Productivity 201: Computers – Those Big Weird Boxes

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Productivity 105: How Creativity Works
  • A Computer In General
    • Computers are the world’s fastest idiots; they do exactly what you tell them to do, even if you don’t know what you’re doing
    • They are made up of:
      • An input (touchscreen or mouse & keyboard typically)
      • The processing parts inside that perform calculations
      • An output (typically a screen or printer)
    • Computers are not magic, they just follow instructions
    • Every time you touch the screen or click the mouse, you are giving the computer another command
    • There are a lot of things that are computers that you don’t think of as computers or having computers in them:
      • Calculators
      • Digital watches
      • Many household appliances, including microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines and coffee machines
      • Radios
      • Pretty much everything with an electronic readout or anything that isn’t purely mechanical but automates something
  • Using A Touch Screen
    • In most modern screens, touching the screen creates an electrical circuit from the current flowing through your body into the screen’s conductive glass
    • When you tap the screen, you’re giving it a new command
      • Touching for less than a second in one spot is called a “tap”
      • Touching for more than one second in one spot is called a “long press”
      • Touching and moving immediately is called a “swipe”
    • Most of the menu options are made to not be visible on the screen with touch screens
      • Long press on icons (the images on the screen) to find extra menus
      • Swipe your finger towards and away from all four edges of the screen to see if it does anything
  • Remember What Matters
    • Do NOT forget your username and password, especially for your email
      • Most websites will send a password reset link to your email inbox if you select the “Forgot your password?” link
      • Write down your password or use a password management software for it like LastPass
        • Don’t let the computer store your passwords, since it makes them easier to steal
      • Have a standardized password that you can remember that has the following:
        • At least 10 characters
        • 1 capital letter
        • 1 lowercase letter
        • 1 punctuation mark
        • NOT “password”, “passcode”, your name or your birthdate
  • Getting Around
    • Whenever you open a file from the Internet, always save it to somewhere familiar you can find your way to again, such as the Desktop
      • After you’ve saved the file, move it to a folder where you want it to stay in
    • Unless you are inside the program files specifically, 99% of the time you can delete whatever is on your Desktop without any problems
      • If you are unsure, then make a folder called Unused Desktop Icons and put them all there
    • Whenever you install new programs, you are the one who should be initiating it
      • Pay close attention to what you are downloading, since many “Download Now” buttons on many sites are actually advertisements for unrelated software
        • Rule of Thumb: if you see more than one Download button, look at the file name of what you are downloading to confirm what it is
      • If there is an unsolicited Internet message that says you have viruses or it can make your computer go faster, close them ASAP
      • Don’t install any of the “helpful” web browser toolbars from Ask, Yahoo, etc., they are worthless
      • Most of your problems can be resolved simply by running Windows Update
        • Programs like “registry cleaners” are much riskier to use than helpful
        • “system scanners” are mostly meant to exploit money from unsuspecting users
        • Many of the “updates” are unnecessary, and updating software once a year is probably all that you will ever need
  • When It Goes Weird
    • Most of the times you think you’ve gotten a virus, you really haven’t
      • 9 times out of 10, simply restarting the computer will fix the problem
      • The best thing to do if you have gotten a virus is just to use the computer’s system recovery feature to turn back time on the PC to an earlier date
        • Most viruses you will ever get will be from you opening something that was seemingly sent from someone you trusted
        • Many scams are pretend websites of banks and other financial institutions that look very close to the actual website
        • If you ever receive an alert saying something to the effect of YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED from a software you’re unfamiliar with, don’t click on it!
        • Pay attention to which software is providing the alerts your computer is using
      • A more legitimate risk is phishing, where someone is trying to steal personal data
        • Standard phishing targets anyone who is willing to give their information, and is sent out to many emails at once
        • Spear phishing targets specific people with that person’s personal information to imply that the email was intended for them
        • CEO fraud is using emails from a company’s CEO to imply that the email needs to be opened
        • Government phishing is the same as CEO fraud, but with seemingly official government emails
        • Clone phishing copies a legitimate message with an attachment and sends an identical one with a fake virus attachment
        • Cloud phishing is similar to clone phishing, but through using an online storage service with a link to download the file
      • In general, only take action to resolve a problem if you know exactly what you are doing, since doing nothing will not damage the computer any further
    • Pay attention to pop-up messages in the bottom right corner of the screen (or in the pull-down drawer from the top on a touchscreen), they usually mean something
    • If the computer has frozen up on some other process, it is better to wait for it to finish than to click randomly or tap the screen all over
    • Find out what program and version you’re using by looking in the “About” section
      • Find “About” in the pull-down menu labeled Help or with a wrench or with 3 horizontal lines
    • Google research what you don’t know, there are thousands of people who have had your problem and hundreds of people who have solved it
      • Usually just ask the question straight into Google’s text box
    • Keep in touch with someone who is more skilled than you in computers, even the most brilliant computer scientists have to get help when they’re stuck!
Next: Productivity 211: Shortcuts That Work Almost Anywhere