Once a week we dump out our reader mailbag, answer reader questions, and share a few of them with you in the process. This week we’re looking at decoding Blue-Screen-of-Death codes, cleaning out a PC, and getting started with scripting.

Decoding the Blue Screen

Dear How-To Geek,

Do you have any suggestions on how I might decode and/or fix the blue screen crashes I’ve been getting? The message is something like”IRQ not equal or less than”. Where should I start?


Blue Screening in Boise

Dear Blue Screening,

Generally IRQL errors are hardware or driver related. We’d suggest checking to see if any drivers have been updated recently and either roll them back to the old driver or see if an even newer driver is available (the vendor may have released a driver to fix the crashes). If that doesn’t help you’ll find BlueScreenView, a crash dump analyzer, rather helpful. We have a guide to using BlueScreenView to help get you started.

How to Clean A Dirty Desktop Computer

Dear How-To Geek,

Last week I saw the bit about cleaning a dirty keyboard in the Ask HTG post. Do you guys have a similar guide for cleaning out computers? If I ruin my $20 USB keyboard that’s one thing, but if I short out my desktop computer and nuke my hard drive that’s a totally different thing. How can I get all the dust, cat hair, and other crud safely?


Dusty PC in Portland

Dear Dusty PC,

You’re in luck; we like keeping everything in the HTG office clean. Check out our guide to cleaning out a dusty PC case here.  While you’re at it you should also check out this previous Ask HTG column about why you should never vacuum out your computer case. Routine PC cleaning is a great way to keep component temperatures down and extend the life of your computer.

How Can I Get Started with Scripting?

Dear How-To Geek,

I’m interesting in learning how to write simple command line scripts in order to automate processes on my computer. I see the utility of it but I lack the experience to just start pounding out scripts. Where should I get started?

Script Curious in Sandusky

Dear Script Curious,

We’ve shared several introductory guides to scripting over the last year. We’d recommend starting with the basics of shell scripting, then move on to our step-by-step guide to using for loops, and then check out our guide to basic commands and chains. Once you’ve hashed out a few scripts, don’t forget to send them into the tips@howtogeek.com box! We love sharing reader creations.

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at ask@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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