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Searching for Answers to Simple Computing Questions

Yesterday I decided to play an album from my iPhone but it was set to Shuffle and I couldn’t figure out how to make it play the songs in the original order. This is an example of a simple question, the likes of which we see all the time, which can be easily solved searching online. If you have a question, there’s a very good chance that it has been asked and answered already, it’s just a matter of finding it.

It’s important to differentiate between a fault issue and a settings issue. Faults are when your computer or device stops working correctly, perhaps due to a virus or physical hardware malfunction, whereas settings issues are when your computer or device is carrying out a normal function in a way other than the way you’d like it to.

If it’s a settings issue, you can probably change it. The first step is to formulate your question. You want to make it as concise as possible, and if you can use correct technical terms it will help. So in the above example, I searched ‘iPhone how to turn off shuffle’. Now it would have been helpful if I’d known which iOS version my phone was on: “iPhone iOS 10 how to turn off shuffle’ would have been better.

Another example I had recently was a customer who had purchased a USB stick which wouldn’t store the capacity of data it purported to. Now in searching for this solution I can use the exact terminology my computer has given me: “There is not enough free space on the Hard Drive”. This turns out to be a very simple formatting issue which can be solved in just a few clicks of the mouse.

Frequently you might end up in a forum, where people have asked questions and then other people have answered them. In this case it’s a matter of finding the question that best matches yours. If you’re not finding quite the right answer, you might consider altering your question slightly, based on the results you’re getting. Watch what comes up as you start typing the question into Google; those are questions people have asked before. It’s amazing how simple some things are once you have the right advice.

The main barrier seems to be confidence in one’s computer skills. The more you look into these things, the more confident and competent you will become. Figuring it out can be very satisfying.

I would suggest giving it a shot but knowing your limitations. In the examples above, there wasn’t much chance of me doing anything that might have seriously messed up my phone, and a cheap USB stick with no data on it yet presents minimal risk. However if you’re on your computer it can be a different story. My rule of thumb would be to carry out a search by all means, but if the answer takes you to a part of your computer that you’re completely unfamiliar with, contains technical terminology that you don’t understand, or if the answers contain dire warnings, then it’s time to call in the experts.

The first thing to try is the classic ‘turn it off and back on again’. Check out this page for some great solutions to common computer problems.

And if you get stuck on your computer, bring it in to us at 24 Dick Street, we probably know the answer already.