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PC Hardware Annoyances by Stephen J. Bigelow

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MAINTENANCE ANNOYANCES

EASING A DIFFICULT DOCK

The Annoyance:

I really have to fiddle with my laptop to get it to dock properly.

The Fix:

Most notebook and laptop PCs provide a rear connection that fits to a compatible docking station or port expander. The connector uses a whole slew of very small contacts and, over time, dust and oils (such as skin moisturizer residue) can accumulate on these contacts.

Laptop makers suggest you clean the contacts with 90% (or better) isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. Isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol) cleans well and dries quickly without any residue. Clean the contacts on both the laptop and the docking station. Repeat the cleaning two or three times, let the contacts dry completely, then reconnect to the docking station.

SELECTING A RUGGEDIZED PC

The Annoyance:

I work with my laptop in construction areas, and I always bump my computer or spill something on it. Is there some way to protect this thing?

The Fix:

You really touched on a big dilemma for mobile PCs. How does a device intended for use in the field protect itself from the dangers and foibles of real life? Drops, smacks, and spills are just some of the dangers that await mobile computers on job sites and remote locations-and yet, most laptop, notebook, and tablet PCs are quite fragile. For hardcore Navy SEALS types, Panasonic offers a line of shock, spill, vibration, and dust-resistant Toughbook notebooks that endure MIL-STD-810F testing (the latest and greatest military standards). If you ...

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