May 12, 2008
Let's say, just as a hypothetical, you're sitting at your computer, casually chatting with a fellow programmer. You begin to describe some bit of code, then bring it up on your display to illustrate. You want to highlight some particular part of the code. Perhaps you move the cursor invitingly over the area to bring it to their attention, or gesture towards it with your hand.
What happens next?
When I said there were two types of programmers, here's what I really meant:
- Programmers who touch displays with their greasy, disgusting, bacteria-addled fingers.
- Programmers who don't.
I am incredibly anal about people not touching my displays. I'm not even going to apologize. If you touch my display, I'll kill you. Displays are for viewing, not touching. Put down your damn sticky bun and go touch your own filthy display. Here's my mental image of everyone who has ever touched my screen:
You know that's you. You know it. You do. And you just can't resist touching my display, can you?
Every time it happens, I replay it in slow motion, desperately trying to insert some part of my body between the toucher and my monitor. But I rarely succeed.
Not everyone considers displays inviolate and untouchable as I do. They should. But keyboards are another matter. They're designed to be touched. And boy, are they ever disgusting. They're literally dirtier than a toilet.
Out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office's toilet seats.
Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said a keyboard was often "a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut".
During the Which? tests in January this year, a microbiologist deemed one of the office's keyboards to be so dirty he ordered it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned.
It had 150 times the recommended limit for bacteria - five times as filthy as a lavatory seat tested at the same time, the research found.
After reading that, I'm not sure I want to touch my own keyboard any more, much less someone else's.
So then, how do we clean our screens and keyboards that are so casually defiled by our coworkers, family, and friends? This is apparently not a big concern for some. I am continually amazed by the horrifying state of many programmer's computer workstation keyboards and monitors. I'm not talking about dust, but utter and total neglect resulting in devices I'm afraid to touch. Given the data, maybe that's a good thing.
Cleaning screens is fairly straightforward.
Most manufacturers recommend basic soap and water -- no harsh detergents -- along with a soft cloth. I've used the Monster ScreenClean kit for a while with good results.
You don't have to buy a kit, of course, but I definitely recommend some kind of microfiber cloth like the one bundled here. Microfiber is a generic name for any synthetic fiber that's finer than silk, and the stuff is amazing. It works well on all kinds of displays: televisions, computer monitors, laptops -- I even use the kit to clean my glasses.
Cleaning keyboards is a much more challenging task.
Despite what you may have been told, compressed air dusters aren't just for sneaking up behind your unsuspecting coworkers and friends and spraying them in the neck and ears. I mean, yes, that's the ideal use, but it's also quite good at cleaning up computer equipment. Including keyboards. You can remove most of the dust and a substantial amount of the unmentionable gunk that builds up under the keys with a generous application of compressed air.
Compressed air is a reasonable first line of defense. But it does nothing to actually clean the keyboard. Sure, you could methodically disassemble your keyboard, or if you're hard core enough, even disassemble your laptop's keyboard, and painstakingly clean every part of it. But is all that work really worth it to clean a lousy keyboard? Short of buying a new keyboard every few years, is there a better way?
Maybe. Have you considered putting your keyboard in the dishwasher? It's not as crazy as it sounds; based on the volume of reader feedback to an old BoingBoing post on the topic, I'd say it works. It certainly seemed to work for Austin Matzko.
But lately the years of dirt build-up [on his 10 year old keyboard] have been really disgusting, so I decided to try something I read about a long time ago: cleaning the keyboard in the dishwasher.
Everything washed up beautifully and dried out by the next morning; check out the before and after pics. Total time disassembling and reassembling the keyboard was probably five minutes, which is a lot less than you'd spend trying to clean the thing with Q-tips. If that's too much work for you, just stick the whole thing in there, but give it several days to dry out.
Note that Austin removed the circuitry from the keyboard first, while some people stick the whole keyboard in the dishwasher as-is. There is a followup NPR article that toes the keyboard manufacturer party line and advises against doing this, so obviously, try at your own risk. Personally, I can't wait to give it a shot. I'll buy a new keyboard first, just in case something goes horribly wrong -- and because I need a second keyboard to use while the first one dries for a week.
If that's too radical an approach, you can fall back on using the old reliable soap-and-water damp rag to scrub your keyboard clean. There's even a neat Mac utility program, Keyboard Cleaner, which will lock out your keyboard while you're thoroughly wiping it down.
I'm no germophobe, but I like using clean keyboards and displays, and I'd prefer to see other people using clean equipment too. But remember -- just because I can clean my display doesn't mean you should be touching it, Poky McSmudgypants.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
I hear you. I used to have wallpaper that said "This is not a touchscreen". And I remember having a TA in a programming class who not just pointed at the screen, but actually touched it, leaving a big greasy smudge each time. Ick.
If those Microsoft 4000 keyboards were not such a pain in the neck, i would definately toss it in the wash.
also, glad to hear that im not the only screen touching murder around.
Haha so true so true. I'm generally a polite guy, but OMG that changes when I see somebody using their finger. I always end up explaining to them if they REALLY need to touch, then flip the hand such that the only contact is the tip of the nail. I can tolerate this, even if I still don't particularly like it.
Even worse that the people who just smudge up my display are those that press so hard on the screen they make it clear that the "L" in LCD does indeed meed liquid. But I do keep a pack of monitor wipes text to my desk, and in my laptop bag, at all times.
Next time someone touches your display, just poke them in the eye and say, "now you know how my computer feels!"
Is that a picture of you, Jeff ? ? ?
It's creepy how much you look like a little toddler :-)
That reminds me I need to clean my LCD monitor at work! Thanks.
Interestingly, when I was a designer I was completely anal about my monitor and did actually have a sign on it telling people (including the cleaning ladies who would often smear a dirty rag over it during the evening for some reason) not to touch on pain of pain. Now that I'm just a lowly (but better paid) business analyst I don't care nearly as much and have been known to even touch my monitor myself... I suppose it could have something to do with the fact that I used to have to pay almost $1000 for my monitors and now the company just supplies me with cheap ones.
Anyway, I've actually found that the microfiber cloths work just as well with water as they do with the special cleaning juice. Just put some water on the cloth to wipe, then turn it over and dry with the other side. Cleans it up a treat.
I want that bottle of Dust Off with the chrome handle!
More disgusting than toilet seats AND keyboards put together: grocery cart seats. Babies with dirty diapers sit there. Little yappy dogs sit there. Then they sit in the rain and then the hot sun. And I used to put my FOOD there!!! Never again!! (URP!!!)
oh yeah, ive been cleaning my keyboard in the dishwasher for years now. I swear by it, its so quick and easy.
Your hand is dirtier than your keyboard no matter what. What people should not do is touch your eyes/nose/mouth without washing your hands, no matter how clean your keyboard is.
If you use the dish-washer, be sure to take the metal pieces out of your spacebar/shift/ctrl/alt keys -- otherwise they melt the plastic.
I have 2 17" plastic knitting needles in a vase beside my monitors at work. When someone comes by I make sure they use one of the needles to point at/touch the screen. Whenever I go to pair program with someone I make sure to take a needle with me so I can pay the same respect to their screens as I expect on mine. It works pretty well as I can sit back and point at their screen instead of having to lean really close to point at it all the time.
For the times when I have to clean my screen I've found that Klear Screen's products work pretty good. I recommend just picking up one of their kits: http://www.klearscreen.com/searchresult.aspx?CategoryID=4
I hate it when people touch my monitor. The first time someone does it I politely tell them to stop, but a lot of people seem not to care, and do it again. That's when I physically block their hand from touching my screen... and secretly hate them forever...
Anyway, like a previous poster said, I swear by microfiber cloths and water too. In my experience most of the screen cleaning products leave a lot more residue than plain water.
About dishwashing your keyboard, I did that once, and the keyboard (a Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000) had some problems afterward, including typing "hg" whenever the "h" key was pressed. Luckily the keyboard only cost $20.
That picture is classic, I'm saving this post for the next time somebody tries to lay their sausagelike fat greasy fingers on my precious.
I got a bottle of that monster clean stuff when I bought my Plasma TV and decided to try it on my computer monitor... simply put, that stuff is amazing. Also have the bundled cloth and I highly recommend it.
If that is your dishwasher and your 70's kitchen flooring...
It's time for an upgrade!!
I've found using the pads designed for acne prevention to be quite successful at removing gunk off the tops of keyboard keys and telephone keypads.
Actually, there's really no reason to put your keyboard in the dishwasher. Use the same technique with hot, soapy water and wash just like you would your dishes. It's a lot safer than using the dishwasher -- the temperature is a lot lower, so you don't run the risk of melting anything, and the detergent is a LOT safer -- no phosphoric acid (which can be a result of that dishwasher detergent) on my equipment, please!
As far as the display goes, I've mellowed out considerably since switching to an LCD based display. In the bad old days of CRTs, every bloody fingerprint would smudge on my display and show up whenever the screen went black. Now (with a non-reflectively coated LCD), not so much...
Really - could there possibly be this many people a row posting that absolutely HATE other people touching "their" monitors? Seems like an odd quirk.
Go ahead and lick mine for all I care.
I don't own it.
Plus, I can use cleaning supplies that I don't purchase to wipe it off every once in a while - GASP.
Public touch screen kiosks at airports and banks must totally piss you off...
Nathan... not everyone has a million dollars so they can replace there high quality keyboard every few weeks.
Keyboards are the most disgusting things in the world unless its used by someone with half a brain. I also hate people touching my monitor because you can always see the nasty smudge on the screen from their greasy sausage fingers.
And type of public computers or classroom computers make me want to slit my throat
Man, you can be considered a geek if you care more about people touching your 22'' LCD monitor than touching your woman.
The only thing worse than the "touchers" are the "stabbers". There's one lady at work who jams her finger into the screen so hard that I expect the back of the display to crack in response. I've taken to shifting my chair when she stops by so that she can't actually get to my screens.
A guy I used to work with had his screen so smudged up at one point that he literally could not read part of it. He even commented to me that he always had to scroll documents away from "the blurry area" to read the text. When I reached over with a tissue* and wiped the gunk away, he got the most baffled look on his face that I've seen and said "huh, I never thought of that." (* I know, not the ideal screen cleaning product, but at that point it could hardly have made things worse.)
I would personally advise against using the foofoo cans to blow the bacterial gunk out of your keyboard. Like leaf blowers and bird droppings, an aerosol spray can make, well, an aerosol out of the stuff in the keyboard, at which point you will promptly inhale it.
Two weeks ago a guy at work sprayed a filthy old keyboard while I was standing next to him. We we're both out sick for the next two days.
Jeff, head over to your local Ford dealership and purchase a bottle of Ford Triple Clean. (around $12 if I recall correctly.) It is by far the best keyboard cleaner I've found in twenty years.
If you are putting your keyboard in the dishwasher every few weeks you have issues. You obviously need to start wearing some surgical gloves before you use your keyboard from now on.
If you set your priorities right you should be able to avoid a new keyboard when one is required. You are a programmer, so spending your money on your programming needs should be a high priority.
I agree with Aaron - really annoying is when people want to point something on the screen, USING THEIR PEN as a pointing device. I have various coworkers with pen streaks all over their screens since they have the habit of doing that - never understood why.
Touching can be forgiven, its a learned behaviour from using the only other collaborative displays that most of us have used - whiteboards and blackboards. Even the most ardent anti-touch screen freaks can't resist tapping blackboards and whiteboards to emphasize a point when "pairing" at a blackboard when the discussion gets heated..
At least I know I'm not the only person obsessed with screen cleanliness. The only problem I have is that my laptop is a convertible tablet. I carry a microfiber cloth with it all the time, so I can clean 10-15 time a day. :)
I've heard the dishwasher tick works, even complete.
Well, I haven't had the luxury of owning a monitor I can warn people away from yet... I'm on a tablet so screen-touching is inevitable :D but a screen protector helps, so that's not too big a problem.
I've cleaned both types of keyboards (PC and laptop), and both by complete disassembly. It's not as troublesome as it seems; take a photo of your keyboard layout, proceed to pick off all the keys (which has a really gentle learning curve), throw them all (keyboard tray included, but not for the laptop!!!) in a tub of water (or soap water if you like), scrub away. Then lay them out somewhere to dry before reassembling.
It's much more thorough than a dishwasher (yes, I am anal about it) and much more satisfying. But of course, I never let that much dirt accumulate in the first place so I can't say much for the ecosystem-keyboards.
@Nathan: Buying a new keyboard every so often is kinda wasteful, don't you think? If you can clean the house, your clothes, your cutlery and a whole host of other stuff you use frequently, why not your keyboard as well?
I wish I could afford to buy new dishes and clothes all the time so I never need to wash them again.
Years ago one of my coworkers kept seeing ants and other bugs around his desk. We eventually saw one crawling out behind a keyboard letter. I took the cover off and the inside was swarming with little bugs-- really one of the more shocking things I've seen. I assume they were eating crumbs and other things that had fallen on the keyboard.
To be fair to my coworker-- he'd just inherited the old machine from someone who'd left the company.
I did rinse the cover and sponge the inside out before I reassembled it. However, one of the shift keys stopped working and we eventually threw it out.
"...compressed air dusters aren't just for sneaking up behind your unsuspecting coworkers and friends and spraying them in the neck and ears."
Being as your post is about boundaries, this passage sticks out like a sore thumb.
I am a fan of touching screens. I have taken it a few steps further: White board markers work just as well on screens as they do white boards. This combination is my favorite rapid prototyping tool. Nothing is more empowering than letting your customer write on their software.
"Buying a new keyboard every so often is kinda wasteful, don't you think?"
@kureshii: I guess it depends on which is more important to you. Your time or your money. You're going to waste one or the other either way. Since time = money, the amount of time you will waste away taking your keyboard apart and cleaning it, should be less than the amount of time it should take you to buy a new keyboard. In the article above, Jeff talks about waiting several days! for it to dry out.. and plus he already bought a new one to use as a replacement.
If you're going to go to all that trouble, I say to hell with it and just buy a new one and throw the old one away.
I mean how often are you people taking apart your keyboard and putting it in the dish washer, and then letting it dry for several days and then putting it all together.
Are you people doing this every week?!! I would only consider it a once or twice a year deal. If you are attempting to do all that more than once or twice a year, then you obviously got a redicous amount of time to waste.
I have a some logitech wireless keyboard, which obviously has a lot of technical stuff inside, and it was REALLY gross a month or two ago. I just took it apart, without removing the electrical parts, sprayed it down with some diluted Simple Green, let it sit for a while, and then rinsed it off. The keys themselves I actually immersed to get out the hair and whatnot. Anyway, it worked great. I let it sit overnight before putting the batteries back in and all was well.
Now what do we do with laptops?
What's wrong with you people? Screens are for touching!
My husband sent me this post as we've come to blows over me touching his monitor and he just looks at me in disgust when I show him something on my monitor and point it out with my fingers all over it.
The quickest way to point something out on the screen is to show you. Not by going, "look it's that green pixel in the top right hand corner under the black menu item that says blah blah blah"...in the time it's taken to explain I could have made you a nice cup of tea!
Just say no to liquid screen cleaners. They only come in two varieties:
1. Chemicals that are too harsh for LCD panels
2. Liquids that leave an oily film
I have found one and only one thing that consistently works well (other than posting signs and grabbing people's arms as they head towards the screen): a high quality lens wipe of the ilk used for cleaning photography lenses.
Okay, I love you now... lol. I have told my co-workers about 10,000 times not to touch my freaking screen, lol. They think I am overly anal, but I do not want to see the residue of your visit for the next 2 months.
+ 1 to never touching the screen. It is for viewing, not touching... should shock the crap out of you if you get within 2 inches of it, lol.
Have you ever tried a M$ Ergo keyboard in the dishwasher? I would not mind trying ti but I don't want to waste 60 bucks...
Dell keyboards - unscrew, scrub with dish soap, air-dry overnight, screw back together: good as new
"take a photo of your keyboard layout"
What for? I *know* where all those letters are.
(Oh well, there are still two keys exchanged from my last cleaning session. Never bothered to correct that.)
And hey, to all those little buggers afraid of bacteria: Those on *my* keyboard are *my* germs. I've had them already. So cleaning the darn keyboard from all the pizza crust once a year is surely enough. :P If you're afraid of germs, stop breathing air, especially those from air-conditioners. Maybe, you give some scuba-gear a try? ;)
I've been washing my keyboards in dishwashers for a few years now, and it is definitely the most effective method of cleaning them. I've known schools and colleges that use the dishwasher method as well.
One thing that does worry me is cleaning a laptop keyboard. I'm still looking for a good method of cleaning a laptop out, so maybe I'll give the enclosed guide a try.
Jeff, I know how you feel.
At one job I started, I inherited a filthy keyboard and desk that I did not want to touch. I had to bring in my own cleaning supplies and I never did get comfortable using the thing. I left after a brief few months -- for other reasons of course, but it was nice walking away from that work station for the last time.
@Mike, try a soft, clean paint brush to remove dust from your notebook keyboard and spray some Windex on a paper towel and wipe it down.
The quickest way to point something out on the screen is to show you.
Yes, and you can do that perfectly well WITHOUT jabbing your fingertip or nail at the screen. Point, not touch - and you don't watch with your fingers but with your eyes. At least, that's what they used to teach little kids.
I find that, at least on this basic Dell keyboard I use at work, when you take it apart you've got 3 bits - the "key" tray where all the keys are plugged into holes, a rubber key mat, and the bottom half. The key tray bit, at least on this keyboard, actually has drain holes that come go all the way through the bottom half too. The key tray bit is also where all the crud collects.
You basically just need to just take the key tray which is all plastic (and a few metal bits under the space/shift/etc) and rinse it in hot water and/or detergent. Shake it dry, alternatively leave it overnight, screw it all back together and magic. You're not getting anything but mechanical parts wet, and they're physically separated from the electronics when it's all back together in case any bits of moisture remain.
Back in the early 1990s at university, we had a particularly expensive Solaris box with an even more expensive flat-screen display. The sign taped to the wall above the display said: "Remember to immediately wash your hands after touching the screen".
Problem solved. No-one dared touch the screen.
As for cleaning keyboards I usually used the very manual and work-intense solution of disassembling the keyboard completely and clean every part individually (yes, the keys are a PITA) in a solution with washing powder and afterwards with clean water. It never occurred to me to stick it into the dishwasher (well, I don't have one anymore so I can't try) and given that my Das Keyboard died from a bit rain (I repaired it in a five-hour session with conductive lacquer) I certainly won't ever try putting the keyboard as whole in it. Those printed circuits rust too easily.
i listened to that segment on NPR and couldn't wait to throw my keyboard into the dish washer. I had heard you could do it before, but after hearing it on NPR I decided to wait no longer.
i really liked that keyboard. :(
I tried the dishwasher trick once, and regretted it because it washed away the lubrication often used on the larger keys. The space bar in particular was much stiffer afterward. I guess I could have relubed it, but I ended up just replacing the keyboard and swearing off the dishwasher method.
Since then, I've reverted to my old method. When they get visibly grotty on the upper surfaces, it's a sure sign it's absolutely disgusting inside. I remove the mechanism from the outer case, pry off all the small keys -- nothing with a metal bail underneath, they're a b**** to reassemble -- shake out the loose stuff over a trash can, use tweezers and Q-tips to pull out the hair and stickier particles, then clean away surface dirt with isopropyl alcohol. It takes maybe half an hour, and the keyboard always works at least as well as it did before.
i love touching screens :)
Me, I'm just disassembling keys from my Microsoft Natural Elite keyboard, wash them either by hand or in a dishwasher and then washing the rest with wet cloth. MS keyboards (at least Natural line) have a damn good plastic cover beneath keys and all the dirt stays just there.
I've even had once a small spider (dead) in my keyboard. Now I wash it every month and vacuum it every 2 days.
And it is always fun watching my friends/family big eyes when I put all the keys back without cheatsheet/screen testing :)
It's even more fun when you're showing a superior officer something and they start touching the screen. You want to kill them -- I mean you could because you have a gun -- but you can't even yell at them because of their fancy-pants rank!
Wow... great topic as I can be pretty anal about this myself. ".. touch my screen, I'll kill you." - hahah! Strangely enough- if someone touches my laptop without permission I will threaten them, I despise anyone who thinks they can simply use another person's laptop, even without asking them first!? I literally flipped out on the last person that did this. Laptops, to me, can be very personal and more so than a desktop- this is kind of obvious. Leave people's laptops alone.
No need for the dishwasher, save some water and energy and use just a drop of dish washing soap, some water and brush. Yay for saving the planet!
One of the first things I do when moving into a new cube is sanitize the keyboard. This includes turning the device upside down while applying a vigorous shaking. The amount of boogers, food crumbs, hair and other oddities that fall out can be quite alarming. Long live Lysol and Windex Wipes.
All you compusive screen-jabbers who call the rest of us anal or insensitive:
You are simply inconsiderate for smudging up the screen I have to look at all day and making me go to the effort of cleaning your grease off.
Worse, you are insulting, for thinking we somehow couldn't follow a simple pointing gesture a few more inches to the screen without your fingertip actually contacting the pixels in question.
When you point out a person at a meeting or party, do you run right up and poke them? "This is my friend Bob! (POKE) This guy right here! (POKE POKE.)"
"If you touch my display, I'll kill you"
We make software that replaces hardware equipment control panels with PC-based ones. Almost *Every* customer asks "Can your software be used with a touchscreen", but not one of them (to my knowledge)has ever installed a touchscreen-operated system.
Ok. I clean my keyboard and I clean my desk. But only with normal detergent (no with powerful antibacterial soap). And the good reason is that if you do this you are just creating strain of resistant bacteria and you are weakening you immune system. Children living in "too clean" homes are very prone to asthma. So clean you stuff but not too much. Stay rational...
Please read this before beginning your war against bacterias:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no2/larson.htm - "From the public health perspective, more frequent use of current hygiene practices may not necessarily be better (i.e., perhaps sometimes clean is "too clean"), and the same recommendations cannot be applied to all users or situations."
(eat french cheese. They'll prepare your body for just anything...)
Getting a bit obsessive-compulsive there are you not? Who ever died from a keyboard acquired infection?
Your immune system is incredibly sophisticated and provided you look after yourself (eat well, do some exercise) it should have no problem fighting of such bacteria.
Wow. This is really turning into a OCD discussion...
Touch my monitor all you want, I couldn't care less. Same goes for my mouse, keyboard or any office accessories for that matter.
I bet you guys are not the outdoors type of guys, huh?
I could care less about germs, but I spend/waste so much time cleaning mice and keyboards in computer labs. It's almost like popping bubble wrap, scraping all the gunk off of the '\' key (the dirtiest key, in my experience). I usually don't do a single productive thing until \456789, spacebar, Delete, Home, Page Up, Page Down, End, the num pad, and the part of the keyboard above the arrow keys have had their gunk scratched off.
Oh, and I touch monitors religiously. I touched mine no less than 4 times will reading this article and the comments.
Jeff, do you use an Ergonomic 4000 keyboard? I dismantled my previous Ergonomic Keyboard (a Natural Pro) very easily, shoved it in the dishwasher and it came out as good as new.
Recently I tried dismantling one of my Ergo 4000s (spilt green tea on it and the left shift, enter and #3 key stopped working) and after removing the 20 or so screws round the back, couldn't get the keys off etc. It's a nightmare to take a part and I can't find a tutorial on the web either.
It's nice being able to shove it in the dishwasher to get that as good as new look. Don't think I'll be able to do it with the Ergo 4000 though (I really don't want to soak the circuit board).
A trick I used to speed up drying is to put the device (soaked cell phones, keyboards, etc) in the air-conditioner closet (obviously for those that have the integrated system). I keep a fishnet baggy in the closet for drying things out quickly. It dries things out in a few hours because of the massive volume of air moving through a small cross section.
Why wait a week for the keyboard to dry. You already put it in the dishwasher. Why not through it in the dryer?
Just a quick note on cleaning screens. I was unfortunate enough to be a tech support agent for the sony vaio range of laptops over here in Ireland and you'd be amazed at the amount of void warrentys because people wash screens with small amounts of screen wash(specific for lcd screens by the way). Some brands destroy the LCD screens. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!
Yes, this is a pet peeve as well. Especially when I have paid for the monitor.
1. Fingerprints make chunks of text unreadable.
2. Finger pressure on LCD screens kills pixels.
3. Fingernails and pens scratch LCD panels leading to problem 1.
At home, my EIZO has had the good fortune to never have been cleaned except with a non-contact puffer to remove dust. The monitor I had before that was killed by a warranty repair: it went away mint and came back smeared and scratched with dead pixels from being vigorously rubbed with what must have been a muddy rag. After nearly 12 months of argument (during which time I bought my EIZO), they replaced it with a model worth 1/3 the original value (thanks, Mitsubishi Australia), after initially trying to replace it with the bottom model (it was the top model that they had wrecked).
The other one which really annoys me is people who feel obliged to resize and reposition my conveniently layed out windows to their liking (usually everything smaller and placed in the dead centre of the screen, one on top of the other, because for some reason they can't read a window in any other size or position or tolerate having more than one window visible at once) and roaming technicians who feel obliged to do this AND adjust my chair and monitor height to suit them so they can spend 2 minutes at my desk applying a patch.
"It was amazing how many tech-savvy people were poking there screen trying to open a document."
We had someone employed as an "IT security expert" warning people about the dangers of ID theft on TV last night. Despite his "professional credentials" he admitted to recently having had his eBay, Facebook, MySpace, Internet Banking, and PayPal all hijacked at once through giving them all the same username and password and entering his credentials into a number of phishing emails.
"Compressed air dusters are great for cleaning, but terrible for the environment."
Mine's a photographer's blower brush bulb with the brush removed: 100% manual, no pollutants, no refills and costs about $2-3. Lasts as long as your fingers are movable and the decades it takes the rubber to perish (mine is 25 years old and still going strong).
Come to think of it, there is something worse.
People who don't turn their head away from your screen when sneezing.
I use pretty much public computers quite a bit, and all the monitors have finger prints and stuff on them. I don't really care if people touch them, it's nothing to do with me. At home though there's no one near my computer except me, so no reason to touch it. Not sure how I would feel about it though, depends if they eave much of a mark.
As for putting electronics in the dishwasher... I'd do it if I had a cheap keyboard I don't need. However, I don't want to put my Microsoft 4000 through. Especially considering that I accidently put my iPod Nano through the wash a few months ago and now the backlight doesn't work. I need to clean my monitor, it seems to collect a bit of dust.
OK you convinced me. I'll put my notebook in my dishwasher and see what happens.
I hate it too when people touch my monitor. Excelent post!
you must really hate the iphone!
Of course, you can't get hair in the keyboard.
Btw I have been using klearscreen from frys for the past year on my monitors and iPhone
I keep a dry paint 1-1/2" paint brush next to my monitor and use it for dusting the keyboard just about everyday. It does a pretty good job of getting into the tiny plastic grooves and what not. As for *really* cleaning, I keep a container of Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and use those on keyboard, mouse (mouse wheels can get nasty), desk, phone, etc. After reading this post I'll probably be more OCD now, thanks Jeff! (Did I mention I never touch door knobs, either?)
As a Unix and C programmer, I am required to have a beard. This means that I inevitably have a few bits of trimmed hairs and, yes, some dandruff like schmutz, that fall down whenever I scratch my chin while reading or thinking about something. This used to all fall into my keyboard, until I got a zany and expensize completely split keyboard (from Kinesis -- I recommend it if you have discomfort on any normal or typical ergo keyboards or just like having many different positions for your hands).
And yeah, I eat lunch at my desk while reading the web. THose crumbs used to inevitably end up in my keyboard.
Now with the split keyboard it just lands in the space between on my desk.
I also have the luxury of a machine shop at my place of employment with an air compressor, really gets keyboards clean.
Also, there is an advantage to the boring beige or grey classic PC colors -- dirt and oil and schmutz doesn't show as well there. (Just darker grime buildup.)
Maybe we need some better mouse pointing options. How about a little tool/extsension that makes the mouse pointer blink or turn into a circle or glow or something when you hold down some key combination and click?
Also, dirt and stuff is ugly and un-neat, but it's not worth it to worry too much about every last germ on your stuff. Humans have pretty good immune systems. Try to avoid catching things, but don't try to use antibacterial chemicals to try to do the job of your immune system. Your immune system is a highly tuned defensive system. Antibacterial chemicals (toxins to bacteria) are a blunt nuke of all microorganisms on your hands or whatever, benign along with the possibly bad.
(not that you shouldn't use any soap -- actual soap (not detergent and other chemicals, which often pretends to be soap by being placed with all the real soap in the market) to wash is great)
Jeez, such sadness.
We are apes with a penchant for scratching our arses, picking our noses and putting one anothers urinary genitalia in our mouths. We are dirty dirty little apes. Trouble is, some of us can get more than a little bit cranky at times and it seems like a majority of that crankyness works in programming.
Your keyboard is an input device - you don't look at it so why bother what it looks like, so long as it works. You are much germier than your keyboard no matter how filthy or hairy it is. Mine has a nice lint of hair and fluff between the keys which is very effective in stopping the crunchy bits from getting back of the keys and gumming up the works. The key faces are polished bright and even parts of some letter legends are wearing away, but around the key edges is like a little crust of grime which tends to connect with the lint matt. My keyboard is nearly ORGANIC and without question must support a diversity of life forms. So what? So do I, every cell of the human body is outnumbered 10:1 by the life forms that infest and cohabit our bodies. But then - we are dirty dirty little apes.
Your screen is a communication device - mostly communicating with just you granted, and also a visual communication granted, so you need to be able to see what is displayed on it in order for that communication to be effective. But communication is not just visual. The human animal chatters to itself almost continuously and when thinking problems though, pointing and touch and hand gestures are an integral part of effective communication.
So when someone comes to talk a project through with you, remember to encourage them to touch the screen (touch it yourself to give then permission and encouragement)as part of their communication process and try to pay attention to them, not the fingermarks - that's what they are there for - you are being paid to communicate, not to get all anal about YOUR space and YOUR screen. Afterwards you can be cranky and get the wipes out to remove the smudges.
You might be brilliant at coding, but if you fail to communicate then you are a crap programmer because programming is 90% communication (and you can't communicate if you are getting up your arse about fingerprints)
Are screen touchers the same people that touch photos?
Why? Why do you need to touch the photo? I know it's a picture of you and that you were fatter/thinner/drunk or whatever, but I don't need your fingerprint in the middle of the photo!
I personally use a plastic cover for the keyboard.. i mean you have to get used a little bit but surely it keeps the keyboard clean, avoiding the oily and shiny spots that get on the buttons after you eat pizza while update your bookmards.
you can buy it everywhere for not that much, i mean its always an option.
Yes, you ARE a germophobe. You are a fastidious, anal-retentive nit. And my hat's off to you.
I try not to chat *up* my fellow programmers, at least not by showing them code fragments. I dont think the laydeez find it interesting...
Two words: Trackball Mouse.
You want to see some 'potential health hazards', you should see the gunk in my mouse. lol
Still, I'd never replace it. It's the kind where you control the mouse with both the index- and middle-finger -- while the thumb does left-click and the ring-finger does right-click. Way more precise than those whacky thumb ones or the pseudo-videogame ones I've seen. :-P Besides, fits my hand in a natural way.
Apparently Nathan has too much time on his hands since he is posting so often instead of programming.
i have special toothbrush and microfiber cloth for cleaning keyboard. You can't clean every little corner with cloth, so that's when toothbrush becomes handy.
Toothbrush is also good for cleaning dusty motherboards/memory chips etc!
My son vomited on the keyboard. I disassembled and washed, didnt work again. This was one of the fancy ones with extra buttons on the top connected to a little pcb with an elastomeric strip.
Given a do-over I would wash it assembled and then leave it in a hot car to dry out.
I just use a damp washcloth to clean my laptop screen. I'm not even sure how the smudges get there because I never touch it. Like glasses, screens seems to just be a magnet for funk. I can't enjoy using my laptop if it is smudgy. Much like "Clean house, clean mind", the same principle applies to one's computer as well.
I'll vouch for the dishwasher method personally - I've washed several keyboards this way and never had an issue. I never felt the need to disassemble them either.
It does generally take several days to dry completely, as you mentioned, so be sure you have a spare before doing this. If you're in a pinch, you can lean the wet keyboard up against a box fan on high to speed up the process dramatically.
One thing I haven't tried is washing an IR or Bluetooth keyboard, but I wouldn't expect that to be much different in practice.
remove that racist nathan.
spemless on May 13, 2008 03:02 AM
I couldn't agree more. And I don't want to hear from him about how he is black, or I don't understand his street cool, or whatever. His racist name calling is not appropriate and serves only to fully demonstrate his lack of intelligence. Delete it.
After a year at my current job I was able to talk the powers that be to purchase me a Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite (my all time fav keyboard). Unfortunately, after about a year of use it crapped out on me. For a replacement, I was given a Logitech wireless model from a former employee. Let me tell you, scientists probing the ocean depths looking for new life forms could probably save a lot of time and money by simply directing their efforts to the hand-me-down Logitech I was assigned. Pieces of food, hairs, dried liquids, unnameable gunk...I was forced to disassemble the entire mess, key by key and give it a thorough cleaning.
People are gross. Just monkeys with buttons and hair products! That's why I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer close by.
IMHO, if you're going to point at something on the screen, that's fine - just don't actually "touch" the screen. It's not hard.
In those rare cases where I have to point more precisely and actually touch the screen, I flip my finger over and tap ever so gently with my fingernail. That way, no disgusting smudges. Ahhh, compromise!
When it comes to my work computer, it can be annoying to have someone walk up and touch the monitor, but that's really not the worst thing they do. Someone (or some group of people) seems to think that if you're out of the office (for whatever reason) and they need to leave you a message, the best way to do so is to put a sticky note in the middle of your monitor. This is especially wonderful if it's a long trip and the sticky note sits there long enough to just stop sticking and fall behind the keyboard, leaving a nice strip of dirt and grime the width of the note on the screen (not to mention their grimy fingerprints and streaks from placing the sticky note there), and the note often unseen for days.