By Peter Rooney
Welcome to a monthly column to help you turn your computer into a friend, brought to you by one of the oldest computer clubs in the world—right here in the West Village. We are the New York Amateur Computer Club, http://www.nyacc.org. Each month we’ll explore a technical topic, and attempt to answer your questions about computers.
Question of the day
“What do you do when you spill something on your keyboard?”
Best advice is: don’t let it happen. Don’t drink coffee at your computer.
But if it does happen, instantly turn off power and unplug the machine. Remove the battery if applicable. Dry the outside of your machine. Open it as far as it goes, hold it upside down, and wipe dry any wet surfaces that you see with a towel or other lint-free absorbent fabric. The type of liquid matters: water is the least corrosive, while sugary and alcoholic liquids are the most harmful. (In this regard, computers are just like people!)
Many computer stores, like Staples, offer the service of a special oven on-site to dry your hardware professionally. A home hair dryer can also be used.
Be patient. The computer will probably recover.
In the future, questions will hopefully be from you, our readers. And please remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Answers, perhaps, but we will try our best.
Topic: Learning about your Computer
You may have noticed— these days, few computers or software come with any kind of documentation. Software comes in an empty box. It seems people are expected to learn by trial-and-error. But if you want a more secure learning experience, there are many options:
- The New York Public Library (NYPL) offers many choices. First of all, naturally, there are books. Most branches are well stocked with titles such as “Windows 10 for Dummies” and “Windows 10 the Missing Manual.” Check them out.
- NYPL also offers many courses on computers, in a series called TechConnect. These courses help people of all ages develop confidence in their computer skills and grow more comfortable in today’s digital world. Courses range from “Basic Computer Skills” to one-on-one advice in a service called Technology Open Labs. To find out about these courses, go to www.nypl.org/events/classes or www.nypl.org/tech-connect.
- Senior Planet offers a range of free five and 10-week digital technology courses at its Exploration Center, for people age 60 and up. Most courses meet twice per week. Registration takes place on a quarterly basis in-person only at the center, located at 127 West 25th Street in Manhattan. Check out https://seniorplanet.org/senior-planet-nyc/current-classes/
- Try Computer Hope for learning at home. Since 1998 they have been an online help site for computer users. By now they have a huge collection of short, useful articles. You can even ask questions and participate in online forums. The address is https://www.computerhope.com/
- Go to YouTube.com if you need to assemble or connect computer components. You’ll find short (like 5-minute) videos showing the actual steps involved.
- At the New York Amateur Computer Club you can attend free monthly meetings. These take place at NYU in the Village (check the website nyacc.org for directions.) You can ask questions during our random access section and meet up with other computer users.
We hope these tips have helped to make your computer feel less intimidating. If you have questions for next month’s paper, send by mail to: PO Box 7844, JAF Station, New York NY 10116. Or go to www.NYACC.org, click on Contact Us, and start a message with the words “To Tech Tips.” We look forward to hearing from you.