You hate tech. All you want to do is write, but lately, that requires a Masters in Geekery. Your word processing tool of choice always seems to break when you are on a roll–the computer freezes, system crashes, document disappears, an error code pops up that wants you to do something with ten syllables or lose all your files. None of it makes sense and you long for the world when the worst problem was a broken pencil.
Before you say words your children shouldn’t hear, try these six quick solutions:
Is Power on?
When you’re talking to tech folk, their first question always centers around whether your computer system is getting power. Surprisingly, this is often why it doesn’t work–I know, who would guess? Clear this as a reason before moving on by making sure all the working pieces are getting the power they need. Here’s a checklist:
- Are all plugs in wall sockets
- Are all cables connected to the computer? An easy way to check both of these: Is the power light on the keyboard and the monitor?
- Is the internet working? That has plugs too, so check those.
- Are headphones plugged in?
Are you logging in under your name?
Everyone knows to confirm their password, but few people think to check the log-in name. If you set up separate profiles for family members, one of them might have forgotten to log off the last time they used the computer.
If you take your computer to work, someone might have tried to access their online or networked account through your computer and forgotten to return it to your settings. If you can’t log in, or your desktop doesn’t have files and folders it should, check to see who the log-in name is.
Try a different browser
All browsers are not created equally. I have a lot more problems with IE than Firefox and more with Firefox than Chrome. Yes, you counted right. I have three browsers on my computer because they are all somewhat quirky in their delivery of websites. If I can’t load a site in one browser, I try another. I don’t care WHY it won’t work in one if it works in another. All I care is that I got to the website. It’s become the first trouble-shooting tool I use when a website doesn’t work.
It’s not just me, either. It’s the Universe. You’ll often see suggestions on websites–Works better with the *** browser. Coding and scripts and stuff are different in different browsers, which makes them act differently on websites. That’s as technical as I can get about the reasons.
In the geek world, which browser is best is a hot topic. The only point Chrome and Firefox users agree on is they’re better than IE. Here are a few articles with more on this debate:
One other filter you can use in identifying the cause of your tech problem is to try a different computer. If it works there, it means the problem is in your system.
If something doesn’t work the first time, do it again. Why is this so often effective? It’s called ‘user error’. You typed a password in wrong, or left a blank space without even knowing it. This is why forms always ask you to type an email address twice. It’s not likely you’d have the same typo twice. Even websites are starting to recommend this. Learn from the experts and adopt ‘repeat’ as a viable solution for tech problems.
This works more often than you’d think. Here’s why: When you turn your computer on, it goes through lots of organizing and prioritizing to get your desktop looking just the way you want it. Sometimes, that arranging gets undone by your activities. Pieces get lopped off, forgotten, like DNA mutations. Not your fault, just the way it is. The computer still works, but not quite the same.
When you shut down and restart, it closes everything, stores them away, and then brings them back out in the proper order. Be sure you ‘shut down’ from the Start button (for Windows folk), not by pushing the power button.
More on tech problem solving:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.