EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK

Let’s get technically savvy

Editor suggests to get with the program

First notebook of the year: time to bring out the “List of Things That Bother Me More Than They Should.” For this notebook, I’m going to ramble about people who are, willfully or not, technologically illiterate in the modern world.

It’s not fair. Twenty years ago, no problem. Ten years ago, you’re probably still okay. But people, it’s 2015. It’s time to learn how to do some basic stuff on the computer. I’m not talking running a server, or installing Linux, or reading error logs after a crash. I’m talking fundamentals: Computer 101. At this point, I really expect you to know how to find various important folders on your computer, follow the steps in an installation wizard, and understand that, yes, a flash drive will work for both Windows and Mac.

I helped people install some new files for a program as part of my summer job. I would send out a folder with the necessary files and a text document with instructions called “readme.txt.” If you see a file called “readme.txt,” please at least open it. I received a call saying that I had “broken” someone’s computer after helping them install a few things. I freaked out for a few hours because it could’ve ended with me in a lot of trouble. But apparently “broken” and “I didn’t even try following the instructions you gave me,” mean the same thing. The other annoyance that I’m sure nearly every RPI student has experienced is being the go-to tech support of the family. I honestly don’t know much about computers, but I do know how to effectively Google a problem. Control + T, type in the issue; open a bunch of tabs with possible solutions. Scour those tabs for the issue, try the solution, and if that doesn’t work, modify search, then rinse and repeat. If I was a doctor, my patients would be horrified to see me plugging their symptoms into Google and opening multiple tabs of WebMD.

“So … runny nose, sore throat, fever. Are those all your symptoms?”

“Yeah, I think it’s just a cold. All I need is a doctor’s note …”

“Well Jimmy, it looks like you have a rare viral infection with no known cure. Don’t try to argue with me, nobody lies on the Internet. Try not to infect anyone before or after you die, okay?”

But since most of my “clients” don’t know any better, help from cooldude0118999 on some forum that hasn’t been active since 2007 might as well be the World Health Organization.

So if you’re a technologically illiterate person, make an effort to not be a technologically illiterate person. Watch YouTube videos, Google your problems (technical, not medical), and maybe even learn some super secret shortcuts, like Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. Unless the apocalypse happens, technology is going to continue to be a part of our world. Learn to be a functional person and save the rest of us the frustration.