Making Your Own Computer Manual
by Diane S. Kendall
- Ever find yourself looking the same thing up in a software manual (online or off) over and over again because you just can't remember what it said the last time you looked it up for that task you only do once a week, or month, or year?
- Have you brought home software only to find it won't run on your machine because you forgot the specifications of your particular system?
- What about codes for games and registration numbers for software - ever had trouble locating one when you were forced to reinstall?
- Been frustrated by returning to a web site and not being able to sign on because you couldn't remember your log-in information?
- What about dealing with your ISP (Internet Service Provider) - have you ever wanted to hang up on tech support because they say that can't even talk to you without some codes they gave you when you signed up for the service?
If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, it may be time to create your own computer manual. While technology and computers have made it easier to keep a lot of our personal information all in one place, we are all being asked to keep track of more and more small bits of data. We may only need to remember or access some of these bits and pieces of info on rare occasions, but as with most things - when we need it, we NEED it NOW.
To solve these problems, think about making your own "computer manual." This can be as simple as getting a three-ring binder, printing off pages with pertinent information (i.e. usernames, passwords), punching holes in them and inserting. The feedback that I get from parents and teachers is that having a hard copy version of this minutia works quite well - "a true lifesaver."
Of course, you will want to keep this data in a secure place. This is very personal information so you don't want it out where your children and their friends can pour through it, but keep it some place where you can get at it and add to it easily.
This notebook is also a good place to keep a record of the registration numbers of software applications that require them for installation and ISP codes. Documenting your computer's specs (a must to have in front of you if you call any technical support helpline) can be helpful. A place to keep track of when you last updated your print driver from the manufacturer's web site is useful. Add some notebook paper pages so you can write down questions you have for your computer guru or technical support help. And be sure to keep track of the answers you get for future reference.
Try printing off sections of the online help guide in software applications (such as your word processor) for tasks you only do occasionally so you can refer to them quickly. Your notebook is also a good place to write down web sites that people have told you about or keep articles that you have clipped from print sources about new devices or ways to make better use of your computer.
Getting your personal computer manual organized may at first seem a bit painful. It seems like the computer should be doing all this for you! But we aren't quite at that stage of technology quite yet. Coping with computers sometimes means being more detail oriented than they are.