Modern life includes devices, apps and software, but they often sit on a layer of complexity that can sometimes go wrong. Yet there are still some relatively straightforward ways to solve an IT problem when it arises. Medical editor Dr Harry Brown talks us through the options.
Our whole lives and that includes the personal and professional aspects can be significantly improved and impacted by the relentless rise of information technology (IT) and associated technologies. This can involve software, apps and physical devices and as these facilities evolve, improve and become more sophisticated, they have become more intertwined and important in our lives.
On the surface, these devices and software may have become easier to use and can do more actions, but they often sit on a layer of complexity that can sometimes go wrong. Since they have become an almost essential addition to our life then it is important to know how to go about trying to solve these problems if or when they arise.
Occasionally, there is help at hand (a local and accessible expert or a helpline) but often these facilities may not be easy to access, understand or can be time consuming. Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and try to fix the problem yourself. However, that may require some detailed and technical knowledge which probably most of us don’t possess.
Learning more about the technology that underpins our lives
There are still some relatively straightforward ways to solve an IT problem, which could be an issue with software, a smartphone or tablet, a PC or any electronic device for that matter. Solving it yourself may be time consuming, but equally there can be a degree of satisfaction of job done and learning more about the technology that underpins our modern lives.
A good first place to start can be a general search engine such as Google. However, your search request has to be very precise to your specific problem. This is because Google or a similar search engine can return a vast array of results which can overwhelm you, especially with solutions that are not what you are seeking. So, the more precise the problem is described in the initial search, the better the quality and relevance of the result returned to you. You may have to modify the search on more than one occasion until you obtain the results which seem appropriate to your problem.
Another general resource that can prove fruitful is YouTube (incidentally, owned by Google) and there is a mind-bending volume of videos here. Within this colossal resource (found by a general search engine or the in house search facility) are instructional videos on how to solve a huge array of technical problems. It is surprising how many videos there are available that may visually help you to solve technical problems in a huge number of situations.
For example, recently I was trying to work out how to perform burst mode (taking a large number of photographs in a short period of time) in a new iPhone’s camera facility. I simply watched a YouTube video on how to do it and the problem was solved with ease. Just like Google, the precision of the search question will improve the chances of finding that critical result.
If the above searching draws a blank, then you may want to have a look at some websites where there is a deep treasure trove of IT information and advice. One good example is How To Geek, which contains a massive archive of technical help about a huge number of issues. The site has tried to be non-technical as possible and is well laid out and you be able to drill down to the section where your solution may reside.
Otherwise, there is an in-house search engine and again the precision of the search may help to guide you to a successful outcome. This is also a great site to visit time and time again, to learn more about IT issues and improve the functionality of devices and software that you own.
Contacting the CEO of a company for help
Another way of solving an IT problem is to go to a forum, which is the equivalent of an online community or meeting place where people with IT problems can meet experts who kindly offer solutions, often free of charge (but not always so check). This generates a huge archive of solved problems and these can be well worth searching or you may find an expert who could help you. Again, you can use a general search engine and use search terms (as always be specific as you can) such as “computer forum” or “iPhone forum” to find some of these forums.
Another type of forum is a Facebook group where often there is a group to support a special interest such as a specialised software device or services. If a suitable forum is found then ask your question and hopefully await a suitable response.
A useful website that contains a large number of software “tools” and other facilities which impressively is free can be found at NirSoft. For example, if you have lost a password to some services, then there are a few selected password recovery facilities available here. It is worth having a look through this website and knowing what is available and if you run into trouble now or in the future then you know where to go.
Almost certainly, the solution to your IT problem will be found somewhere on the internet, it is most unlikely that you will be the first person to stumble across the problem you face, though it is possible. Failing that you may need to visit a local IT shop who have specialists working for them and pay them a fee to fix the problem. Sometimes that is worth it to solve the aggravation!
If you go down that route, check their online reviews if available (Google is a good source of reviews of commercial services) or go by personal recommendation. Sometimes the manufacturer or retailer who sold you the product may have a help facility either online or by chat.
Occasionally, if all these suggestions still don’t help then contacting the Chief Executive of the company that made your product may lead to a satisfactory conclusion. Contact them by email and see if you can obtain a response from either them or their team. A great source of chief executive contact details (not just for IT contacts but for all sorts of companies and organisations) can be found at CEOemail.
Dr Harry Brown is medical editor of GM and a GP, Leeds