I’ve never been into technology the same way as most of the other writers whom I read on an almost daily basis on online technology web magazines—the ones who confess to spending many a day building computers and always being avid Do-It-Yourselfers. In many respects, I would find it far easier to write about sports than I would technology. Sports is something I know really well: I watch all my teams, and with the help of certain technological advancements, somewhat ironically, I can now watch many games, across a number of different leagues, in condensed game versions, so I don’t need to watch the whole thing. Something as simple as condensed games being on offer has made it possible to watch far more games than I otherwise would have had the time to watch.
I actually do write quite a lot of stuff about sports online as well, contributing to several forums, always operating under a pseudonym, like most others on forums. Though I’ve never studied sports, you don’t need to go to some type of college or sit for an advanced diploma to get educated. You can do that from your home, and getting educated on sports is something I sure did for the vast majority of my early life. Participating in them for a good chunk of my time on earth also helped, as few things can substitute experience.
When posting what I consider to be dynamite opinions on forums, that I knew would almost certainly prove true, they were, almost always, met by at least a few people who thought otherwise. I guess in a way being an expert in at least something and knowing that no matter what you say there will always be people who don’t like your views, has given me the confidence to go out there and share my opinions on other things when I feel comfortable enough to do so . . . like once I finally felt like I had learned enough about technology to be pretty confident in what I had to say.
Technology wasn’t completely random, all of a sudden, in my life. I did go looking for work online while I was studying Microsoft certificates, when I was hopeful, at least back then, of becoming, eventually, something along similar lines as a systems administrator. One of the paradoxes you soon learn with technology though is that while it continually advances with the world around us, that doesn’t mean there are going to be jobs for you to go to. Many of the jobs within technology are coming and going, and by the time you finish your course, there might not be much left of what you had planned to go into. I realized that the hard way, being the naive young adult that I was, not realizing that a school would be cruel enough to take your money knowing that the writing was on the wall for that particular part of the industry. Many of the buildings around the inner cities, where these large corporations are that employ I.T. people have already had the work done on them that you might have been trained to do, or you just might find that there is already a person being employed in the job you wanted to do. These jobs are really quite rare given how few large corporations there are sucking up most of the world’s money. You probably aren’t going to know the next person who waltzes into a town and knocks up another large building that makes up your CBD or even the guy who hires out a few floors of it either.
Sports seemed like the fun route to go down with blogging, but I was never sold on the idea, knowing that the word “blogging” itself didn’t get much respect, and if I were to sit up in my parents attic and try to be a sports blogger for a living, it would have been too much for the people around me to handle without falling out of their seats. There’s also the part where devoting much of my life to sports wasn’t something I wanted to do—at least not any more than I already was by watching on the tube in my spare time. Sports are fun but by no means the meaning of life. Blogging on technology seemed like something more professional, something that felt more like work, and something that the people around me would have had more respect for as well, so I rolled with it. There’s also the element of money: I knew of tech blogs from the days when I first started writing for other tech sites and I had been taught what types of things to write on and how to find traffic—as well as the fact that I knew, while it would be a lot of work, I could match what these other tech blogs that I knew of were doing.
Winding back the clock, through all the writing I have done on technology by today, through all the years of studying technology as well, there was a time, not that long ago, when I was what I would consider to be a tech noob. I knew how to log in to my account, how to use a web browser, and like most teenagers and young adults back then, I had learned how to go about deleting my browser history. But outside of those things, what did I know about my operating system, or even the internet for that matter? The rest of my family, back then when we all still lived under the same roof, were certainly no better, and if it weren’t for my humble mind, could only be referred to as considerably less knowledgeable than I was.
It’s probably through no coincidence that some of my favorite writers have English degrees either, though also just as important to understand is that you don’t need a formal education to be educated most of the time. You could become close-to-an-expert at using the Windows operating system, for instance, if you sat around and waited for enough guides to come rolling out of our site, doing nothing but sitting behind your computer screen and reading. Our guides are great for learning how to get things done, learning lots of stuff you might not have yet known, and at times, how to fix problems, too. But just as important is knowing how to prevent problems, so they don’t happen in the first place.
Allow for Automatic Software Updates
There’s lots of information flying out around there about why you should update your computers and why you shouldn’t. Most tech savvy people accept updates as soon as possible because they know that they carry important security updates along with them should there have been any vulnerabilities in the past version—which is not an uncommon thing to have happen. Software is complicated and vulnerabilities are everywhere. Most of these tech giants find them before the regular everyday users do because many of the best techies are working for these companies and getting paid lots of money to do it. On the other hand, there are also some tech experts who choose not to update—because well, they just think they have their reasons. Don’t be put off by the latter. Yes, on occasion a tech professional might avoid an update because they know that it won’t be compatible with something they need or what-not, but this is not something that should concern you. You would be hard pressed to come up with any compatibility issues with the applications that you use, so you should always keep your computers updated and accept the automatic updates. That means not really having to do anything in Windows 10 apart from let it update when those updates arrive, much like they do for your mobile phones. Some people go to extreme lengths to get updates stopped, and that’s more what I’m arguing against for the average use—unless you have a good reason to defer them for a while.
Sometimes software updates come with new features: these typically happen roughly once a year—we are just now starting to see the Fall Creators Update roll out for instance. Part of this update is keeping your system up to date and secure and the other part is offering new never before seen features to use. Don’t let those new features put you off wanting to update. Most of these features aren’t large enough to change the way you already do things, and if you were to notice a change on your daily routine, it will explained to you as soon as soon as you log in to your accounts from the Microsoft Edge browser window that they have automatically popping up on the computers display for that very reason. All you need to do is read what is on the screen and allow a few minutes for Microsoft to introduce you to what changes have been made. Yes, it can be slightly bothersome to the people who don’t really care about new features, but it doesn’t require a great intelligence to comprehend them. If you have recently had a software update and you aren’t sure about a change, you could always use Google or Bing to find out more. For example, in years past there were some changes to the layout of the Settings application in Windows 10. So you could Google “Settings app changes in Windows 10” and you’ll find plenty of article directing you to the changes so you can better understand them.
Remove All Crapware
Here on the web, there are a lot of words that end in “ware” that you need to be wary of—malware, adware, spyware, ransomware—or else they can turn what should be a great experience into a nightmare. It’ll take some educating to get caught up with all of them, but the basics are pretty simple—always have antivirus running on your computers for starters. If you are using an operating system like Windows 10, then the computer already comes with Windows Defender which does a great job. Windows 10 also has antimalware that runs once a month in the background. If you are someone who dabbles in torrenting, though, or you just spend quite a bit of time on the web, browsing numerous sites, and you aren’t all that tech-savvy, you might also want to install something like Malwarebytes on your computer. Malwarebytes also now comes with an adware remover called AdwCleaner, after having bought out the computer in recent years. Adware is a program that many people install without realizing it—often infected people’s computers when they download torrent files and other things alike—that then makes advertisements shop up ion your computer’s display that is not associated with the websites, effectively giving you more-than-a-double-dose of ads, and far more than any Sane human could handle. These ads then get clicked a lot, and they earn the adware owners revenue, which is why it exists. You might be surprised how many computers I have started using over at other people’s houses, and I immediately can see the adware. No wonder people hate ads!
Sadly, there are also a lot of PC cleaning applications out there that are nothing short of scams. You might have downloaded one, and it tells you it will run a free scan, then alerts you to an apparent 47 issues that need fixing and then block the option to clean your computers behind a paywall. You would be right not to hand over money and pay for these apps, as they are just telling lies to take your money. But there are also some good programs out there for you to use, and Malwarebytes is one that many people I know use. It’s also very popular among tech writers who write on Windows for a living and of whom I read regularly. If you’re someone who uses the Mac operating system, then still using these programs for malware and adware removal are still Essential, even if you feel as though you will avoid any virus when using them.
Start Using User Accounts
All the major operating systems out there being used every day by most—Windows, Mac, Linux distros—come with the chance to set up user accounts. In older times not many people used separate user accounts so it can be tricky getting people to change their ways since we all know old habits die hard. But operating systems have also come a long way: Windows 10 is being used by the most people out there and it now offers Microsoft accounts, allowing you to sign in to the same account and get access to the same files and preferences across as many devices as you want and from anywhere in the world. It’s like now having your own computer with just your stuff available from within your account now even when you’re sharing computers.
The idea of privacy isn’t the only reason why you’ll want to have different user accounts for all users though. Research suggests that the vast majority of virus problems come from users sharing the one account with administrative permissions. The first user account that is created on the computer always comes with the administrative permissions because there needs to be at least one account that has these permissions so there are no limitations to what the owner of the computer can do. But if you have everyone else using the same account with the administrative permissions and they aren’t very tech savvy then that could start opening up a world of problems. If you have kids or other people using your computer give them separate user accounts and make it the standard account without the admin permissions when you’re going through motions for setting the account up—it’s one of the options that you’ll see when you do—and that way you’ll run into less problems to do with viruses and malware in the future.
Check That WiFi Signals Are Secure
Some people still choose to use Ethernet connections because they’re faster, but most households are happily using WiFi because it is fast enough and uber convenient. . . . There are no wires with WiFi—the “Wi” is WiFi doesn’t actually stand for wireless (it isn’t an acronym at all . . . ), though it certainly is always wireless technology—and that means it makes less of a mess around your home. The thing about using wireless signals though is that you need to make sure other people aren’t connecting to those same airwaves or else they could be using your data. Most of the time this won’t be possible because your WiFi will come with security already in place—you know this if you have to type in a password to get the wireless working, as that’s the same password that your neighbors and other devices on your property would need to enter to start using your data.
Nevertheless, to say that not all connections are secure ones would be an understatement. I frequently check the connections that are available in my surrounding area, and probably 1 in 5 are open connections that I could start using if I were to wish. What’s more, these secure WiFi connections are important for your files as well—it would be possible for people to jump on your network and get access to your stuff if you’re allowing them to use your network. You don’t want connections around your home to be open ones or the other family members might be losing data or files from others using the same network as them. You should always educate your family so they know how to make and keep a network secure, and you might even want to go the whole nine yards and teach them how to use tools to identify if there is anyone using your network, too.
Teach Them What They Need to Know About Remote Access
If you’re anything like me, as much as your family doesn’t want you around, you also probably know that they’re screwed should you actually ever get the opportunity to leave. I would estimate around once per week would be a pretty safe number that someone around the home needs computer assistance in my neck of the woods—partly because they don’t bother to try to work out what is wrong because they know I’m around and partly because they wouldn’t be able to fix the issue, even if they sat there all day. Knowing computers really well is something that a lot of people who have grown up with them do, but the older generations all too often have no interest in doing.
The family doesn’t have to suffer just because the tech wizard isn’t around to help them anymore thanks to remote access—now the tech wizard can access the computer for anywhere around the world where they can get an internet connection—that includes Antarctica (though some won’t believe me . . . ), and even some of our oceans, should you ever get caught in the middle of one on a romantic date. I’ve usually used third-party applications like Team Viewer in the past because trying to remote connect in past Windows versions wasn’t an easy thing to achieve, but that’s changed nowadays. Team Viewer is still really easy to use, though you also can show the other people around the home what it takes to get Quick Assist working–a new feature that just came out in Windows 10 and is about as easy to use as Team Viewer, having far fewer requirements than the older remote connection feature.
If your family is pretty familiar with using Google Chrome extensions, they might prefer using the Google Chrome Remote Desktop application. It works similarly to the Windows 10 Quick Access and Team Viewer applications but is going to work directly from the Google Chrome web browser instead. Using Chrome’s Remote Desktop is a little different to begin with: You’ll need to choose the computer that you want to connect to from the list of known devices and then it’ll start things up for you that way whereas if you were using something like Team Viewer you would need the person to give you their computer’s ID and password that they are given when they open the application on their end. Chrome’s Remote desktop application probably doesn’t have as many users as it should because a percentage are thinking that you can only use it to get access to stuff relating to the web browser itself, but in fact, if you were to give it a go, you would find out that you can use it to browse around the operating system and do anything you would normally be able to do from that computer as well, making it really no different from the other options out there and a perfectly viable solution to use for tech support purposes.
Use Search Engines
Many people that I witness, especially younger generations, are getting the hang of how to use search engines, but I still am around many people who aren’t. Particularly frustrating is when someone will ask everyone in the room a question, putting everyone’s lives at a halt, that they don’t know the answer to and yet they have a mobile device in their hands . . . they just aren’t getting it. . . .
Most of the people around the room probably won’t know the answer you’re looking for either, but there is a beautiful thing only a few taps away from the device in your hand called a search engine.
I’ve worked out that the reason many of the people who are reluctant to use search engines, most notably Google, are not doing so because they forget about its existence. More often the case is they don’t trust the quality of the answers or when they try they aren’t able to bring up the results they are looking for.
The key to getting both scenarios right is more practice. The answers are most likely out there but what you’ve typed might not be yielding the best results. I’ll give you a quick example: If I wanted to know why the sky was blue, I would type “Why is the sky blue?” and hit the enter key. It’s that straightforward a lot of the time. Don’t be afraid to ask it questions directly; they do a much better job of working out what you’re looking for these days than in years past.
Most people use the Google search engine, but Bing is also pretty good at showing results. I often prefer Bing’s results because they don’t hesitate to give you an exact word match to your query whereas Google tends to recoil from that for some reason, but at the same time, I have a habit of nearly always using Google still. Regardless, either of the two should keep users happy more often than not, so definitely give them a go. We would be reluctant to recommend any other search engines though for a general query.