Resolving Windows Systems Problems

Here is fine article on fixing common PC (Windows) problems. I highly recommend anyone with a Windows PC read this article.

As mentioned in the above article F1 is invaluable!
I have learned more from reading help files (and Internet searches) than through ANY instructor related training I have been through in the over the last 20 years!

You can press F1 within just about any application (not just MS applications) and bring up the Help window.

Also not mentioned, in the article but one that I MUST put in is use Google, Bing or other search engines. Because all the time you may not find the working solution in the help file or Microsoft FixIt Center.

I use Google and Bing to find sites, forums and blogs which give out step by step guides to solve tech problems. “Great” you say, but how do you know what advice to actually follow. A trick is to scan through the comments below the post or the conversations going on in the forums to see what others been saying. When you see the same solution presented over and over it is usually the right one (though not always).

If you go through blogs or forums related to your problem then you will notice how many people have gone through the same problem.

Another important fact when it comes to Google’ing, Bing’ing etc. is to use the appropriate search terms.

1. Use the exact error message or code.

In this way you will be able to find the most appropriate solutions from the search engines. I will always try to copy and paste the exact error message in Google or Bing or in the documentations such as F1 help files or downloaded manuals and walkthroughs.

2. Use the exact error message or code with the software/OS/website/ name and version.

If the error message is generic you have to use the name of the software, application, OS or website with its version details with the error message to see the related discussion and solutions.

3. Description of your problem with software/OS/website/ name and version

If there is no error message or code then you have to use a little description of the problem and all the other details related to the issue. That can be the operating system, software name or version details.

Always it is better to mix up the keywords or add and remove keywords to optimize the search result for your problem.

I have found that patience and persistence are invaluable!!
I often find my solution a page or two after the first page that is brought up on a search or a few links down from the first link and or within the comments of posted solutions.
The reasons for this are many, but mainly because people PAY to be listed first when it comes to certain search terms, especially those for technical solutions. And many of those PAYING to be listed high on search results are not always legitimate – meaning they are probably trying to sell or dupe you into some product or service(s) that will make them money and usually not really help you.

For those that are not experienced with technical solutions please take EXTRA care to NOT to just click on the ‘first or biggest’ link on a solution page, as this is usually just some type of advertisement or way to get you to install more crap on your system that is usually not reputable.

IF you do find a solution that suggests downloading or installing software please make sure that you have UP TO DATE Antivirus AND Anti-Spyware software installed. And for goodness sakes DO NOT install any type of ‘Scan Your PC’ software!!!

Please see my other posts about creating backups too. Before you embark on any system modifications you should have a recent validated backup of your entire system and files! [hence my love of imaging software – read about it in my other posts please]

Please not with computer problems my steps are always to first and foremost RESTART THE MACHINE.

Also you should know that when presented with a problem by friends, clients or family I usually follow all the steps as stated above. When someone emails or calls me with a question that can be easily solved by the above steps I usually shoot them back and email like this one:

“I cannot print files to the network printer….” someone will say so I send them back a link like this:)

Well I hope this helps some of you and you get the idea.

Gmail Integrates with Google Voice for Free Calls from Your Inbox.

Gmail is integrating Google Voice, bringing free calls to the U.S. and Canada and cheap international calls to Gmail—and it’s available today.

Calls to the U.S. and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year and calls to other countries will be billed at our very low rates. We worked hard to make these rates really cheap (see comparison table) with calls to the U.K., France, Germany, China, Japan-and many more countries-for as little as $0.02 per minute.


As soon as it’s available in your account, you’ll see a Call phone link in the Chat sidebar of Gmail. Click it, search for a contact or dial their number, and voila—phone call. If you’ve already got a Google Voice number, calls you make from Gmail will show your Voice number in that person’s caller ID. You can also receive calls (if you choose) made to your Voice number directly in Gmail—making it a fully legitimate VoIP solution.

Google’s rolling out the feature over the next couple of days in the U.S., so keep your eyes open. You’ll need to have installed the Voice and Video plug-in to use it. It’s not available on Google Apps accounts (yet), but Google says they’re working on it.

Here is the rate chart for international calls.

With the great quality of voice and video chat already built into Gmail/GChat I think this is a killer solution.

Get Caller ID from Your Computer


Let’s say you’ve got a landline set up with Google Voice and you don’t want to pay for caller ID. Or you just spend a lot of time staring at your computer. If you’re logged into Gmail, and someone rings up your Google Voice number, you can see who’s calling on your computer without digging your phone out of your pocket.

Transfer Calls to (and from) Your Computer to Save Cell phone Minutes


Assuming you’ve already added your Gmail Chat account as a number that can be reached through Google Voice (which also assumes you’ve signed up for Google Voice), you can transfer calls from your phone to your computer to save cell phone minutes. Here’s how it works:

1) If you’re logged into your Google account, go to the Google Voice phone settings page. At the bottom, you should see a new option for Google Chat (like in the image). Make sure it’s checked.

2) Now, when you’re in the midst of a call on your cell phone—let’s say you were talking to someone in the car, and now you’re home—just hit the * (asterisk) on your phone’s number pad to send the call to another Google Voice phone. If your Gmail account is open, your inbox should start ringing. Pick up in Gmail and hang-up your cell phone.

The opposite works, as well—i.e., transferring calls out from Gmail to your cell phone. Oh, and remember: If you’ve got a decent Bluetooth headset, you should also be able to stay relatively mobile, even if you’re talking from your computer.

Find Your Misplaced Phone

Misplace your cell phone under a pile of clothes or deep in your couch cushions? If you left your ringer on but don’t have another phone on hand, just log into Gmail, dial your cell phone number, and follow the faint sound of ringing.

Use It for a Quick-and-Dirty Speakerphone for Group Calls

Google Voice is already pretty good at setting up conference calls (demonstrated in the video above). Now that you can call from your computer, you’ve also got a quick-and-dirty speakerphone perfect for the group of people sitting around a table on your coast.

Make a Quick Follow-up Call in Response to an Email

This is less of an "amazing new thing" than a nice, practical side effect of having one more thing integrated with your inbox. Say you get an email from a colleague. You want to send a quick follow-up, but it’s going to be a lot more appropriate talking than typing a reply. Dial the person up in Gmail and talk it out without disrupting your workflow.

Secretly Record Calls

Google Voice has handy recording function, but whenever you enable it (hit 4 to start and finish recording), Google Voice announces "This call is now being recorded." Prefer to record a conversation surreptitiously? Calling from Gmail puts the audio on your computer, where you can use any number of tools to record your system audio on-the-sly. (For example, despite what I thought at the time, Whitson later told me he wasn’t aware I was recording the call in the video above.) File this under the know-your-state-laws category.

Windows Media Center How To’s

Some have asked me how to work with the fantastic Media Center in Vista and its ‘father’ WinXP Media Center Edition.
There are other ‘open source or freeware’ apps and plenty of quality ones to purchase available to do what Media Center does, but I have used most of them and they don’t compare with the Vista (or WinXP) Media Center.
Some example of the other application Myth TV, Media Portal, Beyond TV, Sage TV, and XBMC to name a few of the quality ones I’ve used (use).
If you don’t have Vista, or WindowsXP Media edition some of the freeware applications can do a very good job and some of the retail applications will too.
You can even use a media center PC to save money by kissing cable or satallite goodbye! (see below)
Well, anyways here are some great links that will help more than I can with a a simple email response.

some other good stuff:

And even more great resources:
42 keboard shortcuts for Media Center:

Review of media center apps:

Saying goodby to cable and satallite tv using online services:

Some of my favorite sites: