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- This Week's Free Computer Tip -

108 - Carpet Static and Your Computer

The problem –
If you experience carpet static in your home or office, you should take precautions around your computer equipment. Modern computer equipment can be damaged from a simple electrical spark and the newer the equipment, the more vulnerable it is. A detailed explanation follows if you care to read it. If not, this solution will be effective and save you money to boot.

The Solution –
Instead of buying the expensive cans of anti-static spray (often around $14 per can), do this. Take a regular spray bottle (the kind that sprays a mist, not a stream) and fill it with a 50-50 mixture of Downey Fabric Softener and water. Spray the carpets lightly around the computer and surrounding areas. No need to overdo it. A light spraying will be fine, It should last several months. When the static returns, just repeat the process.

I have used this spray in both the office and home settings, with no problems. It is highly effective in stopping the static and leaves no trace on the carpeting.

Detailed Explanation –
Here’s why this is a problem and why newer computers are even more vulnerable than older ones. Everyone knows that computer chips are getting faster. Today’s chips still consist of transistor devices connected by circuits etched into the chip surfaces. By shrinking these devices and their circuits, more and more can be squeezed onto each chip. The smaller they get, the faster they can run. There are several reasons why they are faster, such as, less distance for the signals to travel, lower voltage and current requirements, less heat generated, faster switching times, and so forth. The simplest concept to grasp is this: if data from one circuit doesn’t have to leave the chip to get to the next circuit, it takes less time.

So why do we care about circuit size when talking about carpet static? Here’s why. First realize how small, small is these days. We used to describe something really small as being “smaller than a human hair”. Forget that nowadays. The circuit etchings on today’s chips can be as narrow as three atoms wide. Scientists already know that they will soon be able to construct chips with circuits only one atom wide! Now think of a static spark. It’s big enough to be seen jumping from your finger to the computer. In relative terms, that spark is like an atomic bomb flash to the truly tiny chip circuits. If it occurs right on the surface of the chip, the circuits will be melted. Bye-Bye computer. It usually doesn’t jump directly to the chip, but, just like lightening, the spark has lots of places it can travel once it leaves your finger. It can damage the computer chip itself for starters. There are many memory chips. Every card inside your computer (modem, video card, disk controller, to name a few) has chips on board. Any of them could be damaged.

So, why take the chance when a simple spray will solve the problem.

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