Tag Archives: “Pogue’s Basics”

David Pogue Says, Basically: Have A Great Life

Last year, David Pogue offered his millions of fans “the basics”: tips and shortcuts about technology that some of us use every day. Others are gob-smacked by them.

None of us know everything. For every person with no clue that pressing any button on the side or top of a phone instantly stops it from ringing (duh!), there’s another who is amazed to learn that double-clicking any word is the best way to highlight it (whoa!).

That book — Pogue’s Basics: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) For Simplifying the Technology in Your Life — sold so well that his publisher gave him a contract for 2 more.

David Pogue BasicsThe Westport-based tech writer (Yahoo, New York Times, Scientific American) and TV correspondent (“CBS News Sunday Morning,” PBS “Nova Science Now”) has just published the follow-up: Pogue’s Basics: Life/Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) For Simplifying Your Life.

Why expand from technology to life?

“I went for low-hanging fruit,” Pogue admits. “I’m a shortcut person. I know a lot about things like health and restaurants.”

And cars. In Basics: Life, you’ll learn how to find which side of your rental car the gas tank is on. Just look at the gas-pump icon on the dashboard. A little triangle points to the left or right. Wow!

Food, too. Wrapping a cucumber or lettuce in a paper towel, then placing it in a plastic bag in a refrigerator keeps it from getting soft and gross. Holy mackerel!

As for cleaning a microwave of caked-on, exploded food: Put a bowl half-full of water inside. Turn it on high for 5 minutes; wipe with a paper towel. Who knew?

Pogue crowd-sourced these tips through Twitter. Several dozen folks contributed ideas. There is wisdom in crowds. But no one is wiser at passing them along than David Pogue.

So what will his next book be?

Well, he has 3 kids. Perhaps essential tips to raising teenagers that no one bothered to tell you.

That could be his best seller ever.

(To buy Pogue’s Basics: Life on Amazon, click here.)

David Pogue passed along some favorite tips at a recent TED Talk.

David Pogue passed along some favorite tips at a recent TED Talk.

David Pogue’s “Duh!”

Imagine if you drove a car for years, but never knew that by lifting the little thing on the side of the steering wheel, you could let other drivers know that you planned to turn left or right.

Or if you thought that you had to use the up and down arrows on your TV remote to change channels, rather than simply clicking on the numbers.

Yeah, laugh now. When it comes to computers, laptops, smartphones, e-readers, printers, browsers, email and social networks, we all don’t know certain basics.

For instance:

  • Hitting the space bar is the same as clicking on the scroll bar — and a lot easier.
  • You can silence your cellphone immediately by clicking any button — volume, the on/off switch, whatever.
  • Google can act as a currency translator, flight tracker and Roman numeral converter.

You probably knew some of that. You probably did not know all.

And — until now — no has one collected all that “basic-except-no-one-ever-told-me” information in one place.

Pogues Basics - book coverThe job fell to David Pogue. The Westport resident — who has spent his career explaining technology to the masses, via books, videos, the New York Times and now Yahoo — has just written “Pogue’s Basics: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) For Simplifying the Technology in Your Life.”

It will be published tomorrow (Tuesday, December 9). The tips are a lot shorter than the title.

Pogue first realized the need for a manual — a “driver’s ed course” for tech — a decade ago. He watched in horror as a receptionist agonizingly tried to highlight one word in a Word document. Her cursor kept missing it.

Finally, Pogue asked, “Why don’t you just double-click on the word?”

“Oh my God!” she screamed. She had no idea.

In 2008, Pogue wrote a Times piece on his 25 favorite tips. The comments section exploded, as readers shared their own I-thought-everyone-knew ideas.

Two years ago, Pogue gave a TED talk. In 6 minutes, he raced through 10 tips. It was clear that very few folks in the highly educated, high-functioning audience knew that during a PowerPoint presentation, hitting “B” on a keyboard blacks out the screen, allowing everyone to focus on you and not your slide. (Bonus tip: Hitting “W” whites out the screen.)

David Pogue, hard at work. Did you know that if you open a laptop, you can access all of its features?

David Pogue, hard at work. Did you know that if you open a laptop, you can access all of its features?

The book followed. Now everyone — well, everyone who buys it — will know that hitting the space bar twice on a smartphone automatically inserts a period and space, then capitalizes the next letter you type. (You knew that, right?)

I told Pogue that I don’t know 95% of what Microsoft Word does. I can create columns, insert tildes and Greek letters, and get word counts, all of which I’ve been asked to share by clueless others. But they know other Word tricks I don’t even know I don’t know.

“That’s fine,” Pogue says. “No one uses more than 5% of Microsoft Word. It’s not your fault. My job is to make sure you know which 5% to use.”

Microsoft Word

Click on Pogue’s Basics to order this immensely helpful guide. It’s available in print or as an e-book. And if you don’t know all the ways to get the most out of your e-reader — well, what are you waiting for?

PS: I’m sure you know this, but on the very off chance you don’t:

  • “Airplane mode” charges your phone twice as quickly.
  • Both iPads and Androids have ways to keep your tablet screen from rotating.
  • On YouTube, hitting “J” on your keyboard jumps the video back 10 seconds; “L” moves it ahead 10 seconds.

(Click on this TED video to see the talk that started it all.)