OK, so Santa gave you a new notebook or netbook for Christmas. Cute, eh.. It will not be cute for long if you don’t care for it properly.

Cleaning the outside case and the keyboard area.

Either buy a kit form your local computer store, or put together a kit of your own. You will require:

  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Distilled water. NEVER tap water
  • A lint free cloth
  • Compressed air

The Isopropyl Alcohol should be 1:1 with distilled water. Make the mixture up in a spray bottle which can be bought from hardware/dollar stores quite cheaply.

Always apply it to the cloth, NEVER straight onto any computer part, not even the outside case. You must be disciplined about this. Don’t scrub marks or dirt off. A light touch applied multiple times is a better approach.

When using compressed air, be careful not to blow key tops off. Some are easier to replace than others, and you may end up having to replace the entire keyboard.

Do NOT spray the cleaning solution into any aperture, not the fan outlets, ports etc. Use compressed air but don’t blast the insides. Gently always..

Using the computer

Always use it on a hard flat surface. It may be lap sized, but it should never be used directly on your lap, and not just because the underside can leave you with quite serious burns. It is important to keep the vents on the underside clear of all obstructions if you don’t want the computer to overheat and take out internal components. Surfaces to avoid:

  • Laps
  • Cushions
  • Carpet
  • Bed linin
  • Couches
  • Car seats

There are devices ranging between $20 and $110 available in stores, all of which will elevate the computer from any surface. Not all of them are suitable for lap use. Some are just cooling bases. Others have fans and speakers integrated into the design, and some of these are as heavy as a laptop. They are not going to be comfortable if too heavy or specifically designed only to keep a laptop cool.

The cheaper devices are in fact the best for use on laps, mainly because they are made from cheap material, are not heavy and are just very basic..

This one is good.. http://store.lapgear.com/techno/mobile 

The grey panels hold the rubber feet of the computer well without any tendency to slide, and the wrist pad at the front keeps a little distance between you and the keyboard.

There is another design, but you may not see it in stores.. http://store.lapgear.com/techno/traveler

This one has no wrist pad or the grey panels, but there are flip up stops which prevent the laptop from sliding off too easily. The really great aspect of these two items is that you will not feel like you have two laptops on your lap.

The downside is that, if like me, you have a larger than normal stomach and don’t have long legs, the whole show will not sit on your lap as securely as it might. The pad furthest away may sit uneasily on the edge of your knees.

Time to find a table or desk?  This is one reason for me using a desktop computer. If I have to sit at a desk, I may as well have something which is easy to use and see.. 

DC ports.. where the power goes in..

It doesn’t take too many tugs on the power cable to break the power port. Power outlets are never where you need them most, and trailing cables always manage to get caught on something. You most probably have found out already. So why not run your computer without mains power for a while? Charge it when it needs to be charged, overnight is good, maybe while you are out doing grocery shopping or other errands.

The whole point of a mobile computer is that you don’t have to be tied to a power outlet or desk. It will also give the battery some exercise. The worst is that replacing the power port is not cheap unless you can find the exact replacement and know how to get into the case without breaking more stuff. If you can’t do it yourself, you are looking at a $125 repair fee or more. Now do you see why it is a good idea to run without the power cable?

OK.. you have the basics according to Mike.. Happy computing..