Based in Toronto, Ontario, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Remote Computer Help

Problem: You need fast help with a computer problem and don't have access to a company information-technology department.

Solution: Remote tech support services are gaining in popularity over time-consuming trips to repair shops or costly house-calls. Services such as YourTechOnline (YourTechOnline.com) and PlumChoice (plumchoice.com) remotely access your computer while you are connected by phone to a call center or technician. Both sell computer help by the minute, in varying increments ($79 an hour for YourTech-Online and $90 an hour for PlumChoice), with volume discounts. Another service, support.com, offers pricing by event, ranging from $39 to $99, depending on the nature of the problem. Many remote tech support companies offer a range of maintenance services from tune-ups to virus and spyware removal.

Caveat: Many services aren't yet equipped to handle Apple software, although a number of them offer support for iPods and other MP3 players, as well as printers and digital cameras.

Reconciling Family Members' Schedule

Banned!