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David Pogue, a personal technology columnist for the New York Times and a technology correspondent for CBS News, held early this year a TEDTalks session entitled “10 Top Tech Basics You Think Everybody Know – But They Don’t.” 

He said that when people get a piece of technology like a laptop, it is expected that they will somehow learn to use efficiently the technology. But most people don’t bother to learn time-saving tricks. So in this talk, David shared tips that can help people use their devices more efficiently. These tips are the following:

  1. Browsing the web. While browsing the web, people usually use the mouse and drag-horizontal bars or the scroll wheel to go through a page. You can use the SPACE bar to scroll down one page and SHIFT+SPACE bar to scroll up a page. This works well for any type of computer or browser.
  2. Filling out name and address. When filling out a blank form in the web, you can go to the next box to fill out by pressing the Tab key. If you are at the drop-down menu for the State, instead of using the mouse and to find your state in the long list. Just type in the first letter of your state until it shows up. In the case of Michigan, you have to press M four times.
  3. Resizing the fonts in the browser. While browsing the web, if you find that the text or font of the text is too small to read, you can press the Control Key and the plus (+) at the same time to make the font larger. To make it smaller, just press Control Key and the minus (-) at the same time.
  4. Texting/typing with your phone. When you are texting and you want to end a sentence with a period, David said that instead of switching the keyboard layout to the punctuation marks, you can just press the SPACE bar twice. This will add a period, insert a space and capitalize the next word.
  5. Re-dialing the same number you last called. On all cell phones, you can hit the Call button and this will put the last number you had dialed. To connect to that number, just click the Call button again.
  6. Interrupting the voicemail instructions. If you are trying to call someone and you have reached the voicemail because the number you are calling didn’t answer, there’s a key you can press to interrupt the voicemail instructions. Unfortunately, it’s different in every phone carrier. David says that for Verizon and Sprint it is * and for AT&T and T-Mobile it is #.
  7. Some Google Tricks. To find the meaning of a word, type the word “define” on the Google search box then the word. The Google search box is also flight tracker. Just type in the airline and the flight number, and Google will show the flight details. It is also a unit and currency converter. In the example he gave, he typed ‘inches in 32centimeters’. Google came up with 12.5984 inches as the result.
  8. Word-processing basics. To highlight a word, just double-click the mouse in that word. To erase the word, don’t hit the delete button. Just go ahead type the replacement word. You can also double-click and drag the mouse to select one-word chunks. And finally, you can triple-click the mouse to highlight an entire paragraph.
  9. Eliminating shutter-lag with your camera. Shutter lag is the time lapse between the moment you press the shutter button of the camera and the time the camera actually snaps to take the picture. According to David, this is happening because your camera needs time to first focus on the object and then actually take the picture. You can eliminate the shutter lag by pressing half-way on the shutter button so that it first pre-focuses, and when you want to take the picture just click all the way. This is especially useful for taking pictures of moving subjects.
  10. Presentation trick. If you are making a presentation with Powerpoint, KeyNote or other software of this same type and you want your audience to focus on you instead of the slide in front of them, you can press the B button to black-out the screen or the W button to white-out the screen. You can press B or W again to show your slide back to your audience .

Readers who may want to watch this TEDTalks session, go to David Pogue – 10 Top Saving Tech Tips

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About the columnist: Percy Antonio is an IT Professional for over 15 years. He is currently working for an automotive manufacturer.


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