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2012-06-30

A+: Where to Go for More Information

After you’ve gathered as much information as possible, you might find that you still need more help. User manuals for components often are discarded, software drivers need to be updated, and some conflicts don’t have easy answers. Use the following resources for more help:
• Manufacturers’ websites— Most system and component manufacturers provide extensive technical information via the World Wide Web. You’ll want to have the Adobe Reader program in its latest version available to be able to read the technical manuals you can download (Adobe Reader itself is a free download from www.adobe.com). These sites often contain expert systems for troubleshooting, specialized newsgroups, downloadable driver updates, and other helps for problems.

• Printed manuals— Although many vendors have switched to web-based or Adobe Reader (PDF) manuals, some vendors still provided printed manuals or quick-reference diagrams. Be sure to file these in a way that permits quick access when needed.
• Web-based or PDF manuals on disc— Many vendors, especially those that use CDs or DVDs to distribute device drivers or utility programs for hardware, now put their user or reference manuals on the same medium. To view a web-based manual, open the file with your web browser. To view a PDF manual, open the file with Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, or other PDF viewer/editor.
• Help for “orphan” systems and components— It’s frustrating to need information about a system whose manufacturer is no longer around. Sites such as http://www.download.com and www.windrivers.com provide information and drivers for orphan systems and components.
• Online computer magazines— If your back-issue collection of major computer magazines is missing some issues, or even if you’ve never subscribed to the print versions, you can find a lot of technical content from the major magazine publishers online: www.pcmag.com (PC Magazine), www.pcworld.com (PC World), and www.maximumpc.com (Maximum PC) are just three of my favorite resources.
• Third-party news and information sites— Tom’s Hardware (www.tomshardware.com), AnandTech (www.anandtech.com), The Register (www.theregister.co.uk), and iXBT Labs (http://ixbtlabs.com/) are just a few of the websites I rely on for product reviews, news, and insights.
• Book series— Scott Mueller’s Upgrading and Repairing PCs (www.upgradingandrepairingpcs.com) can be a lifesaver. With over 2.2 million copies sold, it’s still the single best source of information about desktop computer hardware, old and new. Other books in the series, such as Upgrading and Repairing Laptops and Upgrading and Repairing Windows, Second Edition, are also valuable. The Upgrading and Repairing Networks text is recommended for improving your network skills. When it comes to Windows, try Que’s Special Edition Using and In Depth series (www.quepublishing.com).
• Search engines— Google (www.google.com), Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com), Goodsearch (www.goodsearch.com), Bing (www.bing.com), and others and aggregators such as 
locate specific resources for further research. Currently, of these, my favorite is Google. Google is fast, finds text in many types of online content (not just HTML web pages, but also Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, and others), can search newsgroups, and finds image and video files as well. Use its Advanced Search feature to narrow your search; you can even search a particular website only. Click the Cached button to see the site as Google last saw it if the current contents aren’t what you need or the website is down. Go to http://groups.google.com to search or browse Usenet newsgroups.
With so many sources of information available in print and online, there’s no reason to stop learning. To succeed and enjoy yourself, take every opportunity to learn more.







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