To find your vendor's forum, simply choose the CompuServe Directory from the Help menu, then search for the vendor's name. Larger vendors may have multiple forums; smaller ones may share forums with vendors of similar products. Once you find what you're looking for, click on the name of the vendor or area, then click on the "Service:" text (a highlighted hyperlink), and WinCIM will take you directly to that forum.
If you can't find your vendor or want to use an independent forum, use the Services/Find command, which will search a database of keywords and display a list of matches. If you still come up empty-handed, try the Support Directory (go SUPPORT). While it contains most of the same information as the Find database, it is compiled separately and updated on a different schedule, so it may turn up different responses.
To create a message to post specifically to a forum, compose it by using the Message/Create Forum Message command in the Mail section of WinCIM. Make sure you select the correct forum and also the right message section within the forum. If you're creating more than one message, save each one to the Outbox. Then, when you're ready to send them, open the Outbox, select each message in turn and click on Send. (Send All only works with e-mail.)
Sure, it may seem more natural to pick up the phone to get help for a pressing hardware or software question than to send a message. But given the realities of accessing many tech support hotlines, online support can be a helpful alternative for getting the answers to your technical questions.
Cheryl J. Goldberg is a former editor of PC Magazine and has reported on the computer industry for more than 14 years. Write to her in care of Entrepreneur, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA, 92614. You can also reach her via Compuserve at email@example.com.