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How to Make a DIY Computer Repair Kit

How to Make a DIY Computer Repair Kit


    If you’re like me you are the “de-facto computer repair person” for your family and friends. With the ubiquity of laptops nowadays, it is easier for your friends and family to bring their computer to you. But there are still times where making a house call is still necessary.

    The thought of going outside the friendly confines of your home to make a repair can seem daunting. What if they don’t have the correct screwdriver in case you have to open the box? What if they don’t have the software needed to fix any problems that have arisen? There are a lot of “what-ifs” when dealing with someone else’s computer — especially if they aren’t as savvy.

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    For that reason, I have created a DIY computer repair kit — a first aid kit for ailing computers, if you will. Here’s what you’ll need to make one:

    A Multi-Head Screwdriver

    If you have to open the box to see what is going on inside the guts of the computer, having a multi-head screwdriver is the best way to go. You’ll often have different screws for each layer of the case, so having one screwdriver that the head can be switched out saves you time (and space) in your computer repair kit. It’s ideal if you can get one with a ratcheting head; it makes tight spaces easier to deal with.

    Bonus tip: Leave the heads on a strong magnet (if you have an old speaker that works best) overnight and that will magnetize them. Never lose a screw again!

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    A Ubuntu Live CD

    Sometimes a computer simply will not boot into the operating system. Having a Ubuntu live CD allows you to discern if the operating system is compromised or if the hard drive has crashed — or is about to crash. Having an operating system on a CD also lets you do a back up if the hard drive is getting ready to die, because (let’s face it) your family more than likely has not backed up their data the way they should.

    A Flash Drive with Antivirus Software

    A good assumption going into a computer repair is that your family member has virus or spyware on their machine. Having a flash drive with some form of antivirus software in your computer repair kit ensures you’re prepared for this. I download and update Windows Security Essentials on a flash drive that I have no other data on. Viruses can “leak” onto a flash drive, so I try my best not to use the toolkit flash drive in my production machine.

    A Can of Air

    Reality check: PC’s get dusty.

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    Sometimes there is a blanket of dust on the parts inside that trap in heat and can cause static to build up. Anytime I open up a PC I clean it out with a can of air. It’s important to use a can of air and not a vacuum because vacuums create static, which can cause all sorts of problems.

    Spare Parts

    If you have an old hard drive lying around consider packing it in your toolkit. Sometimes testing different hardware will give you a better understanding about what is going on and how to solve it. Be careful with RAM though; putting the wrong kind of RAM in a PC can damage the motherboard. In my toolkit I have a spare hard drive, a few sticks of RAM, and an old CD drive. That way, if I need to I can swap out the old pieces of hardware and see if that solves the problem. We’ve told you in the past how to repair a keyboard, but having one of those in your computer repair kit also can be a good idea.

    Conclusion

    Of course, the best maintenance is preventative maintenance. Take the opportunity to talk to your family about good PC habits. Remind them about security issues and to change passwords. Show them how to back up data correctly so they don’t lose their important documents or precious photos. Showing them how to do these things will save them and you a lot of stress in the long run.

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    That said, you never know when you’re going to have to make a house call. Being prepared is a good way to save you stress and any headaches that may accompany a house call.

    (Photo credit: Computer Repair via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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