My desktop occasionally fails to shut down properly. It seems to complete Windows' shutdown process, but then just freezes--without actually turning off.

Pressing the power button accomplishes nothing. So what option do I have left? Pull the power cord right out of the wall? That would certainly turn the system off--unless it was a laptop, in which case I'd have to remove the battery as well. What a hassle.

In the old days, computers had reset buttons. Now, it seems like there's no logical way to shut down a PC that's locked up.

Actually, there is, but as I learned from a recent e-mail, not everybody knows the procedure.

To force-shutdown a desktop or laptop, you need to press and hold the power button for about five seconds.

Then, wait another five seconds or so before turning the machine back on. Hopefully this is something you won't need to do very often, as a force-shutdown can hose up Windows or even lead to data loss. (Blame the initial crash for that, though.) But at least now you know how.