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Keep Your Keyboard Clean!!Cleaning your computer keyboard

There are a few sensations that tell your mind that something is new: the crisp feel of a brand new $100 bill, the smell inside of a new car, or the clean, shiny appearance of a new computer keyboard. Unfortunately, these images fade quickly with just a little use. I'll confess that my computer's keyboard takes a serious beating, and I do relatively little to take care of it. The neglect is obvious, and its uniform beige colour has given way to grimy darker shades that are less than appealing. I was content to take this condition for granted until a tip arrived in the mail, inspiring me to rejuvenate my keyboard:

Before you begin, remember to shut-down your computer & unplug your keyboard. Here is yet another use for one of my favorite products; WD-40 is truly a modern miracle! (Actually, just about any light, penetrating oil will do the job, but I admit that I always have one of those blue-and-yellow spray cans close at hand!)

In cleaning my keyboard, I found that while a cotton ball works well on the tops of the keycaps, a cotton swab did a better job of cleaning the sides because it can get down between the keys more effectively.

While we're cleaning up the keyboard, let me also introduce you to the computing equivalent of "under the hood." If your keyboard is more than a year old or so, it's probably had time to accumulate some keyboard dust bunnies that you might want to clean out. They don't really do any harm, as the key switches are all sealed tight in most keyboards. But it can't hurt to clean them out. On most keyboards, you can gently pry off the keycaps using a flat-bladed screwdriver or knife. I don't recommend that you try to remove the wide keys--such as the spacebar or the Enter key--because they often have special wires or springs that make them more difficult to put back in place. Once all the keycaps are off, you can vacuum or brush out the dust and lint that accumulates underneath. The keycaps will then just snap into place with a firm push; just be sure to put them back in their correct locations. 

Technical Difficulties ...

Recently we experienced some serious technical difficulties. Serious enough that we were hampered in our work. To a Computer Support company, that is like having a storefront but not being able to get in and serve the customers.  It made us reflect on the importance of Preventive Maintenance and common sense suggestions that even we neglected!

First off, always, always, have a backup system for your data. Use a zip drive, tape backup, writeable CD-ROM, second hard drive or removable HDD, even the ancient but dependable floppy disks. However you choose to do it HAVE A BACKUP SYSTEM! You just can’t afford not to. Actually, you should have two backups. One stored near the computer that is accessible to correct those frustrating losses of data, and a second one stored offsite. Seems logical, but you'd be surprised at how many companies face certain disaster if there was a fire, flood or break in (including us).

Secondly, have your equipment serviced yearly (or more often in dirty environments). That means having someone open it up and clean out the dust, reseat the connections, lubricate the fan, and generally check things over. This alone can prevent major grief. One of the things that happened to us was that the fan seized up and caused overheating. A few dollars of prevention will save many dollars in repairs and hours of  frustration.

When you want to get rid of a program, don't go in to the file manager and delete the files. Use the uninstall feature that comes with the program or your Operating System (i.e.: Windows). Most programs make some changes to your config.sys, autoexec.bat or Win.ini or other set-up files. Just deleting the program files will not remove these changes. Plus there are usually other hidden files lurking about on your hard drive that you just can't find with normal file managers.

Run a disk defragmenter and scandisk program frequently, or if you use Norton Utilities, use Speed Disk & Disk Doctor. Once a week is normally sufficient. This will keep your hard drive in optimum condition.

Of course you want to be using a current virus scan program and continually update it. We use Norton Utilities Anti-Virus. MacAfee's WebScanX also has an excellent product.

If you leave your computer on 24/7, as we do, you will have to restart it occasionally to clear the memory.

There are many other things that you do to keep your systems in tiptop shape but these are the main ones that can prevent the most grief.


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