Beat the heat

People who know me well suspect that I am at least one third lizard --- I love the heat. But hot weather does have its downside, and that’s why you need to protect your computer and other electronics from power surges and spikes. Bonus: If you’re so hot you need to think about something cold, watch live streaming bears catching salmon in Alaska.


Why you need a surge protector

As I was putting the finishing touches on last week’s column, the power went out for a minute. It came back on for ten minutes, and then cycled again. It did that five times in 25 minutes. The power company blamed a combination of “nature and high demand.” Really. Who could have anticipated a high demand for power at 5:30 PM on a very hot weekday? Certainly not the power company.

That said, all our computers (even the laptops), routers, modem, and TVs are plugged into surge protectors. That certainly didn’t keep the computers or the network up, but on the plus side, nothing here let the smoke out of itself from the electrical spikes and surges.

Electronic devices count on a steady voltage. When power spikes or surges, this can damage the devices because a standard electrical outlet can’t cope with the extreme voltage fluctuations. A surge protector diverts excess energy to a circuit within itself, protecting your devices by allowing only the safe amount of electricity to pass through.

You’ve got hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars of electronic equipment. A surge protector costs anywhere between $25 and $75. It just makes sense to protect your important stuff with surge protectors.

Power bars are not necessarily surge protectors. Be sure to check the packaging to make sure what you have is a surge protector. It will tell you the level of protection in Joules. (Higher numbers are better.) Good surge protectors from reputable manufactures will have a warranty. It’s a good idea to replace the surge protector when the warranty period is over, usually somewhere between two and five years.

Check this detailed article about How Surge Protectors Work if you want to know more: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/surge-protector.htm.

Do you have a laptop? Get some airflow under it! Check out the third item in this column to see how: http://rlis.com/columns/column458.htm.

Brown Bears vs. Salmon

The Explorer.org website is a portal to live cameras broadcasting animals. My current favourite is the Brown Bear Salmon Cam from Katmai National Park in Alaska, because it’s nice to think about Alaska during a heat wave.

According to the website:

Every year over a hundred Brown Bears descend on a mile long stretch of Brooks River to feast on the largest Sockeye Salmon run in the world.

And you can watch that happen. It’s light now in Alaska from 5:30 in the morning till 11:30 PM. Point your browser here: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls. It’s a little safer than watching the bears close up like this guy: http://youtu.be/MVhrN2pI2X8.

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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