Snip, a free screen capture tool

If you occasionally need to take a screenshot (or a screen capture of your screen), recent versions of Windows provide you with the Windows Snipping tool. It works well for simple jobs, but a recent Microsoft Garage project called Snip takes it to the next level.

snip

It offers a number of advantages:

  • it runs in the background and is always available
  • it stores your screenshots in a “library” without having to save manually to a file
  • you can annotate your screenshot with various drawing tools. Especially useful when you are using a tablet
  • you can save your annotations in a video file and add voice-over to it (very handy for describing an issue)

 

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Microsoft Surface Pro 3 hangs on black “Surface” boot screen

On several occasions, I had my Surface Pro 3 freeze up on me on the boot screen. When I would turn on the surface, it would get to the black screen with the Surface logo, but it would not get any further. No spinner, no activity, nothing.

The following procedure fixes my issue every time:

  • if the Surface is turned on, turn it off by holding the power button for at least 30 seconds
  • press and hold the volume up button and the power button simultaneously for 15 seconds, then release the buttons
  • screen will flash and the Surface will shut down (sometimes it gets stuck at the bios screen, just exit then)
  • turn the device back on. Things should be ok now.

Check the following link for more troubleshooting tips.

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Edit your hosts file quickly

edit hostfileEverybody who has ever migrated to a new hosting provider, purchased a new domain name or made DNS changes has done it: adding lines to your hosts file to “hard code” the ip address of a server host name on the workstation you are working on.

On Windows, this has become a pain since the UAC feature was introduced. In order to modify,  you need elevated permissions, so you need to start your favorite text editor as administrator. On top of that, the file is buried somewhere in the deepest cave of your c-drive (C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\).

There must be an easy way to do this. I managed to reduce it to two clicks via a shortcut on my desktop, with the procedure below. Who can do better? One click only?

  1. Right-click your desktop
  2. In the context menu, select New > Shortcut
  3. In Type the location of the item, enter C:\Windows\System32\notepad.exe C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts
  4. Click Next
  5. In Type a name for this shortcut, type any name you want (I used Edit hosts file)
  6. Click Finish
  7. Right-click the new icon on your desktop and select Properties
  8. On the Shortcut tab, click the Advanced button
  9. Check Run as administrator and click OK
  10. Click OK

Seems to be a lot of work, but it will save you numerous clicks whenever you need to edit the file again.

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OneNote for iPad crashes frequently

I am a big fan of Microsoft OneNote, and I am using OneNote for iPad, but I was experiencing frequent crashes of the iPad application.

Some tests and some searches later, I learned that I was not alone, and that the crashes are caused by OneNote pages that contain a table with meeting information (when you create a new Linked Meeting Note from an appointment in an Outlook calendar item). So try to avoid that, or remove the table from the note if you are syncing with iPad.

Update: Microsoft updated OneNote for iPhone/iPad on July 1, 2013, and this update fixes this issue !

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Take a peak at Windows 8

Microsoft posted a video about the user experience in the coming version of Windows, Windows 8:

It is of course very early to draw conclusions out of this, but these are mine:

  • we need a design room like this for our team
  • it might be the end of “Windows” as we know it, because the only windows you see in the movie are the ones in the legacy applications
  • touch will become more and more important. Imagine this demo with a mouse and a keyboard…
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