Experts-Exchange.com - the Consultant's Cheat Tool - You Can Use It, too!
I'm going to let you in on my sordid secret: I cheat.
When it comes to knowing what's wrong with your computer when I come to fix the BSOD* you get when you try to boot your Windows PC, or the strange behavior your Mac is exhibiting (Macs DO that?), or whatever problem you are dealing with on your computer, there's a small chance that I don't know the answer or that I don't remember it.
I have built a modest network of computer consultants in the Atlanta area I can call when I run up against a new (to me) problem, and I do use them on occasion, especially when I need the answer quickly and I can't find anything useful through Google **. However, before I call anyone, I go to Experts Exchange (E-E).
In a nutshell, E-E is a place where anyone on the planet can post a question or request a solution, and experts from all over the globe can respond with their knowledge. Use of the site is absolutely free! The experts are not paid, although when we achieve a certain level of expertise (designated by collecting points through a system where the person posting the question gets to evaluate the answers), we get a t-shirt declaring our achievement. I wear mine proudly!
The questions range all over the place, from operating systems to software to hardware, from Macs to Windows to Linux, from PCs to cell phones to PDAs to iPads to iPods, and from power supplies to processors to motherboards to memory. I personally monitor questions regarding many Mac issues and a great deal of Windows issues, including hardware. While I am good at what I do, there are some real high-powered knowledge brokers on the site. The best part of all is that, whoever responds to your question, they really want to help you get the answer that works for you.
Search the onsite knowledgebase first to see if the answer already exists. If you can't find anything there, then post your question and assign it points. To post a question, you first have to register for the site. Don't worry. As I said, it's free and you will never receive email from them unless you ask for it. (When you post a question, you will automatically get emails whenever someone posts a potential answer.)
So go there if you want to try to solve your own PC issues or just want to gather information for a project or for your own edification. The odds are you'll find or get what you need.
Just so you know, E-E is not a place to go if you need an answer immediately (unless it's already in the knowledgebase). Although it is possible someone will get to you quickly enough, you can't count on getting the answer right away. It can even take days and a lot of back and forth, so you have to be patient and explore other ways to get what you are looking for. However, my guess is that over 85% of all questions get answered well enough for the asker to get the job done.
While you're there, say "Hi" for me (just kidding) to strung, nappy_d, nobus, garycase, BitsBytesandMore, noxcho, and MASQUERAID. These are a few of the many truly expert advisors that participate. They give their time free of charge. These are the good guys and gals, and I love being part of their team!
By the way, my monicker on the site is "splait". Come visit me there!
* - BSOD - Blue Screen of Death, strictly a Windows phenomenon. On the Mac, it's grey.
** - When you get an error message on your computer screen and you want to find out what it means or how to fix it, enter the error message verbatim into the Google search window (or at least a major part of the message, but always exactly as it is spelled with all blank spaces and punctuation). The odds are very high that others have experienced the problem and posted questions and/or answers somewhere out on the web.Experts-Exchange