Do you frequently need help with your computer? Does your monitor and/or hard drive occasionally stop working? Are you currently pulling a blanket over your head as you sit in the closet? Then you have come to the right place.
If you've never had any technical difficulties with your computer, you fall into one of two categories:
1. You have never used a computer.
2. You used a computer once and realized it wasn't cooking a grilled cheese sandwich properly.
The bad thing about a computer problem is, well, it's a problem. Like mad cow disease, computer problems can fester until your entire machine shuts down, or until you eat a hamburger from the United Kingdom. At work, if your computer decides to shut down and not let anyone know about it, you probably contact someone in IT to fix it.
Let me tell you how much the people in IT like to be called about minor computer problems. They actually sit by the phone, waiting for calls so they can fix your computer! What else do they have to do besides press The really big button? Most IT managers appreciate getting calls at home about the following problems: a computer has a virus, the printer ran out of paper, the keyboard won't work because you spilled Tab in it and you can't find your car keys. Tech support is always there, only because they WANT to be there for you! If you believe that, you'll want to hear about a special bulletin. Mad cow disease has been determined to be none other than tennis legend Martina Natratilova posing as a threat to society by spitting prions into cattle protein supplements. More news at 11.
The point is, let's try to avoid calling the IT guys, and in the process, learn a little more about computers. I don't know what type of computer you are using, but I can give you enough tips to keep you going long enough to finish a job, or at least explain to you how to detail what's up with the problem you are experiencing. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
1. You are running an application, but it seems to have stalled. Everything you need is saved on your computer -- I hope this doesn't happen frequently, but it could easily happen once a week, even though you have nothing wrong with your computer. On a Mac, you can do what's called a force quit by hitting option-apple-Esc and clicking OK. On a PC, you can use the old standby, control-alt-delete to force quit out of an application. Find the problem application in your task manager, and quit out of it.
2. Your computer says you are low on memory, but you know you have plenty of it to run another application. In this case, you just need to allocate your computer's memory a little better. On a Mac, single-click on the application, and press apple-I. This gives you the information about that program. In the pulldown menu, choose memory, and turn yours up or down, depending on the problem. PCs handle memory allocation differently, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
3. Nothing in particular is wrong: your computer just keeps acting wacky -- this could be millions of things, but when my computer is acting wacky, I do a couple of things. I empty my trash (that could be eating a big chunk of memory), rebuild the desktop (hold down option-apple on Mac startup, right click and choose refresh anytime on PC) or run Norton's Antivirus, just in case.
So what do you do if your problem falls into none of these categories and you need immediate assistance? Luckily, several Internet sites can help you at any time. A good place to check is a message board, where people post problems, and people who have knowledge generally post answers. You can find forums all over the place on searches, but the ones at Ask Jeeves and Fun Trivia seem to have a lot of traffic. With all this information, and a little patience, your computer might survive another day without being thrown out the window. It's a good thing I don't have a window in my office! And your problems will be solved, that is, as long as you don't feed your hard drive contaminated meat.