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PC Help


Microsoft Blog

Each month we will try and bring you a new software to use in the classroom or at least make prep-time a bit more efficient. Also, we will throw in some tips like a FIX-IT article detailing how to solve simple PC issues you may experience here or at home. Just a little something to make you feel more confident with a PC.

SOFTWARE: Greenshot

greenshot_screen.pngThis months great download is one of my favorites, called GreenShot.

What is Greenshot?

Greenshot is a free, open source program, that lets you capture sections of your computer screen (or the entire screen too) with a push of a button.

Simply press the Print Screen key. Your mouse cursor will turn into crosshairs. Then you just outline the section of the screen that you wish to capture.

Why do I need it?

Have you ever taken a screenshot, then tried to import it into a powerpoint or word document, only to have to waste time cropping the image to the small section you wanted? Well, with greenshot, take only the part of the screen that you want. It's great for creating instructions and powerpoint slides, as there is no fiddling around with image editors. The capture can be saved to the clipboard, and then simply paste it into your document. EASY! And zero cropping!

Export the screenshot in various ways: save to file, send to printer, copy to clipboard, attach to e-mail, send Office programs or upload to photo sites like Flickr or Picasa, and others.

Download Here

PC-FIX-IT: Readyboost

readyboost.jpgHave an older laptop that seems to be sooo...slow? This little trick can speed it up! Most people have a USB flash drive just lying around, maybe you bought a 2gb or 4gb back in the day and later upgraded to a higher capacity one. Need something to do with those extras rather just toss em in a drawer?

Windows 7 (and Vista) come with a feature called ReadyboostIf your PC is running low on RAM, Readyboost will use the flash drive for its cache, rather than your hard drive.

Why do I care?

Your PC uses RAM to store programs and files that you use constantly. When your RAM runs out, it begins using your hard drive to temporarily store files for use, known as caching. The input/output of RAM is considerably faster than your hard drive. This is why when you are out/low on RAM, your computer begins chugging along at an insanely slow speed.

Readyboost, instead of using your hard drive, will use the USB flash drive for caching when you are out of RAM. USB I/O is faster than most hard drives on older PCs. This will increase your system performance, launching applications faster.

How do I use it?

To turn ReadyBoost on or off

  1. Plug a flash drive or flash memory card into your computer.

  2. In the Autoplay dialog box, under General options, click Speed up my system.

  3. In the Properties dialog box, click the ReadyBoost tab, and then do one of the following:

    • To turn ReadyBoost off, click Do not use this device.

    • To use the maximum available space on the flash drive or memory card for ReadyBoost , click Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost. Windows will leave any files already stored on the device, but it'll use the rest to boost your system speed.

    • To use less than the maximum available space on the device for ReadyBoost , click Use this device, and then move the slider to choose the amount of available space on the device you want to use.

  4. Click OK.

Should I use it?

Readyboost is mainly for older PCs with low amounts of RAM.

To know if Readyboost can help you:

Click the Start button.

Right click Computer.

Select Properties.

Look under System and how much Installed Memory (RAM) there is in the PC. If the amount is 2.00GB or less, Readyboost will most likely benefit this PC. If you're around 4.00GB of installed RAM, it all depends on how many programs you use at once. If you are noticing slowness, there is no harm in trying.


Windows: Problem Steps Recorder (PSR)

Windows PSR will record your actions and take screenshots so that you have a detailed report of the exact steps taken to reproduce a problem to send a technician. Very useful, instead of trying to remember exactly what you did.

Open Problem Steps Recorder by clicking the Start button, and then typing psr. In the list of results, click psr.

Click Start Record. On your computer, go through the steps on your computer to reproduce the problem. You can pause the recording at any time, and then resume it later.

Click Stop Record.

In the Save As dialog box, type a name for the file, and then click Save (the file is saved with the .zip file name extension).

To view the record of the steps you recorded, open the .zip file you just saved, and then double-click the file. The document will open in your browser.

Troubleshooting Tips

Reboot - If your PC is working fine and something suddenly goes wrong. Just reboot your machine. Don't waste time troubleshooting and updating drivers. Reboot and see if the problem returns. There are certain files that multiple programs share, and if one program locks the file and for some reason doesn't unlock it for other programs to use, this is known as a conflict, and can cause all kind of nastiness. A simple reboot unlocks the file. Ninety percent of the time, a reboot solves all the problems.

Check the connections - Another obvious answer, and a simple one as well. Mouse not working? USB flash drive stop working? Maybe your monitor is a blank screen? Unplug the device, and replug. Sometimes they look plugged in, but there are many pins in these devices and if one isn't connected, weird things can happen. Also, these devices can "short out" and even though they are fully plugged in, will appear dead or broken. A simple reconnect will get them back going.