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Buying Tech Toys

Your purchase of computer devices and accessories — whether online or in a store — should not be an uninformed or impulse buy. Too much information exists out there for you not to know important details about what you want.

However, shopping for technology devices can still be intimidating. Internet stores can be overwhelming, and brick-and-mortar stores have aisles of pricey items, confusing labels, and salespeople eager to sell you more than you need.

To make your shopping experience successful, I recommend that you do your homework first. The more confident you are about what you want, the more likely you are to end up with the right thing.

  • Search the internet — manufacturer websites, independent reviews, product comparisons, and videos about your product.
  • Ask your friends and family what model/brand they have and about their experience with it.
  • Determine who might be the one to help you (if needed) with your new purchase and what model/brand they have.
  • Seek recommendations from people in the tech field.
  • If you go to a store, bring your research with you: a computer printout of what you want, notes you’ve taken about what you need, pictures of — or the actual item — you need to replace.
  • Know the return policy! Electronics often have a shorter and more restrictive return policy than other items the store sells.

If, after all of that, you are still uncertain about your purchase, you can leave the item in your virtual shopping cart or put it back on the actual shelf. It will probably still be there if you change your mind.

The Subject Subject

Take the “Subject” line of your outgoing email seriously; the more thoughtful your Subject, the more likely your readers will want to open it.

Until recently, the Subject line wasn’t too important. The return address identified you as the sender, and the Message area relayed your message. However, with the increase in “spoofed” emails that look like they are from people you know — but are not, the Subject line takes on greater significance.

Spoofers love attention-getting global Subjects: “You’ve got to see this!” or “Funniest Video Ever!” If you do this too, your readers may delete your email unopened. If, however, your Subject is specific to your message — “Monday Tennis Schedule” or “Gourmet Club Dinner Menu” — you won’t make your readers guess what your email is about, or whether it is from you at all.

My suggestion: type your subject after you type your message, not before. Then you can you accurately sum it up with a message-specific Subject.

Names in Spreadsheets

Spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, and Google Sheets, are ideal for simple presentations and basic data-keeping functions like membership lists, party invitees, and schedules for tennis, golf, bridge, and mah jongg.

If you are creating a spreadsheet, consider entering Last Names and First Names in separate columns. This might seem like more work at first, but it will make your life much easier later if you need to sort alphabetically by Last Name. If the names are entered as Full Names (First Name followed by the Last Name in the same cell), you cannot sort the data by Last Name.

  • You may also want a column of Full Names (for envelopes, place cards, or nametags) which you can create alongside the separate First and Last Name columns.
  • If you inherit a spreadsheet that only has Full Names in one column, you can create separate First and Last Name columns by copying the Full Name column twice and deleting the First Names in one column and the Last Names in the other column. (Anything but re-typing!)

I hope this helps.


One of my clients recently purchased a machine that turned out not to be what he wanted. He asked the salesperson for a “printer that just prints” because he didn’t want “all that other stuff.”

When I arrived to set up this new machine, my client asked me to show him how to make copies.

“This printer doesn’t make copies,” I explained, “It just prints.”

“But I asked for a machine that just prints copies. I already have a machine that prints from my computer.”

What he wanted was a stand-alone copier for large copy jobs. He confused “copying”and “printing.” I come across this quite often.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Paper to paper copy: start with a paper document and create a paper copy of that document.

Electronic file to paper copy: start with an electronic document (in your computer, tablet, or phone) and create a paper copy of that document.

Paper to electronic file: start with a paper document and create an electronic copy of that document in your computer.

Most of us have the compact “all in one” machines that copy, print, and scan, and we don’t really care what the specific action is called, as long as we get what we want. But it is important to know the correct terminology, especially if you are going to go shopping.

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