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Gadget Glitch
Help yourself

Writing a tech advice column used to be a challenge. Now it is overwhelming. Let me use that over-used term "UBER" even if it's wrong. I like the sound of it. The challenge now is uber uber.

The retirement of Mr. Ballmer, Microsoft’s big chief, was a tide change. He obviously missed the boat on the coming popularity of hand held devices and touch screen. He even made a public announcement that the touch screen would never become much of anything. Wait Mr. B.! It's so easy to use. We humans love "easy".

And so, albeit without Mr. Ballmer's whole-hearted support of hand held computing, the market is all about nothing but pads and smart phones. PC sales have plummeted. And there are simply too many smaller devices to keep up with even if you had access to ALL of them continually (in a padded room). That old concept of updating your phone every two years with a telco contract renewal? That's out the window. If your smart device is over a year old - HAH.
You are a dinosaur.

Well, I'm a real dinosaur so don't look at my phone. Gronk!

So what are you going to do to diagnose your smart tech problems? Re-search.

Once upon a time there were (and actually still are) User Groups for just about every subject you can imagine. Some user groups were more friendly than others and were full of helpful sorts but some groups seemed more mean-spirited and would correct your behavior often for asking the group a question on-line rather than quietly searching through piles and archives. If you were savvy and able to create detailed search criteria you could make boolean criteria query script changes with your search options fill-out forms.

Are you lost yet? Well, you just had to love the whole concept of User Groups to really find any sense of enjoyment using them and/or being (becoming) a nerd
in the process. And that was way back when PCs were king. It's hard to conceive of things being easier back then but just look at us now.

Today you can Google or Bing your way to answers (or maybe I should say results) and be confronted with sites that tend to suck you in with promises of answers only to lead into a pit wanting money to pay somebody you don't know for answers that may or may not help you at all. But you pay up front regardless. A consumer tech advocate? Who do you trust?

In the process of learning more about your device and devices that compute in general, there are common threads of knowledge that help with understanding – in general. One important piece of information is understanding how computing works. At a level slightly higher than the old One (1 = yes) and Zero (0 = no) analogy is the concept that everything has an address in your device. It has an address to make it locate-able. When you prompt your device to do something (say, look at the web) the device has to be able to find the software to perform your desired function (like Google searching the web with your internet browser program). The core software (program) probably has some functions scattered in different locations (addresses) where all the devices stuff is stored. (We used to always refer to that storage as the hard drive). If the appropriate addresses respond (appropriately) the function that you are demanding of your device will work. (This analogy depicts the use of most software, the only exception being some small utility types of programs that have only one address to respond in order for them to function. But honestly I'm not trying to confuse the issue.)

As you know the processes happens in the split half hair flicker blink of a gnats... well. You get the drift, it’s real super quick. And today we get really mad if it doesn't happen faster than even that. We are so spoiled.

All the data that is stored in memory (that’s your hard drive and random access RAM memory) has addresses that can't be lost or the software will go bonkers, perhaps give you error messages that are totally cryptic, and your heart will sink to new lows. ARGH - what to do then? Before you do anything else turn the device off.

I don't care, no matter what you think, turn the device OFF. Then turn it back on. You have a good chance at good performance after you turn it back on. But don't wait to turn it off; don't try to continue using it thinking that the clouds will part, that the sun is coming out. No! If there was a glitch in data retrieval, a glitch in the software trying to find itself and all its relatives, the organization is reset in the process of starting up the device anew, and you're saved (we hope)!!

If you lost something that you were working on when the glitch arose, sorry, but you have just spared yourself further grief by not trying to continue using your device with memory (leaks), hardware(crash), address(loss) or software corruption issues arising and exasperating. I know that this solution sounds too easy but it may be just a first most-important step.

But anything could have happened to cause a glitch including data loss, mis-location, bad addresses, even seriously corrupted software code. There is always the chance that you have picked up a virus (shudders) that will do any number of things to mess up your data or even corrupt your code to make the software unusable. I could on and on about many more horrors of possible malfunction but I won't. If your device is still messed up when you restart it, that will require deeper research.

Oh, one more thing. There's always the research that begins with web searches. Be bold and paste all of the error code that you receive in its unchanged entirety, into the search window's fill-out form - all of it. Google is your friend. If you get a response that says Google can't find anything, start reducing the amount of text that you've pasted: first remove the stuff that seems to reference specific ID's like strings of numbers. Keep paring down until you get an answer from the search, then start your real work. You may likely find a lot of links with results concerning your query. Oh my!

Sometimes folks who are supposed to be trying to be helpful end up doing politics with question/answer volleys that can be even humorous but won't solve your problem. There's simply venting. AND, you may also run into helpful people like the famous "Falko" who always gives correct answers. Note their whereabouts on the web, save their links, invite them to dinner.

Or maybe the best alternative is to go to your local high school and quietly find a talented nerd. I know that doesn't sound politically correct but desperate times require... a nerd.


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