Are Your Bits Flipped?
Publisher: TidBITS / Take Control Books
Final Release Date: April 2016

Overcoming Tech Misconceptions

Just as a single "flipped bit" in a piece of computer code can bring an otherwise reliable app crashing to a halt, a single misconception in your understanding of personal computing technology can cause all manner of problems -- including lost data, wasted time, and constant frustration as you live and work in today's increasingly digital world. In this unique title from Take Control, which is packed with little-known facts and debunked beliefs, tech expert Joe Kissell untangles common confusions surrounding the high-tech products and services we all rely on every day.

By eliminating your tech misconceptions, you'll:

  • Avoid common errors that waste precious time or result in data loss.


  • Make decisions based on an accurate understanding of how things work.


  • Find yourself asking for -- or paying for! -- computer help less often.


  • Have clear explanations on hand when others ask you for help.


  • Better understand tech topics in the headlines -- encryption, passwords, privacy, and more.


  • Make a stronger impression at a job interview, user group, or wherever your tech skills may be judged.

Some of the 16 chapters in this 190-page book are updated and expanded versions of essays originally published in TidBITS.

You'll start thinking more clearly about:

  • Trust: Can you trust an online service like iCloud or Gmail, or a password manager?

  • Privacy: How do you evaluate your privacy when a Web site wants you to give it personal information? What if the site wants to track the way you use it? What if you want to store confidential data on it?

  • Fear: Should you worry about using Java or JavaScript, two computer languages that have little in common except their names?

  • Clicking: Why click twice when you can click once? Sort out once and for all what a single click versus a double click can accomplish rather than just clicking randomly like a teenager.

  • Opening apps: Are you in the shockingly large group of people who spend too much time on the mundane action of opening apps?

  • Cloud accumulation: How many cloud services (like Dropbox or Google Drive) do you need, where are your "cloud" files actually kept, and how can you keep your monthly cost down?

  • Email: How can you ensure that attachments make it through? Do you worry about where your email is actually located? Did you know you can choose an email address that will work over time and make you look better online?

  • Backups: Are you relying on a backup strategy that will let you down? Should you worry about what happens if you start up your Mac from a bootable duplicate?

  • Encryption: Do you understand why the U.S. government is going after the giant tech companies, and why the stakes are high for your own use of encryption?

  • Passwords: Do you know why it's such a bad idea to use the same password for multiple sites, or to rely on a pattern? (Please, please, use a password manager.)

  • Web: Are your Web searches finding what you want quickly and easily? Did you know that you can navigate the Web more effectively if you understand how URLs work?

Is this book for a person like me?

We designed the book for people with a wide range of tech experience, from those who do little more than read email and browse the Web all the way up to people who provide technical support professionally. A few topics focus on the Mac, but the majority of the book is of general interest.
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