Sunday, June 17, 2001
Simple steps can make computing easier
By Rhonda Abrams
Gannett News Service
Technology: can't live with it; can't live without it. I'm waiting for the day when using any technological device is as easy as plugging in a toaster. Until then, here's Rhonda's Clip-and-Save-Column on Easy Tech Tips.
Get Ziploc bags. Every time I get a new piece of hardware or software, I put all the cords, disks, plugs, etc. in a bag and mark and date the bag with a permanent marker. I keep all my Ziploc bags in a big filing box. I can find the right cord for the right piece of equipment in an instant.
Make a warranty notebook. At the same time I put the cords and disks away, I put the warranties, installation guides and manuals in a wide three-ring notebook. Once again, I can instantly find anything I need for any piece of equipment.
Label everything. Keep a roll of tape and a permanent marker handy. Label every cord running into each electrical outlet, power strip, hub, telephone jack, etc. You think you'll remember what is connected to what, but you won't.
Keep receipts. My sister likes to tape receipts to the bottom of equipment. I don't. (File them with your tax receipts.) But keep them in case something goes wrong.
Look for simple solutions. Check to see if the power switch is turned on, the plug is in, you're connected to the right socket, etc.
Get a fast-speed connection to the Internet. Once you're used to always on, always fast, you'll wonder how you lived without it. Get a backup connection (perhaps a free one, like Juno) for down times and travel.
Learn how to access your e-mail from the road, from the Web or from a local-access number. Look for local-access numbers before you leave home to avoid long-distance charges.
Learn how to set up an auto response to your e-mail when you're away.
Don't believe the manufacturer when it says self-install. If it's critical to your business, hire a professional.
Keep your software updated. You may be having trouble on some Web sites or with some hardware because you're using older versions of software. Go to www.catchup.com and download a program that will automatically search your computer. (Full disclosure: My friend Nate Saal invented it. It's now owned by cnet.)
Use the appropriate technology. Just because you can do something electronically doesn't mean you should. I particularly like the big Rolodex file that you can slip business cards into. Very user-friendly!
Buy a CD-R or CD-RW drive, a compact disc recorder/rewritable burner to back up all your files on your hard drive.
Buy the extended tech support for critical software, especially the first year you use it.
Use your laptop as your main computer and have two docking ports one at home, one at the office two monitors and two keyboards.
Get stuff just because it's cool. You'll enjoy it more and you'll use it more and be more productive. So won't someone please send me a really cool, big, flat-screen monitor?
Rhonda Abrams is the author of The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies and Wear Clean Underwear: Business Wisdom from Mom. For free business tips, register at www.RhondaOnline.com or write Ms. Abrams at 555 Bryant St, No. 180, Palo Alto, CA 94301.
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