Jewish World Review May 21, 2003 / 19 Iyar, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Bad PC hygiene leads to bugs | If you are looking for another reason to hate your computer -- and who isn't? -- you will be happy to know that those ugly beige boxes attract bugs.

And, no, I'm not speaking of the perfidious little digital bugs that disguise themselves as innocent electrons and creep silently along the maze of cables behind your computer only to appear just as you're finishing the last sentence of a 30,000-word treatise to say, "WARNING! You have performed an illegal operation! Several large goons armed with truncheons will soon appear at your door to pound you into paste and steal your golf clubs! But that is not the real bad news! The real bad news is that your computer is not only going to cease functioning, it is going to send everything you've been working on for the past month into digital purgatory where it will never be seen or heard from again! Have a nice day!"

I'm talking about your common, ordinary tool-shed type of bug, the kind of bug that in Florida, at least, is often confused with a penny loafer or a small breed of spaniel, aka the cockroach.

According to the 2002 Dust-Off Survey of PC Hygiene (you do have the full report on your nightstand, don't you?), computer technicians found that nearly 70 percent of home computer failures is due to poor PC hygiene, which in turn attracts bugs. (The other 30 percent of home computer failures is due to owners wrapping a stout chain around their machines and using them as boat anchors.)

ABC News quoted Joseph Wise, an independent computer consultant who's seen things too awful to describe. Oh, what the heck. Let's have him describe them anyway.

"It was so gross to see," said Wise of one computer he was called upon to fix. "You know, these dead roaches, live roaches, roach eggs cat urine on the motherboard, that was disgusting."

All of which raises some interesting questions, such as:

1) What did this guy do? Stuff a meatball sub into his computer?

2) Did the sub come with cheese or without?

3) Should you get counseling if you hate your motherboard?

4) Do Apple computers harbor a better class of bug than regular PCs?

5) Which do you think would make a better pet, a roach or a cat?

Wise said the problems arise when people eat while working at the computer. Potato chip flakes, cookie crumbs, oversize deli sandwiches -- all sift into the keyboard to become a buffet for bugs. But once the bugs are there, how do you get rid of them? Oddly enough, spraying your computer with an inch-thick layer of Raid was not one of the recommended options. A better idea, say the experts, is to put a roach trap on your computer. The roaches (theoretically) feed on the bait and die.

While I personally think a Roach Motel atop my PC would add some much-needed class to my office, I'm more excited about the second bug-killing method, which involves smothering.

Wrap the infested component or components of your computer in plastic and set it outside in the sun for awhile. If the internal temperature gets to 120 degrees or more and you hold it for 30 minutes, the bugs will (theoretically) die. Either that or they will become extremely annoyed and snip your limbs off one by one with their razor-sharp pincers.

I like the idea of setting my computer out on my front lawn, preferably atop a fire-ant mound, and watching the hot Florida sun slowly turn its cursed internal components into a puddle of goo flecked with smoking insect parts. That would be an illegal operation I'd love to perform.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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