I occasionally break my rule against eating and drinking near the computer. The lure of munching Crunchy Cheetos while getting my daily dose of international news from BBC America becomes overwhelming. Adding to normal airborne detritus, guilty pleasure goodies give off SD’s (Snack Dust). Keyboards are magnets; with many tiny crevices for dust and dirt to hide.

Traditional solutions are to turn the keyboard upside down and shake. Not the best idea for a laptop. Also, the, shall we say, oily residue from certain foods glue the debris in place.  The canned air duster does a decent job of blowing out the gunk, but it just gives it a chance to re-circulate and resettle.  Dismantling the keyboard is tedious and time consuming; not to mention voiding the warranty on some laptops.

This brings me to Cyber Clean. It’s a cleaning compound for getting into the nooks and crannies of electronic devices. It looks and feels like DayGlo® Silly Putty®. It can be stretched over a section of a keyboard and pressed down. When you peel it back, dust and dirt adhere to it. You then roll it into a ball mashing the waste inside. You can repeat this process 20 or 30 times before the compound loses its effectiveness. It also changes color to let you know its gone bad. You can then just toss it because the company says it’s non-toxic and biodegradable.

The Cyber Clean Compound comes in  several sizes but the basic re-sealable, single pack retails for under $5.

The best thing about Cyber Clean is that it meets my lazy man’s standard for cleaning stuff:

1.       It is cheap.

2.       It is dirt simple to use.

3.       It lets me know when it is time to replace it.

4.       It can be thrown in the trash guilt-free.

Steve Miller
Stephen C. Miller is an editor, reporter and technology consultant. He writes the blog, The Future Was Yesterday: Technology in the Real World. He has spent nearly 30 years training African journalists throughout the continent in investigative techniques.

Formerly he was Assistant to the Technology Editor at The New York Times. He retired in 2008 after a 20 year career there. While at The Times he supervised the training of reporters and editors in the use of new technologies. Miller started his career in broadcasting, spending 12 years at CBS News in a variety of positions, including Night News Manager.

He is on the Board of Directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors and is past President of the New York Association of Black Journalists. He speaks frequently on how technology is affecting journalism.
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