You don’t need to be a Geek to be Computer Savvy


I come across two types of people it seems: Geeks, and non-Geeks. Somehow, in the past two decades, it has become to cool to be a Geek. Which is very strange. Because to define a non-Geek, I would typically say, “A cool person”. How can both be cool?

Well, not surprisingly, this has left the rest of America in the lurch, too. Here’s why this has become so damaging to middle-America.

First, middle-America has a fascination with being “cool”. They look back to their heroes, who ‘ere they may be, and remember what cool was: Elvis, James Dean, Eddie Murphy, Nikki Sixx, or whoever you thought, at one time, was cool. And they look to current cool people and think they would like to be a bit more like them: Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Tony Blair, James Hetfield, whoever.

They don’t view those cool people as Geeks.

But, yet, they have a strange attraction to Geeks. Not so much the rich ones like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell. But just the ones they know personally. They sort of admire that these folks know how to, well, “get stuff done” - at least on a computer.

You might not hire them to landscape your yard, or to help you move that 800 pound piano. But, when you get that strange email that you aren’t sure you should open, or you can’t seem to figure out how to find something on the internet, or you want to see your sister’s pictures online, but they don’t seem to be working right, or when you want to know if you should buy a computer (or why you should buy a computer, or if you should buy a computer)… well, you call up your friend, The Geek.

And your Geek friend (let’s call him a “he” to stick to the stereotype) answers any and all questions you have. In short, just like the cool people, he makes you feel inadequate.

But, just like the cool people, you don’t really think it is possible you can become a Geek without giving up your day job. It seems like these Geeks spend all their time reading computer stuff and absorbing vast amounts of information that you just couldn’t be bothered with. Although it would be nice to be more efficient, more productive, more adept at computer stuff, it isn’t all that important. After all, you have to live your life, right?

You have family obligations, work obligations, maybe a business to run, and of course, the occasional crisis which throws off all your time. Plus, where do you start? Your computer friend might tell you he has been “messing with” or “tinkering with” computer stuff since 1981. You see the “Beginner Books” at your local bookstore and they are 568 pages thick. And no matter how much you think you are a Dummy, those Dummy self-help books still look a little intimidating. Worse, there’s no promise that understanding all those basics is going to make you be more efficient and productive. Won’t they just clog your head up with a bunch of useless acronyms and send you off scrambling to read even more stuff on the internet that will further confuse you? Who has the time for it?


Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve noticed a few key areas that the average person could spend, say, maybe ten or twenty minutes learning, and nearly double their productivity. Hard to believe?

I spend a great deal of time watching over other people’s shoulders why they “drive” their computer. And I’m constantly amazed. It’s like being thrown into a time machine and going back to 1529 and watching how long it took someone to make a 3-course meal - and realizing that they do this every day, without complaint, apparently ignorant that there could be any other way.

So, I decided to write a little mini-series called “You don’t have to be Geek to be Computer Savvy”. In it, I’ll point out little ways in which you can make tiny changes to your everyday computing life, as little much of a computing life that may be, and vastly improve your ability to be productive.

You’ll be able to see the entire series, as it grows, below, so you can bookmark (favorite) this page and come back here to check if more posts have been added.

First Tip

Of course, I can’t just leave you hanging like that, so here’s my first piece of advice.

I just told you to bookmark or favorite this article, right? Bookmarks are places on the internet that you may occasionally want to visit. Internet Explorer (the internet browser that came with your Windows computer) calls them Favorites. Most everyone else calls them Bookmarks. Same difference.


Why should you bookmark a website that you like? Easy. You save massive amounts of time. You can’t imagine how many people I watch type the same URL (website address) into their Address Bar on their browser, over and over. I sit and watch people type (of all things), “Google” and “Yahoo”. Sometimes, they type out the whole thing (i.e. This is a waste of time. A lot of these people have discovered that if they start typing the website address, that their web browser will pre-fill in the link. They tend to think it is some kind of memory magic. That’s fine when you need it. But, you would be much better off Bookmarking the site.

Why? For starters, once you have started typing the internet site in, by admission, you’ve already remembered to visit it. But, what if there is a website that you would occasionally like to visit, or you can’t remember the name very easy (like Salberg.Org). You might remember what the article was about, but not the exact address. If you had it bookmarked, you could find it easily. You could also occasionally scroll through your bookmarks and see things that you had forgotten about (”Oh yeah, I wanted to remember to visit this website again - they had a lot of helpful information about alcoholism and my cousin Betty is having a tough time with it”. Something like that anyway.)


It couldn’t be easier. A lot easier that typing website addresses over and over. Once you start doing this, you’ll never go back to the “old way”. Make life easy on yourself and give this a try.

To add it to your favorites, just use the menu and click “Add to Favorites”, or press Ctrl-D on your keyboard. The link and it’s title will be automatically added to your list of favorite websites. It doesn’t really have to be your absolute “favorite”, which is why I like the term Bookmarks better. But, you get the idea. The link to the website is saved in your favorites menu which you can access with one click. Different browsers place the menu different places, so you may have to hunt for a minute to find it the first time. Try pressing Alt-C and see if your favorites list comes up.

If you start getting a lot of favorites, you can organize them by putting them in folders. Maybe put all your links about computer stuff in one folder called “Computer Stuff”, and put links to all your friends on MySpace in a folder called “MySpace Friends”, and so forth. If you run a business, you might create a folder called “Competitors” and put links to the websites of your competitors in it.

Try it for one week and promise yourself you won’t go back to the “old way”. If you need to remember those keyboard combinations for faster access (called “hotkeys”, by the way), put them on a sticky note and attach them under your monitor’s screen.

If you know how to use bookmarks already, read a more advanced article entitled, Del.Icio.Us Finally Snagged Me.

Other Resources

Wikipedia Brief on Bookmarks

Browser Basics: Favorites

Internet Explorer Favorites - What Not To Do

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