It's great to be back! I hope your summer didn't go by as fast as mine did, AND I hope you didn't have the computer issues I encountered this summer, either. My husband and I own a Dell Inspiron 5100 (laptop) as our primary computer. Around the end of June, it finally succumbed to the overheating issue I knew was bound to happen, and I had to wipe the drive and start clean. Thank goodness I had my backups!
Two weeks after I finally got everything configured and tweaked just so, lightning struck our house and knocked out a refrigerator, garage door opener, two telephone lines and (yep, you guessed it) the laptop. Before I realized the laptop was a total goner this time and would need major repair to work again, I searched for some answers of my own. In any computer meltdown situation, or even if you just need to know how to do something in a particular application, the following support groups win the Bat Cave award for being the best I've encountered.
For Hardware Issues
Simply Computers - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/simplycomputers2/
With more than 8200 members, this group is hopping and boasts a few of the most well-informed techs I've had the pleasure of asking for assistance (first coming to mind are Twinkiestix and bwelkin). Posters can get assistance with everything from Linux to firewalls to Microsoft Office (although there are other support groups far more equipped to deal with Office questions – see below).
SPAM level – pretty low, considering the number of members. The moderators do a great job of keeping most of the posts clean.
Inside Tip – keep the off-topic posts to a minimum. If a moderator catches wind, you'll probably end up moderated. Hey – they have to do something to keep 8200 users in line!
For Microsoft Office Issues
Woody's Lounge - http://www.wopr.com/cgi-bin/w3t/wwwthreads.pl
Woody's boasts a searchable archive of posts, with separate forums for every Office program. It's a clean, well-run Lounge, and has been around for a long time. While some of the discussions on other boards within the lounge get a little too sophisticated for me at times, it's the first place I look for an answer to my questions. The search feature? Is REALLY nice and not clunky like others you may have encountered in the past.
SPAM level – nonexistent! This is the best maintained board I've ever encountered.
Inside Tip – Always do a search before posting a new question. C'mon – the search feature is great, and you've got nothing to lose!
And check out – the "fun" places in the Lounge – like Scuttlebutt and the Puzzles forum. Guaranteed to have you busting a gut and scratching your head.
For Microsoft Windows Issues
WinTips&Tricks - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WinTips-Tricks/
Owner/moderator Vic Ferri may seem familiar to you since he's a regular contributor to TechTrax. But what he maybe didn't tell you is that he's got a fantastic group for finding answers to any old Microsoft Windows question you may encounter. Almost 5300 members strong, WinTips-Tricks offers expertise in even the tricky areas of Windows that most of us don't want to touch (like that big old meanie – the registry!). Go ahead and give it a whirl – you won't find many better.
SPAM level – Pretty low. A few slip through here and there, but not so much as to damage the group's reputation.
Inside tip – Check out Vic's Registry Answers newsletter, too (http://www.freelists.org/webpage/regtips).
Those are my top three. But I also rely on a number of other groups for very specific issues and for very broad topics, for techie news updates and other information. So don't hesitate to check out the following, too!
- For Current Techie News – Lockergnome, with email and RSS newsletters on everything from Gaming to Linux to OS X, is always great. http://www.lockergnome.com/
- For Help With Complex Word Documents - Dian Chapman, owner of this group, has a crack team of moderators who know their stuff. And Dian's not too bad with Word, either, in case you haven't heard. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Word_DocDesign/
- For Help With Word Automation (VBA and Forms) – Yep, Dian's got this one, too, with her Word VBA group. If you ever need to automate a form or debug that tricky Word macro, click on in and get some help. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Word_VBA/