Be Smart About Art

Is it plugged in? Is it switched on?

written by: Susan J Mumford Nov. 18, 2018 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 963 views

Is it plugged in? Is it switched on?

The other day, I was running a webinar when the following message appeared on the computer screen: 

“Time Machine backup failed.” 

Oh no! I immediately messaged BSAA’s tech guru - also the blog photographer, Chris, to give him a heads-up. This followed a whole host of other things having gone wrong with the computer earlier in the day, so my mind immediately linked this new alert with what had already been going on. 

Once the webinar finished, Chris came into the office. What did the IT genius discover? He immediately identified the problem: the cable had come slightly loose from the external hard drive...! Whoops. 

Chris used the IT 101 checklist that he’s said many times before: “Is it plugged in? Is it switched on?” 

I had been in the middle of running a webinar when the failure occurred and understandably couldn’t do anything about it until I was finished. In hindsight, I concluded that it had been premature to message my personal “IT support”.  The first thing I should have done to do was to check basics before jumping to any conclusions or having concerns.

What does this story tell you? 

For starters, the next time that a device isn’t responding or has a similar failure, ask yourself: “Is it plugged in? Is it switched on?” And take a look! It’s amazing how often these basic questions save the day. 

Secondly, what in your world often goes wrong that you ultimately discover is easily remedied? These things to be repeated and, providing you start paying attention to what frequently needs fixing that initially causes concern, you can develop new patterns for responding. Catch the thought of concern, and ask yourself, “What should I check before really getting concerned?” Take action according to what might have caused the problem and go from there. 

As for other computer and digital device remedies... 

I’d never recommend hitting a machine, however tempting that might sometimes be! Perhaps stroke it or give a loving pat? But no, seriously...  

  • Closing all open files and apps on laptops and desktops, followed by restarting, can work wonders. 
  • Making certain that devices are up to date can also be a help, as sometimes old versions of applications cause them to run slowly.  
  • Checking a lap/desktop’s ‘Activity Monitor’ (or equivalent for your machine, such as PCs) can provide excellent insight on what’s eating up local memory on the machine - potentially making it poorly perform. A small version of the Activity Monitor that lives in the dock on a Mac gives you an immediate idea as to how hard your computer at any point. 
  • Closing browser tabs that don’t need to be open (particularly if you’re like me, and tend to open more and more tabs without closing ones not being used). Also closing documents that are no longer being used can help free up memory.


What are your computer remedies and top tips? What are some things that you find you commonly need to fix in your work or projects, for which there are normally straightforward remedies? Add your tips to comments below :-). 

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Posted by : Melanie 18/11/2018 20:25

From 11 yo’s homework this evening: if the battery icon on a tablet/smart phone isn’t shown as charging when you expect it to, check if you are in the web browser or a live app OR working from a screen shot