When bad things happen to good gadgets

courtesy of Switched

courtesy of Switched

I had an iPod that I just loved once. It was pink and shiny and full of my favorite tunes. One day my little cousin decided to get into a water fight with my iPod in her pocket. She was dumped into a swimming pool and my iPod was never the same. You have probably been there. Sometimes, bad things happen to good gadgets.

I lost my wonderful iPod and had to replace it. According to Switch, a tragedy doesn’t have to be the end. Here is their story of quick fixes for gadget disasters.

1) How to Clean a Keyboard Spill:
The fix: First, lightly shake the keyboard to remove excess liquid. Then, leave it upside down overnight, or preferably, for 24 hours, to drain and dry. These two steps should solve a water spill, but, if the substance is sticky, like soda, then use a flathead screwdriver to pry off the letter keys. Next, using cotton swabs moistened with water, clean the sticky spots. If all else fails, try putting it in the dishwasher. This will void all warranties, so, again, try it only as a last resort before you go out and spend money on another one.

2) How to Save a Wet Cell Phone:
The fix: Remove the battery to prevent power from going through the circuit board, as this can result in a short circuit. Prepare a bowl of dried rice, place both components in the rice and leave them for 24 to 48 hours to dry. The rice will act as a desiccant, pulling the moisture out of the cell phone. Don’t shake the phone around, though, as you don’t want to spread water to previously dry places. Check out our video demonstration here.

3) Your Computer Gets a Virus:
The fix: To prevent infecting other computers on your network, turn off the network discovery function as well as file and printer sharing. Next, right click on your network icon and choose “disable,” or, if you own a Mac, just unplug the Ethernet cable in the back. Also, try running the latest updates for Windows or OS X. While this won’t eliminate the virus, it will neutralize it so it won’t continue to spread. Update your anti-virus software and run a full system scan to eliminate the intruding software. If you own a Mac, try out ClamXav to prevent Mac-specific malware.

As a last resort, since you may lose some files, reinstall your operating system (OS) with the installation disks that came with your computer. Another available route, if you can’t remove spyware from your computer with the normal virus removal tool, is to go into System Restore, turn it off, and then run the virus scan. Sometimes files can get embedded in the restore point, so, if you turn it off, you can remove the virus. Be sure to turn it back on once the virus is removed.For a full run-down of these and more steps you can try, check out our tips on what to do if you get a virus.

4) Computer Won’t Turn on After a Storm:
The fix: One good quick fix, if your computer won’t turn on after a storm, is to unplug not only the power cable, but also your keyboard, especially if it’s not a USB-connected keyboard. The keyboard actually holds a small charge, so try unplugging both and hopefully your computer will reboot.

5) How to Unfreeze a Frozen Garage Door:
The fix: In cold weather, a garage door opening mechanism will typically harden, which will result in a loss of power. Most garage door openers that were manufactured in the last 15 years will have pressure adjustments with which you can raise and lower the door. To prevent getting stuck in your garage, and poisoning yourself with carbon monoxide, regularly check the settings and adjust them accordingly.

6) DVD or CD Won’t Play:
The fix: Try wiping the disc with a vodka- or mouthwash-soaked cloth. Alcohol, which acts as a powerful solvent, will easily remove fingerprints and grime from a disc. A bottle of alcohol-based mouthwash may do the job as effectively as an expensive bottle of DVD-cleaning fluid, for a fraction of the price. Swabbing a CD with Stoli will work just as well as a disc-washer kit.

If all else fails, or you don’t feel like wasting perfectly good liquor, the hippie guy down the hall in our dorm used to swear by the toilet method. Place the CD or DVD upside down at the bottom of the bowl, then flush, producing a mini-cyclone which will swirl through the hole in the disk. (Flush the toilet, first, of course). This method has not been independently verified for obvious reasons. Another, unverified last resort is to try boiling a DVD or CD-ROM that won’t play at all.

7) Crashed Hard Drive:
The fix: Before you toss the hard drive out, give this method a shot and at least try and save some of your files. Place the hard drive in a zip lock bag (to prevent moisture from accumulating), put it in your freezer, and leave it overnight. This may help to free up binding parts. As hard drives age, or are moved around, some internal pieces can become dislodged and unaligned, making the drive unreadable. Freezing the hard drive will force the pieces to contract and, hopefully, realign long enough to salvage your data. Another PC tip, courtesy of one of our learned readers, is, if your PC overheats, to try vacuuming the inside.

8) Failing Xbox 360
The fix: First, try the ol’ catch-all; turn it off and then back on again. If that doesn’t work, try wrapping a towel around your ailing Xbox 360. Once it’s covered, turn the console on and let it run for 10 minutes. Turn it off, unwrap the towel, and then turn the power back on. This is not an ultimate solution but should serve to be a temporary remedy, as it hopefully will restore your Xbox for at least a few hours, or possibly even a few days. How could this possibly work, you might ask? Either it’s a motherboard/GPU issue and the heating/cool-down resets it, or it’s magic.

9) Lost Stylus to PDA or Smartphone
The fix: It’s definitely not hard to lose track of your tiny stylus, so here are few possible replacement candidates. Try using a toothpick, or a plastic mechanical pencil. Leave the lead retracted, so you’re only using the plastic tip of the pencil. If you haven’t actually lost all of your styli yet, and don’t feel like shelling out 50 bucks to get a fancy stylus pen, you can make your own. The guys over at 88 bytes kindly give you a step-by-step how-to right here.

10) Wi-Fi Not Working
The fix: Can’t access your wireless network from any point in the house or office? In true ‘MacGyver‘ fashion, try building your own reflector — like a satellite dish — to concentrate the device’s energy in one direction. This method will expand the range of your Wi-Fi by directing it where you need it, rather than sending the signal out in a circular pattern. Check out freeantennas.com to get detailed instructions.

11) Ejecting a CD That’s Stuck in the CD Player
The fix: Your first plan of attack should be to locate the small hole, or tiny black button, on the front of the player (it may be behind a faceplate). Press the button with a toothpick or straightened paper clip. If the disk doesn’t eject, try to gently pry it out. Wrap a thin knife, like a nail file, with double-sided tape. Place a small piece of paper on one side of the knife, and then carefully insert the knife, sticky side down, into the player. Try to get the stuck CD to adhere to the tape, and then slowly pull it out. This method was originally intended for car stereos but could possibly work for your home devices as well.

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