New stuff on the Net for nix

It's a common occurrence. You ask a question online, wait for a response and then get not an answer, but another question: what kind of PC do you have? What version of Windows? What printer?

If the people trying to help you don't have enough information about your system, they may not be able to answer your question until you've answered theirs, turning a simple query into a volley of e-mail exchanges. So if you want your answer fast, put every relevant fact into your original query.

What's relevant? Best to give more info than less. Start your message with a brief description of your question before getting into a long, detailed description with all of the information suggested here. If you're using Windows 98, you can get information about your PC from the System Information program. Select Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-System Information. If you're using Windows 95, right-click My Computer, select Properties and click the Device Manager tab for hardware information. Here are the facts you should include in your query, just to be safe.

Hardware Give the make and model number of your computer. Identify the CPU (Pentium III-500, for example) and video card and list the amount of installed system RAM. If you're writing to the vendor, include the serial number; you'll probably find it on the back of your computer.

Software List your operating system (such as Windows) and the version number (95, 98 or other). Add the names of all software that loads when you start your computer, such as antivirus or crash control programs and anything in the start-up folder. Of course, you should include the name and version number of any program pertinent to your problem and the names of any programs that interact with it, such as browser plug-ins.

Peripherals If you're asking about a printer, modem, scanner or other peripheral, include the name of the vendor and the model number of the device. You should also mention the type of port into which it's plugged (for example, serial, parallel, USB or IEEE 1394).

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