THE monitor on my PC seems to generate and hold a lot of static electricity. Dust gathers on it very quickly and every time I try to clean it I hear a very disturbing crackling, which I presume is the static being discharged. Is this in anyway harmful to my computer, and if so how can I get rid of the problem? LAWRENCE WONG Heng Fa Chuen Your computer can be badly damaged by static electricity. Just a small buzz can be enough to knock out a microchip. To be on the safe side, you should never open up your computer and attempt to fiddle around with its insides with out discharging static build up in yourself by touching a metal surface. The static build-up on your monitor is not directly harmful to your computer unless, once again, you open the machine up before fully discharging the static. You can buy anti-static cleaners from most computer shops that keep static at bay if used regularly. There are also anti-static devices that are - in most cases - no more complicated than a packaged metal surface for you to touch before using your computer. Some consist of a wire that attaches to the screen and the computer and ''earths'' them, supposedly draining static continuously. For anti-static devices, a trip to Shamshuipo's Golden Shopping Arcade or the Mongkok Computer Centre would be well worth it. I RECENTLY obtained a list of bulletin board services in Hong Kong from a local magazine because many of my classmates with computers have told me BBSes are the best places to be these days. Some articles I have read in Technology Post gave me this idea, too. My problem is that, although I have been using computers for a few months, I have never attempted to use the modem that is built into it. I do not know anything about ''dialling up'' and am too embarrassed to let my friends know about my ignorance. What programs do I need to access these BBSes? I would prefer Windows programs because I think they will be easier for me. NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED There certainly is a lot happening in the on-line world these days. Many people who have yet to sample the joys of cyberspace - as it has come to be known - often think getting there is a complicated process. All you need is a computer, modem, communications software and standard telephone line. You have the first two, and almost everyone in Hong Kong has the last, so I presume you do. You can use the Terminal function within Windows itself, although I do not recommend it. Its functionality is basic and limited and it is not as easy to use as other fully blown communications programs. There is a whole range of communications software out there, for all computer platforms. I use Procomm Plus for Windows and, although there have been several ''better, more powerful'' programs released since I started using Procomm, I have remained loyal to it simply because I have grown used to it. The program came on three diskettes and installation was easy. It has all the standard features of modern communications programs, such as customisable phone books, speed dialling, and easy-to-use icon-based settings. The program has, however, been around a fair while. A new version is expected soon. There are other communications packages available, such as CrossTalk for Windows from DCA and Smartcom for Windows from Hayes. Both are powerful but since you are a novice to on-line services you will not need that much juice. A few good communications programs are available on BBSes themselves in the form of shareware. These are programs you can try out for a limited time and only pay for if you decide to continue using them. They usually cost less than US$50. The trouble is you need similar software to get on-line in the first place. Both Procomm Plus for Windows and CrossTalk for Window can be bought through distributors Kenfil (telephone 529-2059). For more information on Smartcom for Windows, telephone Hayes on 887-6836). Good luck.