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Thursday, October 02, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 2/14/2004

Getting over overconfidence

Use a computer regularly for a few years, and you ll eventually join the chorus in that old gospel song, “Nobody knows the trouble I ve seen.”

Overconfidence in computers causes plenty of trouble every day.

t Jill finished a PowerPoint slide presentation and copied the files to a compact disc (CD). Bosses gathered next morning and she took the podium and slipped the CD into her laptop. The disc was empty. The files didn t copy.

t Mike printed 200 pages from Internet sites for use on a report during a long flight. The printer cut off the last few words from the right-hand margin of each line.

t She copied photographs onto a 3.5-inch diskette to show the family during the holiday trip. When she tried to run it, an error message said the disk was defective.

t “You would have been a natural for that job last year, Kristen,” the recruiter said. “I ve always wondered why you never sent a resume.” She did, of course, by e-mail.

t The desktop computer crashed, and he lost 3 years of tax records and financial documents. Her personal digital assistant (PDA) crashed, and she lost contact information for hundreds business clients and friends.

Overconfidence means putting too much trust in the technology, especially in situations when failure is not an option.

Never assume that files have actually been copied to a CD or a diskette because the software says the copying process was successful. Software can misread a situation and lie. Check to make sure the files are really there, and will open.

Spot check printer output on big jobs. It may be printing garbage or cycling blank pages. Text from some Web sites may overlap page margins. One solution is to print in landscape format rather than the normal portrait orientation. Click “File” on the Toolbar, and select Print, Properties, and the tab that includes page orientation. Then click OK.

More than 30 billion e-mail messages travel over the Internet daily. Software breaks each up into “packets” for transmission and then does a re-assembly. Some e-mails don t get there, due to lost header packets and other problems. Never assume an important e-mail got there. Check on it.

Left running long enough, every hard disk in the world will crash. It s just a matter of time. Make back-up copies - spare copies - of important data on your computer to minimize the damage when your disk s time is up.

Back up PDAs and pocket computers, which face another risk - being lost or stolen.

Overconfidence is a special problem among people relatively new to computers, who don t yet have the scars from past experiences. I have some that still ache from my first computers 20 years ago.

People often start using computers with an I-have-faith attitude. Many eventually realize its best to put their faith elsewhere. They weave their own safety nets with a prepare-for-the-worst mindset critical for this glitch-prone technology.



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