Answers to questions, some you might have asked

John Gushue
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I get asked a lot of questions, and often about things I have not a clue about. For some reason, people think I not only know computers, but that I can fix them. I wish!

That said, I do pick up questions (at parties, in coffee lineups, via private messages) from people wondering about this or that. Here are some questions I’ve been asked lately, with some editorial tweaking here and there. (And, yes, there really was an exchange about Klout scores, which you will see below.)

Bear in mind I’m no expert about most things. The following is just my advice. That a toonie will get you a $2 cup of coffee!

Q. Do I need a phone case?

Probably. I definitely recommend it, at least. Many people like a nice, sleek phone, with many a protective slip around it, but I’m grateful for the clunky but indestructible OtterBox case that’s around the mobile I use for work. (I own another, older phone for personal use, and it has a less-secure but still formidable plastic case.) I know that I lose cool points, but trust me: that’s not what I’m concerned about, especially having seen what can happen when a moving screen hits an inanimate object, like a floor.

Q. Is there a faster way of charging my device?

The answer is probably “yes,” but it depends, of course, on what you own and how you’re charging it. In this case, my friend was charging up his phone through a USB connection to a laptop. This will work … slowly. It’s much faster to charge a phone directly to a wall unit. Turning off the phone will also help, as will switching to “airplane mode,” i.e., with wireless turned off. The USB option, though, is generally considered the low-speed route.

Q. Do I need to follow everybody who follows me on Twitter?

Goodness, no. There’s good etiquette to follow back if one is being followed (which actually sounds a little stalker-ish when you say it out loud, doesn’t it?), but there’s certainly no obligation. Personally, I like to follow lots of people. This means clutter in my feed sometimes, but to manage that, I rely on lists. For yourself, trust your inclinations. If someone is pressuring you to #followback (an obnoxious hashtag to see, especially as it often comes from a total stranger), feel comfortable ignoring them. Trust me: they’re going to unfollow you anyway!

Q. Should I be worried about my Klout score?


Q. Um, really?

Yes, really. Klout, which purports to measure influence on Twitter, is amusing, but because it is very possible to manipulate scores, its rankings have to be taken with a grain of salt, at the very least. Personally, I don't take it very seriously, and I would go so far as to say that someone who introduces their credentials by highlighting their Klout score is not going to impress me.

Q. But I just paid money to a consultant to drive my Klout score. …

Ouch! Well, if your consultant also provided advice that sees you launch a social media campaign that truly emphasizes engagement, outreach and quality content, then I think your money may have been well spent. But, if you have been advised that the most important goal is to get a higher Klout score, you should get some different advice.

Q. Do I need an extended care plan for a new phone or tablet?

Not necessarily. However, I’ve bought AppleCare, the premium replacement fee that Apple charges for its shiny toys, on my own personal products, and I don’t regret it. Here’s why. A few months ago, I tripped as I was carrying an iPad … which quickly flew from my fingers and landed, bottom first, on the radiator near the floor. What a terrible sound that was. The iPad was largely functional, but the shattering at the moment proved dangerous, and when a crack widened across the screen, I called in my chips. I had to pay a deductible, but I had a new device in two days. I was impressed. That said, I feel hustled when someone tries to sell me “extended warranty” for appliances and cheaper electronics, and typically say no, so I guess my message is that it’s a judgment call.

Q. Do you ever find yourself staring at a screen in the middle of the night, wondering where all the time went?

Nooooo … never. …

John Gushue is a digital producer

with CBC News in St. John’s.

Organizations: Apple, CBC News

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