This was a particularly challenging week in technology for me. I had to swap my work laptop out for the correct one (apparently the one I was using was intended for someone else) so I had to move my entire work life from one device to another. The new laptop then needed to get a total Windows reinstall the next day, so I had to re-reinstall everything I needed. For those unaware, I work in analytics, so my work requires literally a dozen specialty programs to work with data in various ways. Needless to say, it was a super frustrating end of the week for me.
That brings me to the point of this week’s blog – the things I wish everyone knew about tech. There’s nothing I find more infuriating is someone who just blatantly does not know about technology and just assumes they can fumble through it, and it’ll eventually work out. In my mind, that’s like getting behind the wheel of a car and saying, “Well, I know this pedal makes it go forward. Eventually it’ll slow down close to where I want to be, or I’ll hit something and stop.”
Technology isn’t going anywhere, and believe it or not, it’s not that much different in 2021 than it was in 1995 when Windows ‘95 reigned supreme running on an Intel 486 or the original Pentium.
Before we get into the list, my biggest piece of advice is to use Google to find YouTube videos about the devices you use. Have a Windows-based laptop? Google “How to use Windows 10 for beginners.” Have a Mac? Trust me, there’s a world of YouTube videos on tips and tricks and how to get the most of your device. You more of a phone-only person? Android 11 or Android 12 tutorials with your phone manufacturer’s tweaks documented super-duper do exist. Do yourself a favor and spend an hour or two really learning how to use what you interact with every day. After that, start looking into the software you use all the time. “Top Tricks and Tips for Outlook” is a legitimate topic to search and that might save you headaches.
Without further ado, here’s the list.
- Windows PCs and macOS aren’t that different anymore
While they can’t read from each other’s local disks easily, PCs and Macs can share files, use most of the same applications, and Macs released up until the end of 2020 can even run Windows natively. There are nuanced differences, and everyone is allowed their preference, but it’s not like oil and water and hasn’t been since about 2005.
- Your phone is a computer, and you should treat it like one
Your phone is a highly specialized, shrunk down computer that has all the same functional parts as a computer. All phones, particularly Android phones, are subject to malware and hacks and everything on your phone can be pulled out shared with the internet. SMS messages are effectively just emails that use cellular signals to send.
- Laptops are usually only usable for 3-ish years, and anything older that is pushing it
Some laptops have more longevity than others (Macs are especially long-lived), but for the most part your generic budget- to mid-tier laptop is only good for a couple of years before it needs some serious TLC. Cleaning out the fan vents, cleaning up the software installation (even reinstalling Windows), and maybe even adding in more RAM if possible.
- You get what you pay for
There’s a whole world of budget computers that are basically e-waste waiting to happen in the world. It’s hard to really quantify a dollar range that these laptops exist within, but anything that has the wordsAthlon, Celeron, Atom, i3, 4GB, or 2GB are basically so underpowered they can’t even browse Facebook or Twitter smoothly. You’ll likely have to replace them within that 3-year window I mentioned earlier. There’s a sweet spot for price-to-performance and it’s not at the bottom of the budget—it’s about value not necessarily the best price.
- Your screen is probably showing you the wrong colors
I see quizzes pop up every so often about being able to see X number of colors in an image. In reality, it’s not just your eyes determining what you see on your screen—your screen is often to blame. If you use a “business” quality laptop or monitor, you’re likely missing 20-50% of the colors that are intended on a screen. There are a few different ranges of colors, called color spaces, around and typically most Internet-based things live in sRGB 8-bit color space, but your stock Dell Latitude can only show about 50-60% of those colors correctly. Even if they can display the colors, the screen might be set up to extra-saturated (Samsung) or too washed out (older LG phones). For the most part, iPhones and Macs tend to have more accurate colors but even they play with things.
There you go. My old-man grumblings after dealing with tech mayhem for the last week. #Sorrynotsorry