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Other than hearing "the check's in the mail," nothing is as frustrating as having computer problems in the middle of a deadline. Worse, the good old days of free telephone technical support are going the way of the dinosaur. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to free yourself from computer conundrums.
Assuming your modem is working, your first self-help stop should be your manufacturer's Web site, where you can usually find technical tips, downloadable fixes, updates and answers to frequently asked questions. If you prefer more personal, patient handholding, consider Intel's AnswerExpress Support Suite (http://www.answerexpress.com), a combination software package and Internet service that costs $50 for the first three months and $14.95 per month thereafter. You can phone or e-mail questions to a live specialist who will call you back in 10 minutes or less (Intel claims to support more than 200 software applications). The package also includes an automatic virus-protection service, an online "Answer Library" that provides tips, and data backup of up to 100MB to a distant Intel server. If you don't need all these services, you can sign up for just the virus- protection service, Answer Library and data backup for $6 per month.
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