Fixing It

In the last two days I spent at least six hours trying to make a piece of software work. It repeatedly crashed while recording video and in the end I had nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

Frustrating.

And then I got smarter.

I don’t think my experience with technology is all that different from other boomers and seniors so I’ll use my recent travails with tech as an example.

The point is…how can we get ourselves out of tech jams with minimal frustration, less wasted time, and possibly a feeling of accomplishment?

Anyone using technology realizes that glitches and problems happen. Here is a partial list of the issues I’ve had with my laptop and smartphone in the last four days,  Sound familiar?

The battery on my phone needs to be charged more frequently than before. Worked through Settings to turn off apps or phone features that might draw down my battery. Still no improvement. Do I need a new battery? A new phone?

Decided to take Google up on its offer for more security by using 2-step verification. Good idea to make my information more secure and excellent directions by Google; poor implementation by me. Took much longer than it should have to install and re-set password or several devices

Helped my wife replace her downloads folder in the dock making it easier to find. How could it have disappeared? And where did it go?

None of these in themselves were earth-shattering or made my life stop. But they were things that slowed me down when I was trying to be productive! (My first example at the top of this post, however, was another thing altogether. A huge time-waster.)

Working with technology is a constant learning process. We expect our devices to work right all the time and yet there are so many things we don’t know about our phones, tablets, computers.

Add in the constant updating of operating systems, software, and apps and the learning cycle never stops. Just when we get used to seeing our email program look one way, something changes and it looks foreign to us and we can’t find a thing.

What should you do when faced with a perplexing tech question? Here are five possibilities that will help you solve a problem and get you back on track.

Google search1. Do a simple searchGoogle It…or use whatever your favorite search engine is. Keep your question/statement short but include the specific name of your device to get the best results…”my iPhone 5S battery drains too fast” or “how do I replace the downloads folder on my Mac” or “how do I dim my Android tablet screen”. At the end of your question or statement, write “solved” giving you resources where this particular problem was solved. But you aren’t done yet. You have to decide which of the thousands (or even millions) of results can help you. Look to the first 1-2 pages for the best and most useful results staying away from advertisements, out-of-date responses, and random discussions about this topic.

2. If you want video, use YouTube. For a number of questions you ask, video makes sense, so do your search in YouTube. You want to see someone showing you how to change the settings on your smartphone, not merely read about how you can do it. Very helpful to re-play the video when someone is showing you what may be rather intricate directions for editing a photo. Nice to be able to follow along, replay, and stop and think as you go.

3. What do others say about this same issue or problem? Haven’t found the answer yet? Look at what others have done with a similar question. Your search results will also give you lots of forums—discussions about this same topics—to see what others have tried. But be careful, these discussions can go on forever and take you away from your original question, so don’t spend too much time here. Remember to include the word “SOLVED” at the end of your search (see tip #1 above).

4. Don’t forget the HELP section of whatever software or app you are using. Often this can be the best source of information for solving your issue. In many ways the HELP section has taken the place of the manual that used to be bundled with any software or hardware.

5. When all else fails, go directly to the company of the hardware or software in question. When my screen capture software kept crashing several days ago, I completed a ticket for Tech Support (available on their website) and in less than 24 hours had a full written response for directions for correcting my problem. My tech support contact has been a great help in solving this problem, responding several times to questions and issues over several days. Lesson learned…I should have contacted tech support much earlier in the process and saved myself a great deal of time. Some companies allow you to chat online. Some have help lines where you can talk to an actual person. Some, cost and others are free, but don’t overlook this valuable source of help.

To be tech-savvy in the 21st century means knowing how to solve problems with the devices and software we use. Yes, it is frustrating at times, but the more we know how to solve problems without wasting time, the easier it will be the next time around.

How do you solve your tech problems?