We've all been through this....you paid for tech support, you wait on hold FOREVER only to be told that it's a software issue and you paid only for hardware issues. Or you paid for software issues and it's a hardware issue. Or your warranty just expired last week. BUT for only $29.95 or $49.95 or $99.95 you can get help for just that one issue and then you speak to someone in a foreign country who repeats everything you say like a parrot and you can't understand them. YIKES! Now you know why most experts don't recommend buying an extended warranty.
At Team CHEAPIOSITY, we feel your pain and want to let you in on some online resources that will help you out. The first thing to look at is site volume. The more people using the site, the more chances you'll get a quick answer. For example, a site like http://www.answerbag.com/ has about 3/4 million members....there's a good chance you'll get the info you want.
For PCs, check out http://www.fixya.com/ and http://www.techimo.com/. Also, PC World (tinyurl.com/3q7xm5) and CNet (tinyurl.com/43be5q) have good discussion forums.
For Mac, Apple has a good discussion forum on their support site (www.apple.com/support) at http://discussions.apple.com/forum.jspa?forumID=731; also take a look at CNET's http://www.macfixit.com/ as well as http://www.everymac.com/.
For Smartphones, for your Blackberry, take a look at the forums on http://crackberry.com/. For Iphones http://www.theiphoneblog.com/iphone-help-and-how-to-guides/.
CNet’s video tutorials (cnettv.cnet.com/2001-1_53-28619.html) are great on a variety of subjects, so check it out to see if your problem is covered there.
Still can't find your answer? If you willing to (gasp) pay for help, one good choice would be Experts Exchange (secure.experts-exchange.com/). We haven't tried them personally (Team CHEAPIOSITY pay????) but we hear good things. (Our preferred method: young people. They know this stuff. And they work cheap. A little food and a can of soda and they'll hook you up. Tell 'em Team CHEAPIOSITY sent you.)