Getting the newest gadget can be a good news and bad news affair. While the new Blackberry or iPhone can help with productivity, there's usually a steep learning curve involved in understanding the bells and whistles of a new productivity tool. But there are plenty of places for you to learn about your new toy.

Get Help
When you get that new tool, it's important to learn how to use it, but where can you turn to find this information fast so that you can back to business?

Friends and co-workers can be excellent resources - especially if they have the same devices.

Local community colleges and adult education services offer courses on a range of technologies, such as Microsoft Word.

Management speaker and author Harvey Mackay goes so far as to hire store employees to teach him how to use his new gadgets.

You don't need to be a famous businessman to get that level of service. Best Buy's Geek Squad offers one-on-one support for all sorts of technology needs, including training on your gadgets.

Anthony Velte is a technology author and consultant. He advises performing a Google search with effective keywords.

"There's always someone in the universe who has figured it out, and it's easier to find them than to figure it out yourself," says Velte.

Specifically, you can find help in forums and on blogs. A forum is a website where people can ask specific questions, and other visitors will answer.

"There are tens of thousands of talented people offering tips and tricks," observes Velte.

The Next Big Thing
Especially for people who have to manage multiple passwords for website access, UsableLogin (found at www.usable.com) allows you to be safe, but only have to remember one "codeword."

Most often, people use the same password over and over and - worse yet - might have a list of passwords posted on their monitor.

UsableLogin is a web browser add-on and when you visit a website requiring a password, you simply enter your codeword. Then, recognizing your codeword, UsableLogin generates its own password. As such, each website gets its own unique password and you need only remember a single codeword.

Learning new technology can seem daunting, but once you've figured it out, it can be monumentally helpful.


Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer from Blaine.