Someone asked me this week how long it took for me to learn what I know about computers and the Internet. It got me to thinking anew about how to prepare a new user. What advise should I give to someone who wants to get started using a computer? I’ve covered some of this in previous columns, but I want to suggest a different approach this week.
Let me start by saying that introductory classes for computers and Windows and such are very helpful and they are taught in Colleges, Technical Schools and other institutions all over the country. I myself teach them. But, I want to caution the newbie; there is no course that I know of that you can take and be completely prepared to do what you want on the Internet and with all your other technological endeavors. If you learn to ride a bicycle, it sticks with you; the basic parts are the same, the laws of gravity don’t change and you can quickly relearn the operating skills when you’re away from a bike for a while.
The world of computing is much different, and it is ever evolving so that you must continually update your knowledge base or you will be left behind. So what do you need to know to keep up? You have to learn how to get help. That’s my answer to this week’s question. Somewhere along the way you have to learn when and how to use help. No matter how limited your expectations are for using your PC, there will come a time when you are all alone and confronted with a situation that prevents you from doing what you want to on your PC.
What do you do? You can call your friend, neighbor, or spouse; whoever helps you with your PC and knows more than you do. You can call a professional like me. But if none of that works for you at the time, you can learn how to use help. Help is all around you and with a little persistence you can become very adept at its use. There is a Help menu built into in just about all PC applications; there’s one in your Start Menu for whichever operating system you are running. You can call the manufacturer of your PC or Microsoft or the software company. Be prepared to spend a substantial chunk of time with that approach as most of that kind of service has been outsourced to places like India and the Philippines.
I keep a large file of troubleshooting tips and solutions for an ever increasing array of PC problems, but it takes a lot of time to research my notes, references and saved Internet links to put my hands on that particular problem. Even if I can find the archived solution, the problem today may have a new twist that it didn’t have the last time I solved it.
So what do I do? I Google it! There you know my secret! It’s quicker than going through my files; much quicker than looking it up in a book and the answer is evolving with the problem; in real time. Learn to Google your problems! You are not the only one on the planet having that problem.
If something fouled up on your PC today, it happened on many others and they are searching for solutions too. Look to the global IT community to help you solve your local problem. You will be amazed how well it works!