Wow your friends, impress you boss, be a tech support hero.  

We can’t possibly provide tech support for the hundreds of problems that plague PC users, but we found a simulation program that can turn almost anyone into a professional trouble shooter. It’s “Windows Simulator, Exam Cram” from Que Publishing.

This is a simulator, not an emulator. An emulator would let you run Windows on a Macintosh, for example. What Exam Cram does is simulate Windows problems. It runs on any computer using Windows 98 or higher and can Windows Simulator simulate many Windows scenarios. As you learn how to solve each problem, following the instructions from the program, it looks and feels like you are working on another computer.

For any problem – like how do I get rid of the annoying “enter your password” requirement every time the computer is restarted, you can choose to place yourself in “student mode” or “tech” mode. In student mode, you get hints that will lead you to the solution to the problem. In tech mode, the program becomes a kind of exam to test whether or not you know how to do it.

You get a report on how many good clicks you made as you worked to solve the problem, how many bad clicks, and how long it took you to solve the problem. This simulates an experience we have had many times with our own conversations with tech support people. Some techs solve the problem almost immediately, with very direct instruction on what to do. Others go through seemingly endless struggles and  finally give up. In fact we have noticed huge differences in the competence of tech support helpers, and if we get a really bad one, we are inclined to hang up and call in again in hopes of getting someone who actually knows what they’re doing. We recommend you adopt the same  technique when frustrated by bad support.

The Windows Simulator has hard and easy problems. The steps for killing the “enter your password” requirement were easy: all we had to do was open the “Control Panel,” click on “User Accounts,” and “remove password.” Another easy one is how to enlarge the text on your screen: click on the “Start” button at the bottom of the windows home screen, and go to “Accessories.” There’s a choice called “magnifier” under accessibility options. That’s the one to click.

A harder problem is for business network users:  your sales force needs to tap into the company network from remote locations but there is no security established for doing this. So your job is to set up a virtual private network (VPN); the simulator will take you through the required steps. The Windows Simulator is a combination CD and book that has more than 200 problem solving scenarios. The list price is $68 from

NOTE: We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating: Windows itself has many solutions to common problems if you go to the Windows help file. Click on “Start” from the main startup screen and select “Help and Support” from the menu that pops up. Type in a keyword and you will get instructions on how to solve many Windows quirks and questions.

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