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Is there a better user support tool than the Internet?

Do you remember the user support days before the Internet? Is there a better tool for user support professionals than the Internet?

Do you remember the user support days before the Internet? Is there a better tool for user support professionals than the Internet?

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I have stacks and stacks of old computer books and manuals, many of which have tattered pages and torn covers indicative of that well-used and often referenced favorite book. Others have some vital pages tabbed and notes written on the pages. And with every release of any number of application software or a new operating systems, more and more books were always a must. PC Secrets, DOS Tips and Tricks, Power DOS, etc., are just a few still on the shelf.

I thumb through them and reminisce once in a while, and I'll even pick up a trick or two, but they're seldom used anymore. In fact, even though I bought a reference book for our Vista upgrade more than a year ago, I don't think I've opened it more than a few times.

For me, the Internet has, for the most part, replaced the need for those manuals. I can't imagine going back to the days of having to sift through any number of manuals trying to find an elusive answer to a problem; it's much easier finding it with a few choice Internet search key words. Even reading about new features is easier on the Internet.

What made me think about this was a recent trip to my local computer super store. I noticed quite a few people buying the types of manuals that I used to buy. I'm not talking about training manuals, but the reference manuals — the ones that document everything from A to Z. Many were undoubtedly being purchased as gifts. And I wondered how many would go unused. If someone bought one for me, other than thumbing through it a bit, I'd probably never use it.

With the Internet, no more calling manufacturers for drivers or software patches. Having immediate access to such things is another huge time-saver. TechRepublic is such a great resource for me. And the ability for remote access, not only to my own computer but to allow for remote troubleshooting, is all made possible only with the Internet.

Has there been a better gift to user support professionals than the Internet? Not for me, there hasn't. In fact, I don't think I'd even want to do the job without it.

How about you? Do you think there's a better resource for user support professionals than the Internet? If so, what would that be?

Do you still have stacks and stacks of old manuals? Do you ever reference them?

P.S. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever greeting you'd prefer.

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