TECHNOLOGY

How to Avoid Being a Tech Newbie: 5 Tips

Confused by tech? Here's a quick way to solve common problems.
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Crunch, crunch, crunch. That's the sound of someone slamming his fists against a keyboard in frustration.

Apart from the obvious side effects (such as broken keys and jammed fingers), getting angry about a computer is one sign you have not exactly started ruling over your domain--both the literal one and the figurative. Here are a few tips for tech newbies to survive in the digital age--and not ask for help from everyone in the office.

(Feel free to forward or tweet this link to people you know who might benefit!)

1. Don't panic when you press the Insert key

I've seen people post on Facebook about this one--and they appear to be digitally hyperventilating. The Insert key on a keyboard is a holdover from the DOS (that's Disk Operating System) era when we really needed it, but most of us don't bother using the key anymore. If your typing suddenly replaces the letter instead of adding new letters, you hit the key by mistake. Just hit the Insert key again to turn it off.

2. Disable Sticky Keys on your own

Here's another one that comes up a lot with newbies, and I will admit it can be frustrating. If you press the left Shift key five times in a row in quick succession, it will enable Sticky Keys--meaning, you can press CTRL once, then ALT once, then DEL once in succession and have each key stick. (It's a Windows feature that helps people with a disability.) Having these keys stick can be a problem for everyday typing. If you do it by mistake, just press left Shift five times again until you see the prompt to disable it.

3. Try typing the www in a domain

Newbies don't try alternatives to resolve problems on their own--they just get confused. This one happens when you go to a website and find that you can't access it. The site must be offline, right? That's not always true, and it has something to do with how the site operator programmed the domain. In a few cases, you have to type the www before a domain to access it (e.g., use www.inc.com, not just inc.com).

4. Check your Reply All twice

This is one of those obvious newbie mistakes, but it happens even to the seasoned pros among us. The problem is, you mean to send a blind copy to a bunch of recipients in one e-mail (maybe even a few hundred people) but forget and use normal Reply All by mistake. Now everyone can see your mistake. Oops! Worse, people might continue to Reply All to everyone on your list. It makes you appear unprofessional, but there's an easy way to avoid it. When you do any e-mail copies, always check one last time before you hit Send. Once you form the habit, you'll never make the snafu again.

5. Remove that double space

This one might seem obvious to those from a younger generation, but the truth is: People still do it, and it still makes you look as if you're new to the tech world. Putting two spaces after a period reveals how you learned to type--back when there were typewriters. Modern computers add enough white space between letters so the double-space after the period is not necessary. It just looks dumb. Just use one space. Have more? Post in Comments, and let's help the newbies!

 

Last updated: Jun 13, 2014

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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