It’s the 21st Century. Welcome.

Working a help desk for the past almost year has been a very interesting experience. Ignore what I have said for a minute and understand that it has been an interesting experience.

It has reminded me that people, still, are afraid of computers. It has also reminded me that, still, people expect to have their hand held 200% of the time when they are using computers. And here I am, thinking it is the 21st Century, when in fact, you are acting like you just got Windows 95 for the first time.

Do you own your business? At the very least, you should have **basic** computer skills. When I say computer skills, I don’t mean programs and applications, I expect you to be able to run those at above an expert level. I’m talking about the computer itself, Windows, the peripherals and, to some extent, your network.

You should know what a network cable is when I use that term. You should also know where that cable connects on your computer and where the other end connects. Along with that, you should know what a USB cable looks like and what is at the other end of those that are connected to your computer. And, the power cord, where it is and where it goes (both ends). This is computer basics people, for machines that you are depending on to run your business.

You should also know the basics about Windows. How to restart the computer without being walked through the steps. How to open the Control Panel without being walked through the steps. How to “right click” on something and know where to double or single click. Again, basics of using a computer that you should know. You should also know if you are using Windows XP or Windows 7 when asked. Saying “I don’t know” is no longer cool or cute.

Finally, you should know where the networking equipment is in your business. At minimum, know where your internet modem is and how to disconnect it from power. You should also be able to disconnect from power any other pieces of network equipment you might have and know, exactly, what will happen to your business network when you do that (HINT: your network will go down). And, for crying out loud, please know if:

* You have WiFi
* How to connect to it if you do

I’m embarrassed for you that don’t have these basic skills and abilities. You can do all of these steps with everything else that you own that has a power cord, yet you still decided to keep thinking that computers are scary. I don’t get it. You own a television and a car, 2 devices that are infinitely more complex than your average computer system, and you know exactly how both of those work.

You don’t have to be an IT guy. You just need to be able talk to one.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at, host at and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.

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