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What's your level of computer expertise?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 8, 2008 8:22 AM PDT

How would you describe your level of computer expertise?

Complete newbie

If you're pretty computer savvy, how did you get to your level of expertise (books, websites, school, etc...)?

What kind of sound advice would you give computer newbies who are just getting their feet wet in the computer world?

If you're a newbie, what is your greatest fear about the computer?

Have fun with the poll discussion!

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I know. . .
by Coryphaeus / August 8, 2008 11:00 AM PDT

enough to be really dangerous.

I guess I'm just shy of a guru. All my friends bring their machines to me to fix. So far I'm batting a thousand on fixes. At least those that could be fixed. One friend had the dreaded "leaking capacitors". Not fixable.

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Re: What's your level of computer expertise?
by doremifaso / August 8, 2008 12:54 PM PDT

I answered "Advanced"

I got to this level from personal experience (learning from mistakes, trial and error, curiosity, etc.), and from checking out forums such as this one.

Advice for newbies: Discover what the reputable computer help sites are, and when faced with a problem, do some searching and read up on what other folks did to troubleshoot the same problem. Don't be afraid, have fun, just be sure to protect your computer with antivirus & firewall, don't download attachments from those you don't know & trust, and make sure to back up your important stuff externally.

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I know stuff...
by ESUNintel / August 8, 2008 1:04 PM PDT

I would say I'm something between advanced or expert. With technology being ever changing, no one is really a Guru for long, at least I think.

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computer expertise
by lyndaschat / August 8, 2008 1:18 PM PDT

I'm not to sure what I would call myeself because i am self taught from DOS. It had all started with a Radio Shack computer over 20 years ago now.. I used to see ads on tv showing the "Hello" text and how you could work from home if you owned a computer. I went to Radio shack to buy batteries, the sales person told me if I knew of anyone that wanted a good buy, that he had this sale going. I bought it, hook line and sinker! LOL No clue what to do it sat in my room for a good year or so. By the time I got around to finding someone to try and explain it to me, it was outdated and I spent megabucks upgrading. Finally I started creating my own systems, by trial and error. Bought a compaq that blew up during testing cause it wouldn't run right.. Then I switched to Gateway and they've been the best in my book. In the beginning years ago, I started online with Compuserve. It was through them that i had learnt a lot. But it got to expensive because we didn't have long distance back then and were to far away. Then I was turned onto Prolog, which is a Pennsylvania Internet provider. I have stuck with them ever since, although the cable company is a subsidary of or something, I go through them now. But it's been a huge learning experiance right along. I didn't even know how to type until I got online! But between the software Mavis Beacon and chat lines, I moved on. <s> I'm a software nut and always trying to learn something new.. So I learn a little of this and a little of that from office to graphics, I love it all!

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Level? Remember the bell curve....
by jlodman / August 8, 2008 1:24 PM PDT

If you are fixing your buddies' computers, you probably aren't a guru or an expert, though you are might be an advanced amateur. If you use games or MS Office a lot or once in a while you probably aren't an expert. You aren't even advanced, really. Simply "using" a computer likely means that you know really don't know much about it however good you are in downloading new drivers from a website. This includes about 99% of the people writing articles for companies like CNET by the way - those who can do, those who can't, teach, and those no good for either write about those who are getting the job done.

If you are professionally writing Windows applications or device drivers, or porting the Linux kernel, you are a probably software expert, and are likely a guru as well if you've been at it for a number of years. If you are designing chips for the next generation at AMD, Intel, Nvidia, or one of the many companies that provide 3rd party hardware to the computer you are likely an expert or guru about the computer hardware. Nobody becomes an expert or guru reading manuals and tinkering with the machines.

Remember the bell curve - most people are intermediate by definition.

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The normal distribution (bell curve)
by depage / August 9, 2008 1:17 AM PDT

I agree that the normal distribution rules. Note however that even the questionnaire is slanted toward the upper end, and it SHOULD be, because those users at the low end mirror of "guru" would not be online answering the poll.

My wife, a professed computerphobe, nevertheless helps her office mates out with computers because she has learned the opening gambits: is it plugged in, turned on, are cables snug? She is something of an anomaly, a low end user with enough experience and common sense that she functions well above her understanding level.

The problem as you point out is that there are two dimensions being measured here: experience level and overall aptitude. My wife's experience level overcomes her admitted lack of aptitude, and effectively places her in the grand "intermediate" level.

My personal level, with still more experience and more aptitude has to be something else, so I answered "advanced". Yes, I fix my own and my friends computers. I can read and fix C code, but don't do a lot of that. I spend a remarkable amount of time arguing with less experienced and less apt "technical support" people, who act more as a barrier than a help. At least my wife passes on her tech support duties in about 30 seconds, after ascertaining that the computer is plugged in, and turned on!

There are a LOT of people in the low end category, so there is more room in at least the Advanced category than it would appear. Certainly very few of us are gurus, and the Experts are probably being paid for the work they do.

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Guru defined is:
by Dango517 / August 9, 2008 1:33 AM PDT

"the word "guru" is widely used with the general meaning of "teacher""

From wikipedia:

Nearly all of the classifications given could fall under this definition. Even a person with one days experience can teach someone with 0 days experience many things.

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by Denerynn / August 8, 2008 3:31 PM PDT

I would consider myself intermediate, although I might be wrong. I'm a lot more comfortable with computers than most of the people I know. I have a decent understanding of tech language, and though I may not know so much about how many things function, I'm constantly learning. There's a bunch of things I could do with my computer that I don't know of, but just by reading forums like these, and playing (yes, online game) with people who work with them for a living (voice chat software really helps for that), I learn new things every day. I can usually figure out how something works, I have little to no trouble following instructions. I can often troubleshoot myself, though some problems are beyond my knowledge.

The true inner workings of computers, the finer things remain obscure to me. I simply don't quite know where to start, and while I do learn, it's not enough, or at least, maybe not in the right direction.

It's worth mentionning that I'm still only a teenager, and that working with computers is what I find the most interesting, more than anything else they make us do in school. So I'm considering heading towards a career in computers, perhaps programming. However, I must admit that I'm quite terrible at math, it's my weakest and most hated subject.

Sorry for heading off-topic, but I felt I should have mentionned that.

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by white-bread / August 8, 2008 4:40 PM PDT

I've been using what I have now for some time.

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Forgot one ....... PC Wizard
by Dango517 / August 8, 2008 4:45 PM PDT

This thread untracked.
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From the Mac side
by jennywren1420 / August 9, 2008 4:32 AM PDT

I'd say, "intermediate," even though my knowledge ranges from practiced in some areas to a little spotty in others. Others can judge better than I whether I'm inflating my skills or selling myself short.

My advice would be, "Read, read, read" and talk to people you trust. These forums have been a huge help, not only in leading me to understanding of the problems I encounter, but often, helping me to resolve them?not to speak of informing me about things that I need to know and can pass on to others. I often read about problems or issues that others need help with, just to broaden my scope and knowledge.

I also have a couple of books that are very useful, although my favorite, "Sad Macs, Bombs and Other Disasters" hasn't had an update that I can use with OS 10.4 ("Tiger"). Now, that was a comprehensible, truly useful book that didn't talk down but covered many things that anyone from the novice to the expert might need to know about.

Get the right tools to address maintenance and repairs, to the extent that you can repair damage to your computer. That means software and advice, chiefly, but you may need some physical tools as well.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Try not to fool around with things you know nothing about but be brave and willing to try things, when someone has given you good advice. See whether you can inform yourself as much as possible before you actually run into a problem but don't blame yourself when the unexpected happens.

That's most of it.


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I would have to say
by 4Denise / August 9, 2008 4:33 AM PDT

just into the advanced ranking. I know more than most people, but definitely not enough to be an expert.


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by bowacl / August 9, 2008 7:05 AM PDT

Or at least upper Intermediate. I fix them when something goes bad, I use/test and recommend allot of different software for my small group. Have been at it for a little over 14 yrs. and never been shy about trying something new. Very curious about what makes things work. I can't be expert because it some times takes me a while to figure out a problem. My learning was self taught in the beginning but then over time as the internet progressed and things advanced, someone always had the same problem or recommended the software I wanted to try so now it's mainly there that I get all my answers.

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New challenges
by lyndaschat / August 9, 2008 3:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Advanced

Well I think that is terrific! I find that helping others always teaches me something new. It is always challenge, isn't it?

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What's your level of computer expertise?
by glenm812944 / August 10, 2008 12:30 AM PDT

I would have to say Advanced. My job is end user support services. I install Servers & Work stations, & networks printers. I work with in a WAN, LAN, MAN networking enviroment. I'm responsible for any computer a student would use and connect to the internet. Provinding all assitance with GPO (Group Policy Object) for Insturctors (Teachers) as to what the students should have or not have on their profiles when logging onto the network. I'm backed by a great amount of others behind the scene that know alot more than I. I support MS XP Pro, MS Office 2003 & 2008, and Norton Antivirus for Windows. I'm reciveing training now for Windows Vista. I'm happy were I'm at becuase I'm doing what I love.

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IE browser holding user name passwords
by lyndaschat / August 19, 2008 8:46 AM PDT

Well if you are advanced, then maybe you could tell me the answer to this. <s>
I would like to find the file that is holding the numerous usernames and passwords that have been saved.. Address's, etc.. I do like them come up when I need them, but often have made errors and now they always come up. I don't want to simply clear them "ALL".. But what I would like to do is go in and delete the ones that I no longer use. would you be able to explain where I would find those?
Thanks, Linda

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I would have made a new post about that.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 19, 2008 9:14 AM PDT
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Just so you know
by bowacl / August 19, 2008 11:03 AM PDT
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i'm about as dangerous as Wayne :)
by jonah jones / August 10, 2008 12:55 AM PDT

i can build them, fix them, (including that bulging capacitor problem) and break them....

i know nothing about Word, Office or Excel and any program with a learning curve greater than the radius of a gnats eyeball is beyond me which probably explains why i stay with windows Happy

i got where i am via trial and error



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level of computer expertise
by Vish5 / August 10, 2008 3:19 AM PDT

Practical hands on experience rectification of errors/hitches/glitches thru trial and error and advice online over phone from friends who are assemblers or network specialists

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experience with time
by Aragorn37 / August 10, 2008 6:29 AM PDT

I started with computers with the old style Apple computers with command lines in high school. I then started tinkering with upgrades, then building my own computers. When gaming came into play in my life with the intro. of Unreal Tournament I started building power systems designed for gaming. At this time my level was simply a "guru" type. A then-new factory in the area (about 15 years ago) that I worked at was in need of a computer administrator and they implemented me to do the job. I then, through the help of the companies long-distance-away help desk started receiving training to be our local help desk rep. I have since been going to college to attain my bachelors in computer information systems.

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I answered EXPERT
by mjd420nova / August 10, 2008 2:45 PM PDT

I'vw been exploring computers since the inception of the "4004" four bit controller chip. I worked in the field service end of computers from 1974 to 1994 servicing computers and peripherals formanufacturers and independantly for clients. IBM, Apple, Squirrel, Wang, DEC, NEC, Toshiba, Dell, Gateway, Leading Edge, Blackship, the list goes on and on. Peripherals from modems, printers, scanners and a broad cross section of automated devices directed by computers. Single function devices such as key retrieval, satelite receivers, stock quote sytems such as Blommberg and Knight-Ridder and Comstock 500. Primarily a hardware specialist and now doing consultation work and system upgrade and retro-fit for a larger consultant. All of these applications also include the appropriate software neccesary to remain functional but not a primary concentration of my efforts.

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Interesting question
by barriepayne5 / August 10, 2008 3:08 PM PDT

I've been in network adminsitration for 10 years professionaly and a serious tinkerer for 15 years prior to that. I can tell you that as far as my knowledge goes, I learn something new everyday. There is no defined benchmark for what classifies you as an expert so most people just go by the relative level of the people they know and the articles they may read.

I mean, unless you are in the field, talking with other "experts", deal with new problems daily, how do you even know what it is you don;t know?

Or the flip side to that. The more you know, the more you know you don't know. All that aside, here are my suggestions for newbies.

1. Learn cuy, copy and paste. This procedure works across just about any application and once mastered, can release you from many proprietary programs that come bundled with accessories.

2. Linked with number 1, File structure. Learn your file structure and where and how to put files. If you download a program, you'll enjoy it exponetially more if you know where you save it and you can execute it. Same goes for transfering pictures or videos tou your PC. Put it where you want and know where it is.


3. File extensions. Learn what file extentions are and how to look up unknown types. Might save you getting that latest virus or spyware program along with many other useful things.

If you only just turned your first PC on yesterday, I congratulate you for finding this post :), mastery of these basic skills will put you ahead of 50% of the computing world.

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by barriepayne5 / August 10, 2008 3:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Interesting question

number one should read CUT copy and paste. Not cuy...

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A complete newby
by Sunton / August 10, 2008 3:37 PM PDT
In reply to: typo

I am enjoying your forums and very slowly absorbing the knowlege they impart... Many thanks, I can now do more than turn my computor on.. All the best, from New Zealand, Sunton.

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Advanced Computer user
by YeYe55 / August 11, 2008 3:02 AM PDT

My level of computer experience is pretty good actually.
I've learned thru a lot of trials and errors. I mean, horrible fears of computers gave more williness to keep trying and trying until Iam now, I can safely say, advanced.
And for new people out there, you MUST learn thru trials and errors only.
But the best way is to observe as I did also.
Ask questions too. I believe that one of the main factors why I know so much about computers was by asking questions.
Another good one is having a computer mentor. This will do alot good.

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Re: What's your level of computer expertise?
by stevent1992 / August 16, 2008 4:18 AM PDT

I've got no "fears" so I'm not a beginner and I would research a problem and fix it myself than call someone to do that for me. I would class myself in between Intermediate and Advanced.

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by sanganisuni / August 18, 2008 6:02 AM PDT

iam a beginner and would like to atleast become a good user. limitation is a guru who would guide me through.from here on to go ahead wat should i begin with? a stage by stage assit will definately see me through..

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