Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm no David Pogue, but I have my moments

David Pogue posted a great column last week in the NYT with basic technology tips—the things you think everyone knows and you're shocked (SHOCKED) to find out they don't. Or as he put it..."everybody knows 40 or 80 percent of what there is to know—but everybody knows a *different* 40 or 80 percent."

Fair point.

Evidently Pogue's was the most emailed article on the NYT for two days straight, and provoked over a thousand reader responses with even more "basic" tips.

Here are a few more from me to you (PC based only this time around):

  • You can hit Ctrl-X to cut something or Ctrl-C to copy it, and Ctrl-V will paste it—this is not that hard, and soooo much faster than using the mouse. Trust me on this.

  • More importantly—hit Ctrl-Z to undo whatever you just did that you really didn't mean to, you know, like that time a whole paragraph disappeared and you have no idea how? (And... it's iterative—it will keep skipping backwards—so if you don't see what you expect the first time, try, try, try again.)

  • If you click in the space over or under the vertical scroll bar on a window, it will jump up or down in greater increments than clicking on the up or down arrow, and faster than dragging the bar. Again, can I say "faster?"

  • Ctrl-T will open a new tab in most current web browsers—of course, if you're like me and a tab-abuser, knowing this is not necessarily a good thing.

  • You can add a new number on most cell phones by entering it (usually, you don't even have to complete the call) and then pressing the option or menu key and selecting Add to Address Book/Contacts—this is often faster (huh. there's that word again) than finding the Address Book application on your phone and adding a new person.

  • The dot in gmail addresses is optional— and are equivalent (the dot in .com is NOT optional).

  • Putting your phone on vibrate generally shortens the battery life faster than having it on a regular ring (it takes more power to actually move the phone than to generate a sound—kind of like you'll lose more weight walking than talking on the phone).

  • Pressing F1 will open Help in most applications; there is sadly no real-life analog for this.

  • Almost every email that exhorts you to forward it to 10 of your closest friends or to "everyone you know" is a hoax—don't do it! More tell-tale signs: if the email doesn't include a link to reputable website, if it doesn't come from a credible source, or if it warns of dire viruses or consequences. Still not sure? Check out Snopes or Hoax-Slayer. Whatever you do, don't send that email to ME.

  • You can text the name of a store or restaurant (and city) to 46645 (GOOGL) and get the address and phone number. Or a movie and zip code for theaters and times. Or "1.6 million dollars in yen" when your friend's boss is in Tokyo bidding on... something.
That's all for now. When I think you're ready... I'll be back.

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