accidents involved cars: the fourth-place claimant put her laptop in her driveway and then backed her car over it; the sixth-place user left the computer on top of a car and then drove off; and the tenth-place PC fell off the back of a van.
Liquid mayhem made a strong showing on the list, with fifth-place going to a hospital worker who spilt a fast-food milkshake over the keyboard, and eighth-place awarded to death by water damage in a Zambian hotel. The complete list is on Complete's Web site.
While laptop thefts get more publicity, 60 percent of insurance claims are for accidental damage, according to Complete. With roughly five million laptops in circulation in the UK, about 100,000 are damaged and nearly 67,000 stolen every year, Complete said.