Getting Help with Technology Questions

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on November 14, 2011

in technology, Uncategorized

Do-it-yourself has been a longtime tradition for many of us. We’ve picked up many skills as we have assembled new furniture or equipment; painted, cleaned, or serviced items in our possession. Now, the digital age has opened up a whole new world of self-learning possibilities.  We may have the latest hardware and software, but not know how to use it to do the simple or complicated tasks we want. Sometimes our lack of experience and knowledge in this part of our lives can make us feel helpless. We don’t need to panic. Help is available and it is almost always online. Here are several resources that I use to get help online.

Help Button

Most software programs and platforms have their own built-in help menu. I use these especially when I am using new or updated software.

Search Engines

Sometimes I do a generic search for help by putting my question in one of the search engines: Google, Yahoo or Bing. The search engine comes up with a list of possible websites covering the topic. After doing this a few times, I have learned to be as specific as possible in the words I place in the search box and I often include the current year in the search to be sure that I get information that is the most up-to-date. For example, if I want to learn how to upload photos—I might put “upload photos to Facebook from computer 2011.” The search engine will do a filter based on all those words and give me the best list of website posts to choose from.

Websites

There are a few websites that I also check: Ehow.com and About.com. These sites have useful information about many topics including technology, computers, mobile devices, software, etc.  I type my question into their search boxes and usually get very good information. I also go directly to YouTube and type in the question to find video instructions. It continues to amaze me to find helpful videos on just about anything I ask.

Forums

Occasionally, when I am working on something technical and I get stuck I turn to a “forum” related to the platform or program I am using. For instance, this blog uses WordPress. When I was setting it up and now when I am adding a new component and I get stuck, I go to the Word Press Forum and search on the topic to see if others have already asked and answered the question. If the question has not been covered, I post it and eventually–often right away—others answer it. Sometimes it takes a little back and forth until I resolve my issue—but I get the help I need.

Where do you find help for your technology questions?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF November 14, 2011 at 7:26 am

Thanks Susan! Wonderful summary of what is available when HELP is needed. Also remember to involve a young adult mentor or two in your “tech life.” They often know the answer to the question or problem you may be having!

Jonathan F. Sullivan November 14, 2011 at 8:11 am

I’ll echo Sr. Caroline; I often recommend non-techies get to know someone who is and find out what their favorite treats are. 😉

(When I was in grad school I did freelance tech assist for the professors on the side. I always accepted my fee in cash, cookies, or beer!)

Marie Manning, SND November 14, 2011 at 9:35 am

Thanks, Susan–very helpful info for a non-techi!

Lisa Hendey November 14, 2011 at 10:02 am

Honestly, my new “go to” place for tech help when I’m really stumped is my “geek” circle at Google Plus. They are amazingly responsive (mostly Catholic but not all) and so willing to lend expertise quickly. I have yet to not get a problem resolved there… Thanks for the additional great solutions!

Kirste Moline November 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

One way to make a Google search more effective (and a bit safer) is to use the Google advanced search tool at https://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en and limit your search. I can restrict it by date (when I want the most recent content) or by domain. If I am looking for a reference from the USCCB in particular, I can limit my search to usccb.org. I can do the same for Microsoft or Facebook.

I actually teach kids to restrict their research to .gov, .org, or .edu sites. The bar for posting information on these kinds of domains is a bit higher. (And it forces kids to do more than just type something in and trust that the resulting link is both safe and accurate.)

Marilou Strathern November 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

I “Google” a lot.. it’s amazing the results.. again being specific in question asked is good advice.
I recently was searching for help with a telescope my husband purchased quite some time ago. I was amazed to find the manual and even more surprised when asked if I wanted it downloaded to my “Books” on my iPad. I have the entire manual saved in book form on the iPad…. Great surprise.. nothing is too simple or too difficult to try.
YouTube is unlimited in what you can find.. like recently: “How to Fold a Contour Sheet” 🙂
Go for it and good luck!!!!

Marc Cardaronella November 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Thanks for the tip on Ehow.com. I didn’t know about that one. I think Google is the best though. And, I can attest to the fact that Lisa’s new go to resource is her “geek” circle. 😉

Steve November 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

Thanks for your tips, Sister Susan.

Cnet.com is a site I turn to a lot.

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