Brian's Scrounging Tips
Please don't regard this as a flame (although it may sound like one).
TRUISMS AND GENERAL COMMENTS ON SCROUNGING:
- If it looks too good to be true, it is probably much less good than it
- Unless someone's taken a hammer to it or something, you can't tell if a
device is functional by visual inspection.
- Be prepared for frustration. I try to keep a six-pack handy for such
circumstances. Music helps.
- DUST, HEAT, and STATIC ELECTRICITY are the biggest enemies of electronic
- Parts with configuration jumpers and without manuals are probably
worthless. When scrounging, try to find manuals for the things you get even if you don't know the first damn thing about what they are trying to say.
Whoever you con into helping you may be able to decipher them.
They may flat out refuse to help if you don't have them. Remember, they
have lives too.
- I've worked with people who throw manuals in the trash.
There's a special place for them in the afterlife. I hear it's very HOT
- Scrounging cheap computer stuff is a never ending task.
Don't stop when you've got the first parts to make a complete system.
- You may find that some of the things you acquire for free are broken. This is good! You can then take them apart and learn something with a clear conscience. You may even see some simple mechanical defect that you can fix! The platters of old hard disks make nifty Christmas ornaments.
- I have about the same regard for $25 keyboards as you have for $9 mice.
I like keyboards that have a click you can feel rather than the mushy
That way I KNOW when I've miskeyed something before I even look at the
ON KEYBOARD ENVIRONMENTS:
- Keep the "expletive deleted" staples and paper clips away from your computer. They are alive and will leap into the worst possible place. Invariably, this will happen just before the most important deadline of your carreer, and no substitute keyboard will be available for any
amount of money in time for you to meet that deadline.
Coffee and soda are also particularly notorious for the same reasons.
ON MOUSE CLEANING:
- I would only recommend using alchohol on the rollers that the mouse ball
turns. I just wash the mouse ball itself with tap water. Rubbing
alchohol will eventually make the soft sticky rubber mouse ball hard and
slippery. Back in the days of typewriters, (remember those?) people
that used rubbing alchohol to clean ink off the rubber platen roller
found out about this. I also remember similar cautions from the
Diskwasher folks about alchohol leaching out the
lubricant/softener/plastisizer of vinyl records.
My personal experience has been that lumps of gunk on the little
rollers, or animal fur wrapped around their axles is more of a problem
than contamination of the ball.
- Here's a note to those people that are in the habit of using hand lotion
several times a day. It's GREASE. The residue is left on everything
touched afterwards. It combines with the dust on your desk to make
DIRTY GREASE. Guess what happens when you roll a mouse around on a
surface covered with FILTHY GREASE. As proof, just walk around a
typical work place, and note which desks have a bottle of hand lotion
there. Does the keyboard look grungy? Case closed. To really drive
the point home, use a mirror for a mouse pad for a day. If you see LOTS
of GREASY fingerprints, think about changing your habits or accepting
the fate of always having mouse problems and a slimy looking keyboard.
More stuff coming as I think of it,