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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 09:18 GMT
Web offers gizmo salvation
Woman with washing machine
How do you get the best from a washing machine?
If you cannot remember how to programme your video or washing machine, salvation may just be a click away, as Tad Piesakowski reports.
"If all else fails, read the manual" is an oft quoted computing adage.

Yet consider all the home appliances and electrical equipment you have around your home.

For how many of them do you actually have a manual and know where it is?

If some of these items have been through a house move or two, inherited with the property or even are second-hand, the odds of getting hold of those key instructions are slim.

What do you do if you finally want to get round to setting the timer on your video or deciphering some of the more obscure symbols on your washing machine or food processor?

The answer lies in cyberspace.

Net instructions

PC enthusiasts have for a long time turned to the internet when looking for manuals and technical information for components such as motherboards and adapter cards.

Cooker dial
Cooker dial: Modern day hieroglyphics?
More recently, owners of other electronic devices have had this option available to them too.

With more and more people using the internet, numerous manufacturers have recognised it as a hugely cost-effective way to provide after-sales support.

Many seem to think that a simple Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQ, section on their websites is enough.

Frustratingly, I have invariably failed to find answers to my questions on such lists.

Hidden functions

Some of the more net savvy companies have done this more effectively, offering downloadable copies of their product manuals, often not just the current models but past ones as well.

An excellent starting point for any search is Pete Hale's Instruction Manuals (UK).

When I first came a cross it a few years back, its offering was rather small. However, it has steadily grown into an extremely comprehensive listings site for online manuals.

Invariably, these manuals are offered as PDF files - viewable via a plug-in for your browser such as Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Once downloaded, a quick delve of the index should allow you to find that hidden function that you knew your appliance or gizmo possess, but until now had little success in locating.

Who knows, next time the clocks go forward, you might stand a fighting chance changing the time on your video recorder, microwave or central heating control.

See also:

17 Oct 00 | Science/Nature
20 May 02 | Science/Nature
16 Jul 01 | dot life
18 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


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