CARE AND FEEDING OF COMPUTERS….Dan Gelfand reports that his ethernet card stopped working, and when he called tech support he eventually had this conversation after two hours of running diagnostics:

Technician: Take off the casing.
Me: What?
Technician: You’ve got a screwdriver and a number two pencil?
Me: Yeah.
Technician: Just take off the casing.
Me. Okay.

(five minutes later)

Me: Now what?
Technician: Take out the ethernet card.
Me: Okay. I’ve got it.
Technician: Now rub the connecting end with the pencil’s eraser on both sides.
Me: Done.
Technician: Put it back in, close the casing and start the computer up again.

I used to manage a Radio Shack store, and I can confirm that this an excellent cure for what ails you. Many a time someone would come into the store complaining that their radio/tape recorder/whatever was broken, and the first thing I always did was remove the batteries and rub the contacts with a pencil eraser. It doesn’t always work, but you’d be surprised how often it does work.

Of course, removing a pair of batteries is easy, so it makes sense to try this first. This is not so when it comes to disassembling a computer case, of course, but poorly seated adapter cards or slight corrosion on the connectors is the cause of intermittent problems surprisingly frequently. Taking the case apart and jiggling the card is a pain in the ass, but it’s usually worth doing before you go too far down the road with tech support.

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