No, my name’s not Coates, but I can point you to help anyway

If you’re reading this in print, grab your scissors, cut on the imaginary dotted lines that frame this column and tack it up near your computer. If you’re reading online, click the "print this" icon near the top of the page, print and tack, or just bookmark this piece for future reference.

You’ll want to refer to this primer the next time you have a computer failure; I’m directing you to a set of online resources that can help when I can’t.

There seems to be some confusion among some of the readers of this column, as I’ve been mistaken three times recently for some other columnist whose place I’ve allegedly filled on these pages.

I’m pretty sure folks are referring to James Coates, the now-retired syndicated computer question-and-answer columnist who called the Chicago Tribune home. Coates hung up his mouse more than a year ago. My Online Guy column has appeared in the Review-Journal and on reviewjournal.com and several other sites for nearly 10 years, so I’m not exactly Jim’s replacement.

In the interest of serving those readers wondering if this publication employs a "techy guy" to help them with their computing woes, I offer this set of sites to get you going. This list is by no means complete, and I’m certain I’ll get additional tips and sites from many of you who already have favorites.

If the problems you’re having with your computer prevent you from surfing the Web at all, I suggest you visit a friend with a working computer and print the appropriate help pages you find in your fix-it adventure. There are many places that offer in-person troubleshooting. I haven’t used any of these services for some time, so I won’t recommend any.

On to the cyberhelp list:

PC Mech

(www.pcmech.com)

This site covers everything from tool bars to motherboards to networking. It’s a blog site, which includes related posts and reader comments. You’ll want to check the "How Do I" and "Answers" areas of the site for help with a full range of topics, including disposing of old computers.

Walter Mossberg

(walt.allthingsd.com)

Mossberg is the guru of computers for The Wall Street Journal. He writes two columns and edits a third. His syndicated column appears occasionally in the Review-Journal, depending on available space. The All Things D Web site is host to his musings on the latest hardware, software and cyber-related advice.

Computer Hope

(www.computerhope.com)

A free site.

Cyber Tech Help

(www.cybertechhelp.com)

Another free site.

iYogi

(www.iyogi.net)

A $99 annual fee gets you all the help you can use.

Send me your favorite help sites and I’ll share them here.

Share your Internet story with me at agibes@reviewjournal.com.

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