okay, totally stupid question... I'm about to order extra RAM for my Dell 8300. On a previous thread someone mentioned "make sure you are grounded when you install this" --- so: how do I make sure I'm grounded?
Ominous has it right. The idea is that if you walk across the carpet holding your nice new RAM module and reach out to touch the computer with it, any spark that leaps from you to the computer will have to go THROUGH the RAM module. This is BAD and will probably destroy it.
So make sure that you touch the computer case with a bare hand FIRST so that any static is discharged through YOU before you bring the RAM module near it.
A grounding strap with a bracelet that you wrap around your wrist attached to a wire that you clip to the computer case is a nice idea because it means you can't make a mistake. But if you're careful you don't absolutely need one.
Keep the PSU turned off and preferably unplugged while you work inside the computer.
Don't wear those shoes that always shock you when you touch the doorknob! If you touch the case frame and don't move around carrying the RAM, you should be fine.
I once gave some RAM to my nephew for Xmas and he un-wrapped it, sitting on the floor, and started to take it out of the protective anti-static plastic folder. I yelped and startled everyone! We had a nice talk about how crinkling wrapping paper and handling RAM modules didn't go together.
Grounding yourself simply means to discharge any static charges and keep them from re-occuring.
I should add that a lot depends on the humidity. If the air is very dry, you have to be a lot more careful about avoiding zapping something with static because it builds up a lot easier. On the other hand if the air is very humid then the chances of zapping something are a lot lower.
Be careful in any case, but be particularly careful if it's very dry.
I have never used and antistatic strap, and I have never had a problem, but like everyone says, just use good common sense. I usually take off my shoes, and just make sure you touch the unpainted metal parts of the case briefly every minute or so. And, be sure the PSU is plugged in. It does not have to be turned on though.
In general, aggree with comments already provide.
Just two cavets.
Sminlal. Good point on effects of Humidity which is normally very low during the winter months. Minor point, I normally leave The PSU pluged in BUT OFF as the 3rd wire provides a ground to drain the charge that would be transfered to the case and all ground traces on componets.
mongox - You can develope a damaging charge and never know it. The point at which you will notice a "Shock when touching the doornob" is VERY high somewhere close to a Kilovolt. Also durning low humidity you can develop a damaging charge just moving your body while sitting in a wooden chair on a wooden floor.