When bad things happen to good software, users suffer. It's an interplanetary crisis! Even the Mars Spirit rover was not immune from a software glitch, effectively placing the first stage of NASA's Red Planet mission on hold until earthbound engineers could repair the problem. What do you do when a virus infects your computer, your printer stops printing, your favorite word processor crashes unexpectedly (but consistently), or strange error messages display on your screen at startup? You might think that only the "techies" in the school IT department are capable of a tech fix feat. Heck no! Any one can maintain, upgrade, and expand a computer with a bit of basic know-how. Chances are the answer is just a point and click away on the Web! For the best tech support Web sites visit:
Microsoft's ".Net Passport" Newsletters
Windows and Macintosh. Get Microsoft technical news about security issues, software fixes, and product enhancements sent right to your inbox by filling out your profile and subscribing to .Net Passport. Specialty item newsletters include: Microsoft Security Notification Service, TechNet Flash, Inside Microsoft Office-Product Update Alert, Mac Quarterly Newsletter and Inside Office Newsletter. You decide whether to receive this information in HTML or plain text format. Visit Microsoft's Profile Center, fill out a brief registration (it's free), then head for the Available Newsletters link and subscribe to the Email newsletter(s) you want. Note: Users who already have an MSN Hotmail Email account or who use the MSN Internet Access service already have a .NET Passport single sign-in service account.
Apple Service & Support (opens in new tab)
Macintosh. When that Apple product doesn't perform as intended, go to the Apple Support site. Search for assistance by product from a drop-down list, or search for particular articles, software downloads, manuals and discussion forums. Click the link to "Sign In for Additional Options," register if you haven't already done so (it's free) and Apple will give you the option of reviewing your support cases, finding out the status of a particular repair job or checking the repair status on a particular item, You can also get the latest support news and information from Apple sent automatically via Email by subscribing to Apple's free Daily Support or Weekly Support Updates (http://www.info.apple.com/subscribe/).
HouseCall (opens in new tab)
Windows. So you think your computer has snagged a virus? But you don't know for sure because you haven't installed any anti-virus software? Get immediate protection and peace of mind by using Trend Micro's free online virus scan. This tool will scan your system, list the viruses and infected files it finds by name and allow you to "clean" your system to make it virus free. While you're there. take a look around to learn more about worms, Trojan horses, scripts, overwriting viruses and other scary examples of malicious programming code that can infect your computer and then send themselves to your entire Email Address Book or Outlook Contact database. A free 30-day downloadable trial version of PC-cillin (Trend Micro's anti-virus solution) is also available for download.
Intel Chipset Identification Utility; Intel Processor Frequency ID Utility
Windows. So you think your computer's CPU (central processing unit) runs slower than it should. Or you need to identify the Chipset to determine software compatibility. Or you need to identify the installed Intel processor (e.g., Celeron, Pentium III or Pentium 4) so you can determine compatible upgrades and drivers. This is the place to turn. It allows you to download either a Chipset Identification utility or a Processor Frequency ID utility. A Frequency Test will prove useful if ever you must determine if an installed processor operates at a higher than standard frequency rating.
Langa.Com: LangaList Home Page
Windows. Produced by tech guru and noted author Fred Langa, this Web site is a tech treasure of Windows Operating System and application tips, tricks, tweaks and fixes. New information is posted to the site twice a week, but you can have the Standard Edition sent to you via Email at no charge if you complete an online subscription form. For problems left unanswered by the current Enewsletter visit the site, click the link to Past Issues to search by issue date, or click the Search link in the Table of Contents to Power-Search through all the archives by entering a search string.
Macintosh. MacFixIt is to Macintosh tech support as duct tape is to the home handyman. Visit the site to search for fixes, workarounds, and troubleshooting advice for just about every Mac problem. You can also configure users preferences at the site so that you'll receive tech information via Email on a daily, weekly or immediate (as they are released) schedule. Started in 1996 by author and noted Mac tech expert, Ted Landau, MacFixIt is now staffed by a host of savvy Macaholics who can provide timely solutions to quirky OS X and OS 9 problems, software glitches and hardware anomalies. Most recent news (Late-Breakers) is available for viewing free of charge, but to access and search MacFixIt archives you'll need to subscribe to MacFixIt Pro ($24.95/year). Take the plunge. MacFixIt also delivers an abundance of useful information in its Forums, Report, and Library sections.
Los Angeles FreeNet Mentor's Resource Guide
Windows. Caught up in a PC (Windows) nightmare? Try the user-supported resource guide available from the Los Angeles Free-Net. This page provides links to help with startup problems, AOL Instant Messenger, and communication errors. For a quick search of what's available, click the Edit menu, click Find, then search for a particular text string. Before you leave, visit the LAFN Home Page (http://www.lafn.org/) and click the link to Frequently Asked Questions where you'll find answers to questions about password saving problems, Microsoft patches and security fixes, preventing Outlook Express from disconnecting your computer, and virus removal.
Microsoft Help and Support
Macintosh and Windows. Despite all the Microsoft-related jokes, we strongly suggest that you visit the resource-rich Microsoft Support Web site for access to a Knowledge Base of articles, a link to the Downloads & Updates Web site, and support information by product. For example, click the Knowledge Base link to display a Search Form enabling you to select your problematic Microsoft Product from a drop down list and search for particular words (paste your error message there!) or for articles that fall within a particular date range. Click "Go," then mine the treasures that display!
Specifications (Apple Spec Database) (opens in new tab)
Macintosh. Curious about how much RAM your Macintosh supports? Want to know if your computer will work with a particular OS upgrade? Check the Apple Spec Database. This Web-based database contains product specifications for the majority of Apple products (still being supported), organized by category. You can search for information about products such as Airport, eMac, iMac, iBook, iPod, PowerBook, Desktop, Servers, and Displays. For legacy products, i.e. Classic Mac, Mac II, LC, Performa, Centris and Quadra Systems, Displays, and Printers available pre November 1997, visit AppleSpec pre November 1997 (opens in new tab).
Startup Applications List
Windows. I wish I had known about this Web site a while back when a friend's computer came down with a CommonName spyware infection that just wouldn't let go of her system. Compiled by folks in the UK (or so the Email reference of email@example.com suggests), the list provides a goldmine of useful tips for dealing with problematic Startup issues. Use the Search field at the top to enter a text string (e.g. CommonName). Be careful! Spelling counts. Then look for your issue in the matches that display, click its link and check for a possible solution. Thanks PacMan!
Macintosh (OS X and OS 9), Windows, and Palm. For users who absolutely, positively want to know about the latest version of a particular application or an Operating System component so they can download and install it on their computers, nothing beats Version Tracker. Offered as a free resource, it features a list of updates by operating system. Scroll the list to find one that interests you. Click the link and the software automatically downloads to your computer. Subscribe to the free newsletter and have this information sent by Email on a daily or weekly basis. You can also use the search engine at the site to look for particular updates, drivers, utilities, educational software, and games.
Windows. With a little humor and a lot of Microsoft Office smarts, noted author, tech guru and Microsoft consumer advocate Woody Leonhard cuts through the good, bad, and ugly in Microsoft Office applications (new and old), including the latest Office 2003 release. The site has tips, tricks and advice for all user levels from novice to geek. You'll also find tech information to help you learn your way around the Window OS. Sign up for a free weekly Email bulletin or visit the site to explore and search for answers to particular questions.
Email: Carol S. Holzberg, PhD