RE: Zapping the PC (was: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?

Subject: RE: Zapping the PC (was: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?
From: Kevin McLauchlan <KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: "'Halter, Meg'" <HalterMC -at- navair -dot- navy -dot- mil>
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1999 16:13:10 -0500

I open my work PC all the time, on carpet, on
the desk, wherever it happens to be. I don't
bother with a grounding wrist-strap unless I'm
handling something special for temporary installation
in my box, and then only because somebody might
be watching. My PCs last TOO long. I find myself
looking for creative ways to get rid of outdated
ones, so I can get modern equipment. Nine out of
nine times, if something goes wrong it's a
Microsoft software product (probably because
that's most of what's on my machines, most of
the time... so no special dig at MS intended).

What I always DO, though, is keep the PC plugged
in when I open it. I keep devices in/on their
anti-static pouches, and make sure my bare wrist
or other part (no, not THAT part... this is a
polite office...) touches the chassis before I
separate a device from its pouch and introduce it
to the PC. For that matter, I touch the pouch
before I touch the device itself.
That's quite sufficient for static protection.

Having the PC plugged in ensures proper grounding
of the chassis and anything connected to it. (To
forestall a usual objection, there are no exposed
high-voltage terminals in a modern PC, and the
power supplies are quite safe if you
don't poke your screwdriver into them... )
Touching things in the right order ensures that
all the bits remain very close in relative charge.
Touching the package before you touch the device
ensures that any differential charge bleeds off
slowly (microseconds), rather than zapping
(pico-seconds) and does no harm.

But, when I mention opening equipment in my docs,
I always hypocritically tell the user to unplug,
use static straps, work in a static-treated
environment, etc. That's standard butt-covering,
motherhood, boiler-plate. I don't want to assume
that my audience are idiots or uneducated, but
I can never know for sure. "Safety" first, the
lawyers always say -- and they don't mean the
safety of the user, right? :-)

Kevin McLauchlan
kmclauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Halter, Meg [mailto:HalterMC -at- navair -dot- navy -dot- mil]
> Sent: Sunday, December 19, 1999 1:19 PM
> Subject: RE: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?
> You're right, Gina, that it would be dumb to do this to key
> equipment or
> code. One would pick non-essential equipment and code (or
> whatever) to learn
> on. And no, it isn't *necessary* to experiment. I'm
> suggesting that it's
> helpful -- if done with good judgement!
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Ginna Dowler [SMTP:gdowler -at- questertangent -dot- com]

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