Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Clean your laptop screen

This picture shows a classically filthy laptop screen, carefully prepared for this demonstration by my 13 year old twins. Their techniques include sneezing, pointing at things with jammy fingers and attempting to clean it using a hoodie sleeve.

Anyone who knows me will be aware that cleaning things is not generally my forte. I make an exception for laptop screens though, because they have the grace to look tons better with very little effort. That is why I smile with delight if someone brings an especially manky laptop into the workshop.

I have tried all manner of screen wipes and been disappointed time and time again. Some of them go completely dry the minute they are exposed to air. Many just merge all the marks on the screen into a murky cloud-shaped smudge.

Over the years I have developed my own way which I will now share with you, you lucky readers.

Here's how:
  1. Take 2 sheets of kitchen roll and lay one on top of the other.
  2. Fold this in half then half again.
  3. Put the tiniest imaginable drop of washing-up liquid in the centre of this wad.
  4. Run the whole thing under the tap. (The wad!! Not the laptop!!! Phew..)
  5. Now you don't want to drip water into your laptop. If this happens, don't come crying to me. So what you've got to do is squeeze your homemade wipe. Put it flat between your palms and squeeeeze. Feel the burn in your biceps. Squeeze it again. Look at your wipe and ask yourself if it's going to drip. If the answer is "Maybe" squeeze it again. Repeat until convinced.
  6. Clean your screen with the wipe.
  7. Polish it off with a soft cloth. Something like an old T-shirt will do nicely.
  8. There you go! While you're at it you might as well run the wipe over the keyboard and anywhere else that might need it.
Enjoy the marvellous satisfaction that comes from having cleaned something really easily.

Here's the twinnies computer after the magic wipe.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Panic causes internet outage

I thought you might enjoy this photo of my networking cabinet, as it rather puts you in mind of those puzzles you used to get in comics - where you have to find which balloon goes with which string.

If you're good at these puzzles, you will see that the blue thing (the router) is not in fact plugged into the black thing (the cable modem) but is instead plugged into itself. As a rule of thumb, things being plugged into themselves is NOT GOOD in a networking context.

I spent the weekend making angry calls to Virgin Media Business complaining that their cable modem was no longer working. Boy was my face red when I had to phone and confess that the problem may have resolved itself.

After 5 years helping people sort out their networks, it is interesting to note that I too am subject to such stupidity. In my defence, all I can say is: the internet blipped out on Friday at the about the same time that 4 people came through the door of the workshop, while another 10 phoned us. Furthermore, all my ethernet cables are the same colour.

So here's my tip of the day. Computer problems can often be resolved by going upstairs and watching Coronation Street catchup with a nice cup of tea.

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