Plumbers spend their careers trying out and using all sorts of pipes, wrenches and liquids. Basketball players, I would guess, go through dozens and dozens of sneakers. Florists are experts in a dizzying array of flowers.
As a technologist, I've tested and used all sorts of technology over more than 20 years of being in the technology profession. Over the years I've found myself wishing for certain things in technology, to end days of aggravation and lost productivity.
Here's my technology wish list:
One of the most annoying and time wasting parts of using technology is when you are working on a long document only to have it crash and you lose all of your work. Or maybe it's a very useful software application but every once in a while it crashes or causes other programs to crash.
Unfortunately no software product is perfectly designed. Designers do their best to ensure their products work well on your computer but designers make mistakes. Or you add software which might not work so well with the software already on your computer or else your computer changes (hard disk space gets reduced, new programs soak up memory, etc).
We may not get to crash-less software anytime soon, but you can do a lot to prevent crashes, including:
1.Update your operating system on a regular basis. On a Windows system, turn on automatic updates by right clicking on the "Start" button, then on "My computer", then "Properties" then "Automatic updates."
2.Regularly update the particular software that's most important to your business. Your accounting software, photo editing software, web browser and similar software are most likely updated with free patches on a regular basis. Check on the software vendor's web site for these updates and download them
3.Ensure you have plenty of disk space -- less then 5GB is not so good.
Help at the Push of a Button
In the NY radio market and probably in your region of the world, we hear radio advertisements for little pendants that older persons can wear if they slip and need help. They just press a button and help arrives at their door step.
Unfortunately technology users don't have it quite this easy. But here are some things you can do to get pretty close to it.
1.When you buy new hardware ensure you get the best support possible. Instead of opting for the "no additional cost" 60 day limited support option on your 3 new computers, go for the next-day, on-site gold support option. Sure, it will cost you additional money, but the investment is more than worth it.
2.If you need help over the phone and you can't get help from your software or hardware vendor, there are a number of support services that can remotely access your computer to help. My favorite is PlumChoice.
3.If you need on-site support, give your vendor a call first. If they are not helpful consider calling a local computer consultant (Microsoft has a list of small business specialists here). You might also consider calling one of the dozens of franchised computer support companies such as CMIT Solutions, Geek Squad or Geeks on Call.
Technology That's Easy to Use
For the millions of us who have bought Apple ipods we've been spoiled with how simple technology can be. When we start to work on our "other" technology we are brought back to reality and realize that technology in the "real" world is not always easy. To ensure that you get the most out of technology, with as little frustration as possible consider the following options:
1.Take some training, especially for technology that you use on a daily basis and want to get more proficient in. You might want to hire a personal consultant, go to a class read a book or take some computer based training.
2.Buy from vendors known for simplicity. This is hard to do unless you have had previous experience with the vendor you are buying from. However, if you can start to identify companies known for good products, you'll be better off. Ask your friends and speak to your local consultant.
Technology can be confusing. But so can accounting, law, brain surgery, and piloting an airplane.
These are just three wishes for technology utopia. What are your wishes for technology?
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About the Author: Ramon Ray, Technology Evangelist, is the editor ofSmallbiztechnology.com and author of Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses (Amacom). He is co-producer of the Small Business Summit events.
Ramon is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.