Six Computer Tips from a Geek

As a software developer, I work with computers all day every day. Some things that for me are second nature, I discovered are not at all obvious to someone who doesn't use a computer as often. So, I thought I would write up 6 tips that can save you a lot of time if you are having trouble.

  1. If you are trying to learn a new program, try playing with it for a few minutes. (Play? Yes, this is actually fun for geeks.) Don't try to accomplish a specific task. You don't know the program yet, so you won't get anywhere. Instead, hover your mouse over icons so you can read their descriptions and click on menus and read the options. Try out any options that sound useful or unclear. A few minutes playing with a program is often more beneficial than hours spent in training or reading a manual.

  2. If you don't know how to do something, type what you are trying to do into Google. Usually someone else had the same problem and posted the solution on the web. The great thing about this tip is it applies to all sorts of things, not just computers. I know, I know, this is a pretty obvious tip, but I'm still surprised how often I have to remind myself to check Google. For example, for years I've had trouble picking a halloween costume, and it didn't occur to me until I wrote this article that I should ask Google. Sure enough, there is a detailed article on wikiHow that is very helpful.

  3. If something doesn't work, try it again. Technology these days is incredibly complex, and temporary glitches are common.

  4. If a web page or web application doesn't work, try another browser. Government and some corporate web sites sometimes only work with older browsers like IE7 or IE8. Most other sites work best with a modern browser like Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

  5. If a program doesn't work, try restarting the program. If you are using a web application, restart the whole web browser (including all windows and tabs you have open)

  6. If you have a bunch of computer problems all at once, such as the computer running too slowly, try restarting your computer. If your computer is always slow, you probably don't have enough memory in the computer. Buying more usually costs less than $100 and can save you hours of time. If you want to be sure you have enough memory in the computer, have a geek check for you. It only takes a couple minutes to check so he or she probably won't mind.