I believe Merle Haggard put it best when he once wrote, "I wish things were simple like they used to be, when cowboys rode horses, and were heroes to me, my mother was a lady, and my dad was a man, and I wish things were simple again."

Oh, to have the 25-cent-per-gallon gasoline again when I could drive for days on a tank of gas and if someone asked how many miles per gallon I got on my hot car, I replied that I looked at fun per mile, not miles per gallon. Those days are gone and we are faced with challenges everyday, not only in the economy but also in the ever changing world of technology.

There was a time when we looked forward to searching Google for "really, really, really weird websites" and had an entire afternoon of entertainment without having to wonder who had just stolen your identity or credit card number, who had harvested your IP address or email address and will inundate you with spam for the next six months, along with myriad other atrocities that is routine today on the Internet.

Where did we go wrong?

"So are you saying not to go on the Internet?"

Certainly not! I use the Internet every day, all day for a variety of things from finding manufacturer product information to how to cook my turkey on Thanksgiving. One of the best resources the Internet has to offer are fixes for your computer when it breaks. I use the message boards and those geeky websites all the time. You need to be very careful when you use them, however, and not take the first issue resolution you see as the only fix possible. Many times you may have to wade through website after website, looking for that one fix for your particular issue. Sometimes the search is successful and sometimes all you get is spam because someone harvested your email address and is now convinced that you have an overactive bladder and are in dire need of pills (my apologies to those who have this condition). These "self-help" websites are fantastic resources and many times you can save yourself a few dollars by checking them out and trying some of the fixes, as opposed to calling us or another computer repair company and having a professional come in and fix your issue. You do need to be careful, however.

If you are looking at a fix and it involves editing the registry, unless you are very familiar with this, you can turn your computer into a doorstop pretty easily so be careful. If the fix looks pretty simple and you are comfortable with the directions, go for it, but again, be careful. A good rule of thumb is to back up your important documents, pictures and, if possible, your emails before you try these things to make sure you do not lose everything. Another good rule is to set a restore point before you start any work to make sure if all else fails, you can get back to your starting point.

One final word of warning: We have been seeing many computers that were worked on by the consumer (I am assuming) and are now really jazzed up and in need of a complete restoration. So if you feel you are directed to do something you are unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with, call someone. It will probably save you money in the long run and maybe a few gray hairs in the process.

"I wish things were simple like they used to be."

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.

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