From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 13 JUN 2006 - Remote Help / Screenshots
In today's TOURBUS, I've got some great tips for readers who are often called upon to help friends with computer troubles. Also, the scoop on screenshots, and how to repair a computer that won't boot, without a trip to the repair shop. Read on!
A reader asked me this question about providing computer help from a remote location:
> "My friends often call or email and ask computer questions that
> are hard to answer without actually sitting in front of their
> computer. I've heard radio commercials for a product that lets
> you control another computer over the Internet. But there's a
> monthly fee, software to download, and I'm not sure it's secure.
> Is there a free, secure tool to access a friend's computer remotely?
Anyone who has ever tried to help someone figure out a conmputer problem over the phone can identify with the frustration here. So many times I can remember trying to help someone over the phone and the conversation would go like this:
Me: Right-click on the desktop. Friend: Wait, I see a little square with words in it! Me: That's fine -- just click on Properties. Friend: Okay, where is the first property? Me: Sigh...
But then I discovered the Remote Assistance tool built into Windows XP. With Remote Assistance, you can view and interact with your friend's computer (with their permission) just like you were sitting in front of it. Here's how it works, and some alternatives for those who are using Mac and Linux systems, too:
Have you ever wanted to take a picture of your Windows or Mac screen and save it in a graphics file? This is handy in a variety of situations. Sometimes you just want to print a small portion of a web page, exactly as it appears on the screen. Maybe you'd like to show a friend exactly what's happening on your screen, so they can advise you how to fix a problem. Or perhaps you're working on a book or website, and you want to include snippets from the screen as examples.
Taking a screenshot (a picture of what's on your computer screen) is easy! It requires no software, because the screenshot function is built into both Windows and Mac OS X. With Windows, you press just one button. Mac users have to devote several fingers to the task, and there are several options to consider. Here's the scoop on taking screenshots, and then editing the screen image to suit your own purposes:
Sometimes viruses, spyware or alien ray guns will attack your computer, leaving you unable to even start Windows. In many cases, a tool that's part of Windows XP can help. This mild-mannered black and white screen looks similar to the DOS prompt of years gone by. But it has powers far beyond those of mortal men. Faster than a speeding virus, more powerful than a trojan horse, and able to leap tall partitions in a single bound, it's... the Recovery Console!
The Windows XP Recovery Console can often fix problems related to booting your computer, but starting the Recovery Console is a bit mysterious, if you've never done it before. Here's how:
That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin