The other Internet forums
If you don't find adequate technical advice from an expert advice, knowledge base or forum site, consider Usenet, a forum-based portion of the Internet that predates the Web by years. Usenet forums, called newsgroups, offer a plethora of useful information and the people who populate them are often very well informed.
The best place from which to search Usenet is the Web site www.deja.com. In the upper right corner of this portal's home page, you'll find a search tool geared toward newsgroups. Type in a keyword relating to the problem you're having with your PC, application or peripheral and you'll find a huge listing of postings from newsgroups all over the Internet, as well as options for a power search. AltaVista and HotBot also have newsgroups, though they're not as helpful as Deja's.
The best way to interact with a newsgroup (asking questions and taking part in discussions) is to go to it directly or to access it through AOL Netscape Messenger or Outlook Express.
As helpful as newsgroups are, some have shortcomings. They are, as a rule, not moderated, meaning that anyone can post anything. While this unrestricted approach has some advantages, such as greater freedom of expression, it does mean that you may have to wade through spam, including porn ads, to find what you're looking for. You'll also have to deal with people who are lacking in the social graces. Your questions may provoke replies ranging from unfriendly to downright obscene, in addition to some useful answers.
Which are the best newsgroups to try for PC technical support? For general information about your computer or Windows, visit comp.os.ms-windows.misc, comp.os.ms-windows.setup.win95, comp.os.ms-windows.win95.misc, comp.sys. ibm.pc.misc, comp.sys.intel, comp.windows.misc, microsoft.public.win98, or microsoft.public.win98.apps. For info about particular programs or peripherals, go to comp.apps.spreadsheets, comp.os.ms-windows.apps.word-proc, microsoft. public.excel, microsoft.public.win98.comm.modem, alt.comp.softwarefinancial.quicken, or comp.periphs.printers.
Don't fret if some of these names seem a bit out of date. The Windows 95 newsgroups do discuss Windows 98 and the term ibm.pc is a throwback to a time when IBM controlled this industry; the IBM PC newsgroup covers PCs made by any manufacturer.