Saturday, June 16, 2007

Most-asked tech questions

Having just returned from a brief vacation, the voicemail and email show a trend. Here's what's on the minds of my clients:

1. Should I buy another Windows XP computer while they are still available?
Answer: Yes. Don't get Vista unless you have lots of spare time to play around with it.

2. What's the easiest backup method.
Answer: USB thumb drives or online backup service like Genie Backup Manager.

3. Email is becoming a terrible, messy burden.
Answer: I know, I know. The best strategy is to reply, file or delete. Don't let the Inbox, Sent or Trash build up to hundreds of messages. It's anxiety-producing and inefficient. Read, Act, or Dump, that's all we can do.

4. Isn't there an easier way to find my files?
Answer: Windows Explorer with it's nested folder system, and quick search ability is the best we've got for now. It does take time to manage, but it takes less time than paper files. Make folders, drag your stuff into them, and do a backup. Then, grab a book and go to the swimming pool to relax.

There is an entire chapter in Computer Ease on handling these mundane tasks. But if they make our life easier and let us work faster, they're worth learning.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jim Coates retires from tech writing

Chicago Tribune columnist, Jim Coates, a nationwide favorite, is retiring today. He provided more laughs, compassion and clarity than any other tech columnist in the country. No one could sort out the facts, labor hours over re-creating errors, testing software, interviewing company execs, and sniffing out the truth about the way things work.

Here at Computer Clarity I always thought the battles I fought to make things right for clients were in unison with Jim and his thinking about the way technology should work, so I'll miss his columns. His retirement may be the start of a book career, so we haven't heard the last of him.