advice

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A few times a week someone asks me about something related to computers or technology. I like answering the questions for several reasons, and I give advice for free for one very good reason.

First: I like answering because it’s an exercise for the brain. It makes me take all my knowledge and apply it to a specific instance with its own parameters and limitations. Second, if I do not know the answer off the top of my head, I am forced to find out by doing a quick search or two and reading what has been written by experts and people much more familiar with the matter. Thus, it expands my knowledge base.

The single “very good reason” for giving the advice free is simple: Having no vested interest in either selling them a product nor my services, I can give advice free of bias. I do admit my bias toward products I think work well, but I would imagine that would be a desirable bias. If I gravitate toward ease of use or advanced features I can adjust for the sophistication of the person asking. If a product has both ease of use chops and advanced features either buried or easily accessed, it makes my job easier. However, one of my first questions is: What is your budget? That let’s me know whether to recommend an open source application/hardware platform or a competent commercial application.

Either way, If the person is very technologically naïve can let them know if they’re on the right track, and steer them toward resources so that if and when they spend money or allocate resources, they can feel more confident doing so.

BTW Sis: the answer currently is a WD Live box… but that is subject to revision next product release cycle.

Perspective is the ability to step back from one’s self. And evaluate what you have from an outsider’s point of view and really see where you are. Quite literally one of the dictionary definitions of the word perspective is: “true understanding of the relative importance of things.” It’s the fact that realizing that everything is relative, that helps one see where one is truly at.

If I ask someone where they are and they are standing next to me, they might say, “I am here.” But that informs no one without context — but context is what a lot of people forget to include when they’re looking at their situation. It’s really easy to interpret a person’s physical presence from the word “here” because we naturally synthesize the information at our disposal: what we see, hear, feel, etc. in short: their entire environment.

But what a lot of people fail to do is to take synthesize all the things that affect them and take everything into account when the look at what they consider a bad situation. What’s even worse is when some people think they have all the information, and make decisions without thinking of what they might be missing, or things that they are taking for granted and not including in their decision making.

I find it useful to step outside myself, which means setting my personal feelings aside for a minute and looking at myself from what someone else might see. Just that act of looking at your actions or situation from what it must look like to someone that doesn’t understand everything you know helps tremendously. It clarifies and crystalizes things you might not even realize about your situation and even yourself.

So, the next time you find yourself in a crappy situation with someone, take a step back and look at it from a different perspective, and see if your situation is as bad as it seems. Often people I see complaining about what is essentially a problem  that person created himself/herself, either out of thin air or by doing things to rub people the wrong way.

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