Computing in the Malvides

The Elements of Computing Style

200+ Tips for Busy Knowledge Workers

Nowadays everybody knows how to use a computer. Smart people learn how to use it with style: effectively, efficiently, and, yes, enjoyably. Become one of them!
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200+ tips and tricks for harnessing the power of your computer

  • How can I finish a lengthy report on time?
  • Which routine tasks can I outsource to ChatGPT?
  • How can I automate the handling of my email?
  • Why are email's blind carbon copies an invitation to a disaster?
  • Which keyboard shortcuts can I use to speed-up my work?
  • How can I avoid errors in my spreadsheets?
  • What makes an effective presentation?
  • How can I ensure I'll be able to access my files in twenty years?
  • What should I pack before a trip?

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The Elements of Computing Style deals with the effective use of computing technology: a work style that can readily increase your productivity. Bookstore shelves are full of beginners' guides and software-specific manuals. These, occasionally useful, books won't help you if you're already versant in computer technology but use it in a suboptimal way, wasting your valuable time performing repetitive tasks or struggling with easily avoidable problems. Computing style is what distinguishes a computer expert from a user who just gets by. Although following a few tips won't make you a computing guru, you can readily bridge a large part of the productivity gap between you and an expert by following this book's advice. The 200+ tips included in the book can provide 80% of an expert's effectiveness.

The text covers all aspects of computing use: computer-related work habits; AI tools; web searching and surfing; email handling and etiquette; working with documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; essential advice on typography, data management, security, privacy, and digital preservation; travelling; IT equipment; system administration; ergonomics; entertainment. Most professionals, even seasoned computer users, fail to use computing technology in its full potential. This short book provides specific advice that delivers immediate improvements in effectiveness and job performance.

Tips and tricks


Searching the web

Start your search with Wikipedia
Find it next time
Use phrase searches
Search sites through Google
Search using an image
Let the web vote
Ask StackExchange
And more ...


Handling email

Turn-off email alerts
File incoming email as you read it
Don't file outgoing email
Create shortcut-accessible folders
File to multiple folders
Automate filing
Don't fall for hoaxes
Reply to mail you sent
And more ...


Working with documents

Bookmark with undo
Don't align with whitespace
Employ styles
Paste as unformatted text
Search with wildcards
Search for special elements
Track changes
Useful shortcuts
And more ...


Working with spreadsheets

Replace your calculator with the spreadsheet
Use multiple worksheets
Structure your spreadsheet for calculations
Name your data
Keep an extra row
Vlookup isn't rocket science
Auto-complete your labels
Average by selecting
Have others fill-in your spreadsheets
And more ...


Preparing and Delivering Presentations

Plan two minutes per slide
Avoid running text
No fancy layouts and effects
Use a master style
Don't read your slides
Use both screens
No live demos
Arrange for backup equipment
Verify your setup
Setup accessible backups
And more ...


More topics ...

Work Habits
Web Tips and Tricks
Email Smarts and Etiquette
Icing the Cake: Typography
Data Management
Digital Preservation
Business Travel
Dealing with IT Equipment
System Administration
Computers in our Life

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About the author

Diomidis Spinellis, a Professor in the Department of Management Science and Technology at AUEB, has lectured on the book’s topics at the University’s International MBA program. He has also worked as a site reliability engineering senior software engineer for Google, he has served as the Secretary General for Information Systems at the Greek Ministry of Finance, and has consulted for Fortune 500 companies. He holds an MEng in Software Engineering and a PhD in Computer Science, both from Imperial College London. Spinellis has published two award-winning, widely-translated books on code reading and code quality in Addison-Wesley’s “Effective Programming Series” as well as more than 200 technical papers in journals and refereed conference proceedings, which have received thousands of citations.  His article on the Greek wiretapping case made the front page of the IEEE flagship publication Spectrum. Currently he is serving as Editor in Chief for the IEEE Software magazine.

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