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DOCUMENTING PROCEDURES
by Ray DeCosta


Q. I had a problem with a program and finally got it working to do some procedure but now I can't remember how I fixed it! What's the best way to make notes so I don't have to reinvent the wheel each time the problem returns or I have to do the procedure again?

A. This is a very common situation which occurs when something doesn't work as it should. And it's not restricted to computers - keeping track of solutions for household fixes, car repairs and other similar situations can be frustrating. This is especially true of fixes or procedures that you don't do very often.

As far as computers are concerned, most people just keep plugging away at the problem until they achieve the objective. Not enough people make even scribbled notes about what they did so they can refer to them another time. And for those that do, the problem with those scribbled notes is that you can never quite figure out the exact procedure you performed because you're missing a step or two.

Here's a trick to more easily documenting what you do for the next time you need that information. Right-click on a blank area of your Desktop and select New -- Text Document. Give the document an appropriate name and open it. Keep your document open on one side of your monitor and the program you're fixing open on the other.

As you go through the various steps related to your problem, type your notes directly into the Notepad document. That way items will be in sequence and you won't have to decipher your scribbled notes or even retype them. Of course, not everything you do will actually work, so you can simply back up, delete that information and try a different approach.

Eventually, you'll solve the problem and you'll also have a pretty good record of what you did. It might not be completely accurate, so be prepared to edit it when you repeat the procedure another time. But at least you'll have a pretty good idea of what to do and you won't be starting from square one.

Published: Courier 1/5/14 - Page 3C