far too easy to get overloaded with irrelevant information when doing a Web search. Getting bombarded with time-sapping junk e-mail is an everyday pain.

Software poses frustrations of its own. Although the popular programs are easier today than in the past, most people are able to master only a small fraction of the available features.

Software is the focus of Computers Stink, Bellis' self-published book, which is available from the Web site Amazon.com or at 800/356-9315. Bellis, who writes software manuals for a living, directs much of the book toward software developers.

He offers some good advice. Most important, he said in a telephone interview, put all of the program's features on the menus at the top of the screen, and make sure that each menu selection is labeled with words that clearly describe its function to those who haven't used it before.

The overall solution, though, is for the computer-buying public to collectively say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," then buy only from vendors who pay adequate attention to ease of use, reliability and service concerns.

In the meantime, whether you're wrestling with your software or your hardware, a number of new sources for solutions have popped up on the Web. Among the more interesting is Experts Exchange, at . You can get one to three questions answered for free a month, depending on their difficulty. After that, it costs from $5 to $20 a question. If you consider yourself a computer expert, you can answer questions posed by others, and maybe earn a few dollars to boot.

Reid Goldsborough is author of the book "Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway." He can be reached at or.

September Table of Contents

Reid Goldsborough  |  Contributing Writer
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgold@comcast.net or www.reidgoldsborough.com.