Career Opportunities

A ComputorEdge Column

Back to Archive Index

Peeves, Pitfalls and Pickles: Part 1

© Douglas E. Welch 1997

After spending 15 years working with and supporting computers I have developed a few pet peeves about working in the high-tech arena. These peeves range from simple annoyances to stereotyping and even harassment. We are all guilty of some little indignities in the office and my hope is that by pointing them out we might all be a little easier to live with.

What you need to know

A common pitfall among people who use computers extensively is that of exclusion. They often learn one or two programs extremely well but are lacking in the simple computer basics that can make them more productive. These people can create beautiful graphics and page layouts but often they don't know how to copy a file from the hard drive to a floppy disk. Whenever they need some basic assistance they end up calling the local support person for help.

You might think this is an appropriate division of labor but in, in reality, it is productivity drain on both the user and the support department. How long will the user wait before someone can address their problem? This is all lost time.

Don't allow yourself to fall into this trap. There are some basic operations that every computer user, from the youngest beginner to the oldest expert, should know. These include a basic understanding of the operating system, including how to copy files, selecting a printer, printing and archiving data.

Poor computer skills could be reflected in performance reviews even though you might be quite adept at running specific programs. Don't let this happen to you. A computer is your tool, as much as a hammer is a carpenters tool. While a computer is infinitely more complex, it is important that you know its basic operation and application. This knowledge will make sure that you aren't trying to do the computer equivalent of driving a screw with a hammer.


Just like programmers, creative and craft professionals cannot afford to be too specific when it comes to the hardware and software they use. While we all have our specialties it is important to always be investigating the newest tools from the computer industry. This insures that when an important new tool is released you can begin to use it immediately.

An overall knowledge of the tools available will help to insure that you are always employable. Not every company uses the same hardware or software. If you ever have to leave your current job you may need to use software outside your specialization. An awareness and basic knowledge of this software can certainly help you succeed.

It is important to remember that in today's business world, even those people who don't support computers or write programs still need to know the basics. Every workman should know their tool intimately and computers are no exception.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at:

He can reached via email at

nt tomŸ