Dear Computer Lady:
I am 79 years old and admit I am not very good when it comes to computers, but I’m trying. My question is this: I had ask a couple of questions a few times before and had never receive a reply. I am just wondering how you determine to answer certain questions. I am very aware of all the questions you are asked. It must be in the thousands. Please let me know one way or the other how you get a question answered. I read your questions every time I get them and enjoy them very much. I learn a lot from them. Very informative. Thanks again, I enjoy reading them.
Good Morning Bob,
Good Question. I have over 5 thousand questions in my email at this moment waiting to be answered, and I have probably read about half of them.
I am answering your question right now, because I just sat down at my computer to do something and your message was at the top of my inbox, AND, I have a few seconds to answer it before I get back to the thing I was researching when I sat down and logged into my computer. Sometimes, like now, a question will get answered only because I happened to sit down when it was at the top of my inbox. Questions sent over the weekend tend to get lost in the crowd by the time I sit down and start going through messages on Monday morning.
When I do go through the questions that have been asked, I am looking for questions that have been asked frequently by a lot of people. Things like, how do I get my spell check to work in Outlook Express, or how to email a photo. Those are questions that get asked a lot, and by answering them, I will help a lot of people.
Questions that I don’t answer usually fall into one of several groups.
1. I don’t answer questions that would be telling readers how to do something illegal or unethical. I believe that if we are using a software program that we find valuable, then we should be paying the company that developed that software, no matter how large or small that software is.
2. I don’t answer questions that require troubleshooting a unique problem on your computer. Chances are that other readers have never had, or will never have that same problem, and most of the time, the best solution is to bring the computer to a local computer shop.
3. I don’t answer questions about software or hardware that I don’t personally have. Many people write and ask me if I answer questions about Apple computers. I have never owned an iMac, and probably never will (unless someone wants to buy me one of those new thin MacBooks so I can learn how they work). If you have a software program that most people don’t use, I probably can’t help you figure out how to use that program.
4. I can’t answer questions if I don’t understand the question. I get lots of questions that are short and don’t have enough information to understand the problem. When someone asks me, “Dear Computer Lady, my sound stopped working in my email, how do I get it back?” I have no idea what the problem is, or even what email program the person was using.
Questions that I love to answer are questions that will help many readers and usually fall into one of the following groups.
1. I love to answer questions that ask how to do something basic in Windows, and the programs that come with Windows like Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, etc. There are so many settings you can change, and things you can do in Windows to make your computer use faster and easier, and it is fun to explore these options.
2. I love to answer questions about computer maintenance and security. In my business, I usually see lots of computers that have been infected with some pretty nasty and disruptive viruses, Trojans and malware. If I can educate my readers on how to avoid these infections, it will help them. I also like to talk about maintaining your computer. I don’t like it when I have to break the bad news to a customer that their hard drive has crashed and unless they are willing to spend thousands of dollars for professional data recovery, their information (photos, music, documents, address book, etc.) is gone forever. If I can teach my readers how to back up, and how important it is to back up their files, I have saved them from losing them all. Sooner or later every one of us will lose files from hard drive damage, fire, theft, flood, viruses or some other means.
3. I love to answer questions about quality software that makes common tasks easy for the average user. Sometimes that software is free, and sometimes it is software that you have to buy, but it has to be something that I use and feel that it is worth the cost.
4. I love to answer questions about working on the computer, like how you can do common office tasks more efficiently. There are so many tools available today that make office work on the computer faster and easier, but so often I see people doing things the long hard way.
I hope this answers your question, and I plan to include this on my website and in my next newsletter so it will help all the other people who are wondering why I have not answered their message yet.
PS: Your question is actually one that I get about once a week.