You've been having problems with your computer--it keeps crashing, leaving indecipherable error messages on screen. When deadlines hang in the balance, a busy signal from tech support won't do. You need technical expertise--and fast--but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. What do you do?
Immediate help is available online. Most vendors' sites offer free technical advice that can help you solve a problem quickly. One excellent site is Microsoft's (http://www.microsoft.com ). Here, you can get answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), read help files or use troubleshooting wizards.
If you're willing to pay a fee, try http://www. tuneup.com For $3.95 a month, you get unlimited PC virus and disk maintenance support. Users can repair complex items like damaged files; members can also check out BugNet Alert for fixes to the latest bugs, search the TechDirectory for support contacts and visit the FAQ Library.
For those who prefer phone support, IBM offers IBM ServicePac. Subscribers sign up for "packs" of five, 10 or 25 tech support calls starting at $169.98. Upon receiving a card with IBM's toll-free number and a personal authorization number, you can call for answers on how to install and use both IBM and non-IBM software, have problems fixed remotely or even get replacement PCs shipped directly to your door. Call (800) IBM-4-YOU, or visit
North American Products Co., 111 N. Vermont Ave., Glendora, CA 91741, http://www.earbuff.com
O'Reilly & Associates, 101 Morris St., Sebastopol, CA 95472, (800) 998-9938, ext. 214
Panasonic Telecommunication Systems, (800) 441-PANA, http://www.panasonic.com/telenium
Purveyer of Fine Verbiage, (360) 573-7700, firstname.lastname@example.org