I’ve always known that knowledge is important. My school teachers droned on about it; my parents repeatedly reminded me of it; and various public service advertisements would use famous people to persuade me to believe it.

Okay, I get it. It’s got power. Whatever.

Yet, it wasn’t until I entered my adult years and experienced the everyday trials of simply living that I really began to appreciate the wide-ranging benefits of having and using knowledge.

It is powerful.

Learning how to get a loan, understanding why not paying off credit cards immediately can wreak disastrous effects, investigating what’s under the hood of my automobile, finding out how warranties can be comforting security blankets.

And most recently for me, figuring out what to look for in a laptop.

When I first perused my online laptop options, most would agree with me when I say that the sheer volume of choices could keep a person’s head spinning for days. And mine sure did.

Processors, hard drives, gigabytes, RAM, optical drives. I just wanted one that was fast and pretty.

At least, I thought that’s all I wanted.

The nice thing about the Internet is, if you use trustworthy sites, it takes no time at all to learn everything you need to know about any given topic.

And people are pretty quick and eager to give their opinion, especially if it’s anonymous.

I found very quickly that Intel and AMD are the leading processors, with Intel coming in just a hair ahead, and AMD being more useful for “gamers.” After that, I read about the types of processors: single, dual core and on up. The bigger the number, the faster the speed—I determined.

Same thing goes for memory (RAM) and the hard drive. Of course, most of us know that, but what I didn’t know is how much is too much or too little.

With a little more online investigating and face-to-face salesperson discussions, though, I found my answers. I finally settled on a Toshiba with an Intel i3 processor, 4 GB RAM and 500GB hard drive.

But I tell you what—the feeling of walking into a store and having an educated conversation about products, without embarrassment of appearing stupid or ill-equipped, and knowing the right questions to ask so as to make the right purchase, that’s priceless.

And powerful.

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