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November 2013 Newsletter

Nov 1, 2013

Would you believe that most of your IT problems can be solved with a little Keyboard cleaning?

Some of our top calls come from business’s having problems like page scrolling without touching the mouse, numbers or letters not appearing or appearing incorrectly when typing and document loss when certain function keys are stuck.
By simply cleaning your keyboard and all other technical equipment you can save yourself the cost of your IT professional troubleshooting it for you.
In severe cases we have seen entire business projects essentially come to a screeching halt. It never fails that something like this happens when you are hours away from meeting your deadline. To increase productivity and to ensure your employees are always meeting their deadline without any hang ups, be sure your office is cleaning their equipment on a regular basis.
Your keyboard is one of your most important peripherals, but it’s bound to get clogged with dirt and grime over time. Dust off, scrub down, and clean up your number one input device safely with these tips.
There are plenty of ways to clean depending on what afflicts your workspace. We’ll break it down by type, but first things first: unplug your keyboard! Some of these cleaning methods can theoretically do some damage to your keyboard if there’s power going to it, so be sure it’s unplugged and the batteries are taken out.
A common problem in offices, dust can really make typing unpleasant. For daily maintenance, you can use a small soft-bristled dusting brush, A small hand-held vacuum cleaner or a can of compressed air will work well.
Daily use can breed a whole different kind of filth on your precious keys. Be wary of disinfectant sprays; many are strong enough that you wouldn’t want to keep your hands in contact with them for very long. Try to find ones that are electronics-friendly. Personally, my favorite option is to use an isopropyl alcohol solution.
Be sure to use isopropyl and NOT ethyl, as the harsher ethyl alcohol can take the lettering off of the keys. Anything about 60% alcohol or more is fine; higher concentrations don’t really help kill more germs, but it also won’t hurt. Take a little alcohol solution and moisten an old rag or a paper towel with it. Do NOT pour it into the keyboard. Trust me, a wet napkin is enough. Scrub it over the tops of the keys, and use a wet cotton swab to go down in between them.
It’s a Monday!! You just came back from a long weekend and you enter your office as usual with a Starbucks, and the unthinkable happens!! You spill it all over your keyboard! First things first, unplug your keyboard. Dump out any excess liquid and mop up as best you can with paper towels. While it’s best to clean while the keyboard is still wet to minimize the stickiness, the process is much the same whether you spilled your coffee 30 seconds ago or 30 days ago.
To get rid of sticky keys, we’ll need to pop off the keys and clean the keyboard more thoroughly. If you have a standard keyboard, you’ll be able to find references to where all the keys should go if you don’t already have the layout memorized. For custom keyboard, it might be helpful to draw a quick map or take a picture with your digital camera so you know where everything belongs when you go to put things back together.
For desktop keyboards, take a butter knife or a screwdriver and try to pry up one corner of the keys. You don’t need to use a lot of force; you should feel a pop and the key will come right off. For laptop keyboards, your fingernail should be enough to pull the plastic up. Start with one corner and move to an adjacent one. Be extra careful, since the mechanism is made of plastic and you don’t want to break it. Once the keys are off, you can better use a paper towel and maybe some alcohol solution to clean the keyboard base. Careful with those metal bars! To clean the keys you can wash them in warm water and/or use some cotton swabs. To put the keys back on, just place them over their correct position and press them until you hear a snap. They shouldn’t feel mushy or sticky anymore, and if they do it’s probably because they either didn’t set properly in the base or it’s in the wrong place. With keys that have metal bars, make sure the bars are properly attached to the keys and that the ends line up in the slots on the keyboard.

A dirty keyboard hinders typing and halts office productivity, and is riddled with disease-inducing germs, and just doesn’t go well with the decor.

Show your keyboard some love by cleaning it.



What to do before you call your IT Support Team

“Have you tried rebooting?” I’m sure you’ve heard this classic tech support question at some point. It’s suggested for all kinds of gadgets, from tablets and smartphones to wireless routers and home entertainment systems. It even works for misbehaving computer programs.

It might sound like a cop-out, but there is a good reason why your repairperson suggests rebooting before anything else. To explain why, let me set up a non-techie example. Have you ever been writing a letter and gotten interrupted for just a second? You can pick up where you left off with very little effort.
But what happens if there’s a string of interruptions, or a major interruption that takes you away for a few hours or even days? You can’t just jump back in to the letter without reading it through from the beginning, or even starting over.

That’s similar to how electronics work. A minor glitch usually isn’t a problem. It will just slow things down for a minute while the system recovers.
A bunch of glitches or a really serious glitch, however, can completely interrupt the gadget’s train of thought. It can’t pick up where it left off. Everything might freeze, or you’ll get an error like the infamous Windows blue screen of death or the beach ball on your Mac.

At that point, the only thing to do is start over. Rebooting lets the gadget begin from square one. In many cases, the glitches don’t pop up again.
That’s why tech support folks ask you to restart your gadget first. It’s an easy, no-fuss fix that weeds out minor problems without requiring lots of time and money.
Of course, sometimes the glitches are part of a deeper problem that won’t go away. If your PC keeps slowing down while you’re using it, for example, it might be a misbehaving program draining your CPU and memory.
Restarting can help you pinpoint what program it is. If your computer starts fine but misbehaves after opening a certain program, there’s your problem.

At that point, you can re-install the program, see if there’s an update from the manufacturer or find an alternative program.

Now, let’s say you reboot your computer, but for some reason it doesn’t clear the problem. You can try stopping certain programs from running during startup with a program like Autoruns.
Disabling one program at a time can help you narrow down the offending program. Turning off unneeded programs at startup can also make your computer boot faster.
If you can’t find a misbehaving program, it might a driver problem. For that, you need to boot using Safe Mode. It’s a powerful troubleshooting tool built in to your computer. It lets you manually correct settings and uninstall programs or drivers that are causing problems.

On most computers, pressing F8 during startup will bring up the boot menu. You can select Safe Mode from the options.
Rebooting a gadget can also help you fix Internet connection problems. A spotty connection could be your router or modem acting up.
Unplug the router or modem, wait 10 to 30 seconds and then plugging it back in. This will refresh its internal software and its connection to your Internet service provider.
Wondering why you have to wait? Most electronic equipment still has power in it for a little while after it’s unplugged.
While there’s still power, the glitch you’re trying to fix might stick around. Letting the gadget completely drain erases potential problems.
With a computer, smartphone or tablet, waiting isn’t usually needed. However, if there is a really persistent problem, shut the gadget down and wait 30 seconds to turn it back on.

In most cases, you should be able get back to fun or work without further problems.

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