Keep it clean when computing | Column

Like any writer, my first obligation is to my readers. That obligation naturally extends to the accuracy, timeliness and appropriateness of the subject on which I choose to write. Additionally, there is an expectation that I convey relevant and useful technology-related information.

  • Thursday, July 24, 2008 4:17pm
  • Opinion

Like any writer, my first obligation is to my readers.

That obligation naturally extends to the accuracy, timeliness and appropriateness of the subject on which I choose to write. Additionally, there is an expectation that I convey relevant and useful technology-related information.

To be sure, this week’s article does talk tech, however it is wrapped in a package of public service and a smidgen of common sense.

Last week I saw an article in the Seattle Times titled UW’s dirty QWERTYs prompt official action. I grabbed the newspaper and read further. I was informed in the article that the computer keyboards at Mary Gates Hall and Odegaard Undergraduate Library at the University of Washington were found to be contaminated with fecal coliform – the bacteria found in fecal matter.

YUCK!

I went into my office and looked at my keyboard, then my wife’s. They looked pretty clean. But that wasn’t good enough. I took a bit of time and detailed both keyboards. I felt better. Then I thought of all of you! Who would detail your keyboards?! Maybe you hadn’t read the article. You had to be informed; educated; warned!

My mind began to wander and I envisioned the public computers at our local library and other libraries. After all, it is summer and families are frequenting the library.

I had to know what was being done to protect our community. I placed a call to the library and was informed the keyboards are blown off with compressed air. While this is a good first step and will certainly dust the keys nicely, the very real potential of bacteria on those public keyboards requires a more proactive approach to mitigating the mess.

While I am certain the library procedures are sound, effectively executed and well-intentioned, it is my hope you will take personal responsibility for yourself and your family by carrying hand sanitizer as you visit our public libraries and other public venues.

I would like to address two additional items I read in this article:

1. Apparently, there is a company developing a ‘self-sanitizing keyboard.’ Stay tuned. This will definitely be a topic for a future edition of Tech Talk — if it happens.

2. The article also states the Seattle Public Library runs their 378 keyboards through the dishwasher once a month. I feel compelled to advise against this practice. It stands to reason any light-duty electronic device subjected to a wet and super-heated environment for an extended period of time is detrimental and may decrease the longevity of the device.

Lastly, keep on computing and keep it clean.

Wayne Nelson and Jeremy Self own and operate Wired Northwest, LLC in Redmond. Submit your questions to: techtalk@wired-nw.com. Contact Wired Northwest, LLC at www.wired-nw.com or call (206) 788-7975 or (206) 788-7898.


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