When technology replaces the old – boardgames and cookbooks

Man on iPad in kitchen while cooking - ©Depositphotos/Goodluz
©Depositphotos/Goodluz

As years progress, technology including smartphones, iPads, gadgets, gizmos and a plethora of other trinkets seem to be embedding themselves in our day to day lives at an alarming rate. I for one welcome our technological overlords… wait… oh right we aren’t quite there yet.

While many of you who read my blog know my thoughts on technology and my desire to sometimes just switch off from the connected world (on *rare* occasions), you will also know that I enjoy technology to a great degree.

Being the self professed geek that I am, technology is a constant part of my daily life. However it wasn’t until recently when I gave my mother my second hand iPad 1 (after upgrading to “The New iPad”) that I saw a change that made me step back and think. “Wow, this has really changed the way we do things”.

There are two main functions that my mother uses on the iPad now that made me take this step back. The first is as a recipe book in the kitchen. Prior to handing it over, I took all my families most used recipes and put them into Paprika (a very good recipe manager for iOS and OSX). What I then realised, was that the humble recipe book which has been a part of our lives for so long was kinda dead. Sure we still have them there on a shelf but why thumb through a book when I can jump on the net and find not only a recipe, but reviews of how people found the recipe to taste, along with additional tips and tricks.

The second large change was Scrabble, which my parents love to play. The iPad has enabled them to play games of scrabble far more regularly by saving time and providing greater mobility. Not only does it do away with the board, the table space and the ritual of sitting down until the game is completed in a single sitting, it also enables the game to follow them wherever they take the iPad. The game can be picked up and stopped at any time or turns can be taken sporadically rather than requiring them to sit down to play the entire game at once.

I am not saying this is a bad thing, I am not saying that it is a good thing either. I just found it very interesting, and very eye opening, to see two such classics replaced by one device. It has certainly made me sit back and look at a lot of the other things that have changed since I was a kid, and how technology has helped (and hampered) some of the things we do day-to-day.

So what are some of the real shock moments you have had with technology. When you thought… wow I never thought I would see that replaced by a piece of tech.

Stuart

Computer errors for beginners… tips and tricks for getting help

Man pressing error button - ©Depositphotos/ra2studio
©Depositphotos/ra2studio

In the realm of computers it is definitely not uncommon to get the occasional, or sometimes annoyingly regular error. However, one thing that many people do not know is some simple steps that can be taken to make a support team’s life easier in diagnosing the issue.

First and foremost it is important for both you, and who will be supporting you to realise that it is possible that your level of knowledge surrounding the error will be lower than that of the support team. While this is not always the case, (I will happily admit I have had clients teach me a trick or two before) it is the general rule of thumb.

A good support person will gauge the level of knowledge of the person who is seeking assistance and balance their explanations to a level that can be understood. However if you find someone is talking to you on too low, or too high a technical level, never be afraid to let them know and try to get them to talk to you on your level of knowledge. By doing so you can work more effectively together and also learn things which may help you in future.

The Checklist:

The checklist is something that those of us in support use day to day. Even as a systems administrator, I collect this sort of information to pass on to vendors for support and so on. However whatever your level of knowledge of computers, or level of support you are liaising with, this list can be of great use.

So next time you have an error on your computer note down the following information, it will make support’s life easier, result in a much faster resolution for you and assist support in documenting the issue for future reference.

  1. Take a screenshot: this may sound simple but so often people don’t do it. If someone says “I got an error” and we can’t tell exactly what the error is, it makes it impossible to trace down what the problem may have been. Taking a screenshot saves the need for you to try to interpret or note down the exact error and greatly assists support teams.
  2. Note down the exact time and date of the error or issue (including any subsequent occurrences): knowing the exact time and date that the error occurred allows support teams to investigate other factors that may have been occurring at the time. They can also look at logs of related systems surrounding the time your issue occurred to gather additional information.
  3. Note down exactly what you were doing leading up to the error occurring: in some cases errors can be triggered by an exact sequence of events that occur leading up to it. Knowing what you were doing that lead to the error can help to reproduce the error.
  4. If you are using a web browser, note down the browser you are using and the browser version (usually under Help –> About), also try a different browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox, see if the same error appears, note down if it works in a different browser.
  5. If it is a website that is having problems, try a different web site as well, note down the original web site URL that was having problems, as well as any other sites you tried.
  6. Try to note down any related information to what you were doing: for example if it was an email that you sent that was never received, provide the exact subject line of the email. If it is a file on a shared drive, provide the exact name and file location to the file. The more information you can provide, the less likely that support will need to come back asking for the additional information, leading you to a faster resolution.
  7. Let support know if you are on a PC or a Mac and what version of the operating system you are using (such as Windows XP, Windows 7, Mac OSX Lion 10.7.4 etc), if you are unsure of the version at least letting them know if you are on a Mac or PC is a great start.

Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Most of all, don’t be afraid of telling support exactly what happened, we all start out somewhere and often support will come across an issue that simply needs user training, by us being able to pass knowledge on to you it is likely that you can do the same for someone else to make all our lives easier.

However if it is something that you have done wrong, often it will save support a lot of time and effort knowing exactly what has occurred, I am always of the mindset that if you do something wrong, then tell me so that I can fix it faster I will be a lot less unimpressed than if I have to find it out the hard way.

By noting down these details, whoever will be helping you out with your issue will be able to far more easily diagnose what occurred help you out. If you are having an issue with a problem you purchased on the internet, don’t be afraid to contact their support too. By providing the information above you have a great start to finding out exactly what problem may have occurred and should be able to work towards a resolution.

So whether you are a beginner in the tech world or a seasoned veteran like myself what are your thoughts. Have I missed anything out here?

Stuart

Do you control your phone, or does it control you?

Cuddling while on phone ©Depositphotos/OtnaYdur
©Depositphotos/OtnaYdur

If someone took your mobile phone away for eight hours, how would you cope? A simple question that many people answer with, “I would feel naked” or “I can’t live without my phone”.

So the question is a simple one. Can you, and do you ever, turn off your mobile phone? If you see me on the street, I will happily admit I am often there tweeting away, sending an SMS, or surfing the web. Therefore I am probably the last person on earth that you might think would happily say, “I can live without it for a few hours, and at times I like to”.

Each night when I go to bed I turn my phone off, nobody can call me, nobody can SMS me, no emails, messages or otherwise to wake me up. If I go out to a movie, I turn my phone off, I don’t want it vibrating in my pocket, bothering other patrons or interrupting the movie I have paid three limbs and my first born to see. I like to retain control over my device, and control if, and when I can be contacted.

The Backstory

This post comes out of something that happened a little over a year and a half ago when I was out for my birthday dinner with my family at a lovely little restaurant. We were sitting there having a wonderful time when we all observed a couple at another table who had just sat down and both taken their mobile phones out.

From the time they sat down, till the time their food arrived (and much to my own dismay, during their meal) both barely said a word to each other and spent the entire time playing games (and different games so not even a co-op) on their iPhones. It was to the point where I was positively BAFFLED at how anyone could consider the two people as even knowing each other, let alone being out for a romantic dinner.

Is there a solution?

As a geek I know that technology is a part of our daily lives, I struggle to see why people have to grab for their phone the moment they get a message or an SMS, why they insist on letting their phones control their lives. I also can’t believe how often I see social interaction such as the case above with people grabbing for their phones.

Do I think there is a one-size-fits-all solution? Well no, probably not, however I can recommend a great first step for you is to take a step back, next time an SMS comes through, an email goes off or the phone rings, consider whether it is starting to control your life rather than you controlling it. The phone will be there in an hours time, as will any messages or anyone that was trying to call you.

As far as if there is a solution, I can tell you from first hand experience that your friends will need to be “managed” if you start taking back control of your phone, it took me a while to get people used to the fact that I will respond to their messages when I am ready to do so, rather than the instant they popped up on my phone. Initially people may perceive this as rude, but upon explanation they start to understand and accept why I do it.

Having said all this, it is simply my opinion, what are other people’s thoughts? Am I being too old fashioned? Do you have a different opinion or possibly agree with me?

#OpeningTheDialogue

Stuart