As you all have probably learned already, working with computers can sometimes be an amazingly frustrating experience. Computers can do so much for us but problems can and do crop up on a regular basis. Worse yet, these problems usually occur at the worst possible moment. In an effort to make your computing life a little easier, though, here are a few guidelines to help you avoid frustration and get on with your work.
Too often the problems that drive you crazy have nothing to do with your lack of skills or knowledge about the computer. Most are too quick to blame themselves when things go wrong. In reality, it is often a flaw in the computer or software you are using rather than some mistake on your part. As a general rule, if your computer is crashing more than once or twice a day, or if it crashes whenever you try to perform a certain operation, you are probably dealing with a chronic problem.
Chronic problems can be the most difficult to solve. Once you believe you are facing one you should seek out assistance from a knowledgeable computer professional or friend. Usually these problems can be solved by re-installing your operating system (i.e. Windows 98), or whichever program is crashing. Sometimes it might take more work, but at least you know during this process that it isn’t your fault. You may be frustrated at the work it requires to repair the problem, but you won’t be frustrated with yourself.
Even if your computer is working well, you probably still have questions about using it. For example, you might be interested in anything from changing margins to creating automated templates. These situations can be frustrating as well unless you keep a few things in mind.
First, when you are confronted with a problem allow yourself 10-15 minutes of concentrated effort. Some of you may even be able to spend a bit more time, but the moment you feel that familiar feeling of frustration, take a break. You will be surprised how many questions you can answer for yourself by taking these few minutes. If you need further help you can turn to those around you, printed manuals, third party books or even the Internet for further information. Don’t feel you are alone and don’t allow yourself to get so frustrated you throw up your hands. Once you reach that point it will take even longer to find an answer. No one works well when they are frustrated, as I am sure you know.
Asking for help, from books or friends should never make you feel stupid. Like the stereotypical male who won’t ask for directions, you only get yourself into deeper trouble by going it alone. We all have our expertise. Just because you are struggling with your computer is not a sign that you are dumb, despite book publishers who insist on calling you "Dummies" or "Idiots." It just means that you have placed your attention elsewhere. It is important to remember that even after 18 years of working with computers, one of the first things I do when I encounter a new piece of software or hardware, is look at the manual. Even those things that look familiar, like an upgrade to software you have been using for years, can contain differences that can trip you up.
Taking a few minutes to solve small problems allows you to build your skills without making you hate your computer. Knowing when to reach out for help, especially for the tough problems, can help you solve your computer problems without driving yourself to distraction.
The beginning of each month is the perfect time to ensure that your operating system (Windows/Macintosh OS) and anti-virus software are up-to-date. Your anti-virus software cannot pro tect your computer from the latest viruses without these updates. Updates are released at least once a month, unless a new virus is dangerous enough to justify an immediate update.
*** The latest information on the SoBIg.C Worm, one of the latest threats, can be found at CNET NEws.com.
Operating System Updates
For Windows (98, 2000, XP), there should be an icon labeled Windows Update in your Start Menu
For Macintosh OS 9 systems, check Apple Menu, Control Panels, Software Update
For Macintosh OS X systems, check System Preferences, Software Update
Most systems can be set to automatically check for updates directly from the Internet, as well. If you want to learn how to set up automatic updates for these programs, drop me an email or give me a call.
Safari 1.0 - Apple's Browser is ready for primetime
iTunes 4.01 - Latet music player now including a Music Store with $.99 tracks
iChatAV Beta - Chat client adds audio & video chat
OmniRemote 2.08 - Tool to use the built in IR port as a remote
Updates for MS Office - Get the latest patches and updates for your MS Office Software including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access.
A variety of important Windows Security Updates are available using the Windows Update service at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com
Software Updates of all sorts
My weblog, My Word with Douglas E. Welch, is a daily gathering spot for all the information I come across in my travels. There I announce new software updates, post photos, highlight interesting news stories, book recommendations and LA Events. You can check it out at: http://www.welchwrite.com /blog/
As if we needed any more reason to protect our PCs from viruses, now we find that certain SPAM emails can infect your machine and then use it to send even more SPAM.
Here is a story from CNET...
Spam may sprout viruses in home PCs
An e-mail security company says that junk e-mailers are making use of viruses to turn home computers into spam generators. [CNET News.com]
A Gardener's Notebook is a daily weblog of the trials and tribulations of a part-time gardener. It includes notes on what is blooming, what I am planting and what is struggling. It also contains links to new (or newly found) gardening books and more. Spend some time in my garden! http://welchwrite.com/agn/blog/
Visit to The Lavender Fields
Click on the photo for some pictures from our visit to The Lavender Fields last Sunday. We had a great time learning about lavender -- how it is grown and harvested, how to cook with it and how to distill its essential oils. I look forward to returning for their next event.
Career-Op, now in its 6th year, is my weekly column on high-tech careers. In Career-Op, I address some of the particular issues of working in high-tech and also general issues that we all face in our careers. You can find the latest column, and a complete archive of past columns complete archive of past columns.
The Art of the Small Deal
by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine
America is often seen as the country of the big deal. Everyone seems to be looking for the big score, the winning lottery ticket or, in the case of the computer careerist, the one big project that will make enough money that you won’t have to work for the rest of the year. While you all probably know the fallacy of this thinking, you can be caught up in the search for the big deal, to the great detriment of your high-tech career. While you can and should continue looking for the big deal, you need to fit it in and around the day-to-day work that keeps you solvent.
WelchWrite Bookstore and Recommendations
Learn to Power Think: A Practical Guide to Positive and Effective Decision Making
The Playful Way to Serious Writing
Interesting Web Sites
Neat Things on the Web
One of the best things about the web is discovering neat sites. The Shifted Librarian offers up a couple of great sites, both which offer easy-to-use RSS feeds, that can help to expand your web horizons.
More web sites of all sorts
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