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…You can fix a wet computer?

Water Computer

Eventually, it’s going to happen: You’re going to spill something on your laptop, or drop your phone in the toilet, and assume that it’s gone to the big gadget graveyard in the sky. However, if you plan ahead and know the steps to take to save your device from a watery grave, there is a chance that you can save it from an early demise, as I recently discovered.

First, let me tell you my story: There is nothing more relaxing than sitting down with a laptop and a nice big cup of hot chocolate and reading through a few long blog posts or catching up on the latest viral videos. Recently however, the computer gods were not smiling down upon me, and after setting a full cup of hot chocolate on the table, I proceeded to reach over and try to type something, catch the top of the glass with my hand, and watch in slow motion as the entire cup poured itself on top of my MacBook’s keyboard. Normally, this would mean the hasty death of an otherwise healthy computer, but with a bit of quick thinking and an emergency, MacGuyver style surgery, I was actually able to save (and in the process clean) the laptop to let it live another day.

Since laptop deaths via liquid destruction seem to be a common occurrence, I wanted to share my experience in hopes that it will someday save you from the same situation and save a laptop from an unplanned bath. (Though I’m writing this after saving a laptop, the steps should work equally well for a cell phone, camera, or any other device that occasionally finds its way into the toilet bowl.)

How to save a soaked gadget:

  1. Unplug the device and take out the battery IMMEDIATELY! – Liquids are not the enemy here, liquids and power are, since that’s what’s going to cause power spikes and short circuits, so be sure to remove any and all sources of power as soon as possible.
  2. Dry the outside of the device – The goal here is to remove any extra liquid that could get into the device once you start taking things apart. Since there will already be some liquid inside, the last thing you want to do is make things worse.
  3. Disassemble the device – Liquid can find its way into the smallest nooks and crannies, so you’ll want to take apart and remove as many pieces and parts as possible so that you can uncover any hidden areas of moisture. For a good source of disassembly (and more importantly, reassembly) guides, check out iFixIt.
  4. Dry the inside of the device – Start with any big areas of wetness, and work your way down into the nooks and crannies. The goal here is to just start drying things, and chances are, even if it doesn’t look wet, it is, so you’ll want to give everything at least one, and preferably multiple rounds of drying. In my case, I used paper towels and cotton swabs, but towels, t-shirts, and even napkins will work as long as they won’t fall apart and leave little pieces of lint/paper/garbage in the device.
  5. Wash what gets dirty – This may seem counter-intuitive, but as I said before, liquid isn’t the enemy here, liquids and power are, so it’s sometimes OK to wash some parts that get especially dirty once you’ve got everything disassembled. Of course you’ll want to be smart about this step, so don’t go sticking your hard drive or your motherboard under the faucet, but for components without a lot of electrical parts, a good wash can do wonders to bring them back to life. In my case, the keyboard had a sticky residue from the chocolate that made all the keys stick while typing, so I removed the keyboard and soaked it in a bath of warm water for about five minutes. When your done washing, you’ll want to dry the part as quickly as possible, since lingering liquids are what will cause rust and other problems down the road. A hair dryer turned to high speeds with low heat works well here for getting all of the liquid out of the small areas, but just do your best to get it as dry as possible as quickly as possible with whatever you have on hand.
  6. Wait – Even after you think everything is dry, there will more than likely be a few areas that are still wet that you didn’t get to, so you’ll want to wait at least 24 hours before putting the device back together to ensure that everything has had a chance to completely dry out. In my case, I put the laptop in front of a fan and let the fan run for a day, but if that’s not an option for you, just give it a little extra time in the open before putting it back together.
  7. Reassemble the device – Once everything is clean and dry, you just need to put it back together and see if all of your quick thinking and hard work has paid off. Typically everything is going to go back on in the reverse order of how it came off, but be sure to check back with your instructions for any details.
  8. Test the device – Cross your fingers, close your eyes, and press the power button. In the best-case scenario, the device will turn on immediately and act like nothing ever happened. In the worst-case scenario, the device will do nothing, and you’ll now have a very expensive paperweight on your hands. In that case, you can sometimes still save some of the parts for a last ditch effort, such as a laptop screen that you can swap onto a laptop from eBay with a broken screen, but other than that, you’ve now sacrificed a device to the water gods.

If you’re not willing or able to take your device apart due to lack of skills, tools or both, the next best bet is to remove any source of power (power plug and battery) and then just let the device sit for a few days before turning it on again. I’ve also heard of situations where people put their device in a container full of rice for a day or two and had that work, since the rice draws out the moisture, so you might want to try that as well. In any case, it’s at least worth trying to save your gadget, so don’t just assume that because it got a little wet that it’s never going to work again.

…It’s Things Thursday: Birdhouse?

Birdhouse

Birdhouse is a Twitter incubator where tweets can be saved and edited over and over until each of the 140 characters is crafted to perfection.

Birdhouse Reviews

It’s also an iPhone app with one of the best demo videos ever made, so be sure to check it out:

[Birdhouse]

…NOTCOT has a Holiday Coupon Book?

NOTCOT Holiday Coupon Book

If you’re looking for something unique for the gift receivers in your life this holiday season, and you don’t mind saving a few bucks in the process, then check out NOTCOT’s Holiday Coupon Book.

Featuring stores like Sorapot, Mimoco, Alex & Chloe, Baggu, Diesel Sweeties, Hulger, Maker Shed, Shawnimals and more, it’s the perfect way to shop and save.

[NOTCOT – Holiday Coupon Book]

…Mac Mix will save you some cash?

Mac Mix

Mac Heads take note: Mac Mix could be your chance to save some serious cash on a bundle of the best Mac applications (Maclications?).

Unlike other shareware bundle events, which offer a discount bundle of pre-selected apps, Mac Mix lets you choose your own bundle. The end result is a bundle that has no fillers, and contains only the applications that you want and/or need.

Obviously there’s got to be a catch, so the discounts increase as you buy more apps. Any single app starts at 10% off, but if you buy three apps, that quickly climbs to 30%, and by 12 apps, you’re saving a full 75% off of the retail price. With 28 apps to choose from, picking out 12 good ones shouldn’t be too hard.

So what’s available?

Highlights include Parallels, MacGourmet, Forklift, HoudahGeo, TextExpander, Comic Book Lover, and much, much more.

Each app is categorized into one of five groups (productivity, web tools, image and video, system enhancements, and entertainment) and you can read up on each app before buying, including a star based rating system, and a bullet point feature list.

And if that’s not enough, part of the proceeds go towards planting trees to help out the environment, so you can probably get a write-off from the purchase of a Mac Mix if your tax guy is willing to be creative.

[Mac Mix]

…Movies don’t have to be expensive?

Movie Theater

I love summertime movies, but with ticket prices quickly approaching a Jackson, and popcorn prices making you rethink the switch to ethanol, it’s quickly becoming harder and harder to justify the cost.

However, with a bit of planning and some smart savings, Consumerist can show you nine different ways to save at the movies.

From movie ticket coupons and drive-in revivals to bulk ticket purchases and reward programs, it’s a helpful and easy to use guide to saving a few bucks.

[Consumerist – 9 Ways To Save At The Movies]