If Santa brings a computer, set it up with care

Editors note: This is one of several columns that I wrote for the Columbia Missourian. They were originally called Your Digital World

With the gift-giving holiday season is upon us, you may be wondering what to do if you get a new computer?

Whether it’s Mac or PC there are some simple things you can do to make sure your new computing experience goes as smooth as possible.

Unpacking — Like real estate, it’s all about location, location, location.

First clear off and clean a space near where you’d like to set up your new computer. Also clean the place where your new computer will be placed.

When unpacking your new digital wonder be sure, absolutely sure, to keep all, I mean all, packaging. Building computers isn’t rocket science, (it’s computer science, actually), but every so often you’ll learn before your warranty expires that your computer is a lemon. It may be on the first abortive attempt to boot up, or soon thereafter, but you’ll be glad you kept all your original packaging — yes, even the little plastic bags mice come wrapped in — when you need to send the computer back to the manufacturer.

Once you’ve got the monitor and computer out of the boxes and set up where they’ll be staying, it’s time to move on.

Connections — Cords. If you’re as anal-retentive as I, you’ll soon be frustrated by the multitude of cords you have to deal with.

Before starting, consider making labels out of masking tape by writing the name of the device on the tape and attaching the label to the appropriate cord.

Be sure to put the label on both ends of the cord. It’ll help if you ever need to move your PC or need to free an outlet and would rather unplug the printer’s power source than the computer. (I learned this lesson from experience.)

In general, I find it’s best to get on the ground underneath the desk or table where you’re placing the PC and plug power cords for your monitor, computer and printer into the wall. Then have a friend stand over the table to grab the ends that go into the respective devices as you thread them up behind the desk.

Once the power connections are made, I like to start plugging in the peripherals, such as keyboards, mice, printers, modems, etc. from the bottom of the PC and up.

Then for the coup-de-gras get some pipe cleaner and bundle up cords going to similar places, it’ll make for less mess. (Don’t buy those overpriced cord cosies. Pipe cleaners work better than tape here because the cleaners can be untwisted and re-used.

Endgame – When everything is connected and the power up, it’s time to turn on the computer. Almost every computer comes with the software preloaded so you should be able to start working, or surfing, right away. But you’re not finished yet.

Fill out all the warranty cards that came with your new toy and register all the software that came with the computer, especially if you can do it online. You’ll often get discounts on upgrades down the road. Keep the packaging around for awhile, at least until the warranty is void.

If after turning it on, you encounter difficulty, give the manufacturer a call — and don’t take no for an answer. I’d recommend not setting up your computer on a weekend or a holiday just in case you do need some initial tech support.

And if they give you the runaround, just e-mail yourdigiworld@yahoo.com.

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
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