I really care about my customers and I wish technology was easier to keep up with. At the same time, I do run into several common misconceptions that are simpler (albeit less intuitive) than learning grammar or cooking, and most of my customers are better than I am at both of those things. I want my customers to be effective users of technology, so read on to see if you are making any of these mistakes.
The most important thing to know in using a PC or a Mac is about your files. You should know where your files are, what type of files you have, and whether they are backed up. At the very least, you should know where your files are. Neither the PC nor the Mac make file management intuitive. Both operating systems will do oddball things when suggesting the place to save your files. Sadly, the only answer is to be vigilant and knowledgeable about where your files end up.
The most common terms that are misused are download, upload, Google, Internet, and modem/router. Downloading is the act of downloading a file to your device (computer, tablet, or phone). It happens all the time, even when watching a YouTube video or visiting a Webpage. You may not realize it but when you watch a video on your computer, it is downloading to your computer. The more common manifestation of actively downloading something is when you choose to save a file from an email or Web page to your computer to a specific location.
The term 'upload' actually means to do the opposite of download, where you upload a file so that it can then be downloaded. Usually, when a customer uses the word upload, they actually mean install.
Google is a company that is primarily in the search engine business. They also sell advertising, offer apps (Chrome and others), have a Webmail (Gmail), and do several other things. But, Google is not the Internet, nor is it a browser (although they do make a browser, Chrome).
People often mix up the functions of the device/s that get them access to the Internet. Most homes in the last five years have what is called a 'gateway' device that gets their devices online. A gateway is a device that does the job of both a router and a modem, and Centurylink's gateways do a poor job at both, whereas Comcast's are good enough to be comparable to a $100 device from a retailer.
Although not as important to know as many other tech concepts, there is an odd ratio of reliance to obliviousness regarding browsers. At least 85% of what people do on their computer is through a browser, yet most users don't really know what a browser is or which one they are using. Examples of browsers are Firefox, Chrome, Safari (usually on Macs), and Internet Explorer/Edge. Browsers display Webpages, and that's really all they do. They seem to do much more, but that's because Web pages do much more than display text and images. You can watch videos, send/receive email, download files, and even create Web pages through a browser. Know which browser you like to use and why, along with the main things you can do with a browser, such as type in a web address, create a favorite/bookmark, and download files.
The most common thing I wish I saw less of is people who cannot live without their email but they have almost no idea how their email works or best practices regarding it. This is especially the case with small business owners. Email was was not designed to handle all that we (and spammers and hackers) throw at it. Things you should know about email are: (a) whether you are using Webmail, pop3/imap, or Exchange email, (b) how to avoid spam and junk mail (and the difference between the two), (c) how do download attachments and then what to do afterwards, and (d) how to organize (delete!) email.
Just as you're a better steward of your car when you know that you shouldn't drive it hard when the engine is cold or skip changing the oil, you should learn as much as you can about the primary things you do with technology. You may think your tech support person is being a 'grammar nazi' when they correct you when you call a folder a file (or vice versa), but I assure you we are not. We want to find a solution to your problem and know that this is much easier if you, the customer, know the correct terms and functionality of technology.
Gentle, no-nonsense advice and perspectives on technology.