Once you've purchased the laptop or downloaded that animation program, your first action will be to unpack the box, click on the icon, get your hands dirty playing around. You might spend a couple of days hitting the wrong key or laughing at how drunken your stick-figure looks when trying to get it to walk a straight line. In the end, though, you've made the investment for a reason and you'll sooner than later want to understand how they work, how to best take advantage of their features, so that your production is smooth and seamless.

Tutorials and guides

Though you may have a lot of experience behind you, every piece of hardware or software is going to have "new-improved" aspects that you may not have time to discover through trial and error. By finding a tutorial, or even a simple "handbook" for your product, you can save yourself time and energy and soon be able to get down to work.

You already know what almost every handbook says on the first page: "Read these instructions carefully before using this product." There's a reason for that advice.

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Hardware instructions

Hardware, such as computers, cell phones, notepads and the like, will usually come with a basic instruction book that will take you through the first steps; however, these packaged handbooks usually stop short of the nitty-gritty, sticking to "plug it in, turn it on, don't electrocute yourself".

There will be hundreds of "secret" key combinations that can't be included in that handbook for space reasons. There may be tricks you can use to lower battery consumption or improve wireless reception. By getting your hands on an expert tutorial you just might discover that your new machine is much more powerful than the ad copy led you to believe when you purchased it.

Software textbooks

Even the most basic of word processing programs can contain "hidden" shortcuts that, once learned, will save you time, maybe even help you excel. This type of information, again, not included in the simple instructions to get you started, is often contained in heavy-duty texts with chapter after chapter on program features. Though purchasing a text is a good start, you also need to remember that they will mean an additional cost.

There are numerous ways to find tutorials that will help you get to know both your hardware and software better. Employing a search engine may take you to video tutorials that will walk you through aspects, present you with tricks. You may find how-to articles on content sites that will give you step-by-step instructions.

Official sites for both hard and software producers will sometimes offer guide books and tutorials, either free, downloadable or at a moderate price for having purchased their product. Even specialty forums can answer specific questions and often lead you, through links, to useful tutorials. Jasminedirectory.com tries to do just that with its many directory entries.

Educating yourself

However you go about getting this more detailed information, you should keep in mind the purpose of a tutorial or a guide: help you learn how to use your product efficiently. This puts the responsibility on your shoulders the tutorial or guide will be of no use unless you actually read through it, follow the instructions and practice the advice given. You'll have to "set up class" for yourself, do your homework, educate yourself and practice until the information becomes second-nature. Then you can begin to use this information and actually enjoy using your new computer or playing that new graphic game without wondering if you're getting everything out of it that you could.

A guide or tutorial will often go into more detail about the inner workings of any hardware or software you want to use. It doesn't matter the final use you'll be putting the product to, what you want is to be able to use it efficiently without worrying about how to do so. Step-by-step tutorials or guides can be a way to get that information, assimilate it and then get down to work or play.