Computer acting up? Backhand it with an anti-static wrist strap

It’s Sunday, which God reserved for rest, reflection and — I’m pretty it’s in the Book of… something — “Sunday Flashbacks on Ned’s Blog.” The fact that I am still typing proves He has a sense of humor. Or is quite possibly reading someone else’s blog. Either way, I’ll take it as an affirmation to reach back into the archives, to a time before Creation — at least in terms of this blog — when he looked upon what had been made and said in a mighty voice, “Meh.

Today’s post is a column from 2004, when I was having some computer issues on a regular basis. On an unrelated note, I also got my gun permit about that time…

As a last resort, you may chose to place you computer on top of a trash receptacle and threaten it at gunpoint. Remember: Threatening the monitor is a waste of time. (And yes — sadly, this is a current photo of my computer system)
Today, we will be covering basic troubleshooting techniques for your computer. By the end of this column, you will know how to identify a problem within your system, and then determine whether you can:

a) Fix it yourself, or

b) Save yourself the trouble by taking your computer somewhere and shooting it.

To begin with, most of us have absolutely no idea how a computer works. This is illustrated by the fact that, when there’s a problem, we get really mad and yell at the monitor. This is sort of like yelling at the refrigerator because the container we thought was “Cool Whip” actually turned out to be refried beans left over from last year’s Cinco De Mayo party.

The fact is, refrigerators and computer monitors are just boxes filled with stuff coming from somewhere else; over time, improper maintenance can result in something that really stinks.

One of the reasons we know so little about computers is because they keep making them easier and easier to use. This in turn makes them harder and harder to understand because, as technology makes things smaller and smaller, there’s less and less actual STUFF inside. Right now, you can still look in and see a few wires and some solder melted onto a plastic motherboard, which makes it possible to at least PRETEND you understand what’s going on:

You see! If I take a piece of aluminum foil and touch this part to that shiny blob over there I can AAAAAGH!

At the current rate of technology, that’s all going to change as ever-increasing macro technology scales down the internal components of personal computers to little more than a $5 coupon for Windows 14. This means we need to take better care of our current computers so that we can pretend to understand them for as long as possible. It does not require being able to tear apart and reassemble your entire PC system. In fact, a recent study conducted by Falcon Safety Products, Inc., showed that 70 percent of computer malfunctions are simply caused by …

You guessed it: People shooting their computers.

Ok. Actually, according to a nationwide survey of 1,300 computer technicians, most computer malfunctions were caused by things like food, dead rodents, cockroach nests and, in the case of one Pittsburg, Calif., technician, “a stash of marijuana” that mostly effected the computer’s memory.

This brings us to how to clean your computer. You will need an antistatic wrist strap, a can of compressed air and, if at all possible, a drug-sniffing dog.

Once you have these items, you can remove the housing from your computer and use your antistatic wrist strap to begin cleaning. Depending on what you find inside, you can utilize the alligator clip attached to the wrist strap as either 1) a conductor to keep static electricity from discharging into the sensitive internal circuitry of your computer, or 2) a way to keep from burning your fingers.

Once this phase of cleaning has been completed, use the can of compressed air to blow out particles in some of those hard-to-get-to places — such as the nostrils of a drug-sniffing dog.

Repeat this process at least twice a year or, depending on your situation, as often as you’d like for the next 3 to 5 years.

By then, of course, it will be time to get a new computer.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. You can write to him at, or Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence OR. 97439)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

24 thoughts on “Computer acting up? Backhand it with an anti-static wrist strap”

      1. …is that like a theresa caputo effect…

        my grandma always said never be scared of the dead. be petrified of the living.

        ….ned, can you tell me if i have the winning lotto for tomorrow…(psst, ill share)

              1. If you haven’t heard from me by next Monday, I bought another ticket, boarded a plane to NY and I’m seeking Caputos advice.

                Say, btw…you should check out Rachel Maddow. She was in my backyard Friday night. Literally. She did her show here.

                Stupid NC. BUT hey, she pulled up enough stupidity to make us look even dumber. Ha!

              2. OH. MY. GA-ODDD. HELL-O
                No lie…I jsut got an email…i cant breathe….

                so help me…it says…Microsoft Lottery…winner alert.
                I aint lying…if I werent so superstitious…of a virus…and I mean a deadly one…I swear ….I would SO OPEN it….

                im sorry ned….DELETE. i can already tell you, no lotto tomorrow.

                1. I woke up this morning with a postnomition that you would receive a winning lottery notification from Microsoft that, upon opening it, causes a cold sore. DO NOT OPEN under any circumstances. And by that I mean the email.

  1. i have used my anti-static shoe to repair my cable television in the past, toss while yelling something. is this a similar approach? please advise.

  2. Actually, I prefer to click the mouse an uncountable number of times in mere seconds. If that doesn’t work, I press and hold the power button until the unit shuts down. If I’m still frustrated, I’ll hit the bars for a series of nightcaps and lamentations among my fellows, none of whom can even understand what I am crying about.

    In the days before really integrated circuits (haha) I carried a small hammer in my technician’s tool bag. It was for calibration.

    The best tool I ever had for restoring errant electronics. Even worked on Apple 2 and early PC units.

    1. Lol! I’d say the best way to describe my attempts to fix my computer as something resembling a monkey trying to open a Super Ball. Pounding, throwing my handds in the air and high-pitched whining. Hopefully, we’ll end up in the same bar some day so each of us will have a sympathetic ear.


  3. I just stick my laptop over a trashcan and bang on it until there is nothing left to drift out. Beats getting a qtip and dusting the crevasses. Is there any other way?

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