Those IT Queries

Any computer user has run across some issue they don’t immediately understand. Some issues the user can quickly resolve, and others remain a mystery — an obstacle — and a pestilential nuisance in some cases. The more extreme version can be caused by switching from Windows PC to Apple Mac, or vice versa, because you are changing Operating System (OS) and programs (now often called applications or apps) at the same time. Your college or work may have an IT helpdesk just waiting to help resolve your issue, but if it’s late at night and you want to get something done, you may be on your own.

Using a bright screen in a dark room can harm your eyes. Turn on a light. Photo: Clare O’Beara.
Using a bright screen in a dark room can harm your eyes. Turn on a light. Photo: Clare O’Beara.

If you need to change OS for your work, or study, or because that is the new computer you were gifted, chances are you’ll need to look something up on line. “Ask Google” is today’s catchphrase. Someone will have encountered your problem previously and written up the answer. Indeed, a more sarcastic phrase is “LMGTFY” which is short for, “Let me Google that for you.” Other search engines are available.

“LMGTFY” which is short for, “Let me Google that for you.”

Faced with a page full of one-line leads and several ads, which articles will be helpful and which too complex or just wrong?

Here’s a useful PC Magazine article on moving to Mac from Windows.

Official support from the company is generally a good start.

I strongly recommend a site called Make Use Of or MUO, which covers personal computing and gadgets. Each article picks just one topic and covers it in simple, straightforward terms. If more complex issues are referred to, there’s another article referenced which will help. They have a search box.

Here are some good articles that may be useful.

Your college or office campus W-Fi is more secure than public Wi-Fi. Photo: Clare O’Beara.
Your college or office campus W-Fi is more secure than public Wi-Fi. Photo: Clare O’Beara.

No matter what the OS, you may pick up malware. Generally you are safe if using college or major office wi-fi, as the servers pick up and destroy malware using powerful programs, and they block downloads of programs. If you are using public wi-fi you are much more at risk. At one time Apple users believed that viruses did not affect their computers; they could, it was just that with so few Macs on the market, it wasn’t worth anyone’s while writing virus code to affect them. But now iPhones and other portables have proliferated, some of which are used for money transactions, so the malware merchants have caught up to the brand.

Learn about viruses, worms, trojan horses, adware, spyware, ransomware, scareware, rootkit, botnet, vulnerabilities.

iPhones and other portables have proliferated, some of which are used for money transactions, so the malware merchants have caught up to the Apple brand.

Setting up a new laptop.

Data backup methods.

Setting up printer on Mac.

Saving battery life on iphone. Anything relating to phones will need updating every few months as new models and technologies appear on the market.

Malware threats re WhatsApp.

Which Android phone to buy?

Add a table to a Gmail.

DuckDuckGo search vs Google.

Data breaches.

Internet safety.

Google docs and things you didn’t know they could do.

Resizing image files which are jpegs.

Mars Rover image courtesy of NASA.
Mars Rover image courtesy of NASA. I had to resize this image, as it was huge.

If your query is more general, Visual Capitalist is a site that puts facts and figures into infographics. This site is searchable and is a great start for assignments; many of its topics are related to economics, and they give their references.

How to spot fake news.

What goes into your carbon footprint.

The 50 most visited websites in the world.

Not too long ago I was starting to make a film file in DaVinci Resolve and ran into an issue that was not in the user guide. I Googled it. The makers had set up a forum and people had asked that question before me. My query was:

Da vinci resolve why can’t i import a mp3 clip?

This did get pretty technical and drastic. However, I rephrased the question and found the answer was that I needed to click something tiny which greyed out or enabled the “add new audio” ability for each waveform. The person answering complained that this was simple but was not obvious and was not in the user guide. So, if the answers seem to involve wiping the computer and starting again, you’re probably looking at the wrong answers for you.

Many complex and indeed simple issues can be resolved by you if you can watch someone else work through that issue. YouTube is a great source of help. The YouTube search engine is now the second most used search engine in the world, after its parent Google. I’ve used it for aid with anything from plumbing to film making.

Suppose you want to know how to use your computer to make something like a poster, infographic or leaflet. Canva provides free tools. I have only used the free options and find them quite satisfactory. You make your item, download it as a Pdf (portable document format), and Canva saves the copy so you can return for any changes or for another download. Gridlines, clip art and photos, as well as being able to import your own images, all help to personalise and smarten your work.

Part of an infographic about waste tyres, using my own photo.
Part of an infographic using my own photo.

Whatever your query, technology has come up with a solution, it seems. The closer your query to what you actually need, the easier it is to find the answer.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Clare O'Beara

Environmental journalist, tree surgeon and expert witness, and former national standard showjumper. Author of 18 books of crime, science fiction, YA fiction.