Learning how to use software

by Captain Walker

Categories: Technology

Lots of people are content to refer to themselves as luddites when it comes to things technological. The main reason for that is the sense of camaraderie and support from equally dim people. How would I know? I’ve seen and experienced the phenomenon too many times over the last 20 years.

Cognitive miserliness

The underlying reason is of course, that people are in general lazy! Did I say ‘in general’? Just checking – yes I did! Which means there are exceptions. In general people need to be told and taught what to do. They are so lazy they won’t follow and learn from an instruction manual.

Software-human interface

People are still stuck on an idea that to learn software ‘you need to be able to programme it‘. This is a throwback to the days when assembly code was programmed in raw format. Then there were software like Basic, Visual Basic, Python, Unix etc etc. If you wish to spend your time learning about all that, visit ‘history of software‘. The older software is still around in the background, but only used by high-level programmers. And  today we have Linux and a host of other new stuff. The people who dabble in the code are called ‘developers’.

Ordinary people use Word-processing software – now replaced by the term ‘Office software’ – not knowing anything about the underlying complex code which makes them work. 99.9% of people don’t need to dabble that deep.

So when today the average person is faced with Microsoft Word or Excel (part of Office365), they easily get confused. Most Office Software – and there are several types – do not need to be programmed by users. To become proficient ‘you’ have to learn how the software works. That takes time and effort – and nobody has time to spend on that. Oh no – Facebook, Instagram and Netflix have reserved time away, for such folk.

Just 10 minutes on three days per week for 3 months learning from numerous videos on YouTube would put ordinary folk light years ahead of the average secretary in your fav health service. But that’s too much to suggest. One does not wish to be called a bully by suggesting any such thing.


Most people who see or learn of my use of Office365 say something along the lines of ‘you’re a computer wizard‘. I am not! I just spent time learning how the thing works and practicing. They didn’t.

WordPress is the web-based software that runs this site. I’ve been practicing at intervals over they years – and there is still much to learn. I don’t ‘programme WordPress’. I use a bunch of plugins to do the hard work, so I almost never have to tweak the raw code. Plugins are small pieces of software – much of them are free – which connects to and manipulates the WordPress code. The recent updated disclaimer to the site, is created by 7 text characters that are reused each time, so I don’t have to type the long text of the whole thing each time.

As some will have seen there are new features to display text in various ways over the last 6 months. That’s not about me nerdily sitting behind a computer wrestling with code. That’s about me exploiting the power of plugins.

The other day I discovered a set of new tricks with Dragon Naturally Speaking. It was wonderful. For example I could use an autotext feature to insert my name and signature (like an image of it), into most MS Word documents. I still use A-Text to automate some tasks. But the point is I had to spend time learning that stuff before I gained an advantage.

The bottom line

At the end of the day it is about people programming themselves to learn how software works. But the majority won’t. What people really want is a computer to read their minds and do as they ‘say’. That’s not going to happen.

The reading of posts on this blog is subject to the Terms & Conditions. Unpalatable truths and personal experiences may be told. Nothing posted on this blog is directed at any identified person. On occasions individuals are quoted anonymously. That does not mean that they have been identified to the world. Should any person or organisation reading this blog find something that makes them feel or know that they  are being referred to - any such perceived identification does not mean 'identified to the world'. ‘Stupid' is an impish figment of my imagination who occasionally is allowed to pop up – and does not represent any known individual or individuals. ‘Stupid'  carries the characteristics groups of people with 'social media mindsets'. The treatment of  'Stupid' is not representative of the way people are treated in real life. Adverse inferences made are dismissed in advance. 

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