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DEAR ABBY: This may seem like a trivial matter, but as the holidays approach, I know printing this letter will help people in the fast-growing technical support industry, as well as the people depending on them.

When folks purchase large appliances and electronics this holiday season and need to call for help getting them set up or repaired, it's important that they remember to have a few things handy to make the process go faster for all concerned.

Always have the model number, serial number and sales slip handy. Also, please remember that the people on the other end of the line are doing everything they can to get things working. Foul language, raised voices and threats against tech support won't get anything done faster.

So before calling, take a deep breath, be certain that you're calm enough to deal with someone on the other end of the line, and make sure to follow his or her directions. And remember, sometimes the solutions take time. Tech support professionals have to follow company policies, just like everyone else. -- DOING ALL SHE CAN IN WATERTOWN, N.Y.

DEAR DOING ALL SHE CAN: Those all are sensible suggestions. I know firsthand that having the model number, serial number and sales slip can hasten the time it takes to schedule a service call. And it goes without saying that customers will get more cooperation if they don't abuse the customer service personnel. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have two boys, 12 and 13. They have had computer training at school for years, but my husband and I are computer illiterate.

We gave the boys a computer for their birthday, and now they are locked in their bedroom for hours. People tell me they can't be watching pornography without a credit card, but I am having trouble believing that.

We have no public space in our home we can move the computer into. What, if anything, should we do? -- WORRIED MOM IN PITTSBURGH

DEAR WORRIED MOM: Most houses and apartments have a living room or eating area. Put an end to your boys using the computer while locked in their room. The computer should be moved out into the open. If that's not possible, then insist that the door be kept open, and remove the lock if they refuse to comply.

Also, it's time you and your husband checked into evening classes for adults at your local high school so you can learn the basics about computers. They have become far easier to use than in years past, and you should at least be able to check the computer "history" to see where your young explorers have been spending their time. It's a matter of asserting your parental authority, so please start doing it now. It's really no different than knowing what they're doing at the mall.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been together for six years, and the only problem I have with him is that he lies about meeting other women on sex sites. The problem with this is that he is looking for someone in our hometown for discreet sex.

I have confronted him and told him how it makes me feel, but he still does it and finds other sites to go on. What am I to do? -- SAD IN SALISBURY, MD.

DEAR SAD: End the romance. Your "boyfriend's" actions indicate that he is unwilling or unable to remain faithful to you. It's time to find a man who wants what you want out of a relationship.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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