Spring Cleaning Your Computer

Spring officially arrives next week. But temps are already spring-like. That prompted us to remind you to Spring Clean Your Computer. This is a post we originally published in 2005. but it's advice rings true today:

You regularly clean and maintain your car, right? Changing the oil, rotating the tires, checking the belts (You DO do that, don’t you?). You even wash it on occasion!  But most of us depend as much if not more on our computers for our livelihood than our cars. And I bet you never, ever, gave a thought to cleaning your computer!

This article will walk you through the steps to clean the outside of your computer including: monitor, ‘box’, keyboard and mouse.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO CLEAN YOUR COMPUTER?
Your working environment determines the needed frequency for cleaning your computer. Here’s a general rule:

Clean your computer every 2-6 months. Here’s a rough definition for the 2 extreme work environments. Most of you will find your work environment falls somewhere in this range.

  • Every 2 months - You smoke, have pets around or work in a factory environment.
  • Every 5 Months – You don’t smoke, don’t have pets in your office, you’re the sole user and you work in a standard office building setting.
  • Eating and drinking around your computer: We all do it. It’s not a good habit. Here’s why: Food in Keyboard or Mouse: VERY bad. Liquid in keyboards? VERY, VERY bad.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Always turn off your computer first.
  • When using a vacuum to suck up dirt, dust, or hair be cautious not to suck up any removable parts.
  • Never spray or squirt any type of liquid onto any computer component. If a spray is needed spray the liquid onto a cloth and then use that cloth to rub down the component.
  • Check your allergies. Check your allergies first before using any cleaning solvents.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

You can go to any computer store and purchase expensive cleaning kits, but most people have the basic cleaning tools around their house or office.

  • Cloth - A lint-free cloth is the best tool used when rubbing down a component.
  • Water or rubbing alcohol - When moistening a cloth it is best to use water or rubbing alcohol. Other solvents may be bad for the plastics.
  • Vacuum - Sucking the dust, dirt, hair, cigarette particles, and other particles out of a computer can be one of the best methods of cleaning a computer. Over time these items can restrict the airflow in a computer and cause circuitry to corrode.
  • Cotton swabs - Cotton swaps moistened with rubbing alcohol or water are excellent tools for wiping hard to reach areas in your keyboard, mouse, and other locations.
  • Can of Compressed Air – These can be obtained from any computer store and a lot of the major chain retail stores.

So let’s get started.

First, we will clean the CASE.
The plastic case that houses the PC components can be cleaned with a lint free cloth that has been slightly dampened with water. For stubborn stains, add a little household detergent to the cloth. It is recommended that you never use a solvent cleaner on plastics. Next, make sure all vents and air holes are free of hair and lint by rubbing a cloth over the holes and vents. It is also helpful to take a vacuum around each of the hole, vents, and crevices on the computer.

Now for the MONITOR.
The monitor screen can be cleaned with ordinary household glass cleaner. I use the Windex Wipes. Be sure to remove power from the monitor and spray the cleaner onto a lint free cloth so the fluid doesn't leak into the electrical components inside the monitor. Vacuum off any dust that has settled on top of the monitor, and make sure no books or papers have been placed on the air vents. Obstructed monitor vents can cause the monitor to overheat or even catch on fire.

MOUSE.
To clean the rollers of a mouse you must first remove the bottom cover of the mouse. To do this, examine the bottom of the mouse to see which direction the mouse cover should be rotated. Place two fingers on the mouse cover and push the direction of the arrows.

Once the cover has rotated about an inch, covering the bottom of the mouse with one hand, turn the over mouse to its normal position and the bottom should fall off including the mouse ball. If this does not occur attempt to shake the mouse gently.

Once the bottom cover and the ball are removed you should be able to see three rollers located within the mouse. Use a cotton swab, your finger, and/or fingernail and move in a horizontal direction of the rollers. Usually there will be a small line of hair and or dirt in the middle of the roller, remove this dirt and or hair as much as possible. Next, dampen a lint-free cloth with alcohol and scrub the mouse ball.

Once you have removed as much dirt and hair as possible place the ball back within the mouse and place the cover back on. Use a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol or warm water and rubs the surface of the mouse and each of its buttons.

KEYBOARD
Many people clean the keyboard by turning it upside down and shaking. A more effective method is to use compressed air. Compressed air is pressurized air contained in a can with a very long nozzle. Simply aim the air between the keys and blow away all of the dust and debris that has gathered there. A vacuum cleaner can also be used, but make sure the keyboard doesn't have loose”pop off" keys that could possibly be sucked up by the vacuum. If you need to clean between the keys, dampen a cotton swab with alcohol and use it to clean the area between the keys. Use a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol or warm water and rubs the surface of the keys to remove any dirt there.

So that covers the external parts of your computer. Next month we will cover cleaning the internal part. That’s where it gets VERY exciting.

Feel free to call me if you have any questions:

Dana White, IT Guy Extraordinaire

641-470-1640, ext. 17

dana@conferencecallsunlimited.com

Disclaimer: We can't guarantee any of these suggestions will work or that they won't have negative impact on your ability to use your computer. They work for us. We use them. But we don't know your computer requirements or what equipment you use right now,  or if you pay close attention and read all the instructions,  or if you won't be distracted by a colleague or customer at a critical moment. You could be consuming alcohol or illegal drugs or have a great big spat with your spouse and so want to use this advice we share with you here as an excuse to create havoc for your company and ours. That's outside our realm of influence. But we do assume all of our customers will appreciate some advice from someone who shares their dependency on computers. And in that light, we offer these tips. Hope they help.

March 15, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3)

Online Backup: MOZY Replies

Almost immediately after posting our review of Online Backup Services, I was contacted by Devin Knighton, Manager of Public Relations for Berkely Data Systems - MOZY.  I say 'almost immediately'. It was certainly within the hour of the post being published. Hats off to Devin and his crew at MOZY for being on top of the conversation. Devin offered this reply below which I publish with his permission:

Zane,

Thanks for taking time to test Mozy and include it in your blog. I’m sure you are busy, so making time to test Mozy for yourself and blog about is much appreciated.

However, I want to clear up a couple of misunderstandings...

First, no backup service will work when your computer hibernates. That said, Mozy does make the backup process easy and seamless because it offers incremental backups at the file level, a throttling feature that keeps the service from bogging down your system, and open/lock file support that allows you to run successful backups without shutting down any programs.

Second, Mozy does offer excellent customer support. But it’s tiered to the level of service you choose. Mozy Free offers e-mail support with a 24 hour turnaround. Mozy Unlimited offers real time support via live chat during regular business hours. And the new MozyPro designed for businesses (www.mozypro.com) offers 24/7 phone support. Since you’re a business, I suggest you consider trying out the new MozyPro[We'll do this in April, Devin. Perhaps a complimentary trial...?]

Again, thanks for thinking of us. Please contact me directly if you have any other questions.

Best regards,
___________________________________

Devin Knighton
Manager of Public Relations
Berkeley Data Systems - Mozy

devin@mozy.com| cell: 801-722-8187

774 East  Utah Valley Drive
American Fork, Ut  84003

Fax: 801-756-2576

www.mozy.com

Gotta love this for a couple of reasons: 1) a company staying on top of what's being said about them in the blogosphere, on the 'net; 2) an articulate, concise response to a customer's feedback which they are willing to share publicly.  That says a lot about a company and their treatment towards their customers. Thanks, Devin.

March 2, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tips for Using Online Backups

When's the last time you backed up your data?

What would happen if your laptop/desktop crashed and your data was lost...? Probably too painful to even consider.

Now there are affordable, relatively easy-to-use resources that allow you the comfort of never having to worry again (or at least worry a lot less) about backing up your data, taking the time to do so and what happens if you lose your family photos not to mention your list of customer accounts and being able to retrieve your data remotely at any time.

These programs do not back up system files or application files. They back up data files such as spreadsheets and photos, word documents and image files like PDFs, etc.

We list some of them here.

ONES WE TESTED

* Carbonite - Tried. Carbonite is simple and fast to download. It seemed easy to use. It's inexpensive (under $5.00 a month) and can store up to 3+ Gigs of data. I noticed no impact on the performance of any processes running. However, others did notice their computer began to slow after downloading Carbonite. About 25% of us noticed that Outlook could either lock or close suddenly. That's peripherally related to Carbonite. That never happened prior to Carbonite; And it wouldn't happen with fewer applications running on the desktop or with more ram and chip power.

Their site is good, with a very useful and clear video tutorial. But, their response rate was slow from their help desk and offered canned responses. Granted some of our questions were answered on their FAQ page. But...what's the point of Customer Service if it only generates canned email responses? They're adding staff to address this problem.

* Mozy  Tried. Mozy is very similar to Carbonite from our experience. Price is similar. Ease of download and use is comparable. What lost our account were 2 things: 1) Mozy doesn't perform when your computer hibernates. That means it only runs when you're using it. It won't run at night when you're hopefully away from your desk. 2) Their online helpdesk, with live chat, wasn't available on the weekends. It seemed that not only does Mozy, the service, not work when you're away from your desk but Mozy the company doesn't work either.

ONE WE LOOKED CLOSELY AT

* SOSOnlineBackup We looked closely at this resource. It seemed more oriented towards corporate users. And it was priced accordingly.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

John Jantsch recommended these in a recent newsletter. We've tried none. We'll try them in the coming weeks and let you know our experiences.

* DropSend

* Xdrive

* Box.net

Back up your data. If you're good with routine and the implied discipline, then you can look to manually back your data up on a regular basis to another media and store that offsite. If you're not, if you have less than 3 Gigs, if you can manage the processes running on your desk, and if you want  the peace of mind knowing that your data is being backed up, choose one of these.

March 1, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3)

Windows Vista? 10 reasons YES; 5 Reasons NO

Windows Vista operating system is available for download. If you're like us then you're wondering: should you or should you not download Vista as your operating system.

Here's an article that lists 10 Reasons to Buy Vista Now and 5 Reasons to Wait.

Despite the 2:1 ratio, we're waiting. But that's us. We only want to help you make an educated decision.

Update: the readers at Small Business Connection, USAToday's blog on small business, nearly unanimously say...NO. Read all of their thoughts at Reader: 'Burning question' is, why Vista?

February 12, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your Emails Aren't Being Delivered: Here's Why

Over 40% of all emails within your marketing campaign are not being delivered. You may not even be aware of this, as many ISPs will not send back a bounce message. In fact if you are sending messages to AOL customers, AOL is now blocking over 80% of the messages that come into their servers.

That paragraph starts the article My Emails Are Not Being Delivered. Black Lists and White Lists Explained. It follows with this:

One of the main reasons that this is occurring is that your IP or Domain may be Black Listed. All major ISP's and many corporate email systems now check against Black Lists and will refuse to deliver any emails that come from an IP that is Black Listed.

the article includes more details including links to sites where you can check your IP and Domains to make sure they're not blacklisted.

Then go one step farther. Get on the white lists for major ISPs including...AOL...

It is important for reputable marketers to work with the major ISP's such as AOL to ensure that you are on their white list. For most, it can be a lengthy process, but well worth your efforts.

We clearly aren't on AOL's white list. We see many bouncebacks to our newsletters sent to our customers with AOL addresses. To those of you who use AOL...we apologize. No one told us what AOL and other ISPs were up to. Now we know. We'll get it fixed.

October 5, 2006 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Protect Yourself Against SPAM!

SPAM!

Everyone gets it. No body wants it.

So what is Spam? According to Wikipedia, 

Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited, undesired bulk messages.

And according to Spam Filter Review, 40% of all emails are considered to be spam and a person can expect to receive 2,200 spam emails a year.

So how do I stop receiving Spam? There are things we can do and things we should not do. So let’s look at the things not to do first.

  1. Do not respond to the spammer. Even if the email address they were using is a legitimate address, it only let’s them know that your email address is a valid address which makes you susceptible to more spam.
  2. Do not use your business email address to register on any web board or online service. Get a free email account at Yahoo, Hotmail or Google.
  3. Do not use the “Remove” feature on spam suspect emails. They just plain do not work. This just validates your email address and can increase the spam you get.

Things to do.

  1. Check with your internet service provider (ISP). See if they provide a Spam blocking service. Most of the ISP’s provide this service free of charge or have a most fee.
  2. Purchase a good spam filter software. McAfee’s SpamKiller or Cloudmark’s Desktop. There are many other good one’s available. These are just the two I have used.
  3. File a complaint with the spammer’s provider. Spam Abuse.net has a good article on how to accomplish this.
  4. Report hate email or threatening email to your local law enforcement office.

For more information on Spam and its sources and resources to prevent its impact in your life, visit http://spam.abuse.net

* Dana White, our IT-Guy Extraordinaire crafted this post. It's the 2nd in an ongoing series of posts on Spam. The first was in June, titled 4 Tips to Protect Yourself Against Spam Email.

We'll keep offering solutions on this problem until the problem goes away. If nothing else it gives Dana, and your IT-Guys, solid job security!

September 21, 2006 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Web Conferencing Growing by 44%

According to Alok Shende, director, Frost & Sullivan, web conferencing services are expected to grow by over 44% compounded annually over the next few years. Drivers for this growth are the expanded broadband networks and the increasing costs and inconvenience of business travel.

We agree. Web conferencing services are poised for major growth.  We're ready to show you how easy and effective our web conferencing services  can be for your organization.  Give us a call: 877-227-0611, ext. 3.

September 19, 2005 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Profiles Wanted

Tell us about you. Tell us about your company. Tell us what your organization does that makes it so remarkable, unique, different, wonderful. Share your passion for what you do, your passion for your customers, your company, your mission. And if we, our service, helps you achieve those goals then share that, too. We're only human.

And we'll then share your personal stories here in your own words with all of our customers.   

Who knows, maybe we'll publish a book of our customers' passions in life, in the manner of TESTIFY: How Remarkable Organizations are Creating Customer Evangelists.

tomer

February 6, 2005 in Current Affairs, customer evangelism, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New Year means: new web address and new website design

It's a new year, so we thought we'd kick it off with:

* NEW web address/url in our name, Conference Calls Unlimited.

We waited patiently for nearly 7 years to acquire the domain under our name. Finally, without legal action or a ridiculous purchase price, we acquired the domain of www.conferencecallsunlimited.com.

Patience has its virtue. And our patience was rewarded by the original owner not responding when it was time to pay for another few years of domain ownership.

* New Content.

We redesigned our website towards a simpler, clearer, lighter and brighter, look.

You can compare with the old design here. 

Your opinion's vital for us to know. Something from a previous website design prompted you to contact us.  We don't want to stray from that goal.

Please let us know your thoughts by taking this survey. It's short: 4 questions, 2 are y/n, 1 is a multiple-choice and one question allows for an open-ended response, if you wish.

* Old domain remains active.

Old habits die hard, at least for me. So do email address books, bookmarks, business cards, letterhead, etc. So for the next 30-60-90 days, the old domain of www.uconference.com will remain active and will reflect the new content.

After that time, we'll redirect visitors to our new domain, Conference Calls Unlimited.com.

Thanks for your support and feedback.

January 3, 2005 in Current Affairs, customer evangelism, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We need a customers' expertise

We need a customer's expertise. We need an integrated billing/accounting/customer care software solution.

With your loyalty, we've grown to the point we need a more sophisticated CRM solution, that includes billing and accounting, than we have now.

What we have now is a workable solution using Filemaker Pro and QuickBooks Pro. These programs and the efficient, precise work of our sales agents and customer service, IT and billing department are what deliver the service you depend on.

We're happy and content with the somewhat klugy process with these two programs that involves lots of duplicate data-entry.

But at some point, this process will prove an impediment to delivering you the service quality, the accessability of our agents and staff, the prompt responses to your needs and you'll be disappointed. We want to avoid that. 

Who among you can offer a cost-effective solution to either integrate seamlessly the customer data in Filemaker with the Accounts Payable and Receivable/Payment Processing and Financial Reporting functions of QuickBooks Pro?

Or

Who among you can offer a separate, integrated solution for customer-care/service along with  Accounts Payable and Receivable/Payment Processing and Financial Reporting functions of QB Pro?

OFFICE ENVIRONMENT: Desktops are on Windows XP-Pro. Filemaker version is 6.0 served on Filemaker Server V 5.5.  Oh, and we're trainable. I only mention the Filemaker versions for perspective. We're not tied to either Filemaker or QB Pro.

Contact me if you have or know of a solution for the either/or options listed above.   We'll blog about you, regardless of your solution, and obviously the winner gets lots of space here to rave about your cost-effective solution.

December 20, 2004 in Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack