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January 2,2015


Tech Device HELP

Smartphones, iPods, tablet computers and other tech devices can certainly make life easier and much more fun, but it can also result in problems and frustrations when you can’t get an app (program) or device to work at all or the way you think it should.

Where to go for help? The quickest and easiest source of help for many problems comes from you, so be sure you first check the basics, no matter how simple or silly they may seem. If the problem is with a wireless device, check and recheck wireless settings for the device, and also check the wireless network. Does your network work with other wireless devices? Still stuck? Try rebooting the wireless device by turning the device off,  waiting 30 seconds, and then turning the device back on. In the case of an iPhone or iPad, this can also be done by simultaneously holding down the Main Menu button and the Power button until the Apple symbol appears, then releasing the buttons to let the device reboot. This last trick has worked wonders for several of our problems.

If your problem is with a device that needs to be plugged in, check to be sure everything is turned on and all properly connected. Try simply unplugging and re-plugging the cable(s), or try using a known good cable. Rebooting works well for plugged in devices too: just by shut the device off for 30 seconds, and then turn it back on. Some devices may require unplugging all cables for 30 seconds.

Another way to help solve problems is to be sure you’ve read (or re-read) the device instructions carefully, including installation, initial setup and troubleshooting sections.

If the problem is with a device that uses batteries, be sure that the batteries are fully charged. Are disposable batteries fresh? (A simple battery checker is a useful gadget for this).

If the problem is with a computer, run a scan for malware (viruses, spyware and more) using one of the many programs such as AVG (, free) or our personal favorite, Vipre (, $50, free 30-day trial). For a more intensive survey of your computer for viruses and other malware, try “dancing the security tango” at

Also check the computer company’s Web site for technical support, updated drivers, setup, FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) or a searchable problem database or links to user forums. We’ve found much help from user forums, where people with the same or similar problems are likely to post solutions they have found.

We frequently use Internet searches for quick, easy and effective ways to resolve problems. Try searching Google, Yahoo! or Bing for a wealth of info. These search sites all respond well when you use “natural language.” For example, in the search field, enter “computer locks up when I try to print photos” or “my Samsung Sansa won’t play .WMA music files.” Many of the search results here will also include the online user forums where you can post a question and get a response from a knowledgeable user or an expert. Quite often techs from the company monitor the site and will chime in with help. Still no luck? Try using alternate search terms or different phrases until you find what you want.

If you have an iPad, Android or iPhone, check out help apps for your specific problem or request. “There’s an app for that” is true. In addition, if you have an Apple device and live near an Apple store, you can make an appointment at the Genius Bar for one-on-one help with an expert. We’ve always found the “Geniuses”  very helpful. offers video demos on a vast selection of technical problems. Use the search option to find a video showing you how to connect an HDMI component, configure a TV to recognize a Blu-Ray player, download photos from your camera or its memory card, and solve many other problems. YouTube lists millions of choices for help, how-tos and more.

Another invaluable help source: Blogs (short for web logs). Internet blogs cover just about any topic or device. Use Google, Yahoo, or any search site to enter a device or program name plus the word “blog,” and you’re likely to find people (bloggers) who write about that device or program. You can also post a comment on most blogs to ask for advice. Then check the blog soon after, and you’ll likely find help posted in a reply. Blog comments don’t always come from an expert, but we’ve found them very helpful for many problems.

Still stuck? It may be time for support from your dealer or manufacturer. Long phone waits or delayed e-mail responses are common, but some companies do provide good help, so be patient.

If all else fails or you need help now and are willing to pay for it, check out local individuals, technology service companies and stores that offer on-site or carry-in help on an hourly or flat fee basis. Similarly, using a search engine, enter “help” for (device name) or (program name) to bring up options for online chat, or phone help, often available 24/7, and/or for a fee.

So--if you have technology-related problems, don’t despair, and don’t give up. Help is available from many sources.