Computers can be cranky beasts, but help is only a few mouse clicks away. More high-tech companies are getting out of offering free telephone help; instead, 900 numbers are proliferating. But those same companies have typically set up Web sites that offer ample free help. So if your hardware or software is acting up, first pay a visit to the manufacturer's Web site. If you can't find the solution you need there, check out these all-purpose fix-it sites:
BugNet (http://www.bugnet.com) When software is angrily crashing, dash to for info on work-arounds and fixes. Although it's a subscription site, there are plenty of freebies available, too.
AntiVirus Research Center (http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/index.html) Maybe the most comprehensive information storehouse about computer viruses, AntiVirus is sponsored by Symantec, the maker of the Norton AntiVirus programs.
ZDNet (http://www.zdnet.com) From MacWorld to PC Computing, all the magazines from the biggest publisher of tech periodicals are online, with troubleshooting tips and more.
The List (http://www.thelist.com) Search for a new ISP here-almost all the possible choices are listed, and searches can be made specific to your locality.
Steve Kropla's Help For World Travelers (http://www.kropla.com) This site is a required stop for travelers wrestling with difficulties getting online. Best advice: Check it before you head out of town with your laptop to get the scoop on staying connected in hotels around the globe.
Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) The world's dominant software company serves up bug fixes (patches), templates and plenty more free stuff. Anybody running Windows needs to stop by here at least a few times a year.