Let’s face it: most of us are semi illiterate when it comes to computers. While many people have computer skills, say in using Word or Excel, most wouldn’t know how to install a security update, or upgrade a printer driver or add a font.
It was once thought that computer literacy is just another generational thing; that the “kids” know their way around computers. While it might be true that younger people in general are less computer-phobic, there is still a vast number of young people who ‘grew up’ with computers but still are effectively computer illiterate.
Large companies have technical support personnel who’s job is to keep all computer users happy. Individuals, on the other hand, seek the friendship of computer geeks, who fix their computers and software when needed.
If you don’t have a computer geek in your circle of friends, you’re in trouble. Seek one now. Better still, become one yourself.
You don’t need greasy hair, pimples and glasses to become a bit of computer whiz kid. All you need is an open mind, some investment of time and the will to learn (I know this is not asking for a little).
The web enables anyone to become his or her own technical support person. If you don’t want to be forever dependent on your geeky friend or the moody tech support guy at work, you’d better skip a few nights out and delve into the world of online tech support forums, help files and manuals.
Next time you have a computer problem try to formulate your problem in precise terms: what happened (mouse not responding), what software (Word) , what operating system (Windows XP). Go to your favorite search engine and enter your description. After some searching what you will probably discover is that you are not the only one with this problem in the world. The web is full of discussion forums and help sites where people ranging from absolute beginners to über-geeks congregate and post their problems and hopefully get answers.
Ask yourself, how many times have you consulted the help menu of an application. When was the last time you seriously studied a software or hardware related manual. Before reaching for the phone and screaming ‘help’ consider reading that manual!
If your computer skill set consists of just being able to switch on the PC, open Word and write a letter and save it, it would be really worth it to teach yourself a bit more about the machine in front of which a lot of us spend our waking hours.
Every car driver should know the brand of the car he or she is driving, check the oil, add water to the radiator and change a flat tire. The same goes for the PC. You need to know what operating system it is running, how big the hard disk is, how much RAM it has and what speed it’s processor has.
While cars are single purpose devices (driving), computers represent the extreme in multi-purpose devices. Cars have been around for over a hundred years and have matured over the decades. Personal computers have only been around for thirty years. The bottom line: handling PCs is still a complex issue. There are no short cuts. But the only way to overcome you computer-challenged status is to Do It Yourself.
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