Secret to knowing (almost) everything

Question: How did you know what to do to fix that?

Perhaps not surprising, I’ve heard that a few times in my lifetime when fixing a problem.  The odd quirky issues, the long string of error code numbers, the fixes that invoke waving a rubber chicken over the computer… Ok might be making that last one up. I have a secret.

Us techs don’t know everything.  Nope. I know. Shocking.  With a few exceptions, we don’t usually know a lot of things. We are indeed humans and not impressive autonomous computers.  Beyond our actual jobs, hobbies and cached knowledge of items we run into almost every day, we don’t house in our heads ever odd event that we might run into or be asked.  Its not possible.  And yet 9 times out of ten we’re able to get the answer. No we don’t know everything.   But we do know something very specific.

We know how to use google.  Yup, there’s an art to using google: Google-Fu.  And I’m not talking about how to get to our favorite sites, nor am I talking about using it to find the latest sports scores or weather.  I’m talking about using it for solid useful (work) information.

Seems simple enough right?  And yet there always seems to be two big stumbling blocks people have when trying to use google to fix what is wrong.  They don’t know what to search for and they don’t know what they are given when they find it.

Lets deal with the first part.  Your computer does something odd and throws up a error box saying a bunch of gobity gook.  How many times have you stared at that and went… “whah?”. Well first off, don’t worry.  A lot of the time, we say the same thing.  The difference is that, even though we might not understand it, we don’t let it intimidate us, nor do you need it to either.  Chances are, if we take that text and put it into the google, you will get results.  Only once, have I ever run into a situation this hasn’t been the case where I’ve gotten nothing.  It’s ok not to know what the error is, you can still find out about it.

Which brings us to the second part. I have a bunch of links all showing gobity gook too.  Great.  We’ll here’s were some filtering helps.  After a while of using google you start to see sites over and over and know their quality.  Just like when you search for information and keep hitting content farms for standard household searches and immediately disregard them, the same is true for tech questions.  We know to ignore the links and instead hit up results on or  Or ignoring and going to Apple’s or Microsoft’s kbase articles.  After a while it gets easier to find what you need.

Now obviously this is a great generalization. That’s why some people’s Google-Fu are better than others.  Ability to use the right info to ask the right question, and then using the right filters to make use of what info is given to you… That in itself is no small feat. But those two steps are a great start into the wide world of the Internet.  It’s your second brain just waiting to help you.  You just have to ask.

Categories: Tech with TaselTags: , ,

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