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Stuck for things to do during the lockdown?

Hello again fellow readers and fixers! We hope you are all keeping safe and well in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing lockdown which, sadly is continuing for a while longer. But that in no way means that you should wallow in boredom at home if you absolutely cannot work as a result of the lockdown; there are still many ways that you can entertain yourself and pass the time in the meantime.

We have put together a list of just some of the activities that you can do while the lockdown is still ongoing, some conventional, others more on the wacky side.

Bring an old computer back into use

Chances are, when you buy a new desktop PC or laptop, or a recent refurbished machine, your old machine is still lying around somewhere, gradually gathering dust. So if that old computer still works, then instead of throwing it away, why not use it for something else?

For example, if the old machine still has CPU and graphics horsepower left, then it is worth turning it into a media hub for playing music, games, videos and movies. Many music and video players, games and other media-focused software applications, as well as media streaming services, have cross-platform compatibility, meaning that you can use your favourite operating system with your favourite media apps!

Try out different GNU/Linux distros

If you feel that you are becoming fed up of using the same operating system day in, day out, that it is getting really slow to use even after trying to optimise it, or just fancy trying out something else, then there are numerous different GNU/Linux distros, from mainstream distros like Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora and Gentoo, to less well known distros like Trisquel, Tiny Core Linux and MX Linux.

With a spare USB drive and utilities for creating a bootable USB drive, you can then run the chosen distro as a live session, so that you can find out how it will be used when it is installed, and whether or not the distro will work correctly with all of the components in your machine. So if you decide that the distro you tried is not the right fit for your needs or device, you still keep the operating system you currently have installed on your machine, along with all of your documents, software and media.

Learn how to fix common problems with computers

Encountering problems with different items of hardware and software is a fact of life in the world of computer repairs. Particularly, if you are working from home while the lockdown is ongoing, having something go wrong while getting important work done can be more problematic than usual without the support from local computer repair shops to fallback on.

That said, it is worth spending some time reading through a wide range of articles and blog posts, and watching videos on YouTube about a wide range of hardware and software issues, and how those problems can be fixed. You can use a notepad or some spare sheets of paper to write down notes on any tools or other items needed, and the steps taken to fix a problem, if you feel that this would be useful for you.

If you prefer to learn by practical means, then you can use a spare machine to practice fixing hardware and software problems, so that you know what to do if those issues arise on your primary machine.

One important task that you need to remember, is to regularly back up all of your important files to your cloud storage, or to an external hard drive or USB drive – that way, your data will be safe should the worse comes to the worst, where something goes badly wrong with your computer.

Give the insides of your computer a clean

Just like many everyday items, your desktop PC or laptop naturally attracts dust over time, and too much dust clogging up the heat sinks of critical components such as your CPU means they can’t cope with the resulting excessive heat being trapped under the layer of dust.

Modern CPUs in particular are designed to throttle (reduce its clock speed) to keep themselves within a certain temperature threshold to prevent heat-related damage; if they do exceed that temperature threshold even while throttling, then they initiate what is akin to a safety cut-out, which completely shuts down the computer as a last resort to protect the CPU from damage caused by excessive heat.

With that in mind, it is definitely a good idea to get into the habit of periodically cleaning out the inside of your computer to get rid of as much dust and debris as possible. Getting into most desktop PCs is just a simple matter of removing a couple of screws or thumbscrews from a side panel and sliding the panel off the case. An air duster works wonders for removing dust from hard to reach places, and especially from heat sink fans on laptops, though if you don’t have one at hand, then alternatively you can use cotton wool swabs or soft brushes to sweep the dust away.

Those are just some of the things that you can do to keep yourself occupied while the lockdown continues. Just remember though: make sure to stay safe and well, and we will pull through together!

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