July 2011 Laptops

Dear All,

Hi! It’s your friendly local neighbourhood all-things-PC fixer. I hope your PC(s) and/or Laptop(s), Wireless and Wired Networks, Websites and the like are all working well!

I have seen a fair number of clients of late who are having problems with laptops, and every time that I found myself pointing out some simple do’s and don’ts, I thought that I should put them in a mailshot which may well save a lot of you some time and money. I have finally taken the time to do the first of these and I hope it is of use to those of you with laptops, and not too late!

But first a quick word for those of you who might be about to change your Internet Service Provider, or mobile phone, or buy almost anything online – the word is CashBack. Whoever you are thinking of signing up with, key their name into a CashBack site and see what you can get back by clicking ONE link before you then buy. Really! Sky for example are giving up to £146.45, O2 are giving up to £121.20, Orange and Virgin over £150! This is just money that they would give to someone else for referring the business to them, but CashBack sites give you this money instead, and it isn’t just Broadband, it applies to just about anything you can buy online. Tesco does it, Argos does it, loads of companies that you may buy from – even groceries – so why don’t you have the referral commission rather than let them they keep it or give it to someone else? Register with the Cashback site, then before you buy anything, go there first and key in the company name you want to buy from – or the product you want to buy – and they may just have a link to that site or product, and you then just buy as normal but get some money back. You really have nothing to lose. Here’s a link to get you started, or look on the Compulogix web site Links page. Two weeks ago I got £50.50 back from signing up with the AA!

Secondly, a number of you have been asking me about these electronic cigarettes I use. There’s a link to where I get them from on my Links page too but more importantly, if you are buying from them, enter the discount code “Compulogix” and you will get 10% off – For those of you who are interested, I use what they call the eGo-T, and whilst making absolutely no effort to stop smoking (as far as I am concerned I haven’t stopped smoking!) I now smoke on average less than one cigarette a day! Why the occasional one? Simple, it just means I don’t put any pressure on myself at all by saying I have stopped smoking! But I may well go 2 or 3 days without one! I am quite sure I could actually give that last one up anytime if I felt the need, because it’s not as nice as the E-Cig anyway. I suspect that in a while I will just find that I haven’t ‘smoked’ for a week or two and that will be it. The link to the site is here if you want it.

OK enough! – on to laptops and for that matter netbooks!

Laptops are now outselling the traditional towers/desktop PC’s, and are great when they are working well, here’s the single biggest tip I have for keeping them that way.

Always place your laptop on a flat stiff surface.

It’s that simple!

One big problem with using a laptop on a soft surface like beds or settees – even on your lap – is that the air intakes can be easily blocked, causing the laptop’s internals to overheat. In the worst cases an overheated laptop can even become a write-off. Help avoid overheating by always using your laptop on a flat tray or a board, without a high raised ridge round it, like one of these padded trays for eating in front of the television. This allows air to circulate between the laptop and the tray and therefore always get to the places it needs to in order to cool the insides.

Another really good reason to work on a tray is that external connections that stick out of a laptop are weak points where stress can cause serious damage. For example, the point where the charger enters the laptop is very easily stressed when the laptop is put down on a softer surface like a bed or a settee. Stressing of the connection can easily lead to a break inside the laptop. This can be an expensive repair as frequently the laptop has to be all but dismantled to get at the point where it needs to be cleaned and re-soldered. This is not usually a job for a hobbyist, but a keen hobbyist might not realise it until the laptop is in many pieces and becomes difficult to put back together again. This is usually one for the experts.

Other connectors are just as likely to cause damage if stressed, typically USB connectors are quite robust, and applying stress to these can break the USB sockets themselves rather than the plugs.

And one other good reason for using a tray is that you can help avoid broken screens, because the temptation to pick it up by the screen is largely taken away.

Of course the other sensible thing you can do is to keep up to date with your regular maintenance as outlined in an earlier email – which are by the way, now available on the website (as I have just broken off this to include a link to them – I’ve called them Newsletters) in case you want to read one of them again.

Thanks for your time; I hope some of you found some of it useful, I’ll put more into the next email. Meanwhile if your PC / Network / Internet / Email or whatever isn’t running smoothly at the moment, my number is below, or if you want to ask the odd question or have any suggestions for a topic for another email or you are finding something particularly frustrating / problematic on the computer front, why not send me an email.