I have a new motto for traveling, and it is this: Be careful with plug adapters when you are traveling in a country that is on 240 volts current. My work laptop’s power adapter is dual voltage, but its power plug has a grounding prong and my plug adapter, which allows it to use the German outlets, leaves the grounding prong exposed. Turns out that there is a nontrivial chance of shorting the grounding plug inside the outlet, and one of my colleagues (not me, thank goodness) managed to create the short.

Bam. The lights went out, a pop came from my laptop. And I smelled smoke.

Fortunately we have a good international support contract with our vendor, and the laptop should be fixed tomorrow.

But in the meantime I’m learning how to type on a German keyboard, and understanding how “Copy” and “Paste” are translated in the German version of Windows, thanks to the loaner laptop that our IT manager provided.

(PS: Rauch, in German, means smoke.)