On Computers: Finding Answers in 'Plain Language' When Technology Has You Stumped

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

On Computers: Finding Answers in 'Plain Language' When Technology Has You Stumped


Byline: Mark A. Kellner, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Are you flummoxed by today's computer technology? You're not alone, if my email inbox is any indication. And while such perplexity has been around since the dawn of the personal computer era in the very late 1970s, today's dilemmas are at once new and familiar.

What is radically different, however, is how you can find answers to those questions. Often these answers are easier to find than in years gone by.

As mentioned here before, how-to books are better, I believe, than they've ever been. Plain language is the rule, not the exception, and many of today's guides are augmented with full color illustrations, and even more detailed step-by-step instructions. Online booksellers such as Amazon.com have many of these titles available to preview online, so a few minutes of browsing can pay off nicely in matching your needs with a given book.

One personal point: I tend to prefer computer books that include not only an index (for quick reference) but also a glossary of terms. It's a quick-and-easy way to get over a phrase that might have you stumped.

Another thing I've found - this may seem trite, but it's also, well, true - is that reading both slowly and more than once can help in assimilating and using the information you're learning. This is, after all, a piece of technology you're trying to understand; it's not a John Grisham thriller. Slow and steady will pay off here, I promise.

Another great resource - and available for free - are websites such as About.com and eHow.com. The About.com sites, which are a unit of the New York Times Co., are very thorough in screening the guides they hire for each page; the editorial control process is very good. As a result, the how-to information is generally very, very good and highly reliable.

At eHow.com, you can find more than the occasional gem: in looking for ways to curb an explosion of junk email, one user I know found a very simple, and useful how-to piece at the eHow site. …

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