Spring cleaning for keyboards

Did you get your spring cleaning done?

According to new research, the place to start might be your computer keyboard.

London-based consumer group Which? reported that recent tests at its offices showed that some keyboards carry more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat, or enough bugs to cause food poisoning.

Apparently, out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as potential health hazards and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office’s toilet seats. (That is either a really clean toilet, or a really dirty keyboard.) In fact, a microbiologist was reported to have found the worst keyboard to be so dirty that he ordered it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned. (Note to self: Do not take job at Which?)

According to the Which.co.uk Web site, the main cause of a bug-infested keyboard is eating lunch at your desk, as the crumbs encourage the growth of bacteria. (Skinning wild game and filleting fish are also considered no-nos.)

Despite the obvious health hazards of a dirty keyboard, the frequency people clean their computers varies widely, a Which? survey showed. It found that 10 per cent said they never cleaned their keyboard, with a further 20 per cent admitting to never cleaning their mouse. Almost half cleaned their keyboard less than once a month.

Which? Computing editor Sarah Kidner said: “Most people don’t give much thought to the grime that builds up on their PC, but if you don’t clean your computer you might as well eat your lunch off the toilet.”

In other surprising news, toilet seats were reported to be cleaner than most cafeteria and lunch room tables.

Spring is also a popular time for marriage proposals — “spring is in the air,” as they say.

But a New Jersey computer programmer decided to pop the question in a decidedly untraditional way recently when he reprogrammed his girlfriend’s favorite video game, “Bejeweled,” so that a ring and a marriage proposal would show up on the screen when she reached a certain score.

Word of the romantic feat filtered out after Bernie Peng, a financial software programmer, posted details on his blog.

Apparently, the re-programming was a tricky task and took him a month.

According to news reports, Peng’s beloved, Tammy Li, did in fact reach the required score – and said “yes.”

The couple plan to marry over Labour Day weekend, and PopCap, the Seattle company that makes “Bejeweled,” will fly the couple to Seattle as part of their honeymoon.

“Most video game companies would frown on people manipulating their games,” Garth Chouteau, a spokesman for PopCap, was quoted as saying.”But it won him a woman. As a bunch of geeks we have to say, ‘Bernie, hats off to you.'”

The company is also supplying copies of “Bejeweled” to hand out as favours to the wedding guests.

There was no word on whether “Super Mario” or “Pacman” are being considered as future child names.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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