Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to ask for help

I frequently have friends ask me for help resolving some type of technical problem.  Unfortunately, the following is a typical request:

I am having trouble loading your presentation, it won’t work for me.  It just keeps freezing. Sam

To help Sam, I need to be able to exactly replicate what he did.  This means I need to know,

  • Who you are
    • Your name (and nickname if you use one)
    • You class and section (e.g., if you’re enrolled in my MBA class, or an evening or accelerated class).
  • Software version
    • For a PC,
      • Windows: right-click on “My Computer” and click on “Properties.”  The screen opening should say if you’re using XP, Vista, or 7
      • Office: open Word or Excel, click on the “File” menu, and click “Help”
      • Browser: are you using Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome?
    • For a Mac,
      • OSX: click on the Apple on the top-left of your screen and click “About This Mac.”
      • Office: open Word or Excel, click on the “Excel” or “Word” menu, and click “About”
      • Browser: are you using Safari, FireFox, or Chrome?
  • What you did
    • For example, he could say “I tried clicking on the http://faculty.woodbury.edu/garrettn/info.php link in your email.”
  • What happened
    • For example, he could say “The presentation loads, but only plays one or two seconds at time.”
  • A screenshot
    • For a PC,
      • Press the “print screen” button on your keyboard.
      • It doesn’t like this is doing anything, but it has actually copied a picture of your screen.
      • Open a new Word document and click Paste.
      • Save the document and email it to me.
    • For a Mac,
      • Press the Command, Shift, and 3 buttons at the same time.
      • This will save a copy of your screen as a file on your desktop.
      • Email me the file.

So, to follow our example, here is what Sam should have written me.

Dr. Garrett

My name is Sam Samington, and I’m enrolled in your MGMT 336 F1 section.

I am using Windows XP, Office 2010, and FireFox.

I tried clicking on the link in your email to watch my video.  Unfortunately, it loads, but only plays a few seconds at a time. A screenshot is below.

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