Techy stuff, it drives me nuts!
Actually I do
Actually I do like techy stuff but then I spent 20 years working in IT as a programmer, analyst etc. so I’m comfortable with it. Even so, sometimes I get stuck with techy stuff too and have to ask for help. Sometimes when I look at some instructions my eyes glaze over in the same way as they do when I look at a tax form (I find everyday accounts intensely boring but unfortunately necessary). Mostly though I ok with it.
But most people don’t
Most people in my experience don’t like techy stuff and would rather put pins in their eyes than configure a router or grapple with some HTML on a web page. “Computer; make your way to ground floor via the window as fast and as hard as possible!” But don’t blame the computer it actually does an amazing job despite the frustrations and yes I know, there can be a lot of frustrations. Sometimes you can spend a day or two just trying to make it work but most of the time they actually do work ok.
What do I do
First of all slow down, when I’m in a rush I only end up messing something up, you actually go faster when you slow down and take it step by step (easy for me to say … humph).
Things to do
For most problems there is usually a load of answers already on the internet. If it’s happened to you then it’s usually happened to others and some will have already solved the problem.
There was a joke in IT that goes; “a good programmer struggles for 3 days then looks at the manual” and you may have heard the term “RTFM” which stands for “Read The F$^(*@£ Manual”. Well actually I don’t always advocate reading the manual because some manuals are terrible so what to do?
For “Manual” I also mean “User Guide”, “User Instructions”, “Reference Manual” etc. or whatever a supplier calls their manual.
When using Google to search try your question or issue phrased in different ways.
- I check my work first? Have I made any mistakes, have I ticked an option I shouldn’t have. Think through what you have done and then explain it out loud or in your mind as if you were explaining it to someone else. Half the time this process will lead you to the solution.
- If you have had a good check through, still can’t see what’s wrong and someone knowledgeable is handy then maybe ask them but they won’t appreciate you if you ask them constantly so don’t overdo it.
- Now check the manual, it should give you the answer but if the manual is generally hopeless then don’t spend too much time on it. As an example I find the Adobe Photoshop online manual a chore it’s not exactly bedtime reading and by the time I have cross referenced a number of times I forgotten what I was trying to do.
- If the official manual is not much help and especially if it’s a “how to” question then there are often lots of third party web sites that have articles or even courses on popular software or subjects. I work with HTML now and then but have never really learnt it, I don’t use it enough but when I want do something new there is usually a free how to course out there that I can dip into. For things like Excel and Word there is loads of help and it’s usually much better than the Microsoft documentation.
- FAQ’s! Sometimes there is a good FAQ on the suppliers web site, check them out.
- My next port of call is again usually Google, I just type in my problem and look for answers in places like forums. Many answers can be found on forums, often the forums associated with the software you are using.
- If this fails then you may need to raise a support ticket with the supplier. If it’s free software there might not be any support and if your software is not kosher then support is unlikely.
- You could try posting your question to a forum for the software or hardware you are using but you may get an answer in hours, days, weeks or even maybe not at all.
More things to do
You are not done yet. There are some other things that could affect a previously working piece of software that decides it’s not going to work properly anymore.
It might be worth re-booting your computer, sometimes this works.
Sometimes things just get corrupted for reasons that you may never know. Backup your data before you try any of these:
- Re-install the software. Sometimes there is a repair option.
- Completely un-install the software and re-install it again. Re-boot the computer in-between each stage so memory gets cleared and programs are re-started.
Sometimes an update or new piece of software can make an existing piece of software fail. This can pass unnoticed especially if you have automatic updates. Every now and then Microsoft issue an update that screws some things up*. Since Windows XP MS included the “get out of trouble” Restore function (hurrah!). This can be found as follows:
Click the “Start” button (usually bottom left) -> All programs -> Accessories -> System Tools
Spark this up and if necessary tick the option that says “show more restore points”. If there is an update or install that has happened which more or less corresponds with the start of something misbehaving then restore back to before the update or install. Don’t forget to save any data and close down running applications before you do as there will be a Re-boot.
Restore will sometimes sort out software that has become corrupted.
Yep, there could be a virus but this is too much to go into here. You can try running your virus scanners. Here are some you can try if you don’t have one, if you don’t have one get one right now!
The problem with browsers
If your problem is with a web page.
Unfortunately browsers have bugs and don’t always handle some of the capabilities of some web pages.
Clear the cache
In all of them one thing you should try is clearing the cache. Browsers hold old data to speed things up but this can occasionally cause problems. Look in the options or settings section.
Browsers hold information about your page visits in small files called “Cookies”. Sometimes these become corrupted so once again you can try going to your options or settings and look for the Cookie manager (no I’m not joking) and clear down the relevant Cookies, for example:
Try IE, Firefox, Chrome
And lastly for today, what works in one browser may not work in another. I use Chrome, that’s my favourite but sometimes things don’t work in Chrome so I try Internet Explorer. Different versions of a browser can also make a different. Popular browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox usually work with most web pages. Recently there was a banking bug with credit card transaction processing that affected Internet Explorer and possibly Firefox but things were working fine with Chrome.
*In fact today as I am writing this article a critical MS update knocked out my print spooler so I couldn’t print, I have just restored back and all is working again.
If you like my blog please comment. Tell me what tips you have and how you cope with naughty computer stuff!
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