Monthly Archives: February 2013

Spring Cleaning: How to Refresh Your Computer – Part One Physical Cleaning

Dirty Computer

Image Credit: Paulimus J

It may still be cold in parts of the U.S., but in Florida it’s already beginning to feel a lot like spring, which naturally leads us to think about one thing – spring cleaning.

But did you know that it’s not just your environment that could use a good cleaning? Your computer could probably use one as well.

Whether it still feels like winter where you are, or whether it’s starting to warm up already, taking some time to clean your computer now will ensure you’re ready and prepared to take on the coming year.

Our spring cleaning series breaks down the various steps of cleaning your computer into easy, manageable chunks, so you don’t have to spend days and days cleaning your computer.

Instead, follow the series and perform the steps outlined. By the time the series is done, your computer will be cleaned up and running good as new, and you’ll be ready to handle anything the year throws at you.

Part one of the series focuses on physically cleaning your computer.

Did you know that your computer, and specifically your keyboard and mouse, are some of the dirtiest places in your office? In fact, your keyboard could be dirtier that the toilet. Eeewww. And you touch it several times a day.

Instead of letting germs and bacteria fester for another year, take some time to clean your computer. Your body will thank you.

Cleaning Items Needed

To physically clean your computer, you will need:

  • Canned Air
  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Electrostatic dusting cloth
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Electronics Vacuum

Important Note: Never spray anything directly on your electronics. Instead, spray your cloth, then wipe the device clean.

Cleaning Your Devices

Keyboard

While you can leave your devices attached, it’s best to detach keyboards and mice so that they don’t activate programs and commands on the computer while you’re cleaning. This includes both wired and wireless devices.

After disconnecting your keyboard, turn it upside down and shake it out. This will remove any large debris, such as food crumbs, hair, etc. Then, spray the keyboard with canned air, removing any additional large debris. If you have an electronics vacuum, use it on the keyboard now.

Once all the big crud is removed, there will probably still be spots that need some deep cleaning. Dip a cotton swab lightly in Isopropyl Alcohol, and spot clean any heavy gunk. Make sure that the swaps have enough alcohol to clean with, but aren’t dripping wet.

Continue cleaning until your keyboard is sparkling clean. Repeat this process every few months, particularly after a cold or illness to remove any residual germs.

Mouse

Wipe down your mouse with a microfiber cloth to remove any large particles. Remember to wipe down both the top and underside of the mouse.

While rare these days, if you have a mouse with a ball, remove the ball and wipe it down. Gently clean any rollers with a cotton swab dipped (lightly) in Isopropyl Alcohol. (Again, you want it damp, not dripping.)

Otherwise, wipe down your entire mouse. For any stubborn spots, clean with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Repeat until your mouse is sparkly clean.

LED Screen

Even screens get dirty from time to time. First, clean your screen with canned air, to remove any large dust particles.

Then, clean your screen using LCD wipes, or a soft-dust free microfiber cloth. Moisten the cloth with a mix of distilled water and white vinegar, and wipe the screen in circular motions.

Wipe until your monitor is clean and streak free. Repeat every couple of months, or when your monitor is dirty again.

Note this will work for LCD TV’s too.

Computer Case / Laptop

Once all your peripherals are cleaned up, it’s time to clean the outside of your computer.

Shut down and turn off your computer. Using the canned air, clean any fans, air intakes, or other areas on the outside of the computer that is collecting dust. If your computer is super dusty, take it outside to clean.

Then, gently wipe down the outside of the case with a microfiber cloth. Clean any stubborn spots with a cotton swap dipped in Isopropyl Alcohol.

If you have a laptop, remember to clean really well between your keys, your touchpad, and any other area that is frequently touched.

And you are done! You should now have a sparkly, clean, germ free computer, keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Now plug everything back in, turn on the computer, and get back to work. 😉

Stay tuned for our next installment of the Spring Cleaning Series, where we’ll focus on cleaning the inside of your computer.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who believes that a clean computer is a happy computer. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Surprisingly Small Spaces to Store Data

DNA Strand

Image Credit: ynse

The problem with conventional storage devices – hard drives, CDs, DVDs, etc. – is that the media can degrade over time making the media unreadable. And what good is storing data if you can’t access it later?

Scientists are actively trying to change the data conundrum by coming up with new ways to store data in ways that can be accessed later, regardless of how old it is, without any data loss.

Additionally, since our reliance on technology and data is only growing stronger, they are trying to couple data integrity with small storage spaces so that more data can be stored while taking up less space physically.

So, what kinds of small spaces are they using to store data? Some of the answers may surprise you.

Hitachi Glass

In late 2012, Hitachi revealed their newest invention, a small sheet of glass measuring one square inch that can hold up to 40MB of data. What’s more, the data is nearly impervious to corruption, as the glass is heat and water resistant, and unaffected by heat, chemicals, radio waves, and other possible corruption sources.

Click here to read more about how Hitachi glass works.

Tiny Hard Drive

Scientists have found a way to store data on a surprisingly small amount of space – 12 atoms. This doesn’t seem so small, until you realize that current hard drives use more than a million atoms to store a bit, and more than half a billion atoms to store a byte of information.

By storing data with a new unconventional form of magnetism called antiferromagnetism, scientists are now able to store data in a space that is drastically smaller than current conventional methods.

To read more about this new magnetism technique, click here.

Our DNA

However, scientists are actively working on storing data in the most surprising place, in something we always carry with us – our DNA.

In early 2013, Harvard scientists announced they found a way to use our DNA as a digital storage device, allowing them to store up to 700 terabytes of data in just one gram of our DNA.

So far they’ve been able to store

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an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a photograph of a double helix strand of DNA, and Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. And, not only were they able to store the data, but they were able to retrieve it with 99.9% accuracy.

To read more about storing data on DNA, check out these articles:

Harvard’s Discovery of Storing Data in DNA

Storing Data on DNA

And these are just a few of the surprising small spaces that scientists are creating for data storage.

What are your thoughts about these changes? Fascinating? Or a sci-fi tragedy waiting to happen?


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you learn about surprising changes in technology. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

How Your Technology Company Can Help You Fix Inefficient Processes That Are Killing Office Productivity

Simplify

Image Credit: Paul L. Dineen

Process and procedure is an important part of any business. It is part of what helps ensure continuity of work and consistency of product. But what happens when the process you thought was helping you is actually hindering your business?

Typically, when someone creates a process, they set it up based upon what they think is the best way to perform the work. The problem is that unless that person thoroughly understands the technology involved, the outcome is usually more muddled and complicated than it needs to be.

And when a process is overcomplicated, it tends to drain productivity. Suddenly, the time you had to perform a bunch of tasks is reduced down to only enough to perform one task, and productivity goes out the window (through no fault of your employees).

While it may seem out of the norm and counter intuitive, having your technology company review your existing processes, particularly the ones that rely on computer systems and other devices to be accomplished, can ultimately save your business time and money.

Here are some examples of how your technology company could help you sort out complicated procedures.

Example 1

Your CRM software allows you to print forms and contracts, but not save them to the server. When your employee needs a customer to complete a form, they must print the form, then take it to the only scanner in the office, which happens to be in your office. Once the document is scanned, they must interrupt you to have you move the file from the folder on your computer, to a place where they can access it from their computer. Then, they must go back to their desk, locate the scanned item, move it to the customer’s folder, and forward it via email to the customer.

If your technology company reviewed this process, they would quickly discover that it could easily be condensed by adding PDF print drivers to the employee’s computer. Then, instead of printing and going to another room to scan, the employee could print form to PDF and save it right there on the computer without having to get anyone else involved, thus drastically reducing the time it takes to complete the process.

Example 2

Part of your process involves signing off on bills before your employee can pay them. The problem is, you’re often out of the office. So, to get your consent, your employee gathers the invoices and scans them and prints a copy for you to review during the day when you have time between appointments. Once you return to the office in the evening, you leave the stack of invoices with your notes on their desk for processing the next day.

If your technology company reviewed this process, they might recommend you take advantage of your existing Remote Web Workplace setup, and connect to the office via your laptop to review invoices, rather than bringing physical copies with you.

Additionally, they would help you setup a PDF stamp with your initials or signature, so that you could digitally sign off on the invoices. Once you are done with your review, you would simply have to send an email to your employee letting them know they can begin their process, allowing them to start their work the same day you reviewed the invoices.

These are just a few examples of how your technology company can help you think outside the box when it comes to processes.

So the next time you feel like you are going about something the hard way, or if you feel like your technology just isn’t working for you the way it should be, give us a call. We can help you find easy solutions to put in place to save you a lot of time and hassle, making your office more productive in the long run.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you simplify processes so that you have happier, more productive employees. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.