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Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems

Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems
Cellphone

    Modern life has been made easier with technology, but for every advancement there is a corresponding increase in complexity that seems to outweigh those benefits. When modern day problems occur, we usually don’t have the time or energy to figure out how to solve them. So here is a reference on how to handle some of these pesky problems.

    1) Change Cell Phone Contracts with No Penalty!

    Did you ever get mad because you wanted to ditch your cell phone company for a new one, but you couldn’t because of the huge termination fees? Well there are a few services now that connect people who want to swap contracts. According to The Week Magazine, most cell phone companies are willing to process a swap. Here are the companies who provide this swap brokering service. Fees range from $9.95- $14.95.

    2) Avoid the Rebate Runaround

    Rebates can be pretty sizable, and unfortunately retailers sometimes give customers the runaround when it comes to fulfilling these rebates. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you get your rebate:

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    1. Understand the terms of the rebate before purchasing.
    2. Make copies of all paperwork before mailing. Tip: use your digital camera for this.
    3. Fill in all field on the rebate form. Leaving any field blank can void the rebate. Write something even if it is something like “I don’t have a fax number.”
    4. Send in the rebate ASAP. Many rebates have short time frames today. Don’t be late or you’ll lose out.
    5. Handwrite your forms so mass-mailing rebate fraud is not suspected.
    6. Use certified mail and get your receipt.
    7. Buy at stores that can handle the rebates in-store or online such as: Staples, Cosco, and Cingular.
    8. If you have problems: Write directly to the manufacturer’s CEO and the retailer’s CEO. You can also call the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) 877-382-4357 or www.ftc.gov. Lastly, you can call your local Better Business Bureau or your state attorney general’s office.

    3) Don’t Pay for Technical Support

    Don’t you hate paying for technical support. Well here are a list of sites that offer free tech support online. These were reviewed by Tech Support Alert as either “Outstanding” or “Highly Recommended.” For other free tech support recommendations, visit their site.

    More:

    4) What to Do with Unused Airline Miles and Reward Points

    According to most airline miles programs, selling your miles will make them null and void. There are places that broker these miles for selling, but if you want to go by the rules you can head over to Points.com where you can “TRACK,BOOK HOTELS,SWAP,EARN,BUY,GIFT,SHARE,and REDEEM miles and points.”

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    5) Get a Live Person on the Phone

    Sick of listening to automated menus when you need to ask someone a question over the phone? Well here is the ultimate resource on how to reach a live person:
    Get Human
    or take a look at the tips in this article, 6 Tips to Reach a Human Operator.

    6)Spyware and Viruses

    I had a real problem over a year ago with a virus I couldn’t shake. I tried everything. What finally worked for me was SpySweeper by Webroot. This along with a Norton protection package has worked well for me.

    7) Identity Theft

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    This one can be a real bugaboo. The first thing to do if you discover this is to report it to the credit bureaus:

    EQUIFAX—www.equifax.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (800) 685-1111
    To report fraud: Call: (800) 525-6285

    EXPERIAN—www.experian.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    To report fraud: Call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)

    TRANS UNION—www.tuc.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (800) 916-8800
    To report fraud: Call: (800) 680-7289

    For more information here is the United States Department of Justice’s official information on how to handle identity theft:

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    Additional websites that contain general information about identity theft as cited by the USDoJ website:

    These sites also have good guidelines for preventing identity fraud in the first place, so it is worth checking out even if you haven’t had this problem.

    8 ) Keeping Track of Online Passwords

    I didn’t see this as a problem until I read the following article. It points out the vulnerabilities of weak passwords and of not having a secure place to store them. The article lists links to 10 cool password generators and trackers that are all free: 10 Free Ways to Track All Your Passwords.

    What solutions have you found to modern life’s annoying problems? Please Share!

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are Ultimate Goal Setting Guide, 5 Big Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About Investing, Maximum Energy in 10 Simple Steps, and Cool GTD Applications – The Ultimate Resource List.

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    K. Stone

    The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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