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You Are Eligible

Imagine that you walk into a smartphone store to ask a question about your phone. The clerk determines that you are eligible for a new phone and tells you what you need and what it will cost. It seems exciting. New phone, new case, new screen protector, new extended care plan, new back-up charging cable. All you have to do is pick the color. Done. That was so easy.

Stop! Rewind.

There are better ways and worse ways to buy a new phone. This is a worse way. A better way is to already know what you want when you get to the store so you don’t buy more — or less — than you need.

If a clerk tells you that you are eligible for a new phone, review the choices and fees, thank him/her for the help, tell him/her you will think about it, and leave the store.

Then do your own research:

  • Ask your tech-savvy friends and family for advice.
  • Read about the options on the internet.
  • Decide if you need a new phone at all, let alone all the suggested  “extras.”
  • Back up your current phone and decide what you will do with it.

You can always go back to the store prepared to buy only what you need. You will feel much better about your purchase. And so will I.


Shift Into Control

Here’s a weird thing that almost cost one of my clients a lot of work.

She had just started typing Chapter 5 of her latest novel and looked up from her keyboard to find that the only thing on her screen was the last sentence she had typed. Chapters 1 through 4 had disappeared.

If my assessment of what happened is what actually happened, this could easily happen to any of us.

I believe that the last sentence she typed started with a capital “A.” Instead of pressing the “Shift” key and then the letter “A,” she inadvertently pressed the “Control” (Ctrl) key — which is right below the Shift” key on Windows keyboards  — and the letter “A.” Rather than getting a capital A, she selected all the text in the document; “Control” plus the letter “A” is the keyboard shortcut for “Select All.”

If she did select all the text, whatever she typed next replaced everything that was selected. In this case, her whole document!

Fortunately, this is reversible if you recognize what happened right away. Click  “Undo” to undo the last action and keep clicking “Undo” until you walk back your steps to the step before you selected all of your text. Then re-type the sentence you meant to type, starting with a real capital “A.”

Unfortunately, my client didn’t know to do this. She panicked at the thought of having lost her work and thought if she closed the document and re-opened it, the previous version would re-appear. And it would have, if she had clicked “No” when asked if she wanted to save the changes. But she clicked “Yes” — telling the computer to save the most recent actions — and the first four chapters were gone.

Fortunately, she had dutifully backed up her file and was able to find the latest backed-up version and add back the newest changes. Phew!

I never realized how the proximity of the “Shift” and “Control” keys could so easily cause such a drastic consequence. I guess you need to keep one eye on the keyboard and one eye on the screen at all times. Good luck with that!


Beware The Slideshow

In an age where photos are shared seamlessly from one device to another, be careful where your photos end up.

You may want a copy of the images you take with your smartphone to be saved on your computer. And you may enjoy the rotating slideshow of pictures that displays on your monitor.

However… if you set the slideshow to display all of your pictures, that’s just what it will do — including the pictures of:

  • the mole you want to show to your dermatologist
  • the unflattering image of your knees you took by accident
  • the front page of your tax return you took for your accountant
  • the vacuum cleaner box that arrived damaged
  • your post-surgery scar

You get the idea. Perhaps not all of your pictures want to be on display when you have company over.

To better manage your slideshow contents, create a folder of images (maybe label it “desktop slideshow”) that you want to display on your monitor. Then set your slideshow to display only the pictures in that folder. To keep the show fresh, periodically add new pictures to the folder and remove others.

But please, do follow up with your dermatologist!