I worked in the IT industry for several years. Now I write about it. Yet I'm convinced I'm never quite going to master certain areas of business technology. So, is it me, or are there some fundamental problems with the way these pieces of IT work?
- All-in-one printers. These sound like a great idea. Print, scan, fax and copy documents from a single piece of equipment. But in practice, all those functions means there's more to go wrong. Once you've fixed the paper jam, you just end up with landscape prints when you thought you chose portrait. Legible photocopying requires patience. And - of course - a big print job will tie up the whole machine for ages.
- Changing passwords. Ok, so it's really important you use secure passwords. Avoid words you'd find in the dictionary, use upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation and you'll stay pretty safe from hackers. The thing is, these passwords are difficult to remember. And when your office PC forces you to change yours regularly, you'll soon be needing help because you've forgotten what you changed it to. Again.
- Telephones. Sure, as a rule telephones are quite straightforward to use. But there's one area that's always mystified me: transferring calls. I've never seen an office phone system that makes this easy. You're virtually guaranteed to either cut the caller off, plunge them into an on-hold telephonic abyss from which they never emerge - or just transfer them to the wrong extension altogether. Please hold the line.
- Microsoft Word formatting. Here's a confession for you: I use Microsoft Word almost every day, but each time I hit the bullet point button, I'm still not 100% sure what will happen. Big bullet points, small bullet points. Shaded bullet points, unfilled bullet points, inconsistent indentation ... if anyone can explain how I can get the same bullet points, every time, I'd be eternally grateful.
- Laptops. When I first swapped my desktop computer for a laptop, I made lots of mistakes. First I got told off for leaving it on my desk overnight. So I locked it up, only to leave the keys at home the next day. Once I'd got the hang of that, I graduated to leaving the computer in one place and the power lead elsewhere. Whoops. I'm over these problems now, but it's surprising how many ways a new laptop user can trip up.
So, those are the five bits of basic IT I still occasionally struggle with. What are yours?