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A “Sweeping” Idea

My recent purchase of a new vacuum cleaner (yawn) prompted me to discover yet another excellent use for my smartphone camera.

The vacuum came boxed unassembled, packed with form-fitting corrugated material cradling each piece and interlocking them like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Impressive engineering.

As I painstakingly separated the vacuum parts from the cardboard, all I could think was, “I really hope I don’t have to send this back!”

I love a challenging puzzle, but if I unpacked and assembled the vacuum only to find it didn’t work, I’d be in no mood to try to fit the pieces back into the box to return them.

Unless … I used my smartphone to take pictures as I unpacked the box.

Creating my own step-by-step guide to show me how to “re-do” what I just “un-did” would save a lot of time and aggravation.

Thus far, the vacuum is working as promised, but I’ll be taking pictures of the next intricately packed thing I buy, just in case.

“Default” Defined

I wrote this a few years ago but still find that many remain uneasy about the word “default.” 

A “default” sounds like a bad thing. And for good reason. Many of its definitions are about failure:

  • Failure to act; inaction or neglect.
  • Failure to meet financial obligations. 
  • Law. Failure to perform an act or obligation legally required, especially to appear in court or to plead at a time assigned. 
  • Sports. Failure to arrive in time for, participate in, or complete a scheduled match. 

But the computing definition of “default” isn’t about failure at all:

  • The preset selection of an option offered by a system, which will always be followed except when explicitly altered 
  • (as modifier) : Default setting


The default settings in your computer are the settings that the computer programmers decided are your most typical choices. If you don’t like those choices, you can create new default settings.
For example:

  • On your printer, the “default” settings are the ones most of your documents require: “one copy, 8.5″ x 11″ paper, portrait orientation, and single sided.”
  • New Word documents, are set to an easy-to-read font (usually Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman) and to a readable size (11pt or 12pt). The “default” color is black.
  • The “default” setting for the clock is the 12-hour format (AM and PM). If you prefer 24-hour military time, you can change the setting.
  • Your computer’s Task Bar (Windows) or Dock (Mac) is positioned by “default” along the bottom of your screen. If you prefer it along either side instead, you can change the setting.

Now when you hear the term “default” in reference to your computer, you will not think you have failed it. For once, it is not “de-fault” of the user. How refreshing!


Take Another One!

Before we had smartphones and digital cameras, we had film … film that had to be developed before we could see our pictures. And, because of the uncertainty of the result, we’d always say, “Take another picture in case it doesn’t come out.”

Even in the age of smartphone cameras with instant results, I still recommend that you “take another picture.”


Photo editing software.

Along with digital pictures came the software to manipulate them: Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, Printmaster, Aperture, among others. To take advantage of some of their features — like selecting faces from one image and pasting them into another image — you need more than one picture.

Even if you don’t have the ability to edit photos in this manner, there are people who can do it for you, if you can give them the images to work with.

Imagine trying to take a family picture with adults, kids, and even dogs. The liklihood of getting everyone to look at the camera, look their best, and smile all at the same moment is low. If, however, the photographer takes a series of images, the chances are much greater that with photo editing software, you (or someone) can select the best image of each individual and create one really perfect composite picture.

So snap away with confidence. Your closeup will soon be ready for you.



When I wish to delete a calendar event from my iPhone or iPad, I tap “Delete Event” and then “Cancel.”

And nothing happens.

While “Cancel” seems to make sense — I am canceling the event after all — “Cancel” does not cancel the event. I have to tap “Delete” again to delete my calendar event.

“Cancel” is a tricky computer term. In most applications, “Cancel” means “cancel this request and return me to the previous screen.”

But not always.

For example, if I wish to delete an email I am writing, I do it by tapping “Cancel.”

If you tap “Cancel” and nothing happens, look for some other option; you probably just “cancelled” what you were trying to do!