Computers are everywhere. They’re in our purses, our offices, our TVs, our hobby-dens, our cars, and our toasters. Many of us spend significant parts of our days operating these machines in the palms of our hands and on our desks or couches. They entertain us and make us laugh. They connect us to family and help us find love. They help us get reports written and make project videos at school. They facilitate our work by crunching numbers, formatting documents, and helping us express our ideas. In a sense, they are extensions of our brains. But many of us could be getting more out of our computers. This book will show you how.

Computers are capable of being dozens of appliances, gadgets, and even large facilities. This overwhelming breadth of capability is easy to overlook. I’ve been keeping a list:

Several things that computers are capable of being#


Movie player

Phone/address book


Drafting table



Photo album





Musical tuner


Audio studio





Card game


Card catalog


File cabinet

This book posits that some powerful capabilities of the computers many people have on hand are neither well-known nor easy to discover. Getting exposure to some of them will directly improve your life at home, school, work, and play. Seeing these in action should inspire thoughts to blossom about new achievements you can reach, as well as how to do your current activities better and with more pleasure.

Intended audience#

This book is written with a few readers specifically in mind:

  • The everyday school, home, and office computer user who wants to take it to the next level

  • The artist looking for ideas and orientation regarding computers

  • The entrepreneur looking for new/modern skills and pathways to success

  • The scientist who knows the computer can help, but isn’t sure how to get started

  • The retiree looking to keep up-to-date on tech

  • The executive who wants to be better informed on IT tools

We will go through many hands-on examples that you will be able to follow right away. But because every superpower could have (and likely does have) multiple books written specifically about it, each will not be treated in detail. Thus, you should be ready and willing to dig (sometimes significantly) deeper into anything we talk about here when it makes sense for you to seek mastery. This is not an in-depth tutorial on one topic, but rather a guided tour of many for you to pick up based on your needs and interests.

I assume you have a baseline level of computer knowledge. Ideally, you’ll already know how to install a program, copy and paste things, how to make a slide deck, and some basics in a spreadsheet. If you don’t, you’ll still get something out of this, but don’t expect this book to teach you all of those things. This is a solidly intermediate book.

Each chapter will progress from basic to more complicated in an effort to cover the broad scope, and the wide range of experience and interest out there.

About me#

I’m a lifelong computer lover who has spent many personal and professional years learning about them. As much as I love computers, I really wanted to work on the energy/climate problem, so I went into nuclear engineering. Conveniently, it’s a field that can be computationally heavy. So I applied computer interests to simulating nuclear chain reactions. Guided by many mentors through the years, I enjoyed seeking out and learning new or interesting technologies, and after many years, found myself with a fairly significant body of knowledge on hand.

Along the way, I got into technical communication by founding I have been told that I have a knack for explaining complex things.

Then one day I thought, “Sheesh! A lot of people could use some help looking deeper into computers in their daily lives.” and so here we are.


It seems that computers have diminished from exciting world-changers to dull keepers of the spreadsheet and the cat video. People use computers within the bounds of the programs they have without knowing to explore what else is possible or available to make their lives easier and better. I want to illuminate the possibilities of computers to help people lead more exciting, engaged, and fulfilling lives using equipment they already have sitting around.

In the spirit of accessibility, this book highlights many free and open-source tools first while mentioning key proprietary software when appropriate.