8-Bit Software Online Conversion

Foam Cleaner from Hell. *********************** I remember cleaning a computer many years ago with foam cleaner. It was a Dragon 32 which despite a poor reputation was actually quite a reasonable computer. Reasonable being the key word, the words Good and Excellent certainly don't apply. The words limited and Naff almost apply. Anyway it was pretty grubby looking in fact I must admit it was a mess. It may not have had mushrooms sprouting out around the keys or nettles growing out the vents but there was horrible inky fingermarks around the sides, plus there was dust in all the groves, there was a wierd discolouration on the top of the keys like a combination of sweat, dust and other stuff that formed into a dark powdery coating. Also the the main label was missing apart from its sticky underside. So out came the foam cleaner. It made short work of that sticky underside and went on to great success all over. I made a point of avoiding all vents and ports with neat foam. I just went round the vents with the cloth merely damp with no actual running foam cleaner. The foam cleaner is fairly messy stuff once it hits its target you get about 2 seconds before it changes into a fizzy sort of liquid. Foam cleaner is pretty corrosive. Have you ever passed a shop where their window display has been the same for about six months? You will see once white items turn into yellowy items. To get back to whiteness clean it with foam cleaner. It seems to melt off a thin layer of whatever it touches. If you ever saw that Man from Uncle episode with the killer foam that strips bodies down to the bone or the scene in Robocop where the balding thug melts and breaks up into a sloppy pile of flesh you'll already know all you need to know about foam cleaner. While I was cleaning the Dragon in a lapse moment of concentration a small dollop of foam cleaner which had been resting happily next to the nozzle of the aerosol was sent sliding and off the canister when I tilted it. It journeyed some 18inches approximately before hitting the right side of the Dragons keyboard. Within a fraction of a second it was followed by the large mass of a damp cotton duster. But some of the foam had already escaped down the sides of the keys. I thought no more about it thinking that it would be alright. After I'd finished cleaning it and the tape deck which I used with it I connected it up and yes where the foam had entered the keyboard the keys had become tempremental and the more I fiddled and thumped the keys the less they worked. Most likely I was causing more liquid to get into the microswitches. The Dragon actually had a proper microswitch keyboard. If only it had some cheapo type membrane keyboard I could have taken it apart cleaned it out and re-assembled it but those microswitches were sealed. The only reason I was cleaning it was so I could sell the bloomin thing. I had someone coming round the same day and now I'd gone and busted the computer. At the time the Dragon's value was on a nosedive. Dragon had gone bust. You could measure the devaluation day by day in pounds. Shops were clearing them out cheap. Anyway I found a solution of sorts with some microswitches in the loft which were similar except they were taller and were meant for slightly different tops. Anyway I cut the stalks down, soldered them in and glued on the normal Dragon tops. It all worked fine except they were about 2mm taller than the other keys. So the Dragon keyboard had a cluster of keys raised above the others. The bloke came to look at the Dragon. I told him how the microswitches had been replaced and my asking price was knocked down from £95 to £75 which I reluctantly accepted. I'd paid the full whack for it £199.95. Anyway about three weeks later I went into COOP and they had them brand new, boxed with cables for £29.95. So I bought one. What's more the cassette software was being sold elsewhere for a small fraction of its original cost. Well anyway Foam cleaner and keyswitchs don't mix. I never thought at the time about trying WD40. It might have worked. I might add this all happened back in 1985-86. I can't remember exactly. The Dragon was the second (and third) computer I ever owned. I wanted a BBC at the time but just couldn't afford it. The Atari 800XL came after the Dragon. Then the Acorn Electron. Later I bought a Spectrum 48 but I still kept the Electron. I sold the Spectrum 48 on six months later. It wasn't until 1990 that I bought a BBC B. The worst computer I ever owned was a Sharp MZ700. I bought it for a fiver back in 1989. Its the most pathetic, awful computer I've ever come across. I could write a whole book on what's wrong with that computer. It's like every annoying, irritating feature a computer could possibly have was included with that model.