Tag Archives: pc help

Tips for Dealing With Inexperienced Computer Users

Geek!This is Michael Trimm’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

As Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker in the Spiderman story: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This phrase does not only apply to crime fighting web-slingers, but to us computer enthusiasts as well (a.k.a. geeks). Those of us who understand technology and have mastered the art and science behind making the computer work for us are oftentimes approached by those who don’t quite understand how their machines work. Although it is sometimes tough to explain something for the “umpteenth” time, we have a responsibility to educate those who know less about their technology than we do. Here are some tips for dealing with those who aren’t quite as tech savvy as you are.

Patience

It is all-too-easy to lose your cool when dealing with frustrating situations, so patience is vital. The seemingly-trivial questions and answers mean a lot to the person you are helping. At one point, you had similar questions about the stuff you are now teaching others. Don’t get too frustrated when you are asked the same question multiple times – after a short while, they will get the hang out of it. Your patience will pay off and soon they will be able to help others.

Details, Details, Details

When assisting someone who is new to using technology or is not technically inclined, you can never use too many details. As a technology specialist, when I support some customers, I have to tell them the smallest details, including press “Run” for the program I told them to open. Other users may know what needs to be done, but are awaiting your guidance. The more details you use on the location of items (e.g., Control Panel, System Tray) or on the specific process, the better.

Teach them to Fish

There is an old adage that is popular in my office. “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” We try to use that in our support methods. If we just do the task for the user, or walk them through it every time, then they will just keep coming back to us and asking for help. If we have them do the work, look it up themselves, or perform the task on their own, it is more likely that they will actually learn it and not need to keep asking you for more and more help.

Let Them Make Mistakes

These days, there is almost nothing that cannot be undone on the computer (you do keep a backup, right?). Allow the user to explore and play around a little bit. Don’t hover over their shoulder while they are performing the task (my mom taught me that one the hard way). If they make a mistake, it’s generally easy to undo it (plus, you should have a backup and they should have a limited account). Most people learn better from experience than from reading a book or being lectured.

Keeping these simple tips in mind will help you to stay sane while supporting somebody who is new or inexperienced in computing. It will also allow them to begin to learn the joys of computing.

PC Questions and Answers

I received this email from “Helen” earlier today, and I wasn’t really sure where to being dispensing advice – since it seems she’s starting at ground zero. It was a bit overwhelming, so I thought you might be able to pick your favorite question(s) from her list and answer with your own opinion(s). You should know that the original message came in ALL CAPS, so I had to do some converting to make this more presentable:

Chris, I am emailing you because I happened to run across your website as I was doing some research and trying to get some current information on what the best video equipment to buy is, if you want to do a web show via youtube, webcasting or even to incorporate a video window and video show on my website, if I had a website. LOL! I am a pretty smart gal, but the problem is I am not computer savvy or technologically advanced at all! I have pretty much no idea what I’m doing on a PC. I simply roll the dice every time I turn this beast on and hope nothing goes wrong or I don’t click the wrong button and everything goes haywire.

To add insult to injury, I am deaf, so this makes it especially hard when I’m trying to communicate with someone in person. I am 46 years old and was actually born with perfect hearing, and had perfect hearing throughout my entire life until 2001. I went completely deaf in 2001 after unknowingly taking a medication which had been given to me by my doctor. I am able speak really good because losing my hearing did not in any way affect my speech. I just can’t hear. I lost my hearing about 7 years ago. I was 39 years old when I lost my hearing, so I could hear fantastic up until that time. Let’s put it this way. If your doctor ever wants to put you on a medication, make for darn sure you know exactly what the side-effects are, because it could cost you something very precious in your life. When this happened, I didn’t just lose my hearing, I lost everything that was most important to me in my life. So be very careful what you put into your mouth.

I can communicate perfect while I’m online because it’s all done by typing and keystrokes. I also manage pretty well when I’m on the telephone also, because I have a TTY machine, along with the assistance of a tyy operator, who does all the translating for me. The tyy operator tells me everything the other person is saying, and then it is displayed on a small monitor on my TTY machine.

One of my dreams is to actually find someone who has invented voice regognition software that I can easily install in 2 small laptops, so I can communicate directly with people in person. All the other person has to do is speak/talk into one laptop, then it automatically reads/diplays out on the other laptop’s montior, much the same way a TTY machine does – minus the TTY operator! LOL! I live in a completely isolated world, never really genuine part of, or belonging to/in the deaf world or the hearing world. It’s a very lonely existence, and if I could remedy that in some small, but very effective way, it would change my entire world; my direction; my options; my ability; and my purpose in life. It would restore 95% of the life I once knew, minus the music I loved.

It’s pretty much impossible for someone like me to become self educated on PCs, the web, browers, tech instructions or support, and everything else that is going in the computer world, because you must be able to hear what they are talking about or explaining. I really feel left out and unable to enjoy all this great, new, advanced technology now availbale when I can’t even hear anything. There are no computer deaf schools, so I am basically on my own. Everything I have found out so far, I have done so on my own. They say PCs are now so simple for everyone to use that a five year-old can operate one. They claim all you have to do is turn it on and click! Yes, it’s pretty easy… until you experience your first pc problem. Then something that was supposed to be so easy, becomes really complicated, really fast! LOL! I’ve had many problems come up where my PC would freeze, my processor would stop working, my printer spooler quit on me, my index file went missing all of a sudden after I uninstalled a program, continual error messages, unlimited problems with aol interent service, PC running super slow, problems getting a connection on line, and many other types of problems. I’ve had to buy five different PCs in the past two years because I could not fix the problems, and of course the problems did not crop up until after the warranty lapsed. I think these PC companies rig their machines to start having problems after the warranty period is expired, because this has happened to every single PC I’ve owned. And once it starts having problems, it goes from bad to worse, and of course I don’t have anyone around to help me fix whatever the problems are.

You seem to be very PC savvy, techincally advanced, very educated and well informed, and that is why I am contacting you in the hope that you can, and will help me. There are things that I long to accomplish and do on the computer, but I do not even have a basic understanding or how it all works, and what is what. I know very little about PCs; Just enough to get by. I really want to be as computer smart and advanced as you.

Can you recommend where or how I should start?

I would also love to have a little political talk show to discuss politics and news – something I’m very, very good at.

Anyway, if you would be kind enough to help me just a little bit, to become a better educated member if the computer world, I would deeply appreciate it. And if you could give me some information on what the best video equipment, camera equipment, lighting, sound, etc, is that I should buy to go on youtube, I would also appreciate it. I want set up a little studio and go on youtube, but I have no idea what the best video/camera equpiment, lighting or sound equipment, extra computer equipemnt, software, etc., Is, or where to get it. I also have no idea how to get on youtube or facebook either.

I am so computer ignorant, that I don’t even know what the difference is between a web browser, java script, firefox, adobe flash, and an internet provider?? I can’t even get some type of my own files, or files i’ve downloaded from the internet or other sources to open because a message window will pop up and tell me I don’t have a compatiable program to open it. I have no idea what that means or how to recify or resolve the problem. I am on aol, so isn’t aol my web browser??

You see, I told you, I am computer illiterate. LOL!

I know that you must be extremely popular and exteremly busy, but any bit of time, recommendations, referrals, or help you could give me, would be extremely appreciated.

These are just a few of the things on my wish list, which I would like to know; Know how to do; And would like to accomplish on my pc, such as:

1. Learning how to properly use, operate, and trouble-shoot my pc, browsers, software, hard drives, etc., Including all the definitions, meanings, and terminologies relating to and about computers.

2. Learning how to build or install, and operate my own website, and who I need to contact to get on the “WWW”? Who’s in charge and oversee’s the entire “WWW”?

3. I would like to know what I need to do and what I need to buy, in order to do webcasting, and what equipment I would need to buy for webcasting? Who do I contact to get a channel on the internet?

4. Learn how to establish an eBay, YouTube, Facebook, and a Twitter account. Once I have these accounts, I would like to learn how to install their programs and properly operate them.

5. I would like to know what the best computers, monitors, keyboards, accessories, video add-ons, software, security, ISPs, etc., are, and where to buy them.

6. I would like to know what the best software is and who the best software companies are, if someone wants to air thier own show on YouTube and webcasting? I would also like to know what equipement is need for that, where to buy it, and how to operate it?

7. What are really good, high tech websites for staying up-to-date on all current computer issues and Internet news?

Chris, I don’t know what a server, Web browser, processor, or anything else is, in a computer, or how it all works together. I don’t even know how to text message from a computer or do much of anything using my PC. How do you get people’s text addresses if you want to send them a message?

In closing, I want to thank you for your time and any help, recommendations, and suggestions you can offer me, and looking forward to hearing from soon.