Ok. I admit it.
I didn’t want another dog. We had been dog-free for nearly two years and it was easy. Less cleaning. More flexibility when we wanted to go away for a few days.
But, Connie wanted another dog. Not wanting to be the grumpy old guy in the house, I relented. After all, we’ve had a number of dogs over the years and they always became a big part of the family.
So, a year ago we picked up Chobe, had a fun summer with her at camp where training a dog is easy with lots of swimming and outdoor time.
But, moving back to town in the fall was not so easy for us as Chobe transitioned from puppyhood into early adolescence.
For those dog owners reading this, you know what I am talking about. Chewed shoes, hands, porch steps, and just about anything else. Lots of running around grabbing any object in sight.
A year later, Chobe is older, wiser, and turning into a great, affectionate, and well-behaved dog. Along the way we learned a great deal.
I was particularly surprised by the lessons we learned this year about raising a puppy that also applied to technology. Here are several of them:
#1. Don’t run with a puppy. As a runner I knew that a puppy should not run with me for a year. And yet early on when out for a walk and the pup broke into a trot, so did I. Big mistake. After 10 yards, Chobe took a fast right, tripped me, and that was the end of our running together until she was one-year-old. (See the hole in my shirt where I skidded across the pavement.)
How does that apply to technology? That hole in my shirt is a visual reminder NOT to run with technology when you should walk. Take time to explore your device(s). Your smartphone or tablet are complex and learning how to use them takes time.
Pro Tip: The obvious analogy is not to run with your device but more broadly stated be careful how you carry your device. Occasionally I catch myself carrying my open laptop with one hand or balancing my smartphone atop a pile of books as I move around the house. Not recommended. As careful as I am with my devices, I would be very unhappy about dropping my laptop or smartphone. Smartphones have another set of issues because we carry them with us most of the time. Use a case or carry it where it won’t get jostled around a lot or scratched by other objects, as in a purse or backpack.
#2. Don’t leave your belongings where they aren’t safe. Not surprisingly our Labrador puppy was a chewer, a trait thankfully gone by her first birthday. But in her first year she chewed through just about any toy we could find, even heavy-duty dog toys that are made to last. Inevitably, Chobe also chewed through three different pairs of my wife’s shoes. (I learned early on to hang my shoes from our coat rack instead of leaving them on the floor.)
How does that apply to technology? If you use a smartphone always activate the passcode so others cannot access your phone. Passwords are another matter and deserve much more attention than almost any of us give them.
Pro Tip: Read this article on passwords and proper password management for some excellent ideas about how you can stay safe. And take time to convert your (fraying) little password notebook to a system that is usable and safe. Check out these two articles about password managers here and here.
#3. Chobe just wanted to play. Especially in the morning, after eating and her trip outside, she would come back inside loaded for…fun. Her fun! She would race around us grabbing anything at her eye level and not nailed down—a stray sock, a towel, a newspaper, used tissue from a wastebasket. And when we approached her to retrieve said object, she would race away. She had done it. Engaged us in some play, exactly what she needed.
How does that apply to technology? Have fun with your device. Play with it. See how things work. You aren’t going to break anything, honestly! Just pick one thing a day and go for it. Do you know about the various types of clocks on your phone? Stop-watch, timer, alarm clock? Do you know where your calculator is? How about a more robust weather app like Dark Sky? And so on.
Pro Tip: If you don’t use your smartphone camera except for an occasional picture, now is the time to learn about its features. Depending on the type of phone you have, your camera may also be able to take panorama, video, slo-mo, even time-lapse. These are fun and useful so “play” with each one of these to see how they work and how you can use them.
#4. Dogs become “good” dogs when their owners care about them and train them properly. We were determined with this pup to help her become the dog we wanted to live with for the next 13 years or so. We have worked with Chobe diligently, taken her to two obedience classes (where the humans are the ones doing much of the learning) and that has made all the difference. She is a happy, (generally) obedient, affectionate dog who responds to us as she should. We had a plan and I’m happy to say, we’ve stuck to it.
How does that apply to technology? Technology works the same way as puppies. No matter whether you have a new smartphone, tablet, or laptop, to become fully proficient, one must have a plan to learn about it. Back in the early days of home computers (or cellphones) each device came with a monstrous manual that told you everything you needed to know about operating your new device. No one ever read those manuals. And today they are not included anyway. There are so many online resources—articles, video tutorials, forums, courses—that finding good information about your device is the easy part. The hard part is for you to know which resource(s) give you the best value for your time. (More on that in a future post.)
Pro Tip: You just purchased a new smartphone and you don’t know much (anything?) about it. Where do you start? That depends on your learning preferences. Would you rather read something about your smartphone or would you rather watch a tutorial? Either way, use your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGO, or other) to find articles or videos that walk you through the steps to learn about your device. And don’t forget that the printed manual that once came with you device is now available online and accessible from your device.