back to article Filthy PCs: The X-rated circus of horrors

Well, you lovely people, it's time to pour yourselves a stiff brandy before entering the circus of horrors that is Ventblockers II. Good work by all those readers who sent in evidence demonstrating that it really is a good idea to keep your computer spick and span. The consequences of poor PC hygiene can, as we shall see, be …

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Terminator

Chilling

I fear taking the lids of peoples machines for fear of what you might find. Dessicated spiders, assorted dust monsters and other Lovecraftian horrors are always waiting to drive you to the limits of sanity!

I always make a point to give my machine regular cleans, either tackling the lifeform buildup with the hoover or with my handy airbrush, blasting air through the hard to reach places. Last thing I want is for the Lizard Alliance to use my machine as the start of some terrifying dustmonster/machine cyborg killer. Though, how they'd work together with cyber-dysons makes me wonder!

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Silver badge

Holy crap.

I started out thinking "I've seen worse than that", and finished with "holy crap".

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I really...

I really, really must stop smoking around my PC O_o

Still, on the plus-side, having a perspex window in the case means I can keep an eye on the dust levels before having to resort to taking the side off the case and giving it a bit of a clean out.

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Heart

Excuse me kind sir

But you might want to quit smoking completely? If you're disgusted by how the Macbook looks, imagine how your lungs look. It's the same smoke buddy!

signed,

Dr. Phil

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Silver badge

Anthill Inside?

And I thought Pratchett made this stuff up!!!

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Not the first computer with a need for dried frogs

What? Somebody had to. And mine's the one with the canned air in the pocket.

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Hospitals? My God!

I'd quit on the spot, if I had to, before I so much as laid hands on a machine that came from a hospital. I mean I don't know how they do in hospitals over there, but here in the US the places are crawling with MRSA, which is like regular staph only a lot nastier -- if it can survive on bare metal surfaces exposed to fluorescent light, then surely it can live happily amidst a pile of fluffy dust inside a warm dark PC case, and considering that it necrotizes flesh I don't even want to *imagine* what it'd do to you to inhale the stuff.

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Boffin

That bad huh?

In the absence of antibiotics MRSA is reproductively out-competed by regular staph aureus, like any organism with a superfluous more costly biology. Of course, the key point there is 'in the absence of' but I can only hope that antibiotics are not freely floating in the dust of our hospitals.

While MRSA is a menace in hospitals, if doctors could just stop over-prescribing antibiotics (i.e. for non bacterial illnesses) we'd have a much smaller problem.

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Coat

Well, the "furry creatures" should have been on the same page with the tar

The furry creature ones should have been on the same page with the tar.

Here, you see and they say that smoking is bad. How about finally realising on how bad it is to have a carpet in your house.

Me coat... The one at the end of the laminated flooring hallway...

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@ Well the "furry creatures"

Actually, most dust is comprised of skin flakes, animal fur, or animal webs and insects themselves.

Having carpet can actually decrease the dust circulating around in the air because the carpet traps it in place till a vac can suck it up while dust on a bare floor gets stirred about every time you walk through the room or a breeze blows it around.

Of course either way you still have to clean every now and again. I can understand a 12+ year old PC looking like that if it'd never been cleaned out but the newer ones that came from homes rather than industrial settings must come from very, very filthy homes.

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Silver badge

Some people have no choice

Building regs require no hard wood, laminate or tiled floors *at all* in modern apartments, because the impact sound of someone walking on it even barefoot is almost impossible to insulate against, which means your choice is either the horrible greasy fibre free carpets they put in the hallways, a regular carpet, or lino. I'd love laminate floors but the downstairs neighbours would have a fit and the landlord would lose his top rate certificate thingy.

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And I don't bother cleaning my machines much

Because they rarely need it, because I'm not such a damn fool that I run them on a dusty carpet under a desk where nobody's bothered to vacuum since 1979. It's amazing how clean a PC will stay when you have it up on a table where it can get a breath of fresh air!

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@ Aaron Em

That idea about under the desk on carpet is largely a myth. Mine are located under desk on carpet and don't get very dusty - but you have to vac AROUND the desk and the adjacent areas of the room, not so much under it as the dust never piles up at a fast rate if it isn't in the rest of the room in excessive amounts.

The best strategy is think about the user not the PC. Make the entire environment fit for the user to breathe well, as the PC is going to be replaced either way in a few years.

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Thumb Up

Sir

You are quite correct.

Whilst the users will shove them anywhere out of sight underneath a desk, a little elevation reduces the dust intake dramatically.

Or does Newtons laws not apply in computing?

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Anonymous Coward

Never show these pictures to this guy.

http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/845023-record-breaking-belly-button-fluff-collection-revealed

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Joke

Right thats it....

... im off to clean my computer, stat!

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letters and/or digits.

Is it wrong that i would like to be cleaning up some of those PCs? No dead animals though please.Imagine how much better they would be running after a really good hoover!

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Alien

I love these...

Having seen a good many of them myself.

The CAT-5 monster looks like it might just (if we're very, VERY lucky) evolve into a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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Alert

The Great Knot

or a hoamge to his holiness the great FSM?

all hail his noodley appendages etc..

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It's just a wee baby one

I had the fun of dealing with combined CAT-5/telephony cabinets in the office where I did a work placement year as a sysadmin.

Each cabinet was large enough for a full-grown man to stand up in, if you removed the networking gear, and served a floor of 70 or 80 people each with a phone and a networked PC. We had 5 floors, each with one of these cabinets.

Later in the evening, when the office was quiet, I swear you could hear the muffled screams of former network engineers who were trapped in there after attempting to troubleshoot a cabling problem.

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Pint

These machines have postapocalyptic soviet soul...

...you can't understand.

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Coat

In Soviet Russia...

...computer dust hoover YOU up

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Thumb Up

hmmmm filth.

I used to work in a coal burning power plant as a system tech.

I should have taken some pictures. Sometimes the coal dust was an inch or two thick. We had to change the lifecycle program just for this location because no matter how much we cleaned the machines, they die premature due to overheating or some other filth related cause.

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JDX
Gold badge
Happy

FSM

Don't be daft, the FSM didn't EVOLVE.

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Linux

Riverside, CA

I use to live in Riverside, CA, which was officially the dustiest place in the USA. We had filters on all the kit at work and at home and even with a clean every 6-months, kit with fans in got utterly disgustingly coated with fine desert dust.

You could build a sand castle out of what came out of the big filters from the A/C units in the lab!

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Thumb Up

Love the Filthy PCs Series...

...and hope to see more installments as time goes on! (That "mice in the power supply" picture from the first set has yet to be topped, though.)

In my freelance computer consulting adventures, I came to know a guy who was, shall we say, a "bit" of a smoker. Everything in his apartment had that yellow tinge. It was so bad that there were outlines left around pictures and other things and everything in there had some degree of yellow/brown color to it.

After fixing his computer one day, he told me there was another, broken PC in the closet and asked if I'd take a look at it. Like everything else, it was that filthy yellow color. I took it home in the back of my truck because it stunk so horribly. And then I tore it apart in the driveway, working in a haphazard fashion. As much residue as there was in the thing, I didn't expect it could possibly function. It was certainly filthier than anything I'd ever dealt with before, so much so that I could not even see the components--only their outlines. I really thought I'd just bin it.

It lived, though. I threw the whole darn disassembled thing in the dishwasher and ran it through two whole heavy washing cycles. The water that came out of the machine was a filmy brown color. Even though the pieces still had a very faint aroma of cigarette smoke, they were at least the right color again. I set them in the sun for a few days, put the whole lot back together and it powered right up after installing a new clock battery. Turned out all it really needed was a fresh installation of Windows.

I worry more about what the owners of the apartment will do if/when he moves out.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

RE: I worry more about what the owners of the apartment will do if/when he moves out.

If you ever are in the market for a house, stay away from buying one currently (or just recently) owned by a chain smoker.

Many years ago, my brother bought a house owned by a chain smoker. That guy just sat in the living room and smoked all day long.

The normally silver colored air conditioning vents were a bronze in color, and there was this yellow film plastered over the walls.

We had to industrial strength `Janitor In A Drum` straight out of the bottle (no diluting) to cut through the tar on the walls. The vent grilles had to soak in the same solution over the weekend before we attempted to clean them.

NASTY stuff that nicotine tar.

NOW, you know why I will NEVER date a smoker!!!!!

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Going for that "sepia tone" look?

I helped a friend collect some belongings from the home of a longtime chain- smoking relative, and I don't think there was any surface in that building that was not some shade of yellow/ brown/ tan/ bronze. I felt bad for the dog, who had no choice in the matter.

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All I wanted was a nice clean desk job...

Many years ago I had to go and check a malfunctioning PC at the local crematorium.

I retuned it to the office and cracked open the case.

The entire interior was covered in a uniform gritty grey dust...

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Coat

Feature Creep

Methinks the arachnid antimalware tool is suffering from a bad case of bloat!

OK, I'm going...

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Basement computer

I'm wondering now what hell I might find in my basement-dwelling server. The one last opened several years ago, that's been running right next to the cat boxes non-stop since 2006 and is covered in a fine layer of clay dust on the outside.

It's also been down there through 3 or 4 major ladybug infestations, this year's stink bug population explosion, and has definite potential for housing black widow spiders, or at least spiders of some sort.

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air lines and fans

makje sure you stick a pencil/cottonbud in the fans before hitting them with the air line.

The back EMF can eb nasty.

Just cleaned my desktop out - we havetwo white GSD's and the machine is on the floor - YUCK.

In the den(office) the machines are roughly at elbow height and can run for years between clean outs. In the rest of teh house boxes last a year at best...

Jacqui

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Pint

Good tip

Re: the cotton bud (yeah I expect everyone else knew that already!)

Beer, because the day has a Y in it.

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Pint

Mmmmm sweet aroma

They're pretty bad, but I can beat them......

For reasons too boring to explain sometimes we get PC's returned to the office which need extremely sensitve financial data extracting from them as we're the only department in the company with the necessary knowledge to get past all the security and decrypt the data.

Anyway, we got one of these returned to the office a few years back as it wouldn't boot. No-one thought to warn us that the reason it wouldn't boot was that it had been submerged in flood water heavily contaminated with sewage. The rest I shall leave to your imagination.

The smell was....... smelly.

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FAIL

Did anyone notice...

the majority of the offending PCs appear to be Dells?

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Anonymous Coward

Page 8 takes the prize

I've got rugs with less of a pile to them

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WTF?

Page 8

What more can anyone say?

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Green

We had a PC in that was reported as non-functioning so we cracked it open. The insides were covered in a kind of green fungus and parts of the board had corroded quite heavily. Words can't describe the aroma emanating from this thing

Turns out the family dog had decided it was his territory and was routinely 'marking' it...

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FAIL

But the worse thing is ...

... when some ****** decides to use the air duster can on such a machine ... in the office.

Many years ago I was in business with a chap that had run an Apple dealership for some years - back in the Apple II days. One of his customers was the local cellophane factory and he got called to a machine on the shop floor that had stopped working. The hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere had attacked the metal pins of the chips and some of the pins had eventually corroded through - stopping the machine !

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Unhappy

Rotten design

Don't you think there is something rotten and cheap in how computers are built and designed.

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Coffee/keyboard

The Keyboard is actually the Dirtiest thing you can touch

There have been numerous studies that show that the computer keyboard is one of the filthiest things you can ever touch.

Even when they look clean, they have a layer of microbes multiplying happily on the surface.

In fact, a computer keyboard harbors more dangerous microbes than a toilet seat.

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Coat

I've heard that story before...

...and while it's probably true, that says a lot more about how clean toilet seats are than how dirty the keyboard is. I don't about you, but I don't bleach my keyboard on a regular basis.

Mine's the one with the toilet brush in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Hole

Most people pee and poo in the middle... rather than on the seat ;)

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Joke

Smutty web surfing on page 10

Has Eddie Abbott PC being surfing the dirty side of the World Wide Web?

All those webs and spiders must have came from him doing something naughty right?

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Pint

Imagine My job...

I replace peoples compuers all the time, if i took a picture of all the mucky ones I'd be there all day. The worst one I think we ever had wasn't dust related, it was 'drink' related.

Several (at least) cups of some form of brown beverage had been spilled on the desk and not cleaned up properly, we nearly had to get a crowbar to prise the PC from the desk.

Pint icon because after thinking about that PC I think I need one.

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Currys ...

... sell computers and Dysons from the same shed but they don't sell the bit that joins the two.

Why no all conductive brush attachment complete with earth clip ?

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Boffin

given

...that dust is full of all sorts of horrible bacteria in an ordinary home i genuinely fear for the lives of those working on hospital PCs, inhabited by dust creatures.

those smoked out PCs might explain why my laptop failed due to none stop over-heating after spending best part of two years in a permanent thick cloud of pot smoke with me.

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Stop

Earthing required...

...while cleaning heavily dusted PCs. If I remember correctly, any current buildup should be drained by the earth(ed) pin. On the other hand:

2 gallons of isopropyl alcohol.

1 large basin

1 gas mask. (Alcohol fumes, y'know, or get a really ventilated place to do it)

1 pair of rubber gloves

1 set of soft and hard brushes

Assorted screwdrivers to pry everything of case and back together.

Yeah, these should do. Dip all the components in alcohol and start scrubbing. Gently for the tricky parts, faster for fans and thicker fan grills. A notebook repair shop did that, they showed me how they did it. 48 hours drying, at least

Don't use tire calibration compressors, the compressed air in those is not dry. One of the customers of the said repair shop did that. Not pretty, all the resulting rust.

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

ew

I've started to take machines outside to air dust them at work, it wasn't worth the massive clouds of dust, which were invariably sucked stright into the nearest working PC :(

I also helped clean out my flatmate's PC. It had spent about two years, near continuously running WoW, whilst he blew fag smoke straight into the intake fan.

The CPU cooler was salvageable after a wash in the sink, unfortunately the crappy fan on the motherboard chipset was almost welded solid with tar. I assume the same must have happened to the GPU fan, we just found it dangling by the wire, with no other attachment to the heatsink, oh, and brown, it was all very brown :(

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What I've learned

It seems that ants are negatively charged - they're all stuck to the positive pin on that capacitor.

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