I'm amazed at how little some people know about locating, renaming and moving files, putting signatures on email, navigating the web, resizing windows or even turning a computer on and off.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
Geeks need not apply, Part 1:
Left behind? Help is on the way
May 6, 2012
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard
My friend "T" asks me where his photos went. My neighbor "R" wants to know what "right click" means. My brother-in-law -- I'd better not use any initials this time! -- can't get his home page back.
What's wrong with all these people?
Nothing. They're all sensible and intelligent. But the train left the station without them when the Computer Express rolled through town. They were too busy with other things -- raising a family, maybe -- to pick up the computer skills others take for granted.
Just as importantly, each of them worked in fields where computers hadn't yet taken over. Their kids, long since grown, learned the easy way -- by using computers day and night, at school and at home. Mom and dad were out of the loop.
(Go ahead. Ask a 14-year-old if mom and dad are out of the loop. See what I mean? Kids don't teach moms and dads how to use computers; they say things like "Mommm! You just don't understand!")
So people like "T," "R" and ... um, "X" and maybe you, too, end up feeling bad in two important ways. They feel left out and they feel powerless. The gap widens each year. The mother who once asked me what an "iPod" is now writes to ask if "3G" is better than "MP3."
When I teach basic courses in computers and software, I come away amazed at how eager the members of this forgotten generation are to learn -- and how little they know about essential operations such as locating, renaming and moving files, putting signatures on email, navigating the web, resizing windows or even turning a computer on and off.
Depending on when you were born, this might seem crazy to you. I've talked to many of you over the years and found a discouraging trend: If you're under 35 (some would even say "under 23"), you can't imagine that anyone with any smarts would not know how to reboot a computer. Or set up a home page. Or send the same email to 15 people at the same time.
So, for the next few weeks, we'll talk about the things you really need to know if you, too, have been shunted aside. I call it Geeks need not apply: How to do all those mysterious things with your computer. However, knowing how embarrassing it is to see headlines that run off the page, I'm sure the editors will find a way to make it shorter and sweeter.
By the way, if you're a semi-geek, you might learn a thing or two. Here's a test to find out. If you can't get this right, you qualify for admission to this series: What's the one button to press when your computer locks up and won't reboot? I'll have the answer next week.