Secret to becoming a Computer Ninja

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I wish I knew who made this so I could give credit.

Secret to becoming a Computer Ninja

OK… Maybe this is a little overboard, but we think everybody wants to become a master at what they do; especially when it comes to work – Right?

So, perhaps this should be titled “How to become a computer trouble-shooting cowboy” or cowgirl…  That’s cool, but I like Ninja better.

The most common question I get asked is:  “How did you learn how to  _______________ “
(fill in the blank with hundreds of possibilities).


Why would anyone want to keep reading? 

Because this article will walk you down a path that will resolve nearly every issue having to do with software and hardware at your workstation thereby getting you closer to “Computer Ninja” status (sorry – we don’t have belts).

Keep reading, young grasshoppers, as we unfold the answer to this most worthy question.


Get our thinking in line:

Think of this as something like your cars.  You are probably a master at operating your car (or at least most features).

You know how to turn on the Climate control system and make the adjustments for comfort.

You know how to set cruise control to 50 while going down the Trace.

Your computer is no different.  In fact, your car likely has at least 3 computers in them.

So, look at this as though your car is too hot and you want to cool it down.

Sure, it looks different but then a Laptop is not a desktop and a Tablet is not a Laptop and a Smart Phone is not a Tablet.


Ok – let’s begin. 

There are a 3 things to consider:  User, Software and Hardware

In any case, you should consider all 3 in this order.

In most cases, the issues you experience can be resolved by gaining understanding of your system.


Let’s look at your car again.
If the temperature in your car is too hot and you change the controls to 85 (or Red) – the inside of the vehicle will continue to be hot – right?

You might get frustrated that the car is not cooling off even though you have the blower set on HIGH.

Is the car broken?  Is the temperature control broken? Is there an issue with the environment that is preventing the cool air from blowing on your face?  NO, NO and NO.

Understanding that the Blue color or lower temperature settings will cool the car will help you arrive at the solution.  It’s not the cars fault and it’s not the fault of the environmental conditions – it is a (gulp) “user error”.


SO, never take yourself out of the equation of trouble shooting.


Next –

Trouble-shooting is a two part operation:  Research and Testing.

Both require careful consideration and tracking the changes you are considering so you can back out of them if the adjustments do not work.

Another way to put this is to remember where you have been and what you did during testing.  At the very least, know the path so if you need help you can communicate effectively as to what you did or what your sources are.


Real World Example:

This example will focus on an issue of PowerPoint 2007 closing (crashing) when the user is putting pictures into a presentation.  This is happening on a computer running Windows 7 and is NOT happening anywhere else on the network.


Gather Information (clues):

  • PowerPoint 2007
  • Windows 7
  • Crashing
  • Only at this workstation (meaning, the issue could be related to a specific operation of the user and not software or hardware)
  • Happens while file is opened as a Read-Only and the Save-As a new file name.


How to research:

  1. Open
  2. Type the following Search term:  “powerpoint 2007 keeps crashing windows 7”  (without the quotation marks)
  3. Read through the results to find similarities in the posts to your issue
  4. Right-Click on a link and click “Open in new window “
  5. Read the article/info (even if it does not relate completely to your issue – for example:  hardware differences)
  6. Go back to your search results page and repeat steps 4 & 5.
  7. Once you are convinced you have a viable option to test – Begin testing solution.


How to Test solutions:

  1. Document the steps you are going to take to apply the solution
    (NOTE:  If you have the web page up that walks you through the steps – this has already been done for you but you might want to Bookmark the URL for quick reference).
  2. Try to replicate the issue and see if the changes have solved the issue.
    1. IF a) the solution works – make a note of the changes for future reference.
    2. IF b) the solution does not work – Reverse the changes you made and keep researching.



  1. Because as awesome as IT is, we simply do not have all the answers
  2. We’re going to do exactly what is described above
  3. You are responsible for operating your computer and should learn as many of the controls as you can
    (You know how to set cruise control and adjust climate settings in your vehicle…  You had to learn how to do that)
  4. You want IT to keep working on improving the network instead of doing work for other people.



Here are the results of my efforts on this:


Search Term:  powerpoint 2007 keeps crashing windows 7

After reading two pages of results, I found multiple results spread across a wide range of issues.


Talked with the user to determine what was happening.

Synopsis:  Slide show presentation is used for a common area and was running a version of the file in read-only mode (meaning, the file was open elsewhere on the network when this copy was opened).

The user, finished with the old presentation closed the file accordingly.

However, the user re-opened the file later then saved a copy as a new name (all the while, the Read-only version is still being used elsewhere).

The user then began editing the newer copy when it crashed.

After PowerPoint crashes and the user re-opens the file – all is well.



Cached information was stored in the original file when the Read-Only copy was opened on another computer.

The original file keeps this information even when it is re-opened and this information is passed to the local computer.

The local computer keeps this information as long as PowerPoint is open.  This is one way to keep the computer operating fast.

Since the file was not closed and PowerPoint stayed open, the cached information was retained.

Editing the file then creates an issue in PowerPoint because it still thinks this copy should be locked but in reality is should not.

So the only thing it knows to do is crash.

Basically, close down to refresh the cached information then try to reopen again.



Two Options –

  1. Right click the file to copy and select copy.  Then paste the file where desired and rename.
  2. Open the file and Save-As.  Close PowerPoint (all instances on the computer) and then Open the newly named file.


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