How to suspend random computers at your office via cellphone

Rickard Liljeberg has posted a video of the feature in action at his office. Their victim computer of choice was the Dell GX520 and they were having random shutdowns that Dell support could not explain. Kudos for him giving credit to coworker Chris for researching the problem and sysadmin Ben for putting 1 and 1 together and coming up with two.

I was alerted to this by a friend at the office who regularly reads The Register. When he saw an article referencing the Dell Gx520, the computer we use at all of our sites, it caught his eye. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of these computers in the field.

Apparently, certain cell phone can trigger the circuits that suspend a Dell computer. The phone in the video appears to be an older analog phone. So, I’m not quite as worried about this as I might otherwise be. We haven’t had a rash of call about random shutdowns. In fact, I’d originally decided not to log an issue on this as we don’t use the suspend feature. However, if the phone is triggering the circuits, software and bios settings probably do not matter.

Dell’s response to The Register was:

Communication devices do sometimes cause interference with other communication devices. The level of interference created may depend in part on the model and condition of the phone.

Dell systems are designed to operate in line with industry standards for power and electro-magnetic shielding. We recommend to customers who are experiencing interference to avoid using mobile phones within one foot of the system. We encourage customers to contact Dell directly if they have other concerns.

It looks like Rickard has posted the video on the public Google video site. So, I can show it here too.

Here it is in action:

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.