If you’ve been to Pebble Beach in California, you’ll see the smooth stones. The pounding surf has rubbed off all of the rough edges and made them so smooth. So, they become something collected and touched. They have polish.
Just up the road in a quiet cove there are rocks that no one wants to touch – it is a very quiet cove with no surf to polish down the stones – so the stones are rough and while people may visit, there is no great beauty or anything to share.
The world is clearly divided into two kinds of people: learners and non learners. No mistake, as a professional whose job it is to help learners, learning is hard and requires work.
And yet those who have the best skills for technology are those who have been polished by tough problems. You become better with your computer in one way: by troubleshooting problems. Some people when they have a problem choose to ask me or another. Sometimes I get tweets from people asking me questions that they could find with a quick Google search.
Here are some of my tips for solving your technology problems.
1 – Try to get familiar with the terms
If you want to search for answers on YouTube or beyond try to figure out the terms of what things are called. While the very few pages that come with iphones or computers don’t have much, they do tell you what to call things. With every device I purchase, I review every button and what it is called. I snap a picture of any diagrams and put them in my electronic notebook: Evernote. You could also just keep them in a file.
2 – Be aware of things that change
One of the biggest signs of getting a virus or malware on your computer is a sudden slow down. If you’ve installed nothing and have done nothing on your computer, this usually means something has happened. Keep a current antivirus subscription (like AVG or Avast) on your computer. I also invest in Malwarebytes which you can download and run for free. Malwarebytes snags those little pieces of malware that might download as part of a picture or when you go to a site. On my computer at home it snags 3-4 pieces of malware a day.
3 – Look for answers
If I want to know how to do something in software, I first go to the help button and type in what I’m trying to do. The procedure to do a mailmerge changes quite often, for example, so often I’ll start there in Microsoft Word instead of looking for it.
Secondly, I’ll look for tutorials on YouTube. When I update my favorite filmmaking program, Pinnacle Studio, I’ll watch the tutorials on the program on YouTube first.
4 – Know how to search
One problem is that many of us need to learn basic search engine math.
For example, if you want an exact phrase use quotes: “iPhone 5S” for example will give you that exact phrase. If you want to add something to that search you can use a plus and to remove something you can use a minus.
So, if I want to find out all the latest tips for searching on Google I might type in “search engine” +tips +Google -Bing
5 – Give yourself time
It takes time to troubleshoot. The problem is that many people just want someone to tell them the answer. When they are told the answer, they don’t even write it down or try it for themselves. The problem with this method is that you are promoting dependence on others instead of independence.
The bottom line is that if you want to be a polished technology user, you need to take the time to troubleshoot some lower level problems yourself. You can do this. The funny thing is that technology experts like me are usually not the experts, we just know how to find the answers. We know where to look and we work at it until we find something that works.
With the wealth of knowledge on the web, take time to polish your skills and it may mean taking on problems sometimes.