It's All About You
From InfoAve Premium - Issue #177 - March 9, 2007

Each week we receive several hundred emails from subscribers and guests to our site who write to us for help. And, many times we see the same questions over and over again. Things like: "Why can't I do this", or "My computer won't let me", or "Why doesn't this work for me?".

And, before I go on, we certainly do encourage you to send in your computer questions -we read them all, try to answer as many as we can, and learn from the questions you ask.

But what I'm really getting at is something that came to my attention because it happened to me. I guess it happened to me because I was afraid or at least a little hesitant about taking those first steps into the unknown. I'd like to relate that experience to you and give you some friendly tips and advice. Because it seems to me that what happened to me happens to you a lot too.

I suppose it is something that is ingrained in all of us. You know, the resistance to change; the desire to stick with that which is familiar. But when you really think about it, many times it holds us back from discovering new things. Everything that is familiar to us now was new to us at one time. We all took that first step into the unknown and now those unknowns are the familiar things we don't want to leave behind.

I'll be honest here. I wasn't looking forward to Windows Vista. I liked (and still do like) Windows XP. I was familiar with it, it worked for me and I honestly didn't want to leave behind that old comfortable pair of slippers that Windows XP had become.

Sure, I had all the different beta versions of Vista installed on a test machine which sits right next me. I could use Vista anytime I wanted to, but seldom did except to grab a little tidbit for this newsletter or to check a software program or test an idea. But, my old Windows XP machine was the one I used. It was my security blanket.

Being in the business I'm in, I realized that sooner or later, I'd have to make the switch to Windows Vista on my main computer because the only way you really learn to use something is by using it. You can read all the books you want about driving a car or flying a plane or using Windows Vista, but until you actually do it, you really don't ever learn how to drive, how to fly or how to use Windows Vista.

I actually bought a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium (figuring that would be the version most of you would end up with) and it sat on my desk for two weeks. I stared at it. I thought about it. And went back to work on my Windows XP machine. Vista kept staring at me and I knew it was something I should do, but I didn't want a new pair of slippers right now - my old ones were just too comfortable

But I wasn't doing myself any favors. And I wasn't doing you any favors. By holding on to what I knew I was holding myself from learning new things. I was cheating myself because I was afraid to take a new path that would lead to new discoveries. I wasn't doing our newsletter readers any favors either. I know (or I hope) a lot of you are sort of depending on EB and I to learn Vista so we can sort of help you along as time goes by.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I came down with a bug and I was ill for the weekend. On Sunday, I was feeling rather lousy, and my demeanor was dour (don't you just love that word?) and I was just in the right mood for the turmoil and tribulations which installing (or upgrading in this case) to a new operating system always seems to cause.

At 1:30 PM I stuck the Vista DVD in my DVD Drive and let it fly. I threw caution to the wind and kissed the old comfortable world of XP goodbye and looked toward the horizon. And, trust me I fully expected to encounter high seas and hurricanes. But, being in the mood I was in, I could have cared less. "Bring it on!" I said to no one in particular. (Yes I know I'm a nut job, you don't have to tell me. EB reminds me frequently.)

Sure that everything was going to go wrong, I watched as Vista automatically updated my XP machine. I had no idea how long this was going to take. Every previous installation of Windows Vista I had done had been "clean" installs. So, upgrading, of which I'm not a big fan, was a new experience for me.

At 3:30PM I watched in dismay as Vista chugged along at a snail's pace. I walked away, head down - and fell asleep. When I woke up at 6:30, Vista was going through its death throes, or so I thought.

It turned out, Vista was not dying, Sydney was not fried. Vista was simply going through its arduous routing - finishing the upgrade and "getting ready to launch Windows Vista for the very first time".

Five hours and some odd minutes after I started the upgrade it was finally over. I squinted my eyes and waited to behold the disaster I surely had unleashed upon poor Sydney - my beloved computer - the one that matters. I sighed and opened my eyes wide, ready to face the consequences of my flu-induced, devil-may-care, spontaneity...

Much to my surprise, it went very smoothly, although achingly and gut-wrenchingly slow. I've been using Vista now for two weeks and I have not missed a beat. Now, I am really beginning to like Windows Vista. I was wrong about it. I took a big chance and upgraded my main computer - the one I use 80% of the time. The one I do our web sites on. The one I use to answer important business email. The computer I write this newsletter on. The most important computer I own. Numero Uno. The Big Cheese. THE ONE. My one and only Sydney.

That was two weeks ago now, and I haven't missed a beat.

It's too easy to blame a computer or an operating system for one's lack of knowledge about it. The only way to become familiar with a computer or operating system is to use it and learn it. Just like I have done. As we get more familiar with the old, and the older we get, the less we like change. I found myself in exactly that position when it came to Windows Vista. It's a very bad thing when you allow your familiarity to prohibit you from doing and trying new things. I decided it was in my own best interest -and in our readers' best interest for me to really, really learn Windows Vista.

The first thing we all have to do is throw off the preconception that we "cannot" do something - and realize that the biggest obstacle we face that stops us from trying and discovering new things is ourselves.

Each one of you have every tool at your disposal that I have. I don't have any deep secret cache of privileged information. You all have the capacity to learn new things. All you have to do is start believing in yourself, leave your fear behind and take that first step. And you'll learn. You cannot continually go back to the way things were, you have to move on. People who don't keep learning get old quickly. You need to stop thinking you can't and start thinking you can. Windows Vista is great, you just have to use it to learn it. For two weeks I let fear of the unknown prevent me from taking the step forward and learning new things. I lost two weeks when I could have been learning new things instead I was walking around in my old comfortable slippers.

Trying new things and taking chances is the way we all learn. There is nothing you can do to your computer that you cannot fix. Really there isn't. You might have to learn some lessons the hard way, but so what? It's not a matter of life and death. It's a computer. A machine.

And if you get stuck and don't know the answer to a question you have? Guess what? Right at your fingertips you have the greatest research tool available. It's called "Google" (or your favorite search engine). Want to know how to use Photoshop? Google "Photoshop Help" or "Photoshop Tutorials". Want to know why you get a system error? Type the name of the error you're getting in Google.

I darn near created a barrier that I wasn't going to cross. I let my own familiarity and fear stop me from doing something new -Don't create self-made barriers that prevent you from doing things you're capable of doing. Don't be fearful of the unknown. Don't let fear stop you from trying new things.

You might be surprised how much you can learn if you're not afraid to let yourself learn. I didn't go to college to learn computers. When I bought my first computer back in 1997, I got frustrated that everyone seemed to know more about computers than I did. I got angry with myself and I literally spent day and night learning computers. It wasn't long before others were asking me for my advice. It wasn't too long before I started helping with their computer problems. I kept learning. I kept trying new things. I knew no fear in those days. I was ready to try anything and everything. I hadn't reached a "comfortable" place with computers yet. So, throwing caution to the wind, I tried a lot of things and consequently I learned a lot of things. For awhile, I started repairing computers. And sometimes I wasn't sure how to fix them but I knew I could do it. I knew I could find the right answers to fix any problem. I believed in myself. What I didn't know, I learned. I took time to research and find the answers. The lessons that are best learned are those you teach yourself.

And, I want to say this: It's not about whether you decide to install Windows Vista or not. this is not an advertisement for Windows Vista. Windows XP is a great operating system that will serve you well for many years to come. Microsoft has said they're going to support XP until 2014. It's not about Windows XP or Windows Vista - it's about you. Your mindset. Your desire to explore. Your desire to learn. To tell you that being set in your ways is a sign you're letting yourself get old. We all age and our years increase - there's nothing we can do about that. But we don't have to "think old". Inside yourself is a adventurer and an explorer. Maybe you, like me, have let time bury that part of you. Think about what you're missing by not trying new things - and I'm not talking about you rushing out to buy Windows Vista here. I'm talking about much more than that.

There is nothing you cannot do with a computer if you take the time to learn and have the desire to learn. You have to decide that a computer is just a tool and you have to learn how to use it. A computer is not a mystery or a horrifying monster out to get you. A computer is just a tool like a hammer or a saw. Learn to use it - believe in yourself.

And the lessons you learn from trying new things and discovering new things about your computer; and the great feeling you get when the light goes on inside your brain and you say "I got it!" carry over into other aspects of your life.

Most important of all, the lessons you learn teach you something about yourself. After all, when it all comes down to it - it's all about you.

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