Category: Self-Help

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: New Number

In the USA, we have N11 codes that you may dial for important nation-wide services. Having run out of 3-digit numbers ending in -11, Congress has had to break the mold when declaring a new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

On July 16, 2022, the new number goes live: 988. The old number, 1-800-273-8255, will also still connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

If you need suicide or mental health-related crisis support, or want to speak about someone else in need:

DSL Troubleshooting

An ISP in Wales recently solved their town-wide DSL problem by locating and disconnecting a resident’s old TV. It’s an extreme example of a common problem with DSL service: DSL signal is very touchy and vulnerable to interference. And that interference can be caused by so many different things along your phonelines. If you have persistent DSL problems, here’s some troubleshooting info for you:

  • Connect your DSL modem’s phoneline directly to the wall jack. Only use the phone cable provided with the modem by your ISP. That phone cable from the dollar store or that line that came with your fax machine may not be an adequate replacement.
  • Do NOT route the modem’s phoneline through a surge protector. Avoid connecting the modem’s phoneline to duplexers or splitters or couplers, unless directed by your ISP. If possible, eliminate splitters and couplers elsewhere in the house.
  • Disconnect old fax machines, answering machines and rotary telephones elsewhere in your house. Really, anything attached to a phone jack in your home could be offending your DSL modem. If your DSL behaves better after detaching some of these devices, you can reconnect them one at a time to figure out which is to blame.
  • All other devices connected to your phonelines must run through DSL filters. These filters are typically supplied by your ISP — call them if you need some! An unfiltered device can upset your DSL modem, even from across the house. Your DSL modem should not be filtered, unless your ISP supplied you with a special duplexer for attaching both a modem and a phone to the same jack. That sort of dongle is actually filtered on one side (for a phone) and unfiltered on the other (for your modem).

Also, make sure not to stack your DSL modem on top of your router or any other electronics. Stacking can lead to overheating, which causes frequent outages until the modem is totally cooked!

Each time you make a change or improvement to your wiring, reboot your modem. But do NOT use any hard-to-reach Reset button, unless directed by your ISP. If you use the Reset button (usually by inserting a toothpick into a hole on the rear of the modem), you may erase important settings and make your situation worse.

If all else fails, it may be time get a new modem. Besides normal wear and tear, DSL modems degrade due to power surges that travel over the phone lines. I recommend you go to your ISP for your replacement modem, to ensure that they support you with any future issues.

Color Blindness & Using Color Filters

If you are color blind or have any other vision sensitivities, check out the color filters in your computer. Most operating systems offer these built-in tools, to make your screen easier to see and use.

In Windows 10, go to Start -> Settings -> Ease of Access -> Color Filters.

On MacOSX, go to Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Display – Color Filters.

Besides color deficiency-specific filters, you’ll also find others for inverting colors and switching to greyscale. These can all be turned off and on without harm or needing to reboot.

On a Chromebook, you would have to install an extension from the Play Store. Dalton looks to be the best one I can find right now. And if you want to apply color filters to your Chrome browser only, I imagine you can install Dalton on any PC or Mac, as well!

How to Physically Clean Your Computer

Once or twice a year*, your computer needs dusting! Their grills and cooling elements attract dust, and too many years of particulate build-up can lead to overheating and shorter lifespans. An inexpensive can of compressed air is all you need to knock loose any accumulated dirt. Here’s an example of what to buy: https://www.amazon.com/Falcon-Compressed-Disposable-Cleaning-DPSJB/dp/B0000AE67M

Shoot this at any and all ports, grills, vents and openings on your computer, and blast away! Try blowing into each opening using different angles of attack, as well. You may also want to jet it at your keyboard, to knock loose any crumbs or bits of biomass. And if you are courageous enough, you are allowed to take the side panel off of your desktop tower and spray this air anywhere inside. Aim for any big fans and grills!

If you encounter any stubborn dust build-up, I’ve found that Q-tips and small paintbrushes are generally safe for brushing and dislodging.

Don’t use a vacuum on (or in) your computer. And I can’t recommend any industrial air compressor, as I worry the air could be too strong for some of the delicate internal parts. A can of spray air, as pictured above, cannot harm your computer or tech device.

Secondary to dusting is wiping. Your screen probably needs some spots or streaks cleaned off of it, once in a while. The best thing to use is a wipe that was specifically designed for cleaning electronics. Here’s an example: https://www.amazon.com/Fellowes-Pre-Moistened-Screen-Cleaning-99703/dp/B00004Z5LR

Please don’t use paper towels. Please don’t use Windex or other spray cleaner. Please don’t use ammonia, bleach, newspaper, vodka or old shop rags. Those can harm your screen surface, causing irreversible scratches or yellowing. Please NEVER spray anything directly at your screen, as the run-off could seep in and ruin your device. In a pinch, you can lightly dampen a microfiber cloth or chamois cloth with distilled water (and maybe a hint of vinegar) and wipe your screen panel gently.

The compressed air and screen-cleaning wipes are available at many places, and may be less expensive at Walmart, Staples, Costco, Target or other stores that sell office or computer supplies.

* Or more often, if your computer’s environment is particularly dusty. Computers that live in garages, crafting zones, libraries and pet-heavy zones may benefit from a monthly cleaning.

Woebot – An App for Self-Care & Mental Health

Feeling down or stressed? There’s an app for that:

https://woebot.io/

At first glance, this appears to be a quirky AI that is willing to have a conversation with you every day, to pick up your mood and maybe coax a smile out of you.

But under the hood, this tool is leveraging Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to teach you how to change and manage your thoughts and moods. It’s a rather amazing and valuable mental health resource to offer up to the masses, absolutely for free.

Now, I should say that if you need therapy or counseling, Woebot is not a replacement for devoted professional help. But if you want to supplement the counseling that you are already receiving, or if you are unable to seek appropriate psychological care, Woebot is worth checking out.

And if you are mostly in your right mind, but want to learn more about stress relief or mood management, Woebot has a thing or two to teach you. You’ll be quite surprised at how affable this AI can be.

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