Category Archives: Troubleshooting

Tech Tricks to Improve Your Technological Experience

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There is a wealth of information available on the internet. Luckily, there are lots of neat technological tips and tricks that can help with how you use technology and its components.

Vine is an app people use to post very short (eight seconds or less) video clips that will automatically replay once the clip has finished. The clips are referred to as Vines. GCF LearnFree has posted a neat list of Vines that can help with some common tech-related problems such as how to organize and label various wires, how to protect power cords, and how to clean a keyboard with a sticky note.

If you are a Chrome user and have been frustrated with the slowness of your browser, makeuseof has written an article that has some suggestions on how you can improve the speed of your Chrome browsing experience.

If you are a user of Creative Commons (content that is free to legally use and share), makeuseof has put together a helpful post that gives tips on how to find Creative Commons content.

Have you ever accidentally installed bundled software without meaning to? When installing free software, often times there will be a message box that appears before the installation asking if you want to install another program, reset your browser homepage, or change your search settings. Luckily, there is a program called Unchecky. This application searches for commonly bundled unwanted applications and removes them. It also prevents unwanted applications from being installed in the future by automatically unchecking the unwanted offers box when a user is installing a new application, as well as warning the user if they try to accept a potentially unwanted offer.

These are just a few of the many neat tricks to help you improve how you use technology and its components. Do you have any neat tricks you’ve discovered? Share them in the comments.

MakeUseOf Has the Answers to Questions You Didn’t Know You Had

makeuseofStaying current with IT news, trends, and tips is a fundamental part of my job in the library.  While I get this information from a variety of resources, there is one website that keeps surprising me with helpful information on a variety of subjects of interest to me and the patrons I assist.  I’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to MakeUseOf, a free online resource with timely articles, reviews, and help guides for all things tech.  What really makes this resource shine is its ability to speak to both new and veteran users at the same time without confusing or boring either!

The home page at MakeUseOf displays headlines and teaser text for their most recent articles.  I find this layout somewhat chaotic, so I prefer to sort the articles by category before browsing.  Selecting “Topics” in the header menu will display the articles by category.  The “Answers” section leads to a user forum where registered members can ask and answer questions from the MakeUseOf community.  Check out the “Top List” section for “best of” lists for a variety of software and services on multiple platforms.  For in-depth technology guides, have a look at their “E-books” area.

As a registered user of MakeUseOf, you can earn points for sharing their content on social media, as well as participating in the forum, polls, and other activities.  Those points can be redeemed for rewards, such as entries in drawings for free hardware and software.  My favorite benefit of membership has been receiving the newsletter.  Each email has a few headlines with teaser text that can be easily scanned, with more information just a click away.  I have happened upon lots of very useful information in these newsletters that I didn’t even know I needed!  You can opt-in to the newsletter by selecting the social media icons at the top of any MakeUseOf page, and then selecting the blue “Email” button.

subscribeWhat do you think of MakeUseOf?  If you have another tech info source you love, please share it in the comments.

iOS 7 Upgrade Causes Issues with OverDrive Media Console

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If you have an iOS device, chances are good that you have already or will soon be upgrading to iOS 7.  Unfortunately for OverDrive users, the upgrade caused a hiccup that kept users from accessing their books in the OverDrive Media Console app.  The good news is, OverDrive released a simple fix almost immediately.  They suggest uninstalling and reinstalling the OverDrive app and re-authorizing it with your Adobe ID.  It is important to note that uninstalling will clear your bookshelf, settings and history.  Any items checked out to you can be downloaded again by logging into your OverDrive account’s bookshelf.  To login, open the app and select “Get Books.” Click on the account icon and enter you library card number: account

For more information about this issue, please see OverDrive’s blog post on the subject.

 

Looking for Help with Windows 8?

w8If you recently purchased a new Windows computer or tablet, chances are it uses the Windows 8 operating system (OS) or Windows RT (a simplified version of Windows 8 for some tablets).  The latest OS marks a major change in the appearance of Windows, which has thrown many users for a loop.  Here is a collection of resources to help answer your questions:

Videos

Websites – Step by Step Tutorials

Books (links lead to Upper Hudson Library System catalog)

I hope this helps some of you to navigate and troubleshoot your new operating system.  What do you think of Windows 8?

Now Playing: Video Tutorials!

For all of you folks who learn best by watching, you’re in luck!  OverDrive, the service the library uses to provide downloadable e-books and audiobooks, has released a series of videos to help new users get started downloading library books to their devices.

We have linked to the new videos on the OverDrive Information portion of our website.  Please click a link below to get information about how to use your device to download library books.

We also have information to get you started on the following devices, but no videos yet:

As always, feel free to call or stop by the Reference Desk (477-7476 option 5) with any questions you may have.  You can also drop us an email using our contact form.  Please be very specific when describing your question/issue.

Until next time…

Problem Steps Recorder

Recording signI just learned about a wonderful troubleshooting feature included  in all versions of Windows 7.  I can’t believe Microsoft hasn’t made a bigger deal about this tool!  It’s called Problem Steps Recorder.  If you encounter an issue that you can reproduce, but can’t easily show or explain to someone, this tool can help.

For example, if I found that clicking a link crashes my internet browser, I can just let the webmaster know the page address and which link caused the problem.  However, if I find that only a certain combination of clicks and other actions lead to a crash, that may be more difficult to explain accurately.

Enter Problem Steps Recorder.  If I click the “Start” orb, type “psr” (without quotes) and hit enter.  A control bar will appear.  After I click “start recording”, it will record all of the steps I take, including a text description of where I clicked and a picture of the screen during each click.  The text I’m typing will not be recorded.  If this information is important to the troubleshooting process, I can use the “Add Comment” feature to annotate the steps.  When I stop recording, the information can be saved to a zip file and emailed to support.

As a support professional, I can attest to how important it is to be able to see the screens people are talking about.  With so many possible variables on any given machine, a picture is truly worth a thousand words.

If you’d like to learn more about Problem Steps Recorder, see the dedicated Microsoft support page.

Ask the Expert

Do you have specific tech questions that our classes don’t cover?  We now have a “class” designed just for you!  [Nearly] Every Thursday from 4-6, I will be in Meeting Room B waiting to answer your questions.  Drop in with the device you have the question about (if it involves a device) and I will be happy to assist you!

What Is My Computer Doing?

Have you ever used a computer that was running suspiciously slow?  This is a notoriously difficult problem to diagnose.  If you’ve been keeping up with your regular maintenance, then it’s probably not just a matter of a cluttered browser or hard drive.  Chances are, there is a program running behind the scenes that is consuming your resources.  It could be an anti-virus scan, or it could be something more sinister.  How can you tell for sure?

1.  Windows Task Manager:  If you are on a Windows PC, hit control-alt-delete (three keys at the same time).  On the resulting screen, select Task Manager.  The Process tab is the most telling.  If you click CPU (top of the column), it should put the process using the most memory at the top.  If not, click it again.  DO NOT stop a process without knowing what it does.  This can cause major damage if the process is necessary for normal computer operation.  Instead, look up the process name on a reliable site like ProcessLibrary.com.  The site will give you an idea which program is associated with the process, what it does, and whether it can be shut down safely.

2.  If the Task Manager doesn’t tell you what you need to know, try What’s My Computer Doing.  It’s free software that gets more in-depth than Task Manager.  The paid version will dig even deeper.

Happy hunting!

Is it just me?

Have you ever had trouble loading a website, but can’t tell if the site is down or if it’s just a problem on your end?  Then this site is for you! Just head to “Down for everyone or just me?” and type in (or paste) the address of the website you’re trying to reach.  The results will let you know if other users are having trouble with the site, too.  Handy!