Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Screen Shot is Worth More Than a Thousand Words

Circled All Programs in Paint on a Screen Shot
So you see something that you'd wish your tech nerd friend could see.  Perhaps your friend could explain it, fix it, or show how to work around it.  But they're not available.  What to do?  Take a Screen Shot!

Some Background Info
Ever wonder what the PrtScn (or it might say Print Screen or PrScr) key is for, now? A long time ago, it did what you might think. Push it and your printer would print an image of whatever was on your screen. It was kinda cool.  And helpful.

But that's not what it does in Windows today.

When you press the PrtScn key, you won't see anything happen.  But an image of your entire screen is placed on the Windows Clipboard. Now you can do something with it.
Like email it to a friend.

Here's How
We need to make a file out of it. Let's only use what's available in every copy of Windows.  
  1. press PrtScn - I know, nothing "happens"
  2. open Paint - click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, and then Paint
  3. paste - you should now see an image of your screen
  4. save this image to a file - but change Save as type to either JPEG or PNG  for a much smaller file
  5. email your screen shot as an attachment - remember where the file was saved (usually Desktop, My Pictures or My Documents)
Note:  "click" means left-click. "Right-click" means, well, you got it.  And "double-click" means left-click-twice.... 

Can you see the value of this?  A picture is often so much clearer than any written explanation.  The screen shot also saves the time in typing.  

Extra Tips
  • PrtScn takes a picture of the entire screen, as you see it
  • Alt+PrtScn captures only the active window
  • Highlight - when in Paint, use brushes to underline, or circles/squares to outline or otherwise draw attention to the part of the screen that's important
  • Close Paint as soon as you're done saving the file - you might mistake the Paint image for the programs and desktop behind the Paint window
  • PrtScn does not work on blue screens, any BIOS or other startup screen - rule of thumb:  If you cannot open Paint, you cannot take a screen shot
a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

As Good As New

Here's how I could have saved 50% on a new keyboard.  And why buying online can be better than in the store.

Used Can Be As Good As New
My old wireless keyboard had some sticky keys and other keys were becoming difficult to press if not pressed straight down.  I wanted a backlit, preferably wireless keyboard.  Gaming keyboards are normally backlit nowadays - but I didn't need the high-end quality that most gamers demand of their hardware.  Even though I yell at the screen from time to time, I'm not generally banging hard on the keyboard.
Still, the Logitech K800 Wireless, Backlit Keyboard was a big upgrade for me.  I found the $99.99 list price K800 at Staples on sale and, with another discount, bought it for about $70 last fall.  It comes with a manufacturer's 3-year warranty.

Buy.com is selling the very same K800 as refurbished for $49.99 through 01/31/12 with the same 3-year warranty.  Click here for this deal.  I certainly would have bought it here.
Logitech K800 Wireless, Backlit Keyboard
Some products are as good used as they are new.  Most come looking brand new, down to the plastic cling wrap over the glossy plastic body parts. 

I recommend Dell & HP's outlet sales, as they carry their own full warranty.  I find Dell's outlet website easier and with a better stock at most any time than HP.

I helped a client replace a PC and the savings were easily $250.  This Dell PC came with 6 GB of 1,333 Ghz RAM, Intel i5 Core processor, Gigabit LAN, 500 GB 7,200 RPM SATA2 hard drive and built-in wireless b-g-n LAN.  It cost under $450 delivered.

Logitech has a great reputation for most of their products and especially their keyboards & mice.  So, even though a used mechanical product might wear out more quickly, I recommend this one because it comes from a reputable company and offer the same-as-new warranty -- their warranty, not a 3rd party warranty.

Saving Money Through Warranty Coverage
I built my own desktop PC myself.  Since all of the parts were bought separately, I received - and used - the components' warranties that offered between 3 to 5 years of coverage (lifetime on the memory).  Under these manufacturers' warranties, I ended up replacing the motherboard, half the RAM, and the 1 TB hard drive.  Oh - yes, it paid to buy online, as I was easily able to recover my detailed sales receipts.

I might have saved some bucks by building it myself but I really saved on not paying to replace the failed hardware.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

CES Time!

I admit it.  I love new, shiny things.  For me it was first anything I could take apart.  Tools came next.  Then, my bike, then stereos, then cars and, once I was mobile - I grew up in a suburban island - the world opened up.

The annual International Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES, takes place in Las Vegas around the 2nd week of January.  Acres of BIG, tiny, shiny, flashing, turning, glowing, ..., well, you get the idea.  It's where many next-big-things are unveiled.  From the Washington Post: 
  • By The Numbers: More than 140,000 people are expected to visit more than 3,100 exhibitors. The show spans some 1.8 million square feet of booths and exhibits, which is equivalent to 31 football fields.
Woot! is at this year's CES and I had to waste some time watching them set up their booth.  Pretty cool.  Here is their video, courtesy of YouTube:
(Click for) Stupid Woot! Video Podcast
Don't know Woot?  Bargain outlet for lots of shiny tech that's sometimes crappy and sometimes great.  Then, there's the Woot-off.  And all the Woot spin-offs.  Go.  Shop.  Waste time.  It's Crap-tastic!  Occasionally, some G-R-E-A-T deals!

Oh, yes - CES, itself.  Many tech sites & news outlets are already reporting.  Check out:

G4TV.com & http://www.g4tv.com/attackoftheshow/ces/index.html
This Week in Tech - http://twit.tv/twit - Watch CES Live - http://twit.tv/#playstream
ZD Net - http://www.zdnet.com/
and, for goodness sake, the tech section of Google News - http://news.google.com/news/section?pz=1&cf=all&topic=tc&ict=ln

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Flashy, Creative, Visceral, Unique and ...

AdWeek gives us their best of 2011 commercials (click on pic to go to AdWeek's posting, with the top 10 as video clips). 

Some - most - I'd never seen. So I don't watch alot of TV; I still found all of them - even the gruesome video game spot - stunning. If you have time, enjoy. But be warned - the spot for Dead Island is not for the faint of heart.

The winner - by popular demand, certainly by Web views - of which I cannot disagree, I enjoyed the first time as well as every time I saw it.  Volkswagen's The Force.