Solve Common Tech Problems MacGyver Style

Everyone from my age group (30-35) and up should remember the tech gadget crackerjack MacGyver. Those of you that are too young to remember this show should Google it; we’ll still be here when you return. Why am I using a TV show that ended in 1990; about a Special Forces agent that was purging the world of bad guys, as a reference for a tech article you ask? Well, partly because that show was awesome. Although mostly, because MacGyver had an uncanny ability for taking every day unexciting items; like a burrito and a paperclip, and turn them into a tech gadget. He always managed to somehow save the day (and sometimes the planet) just in the nick of time. It’s MacGyver’s unorthodox display of tech gadget wizardry that made it one of my favorite shows growing up. Just as MacGyver could save the day with a hairpin and a wad of chewing gum, there are some MacGyver-esque tricks at our disposal as well. Let’s look at how to solve some common tech problems, using everyday items.


The ole, cell phone in the ThunderBox scenario is a classic. Dropping a cell phone in the toilet is probably more common than you may realize. It can happen to anyone, and when it does it is, without a doubt, most unexpectedly. Fortunately, a wet cell phone can be saved; however, you will have to be ready to act on the situation very quickly if you are to be successful. I cannot repeat this enough; it is critically important that you move as quickly as possible when completing these steps. I recommend knowing these steps by heart, so if/when the time comes you will be in full MacGyver mode and engage the issue with confidence and speed.

The first thing you’ll need to do is fish it out of there. It has to be gotten out quickly, so this is not the time to be squeamish. The longer your phone sits in the stew, the more likely water penetration will occur. Once you have it retrieved you need to remove its case, or Otter Box if necessary then, remove the battery if possible and pat it dry. Now, if you’re like me and own an iPhone removing the battery is simply not an option; thus we can skip the battery removal step, but if you can get it out pat it and set it to the side. Next thing is pat the phone dry, and remove the sim card if there is one. Again, those of us with iPhones should just focus on patting the phone dry; the sim card is too much of a process to waste the time on. Finally, shove the phone into a container full of uncooked rice. It will need to stay in this jar overnight, and you will need to rotate the phone every hour until you go to bed. The rice will act as a water magnet soaking up the water before it can collect in your phone. Keep in mind that while this is the best shot you have at saving your phone it’s not a guaranteed fix, there is still a high likelihood your phone could die. Although, there is a full proof way to save your phone from falling into the lagoon; don’t take it to the bathroom in the first place.


This isn’t a question of if it will happen; it’s going to happen, the correct question is when is it going to happen? Your hard drive crashing is as sure as the fact none of us will get out of this life alive, but there is a little trick they can resurrect the dead drive just long enough to recover your data. If/when you ever turn on your computer and hear what sounds like there is a squalling cat in it, clicking sounds – or my personal favorite – a grinding noise; you have unfortunately, heard the song of a dying hard drive. Occasionally, a reboot will fix it. If a hard drive is failing don’t dawdle. If you don’t have a backup routine get one started immediately, move all your files to another system, use an online backup service, or save everything to a crap load of DVDs; whatever you need to do in order to get a successful backup. However, if the hard drive is dead, it’s time to get into MacGyver mode. Take the drive out of the computer, seal it in a plastic back and put it in the freezer overnight. Cold temps will sometimes shrink the drives heads enough to work. However, when you reinstall the hard drive and it boots up, get the data off of it and onto new hard drive as fast as you can. Once the hard drive begins to heat up any benefit from the cold will vanish as the drive heads will expand and lock up again. In my experience you only have a 30 min window maximum. It doesn’t work every time but what do you have to lose when you’ve already lost it?


When you have a CD or a DVD that skips, it needs to be cleaned if you want it to stop. There are some who go out and buy one of those disk cleaning systems (e.g. Disk Doctor), those are the ones where you insert the disk and hand crank these brushes that go around and around. While your disk comes clean, it is because a layer of the protective film is coming off each time you “clean” it until you not only have a disk that doesn’t skip, but it doesn’t play either. If you want to get the disk clean without slowly killing it this is what you do. Soak a washcloth in Listerine. Alcohol is probably the best and safest thing to use on your disks. I would put a $3 bottle of Listerine up against that $80 per bottle DVD cleaning solution all day long, twice on Sunday. There you have it, Listerine and wash cloth Crystal Gayle is serenading you to sleep at night, Disk Cleaning device and cleaning fluid she starts to sound like she is choking on her own hair within a week.


The issues solved above seem to be the one that is encountered the most by users, but here is a quick rundown of a few more possible MacGyver tricks. If, toward the end on your printer cartridges life cycle it dries up right in the middle of a very important print job, don’t freak out and start ripping the paper out. Just remove the cartridge and run a hair dryer over it for a couple minutes. The dryer heats up that gunked up ink and starts the flow again.

Don’t like the range you’re getting from your car door remote? You can gain about 3 or 4 car lengths by holding the metal part of your key up under your chin, then push the unlock button. This basically turns your head into an antenna. Are there any side effects to this, like sprouting a new head, or maybe some new powers? Dunno…maybe…will your car door unlock sooner….You bet it will..

So, do you think you are ready to get you one of those sweet bomber jackets and start taking down terrorist plots with a Yo-Yo and a Slim Jim? OH, I thought you would…SNAP INTO IT!


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