Saturday, February 21, 2009

Routine tech tips everyone should know.

A great set of tips for common problems! Here are my personal favorites from Boutin’s article

Basics - Low-Tech Fixes for High-Tech Problems - PAUL BOUTIN -

Cellphone Losing Charge

If your cellphone loses its battery charge too quickly while idle in your pocket, part of the problem may be that your pocket is too warm…

… To keep the phone cooler, carry it in your purse or on your belt.

This same method can be used to preserve your battery should you find yourself away from home without your charger. Turn off the phone and put it in the hotel refrigerator overnight to slow the battery’s natural tendency to lose its charge…

Remote Car Key

Suppose your remote car door opener does not have the range to reach your car across the parking lot. Hold the metal key part of your key fob against your chin, then push the unlock button. The trick turns your head into an antenna, says Tim Pozar, a Silicon Valley radio engineer.

Mr. Pozar explains, “You are capacitively coupling the fob to your head. With all the fluids in your head it ends up being a nice conductor. Not a great one, but it works.” Using your head can extend the key’s wireless range by a few car lengths. 

Cellphone in the Toilet

It could happen to anyone: you dropped your cellphone in the toilet. Take the battery out immediately, to prevent electrical short circuits from frying your phone’s fragile internals. Then, wipe the phone gently with a towel, and shove it into a jar full of uncooked rice

… It is a low-tech version of the “Do Not Eat” desiccant packets that may have been packed in the box the phone came in, to keep moisture away from the circuitry during shipping and storage.

Longer Wi-Fi Reach

If your home Wi-Fi router doesn’t reach the other end of the house, don’t rush out to buy more wireless gear to stretch your network. Instead, build a six-inch-high passive radio wave reflector from kitchen items, like an aluminum cookie sheet.

Follow the instructions at Place the completed reflector — a small, curved piece of metal that reflects radio waves just like a satellite TV dish — behind your Wi-Fi router..

Dirty Discs

You need to clean a skipping DVD or CD, but as a bachelor you don’t have any sissy cleaning fluids? Soak a washcloth with vodka or mouthwash.

Alcohol is a powerful solvent, perfectly capable of dissolving fingerprints and grime on the surface of a disc. A $5 bottle of Listerine in your medicine cabinet may do the job as effectively as a $75 bottle of DVD cleaning fluid…

Too Much Flash

If your cellphone’s built-in camera flash is much too bright, washing out photos, tape a small piece of paper over the flash

Crashed Hard Drive

If — no, make that when — your PC’s hard drive crashes and can’t be read, don’t be too quick to throw it out. Stick it in the freezer overnight.

“The trick is a real and proven, albeit last resort, recovery technique for some kinds of otherwise-fatal hard-drive problems,” writes Fred Langa on his Windows Secrets Web site. Many hard drive failures are caused by worn parts that no longer align properly, making it impossible to read data from the drive. Lowering the drive’s temperature causes its metal and plastic internals to contract ever so slightly. Taking the drive out of the freezer, and returning it to room temperature can cause those parts to expand again.

That may help free up binding parts, Mr. Langa explains, or at least let a failing electrical component remain within specs long enough for you to recover your essential data…

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