August 2010 Newsletter ...
Java issues, Security Essentials, and broken programming
Most of us have been experiencing the slow death of our Windows XP computers. The emphasis is on slow. Taking a quick look at the add-remove programs section of Control Panel with "show updates" checked will give you a pretty decent wait followed by screens-full of Windows updates, Java updates, updating software, security and 101 other items we have accumulated over the years. Security has taken over usefulness. Our reasonably fast car we once relied on to get us places is now a rusting armored tank with a lawn mower engine barely able to move. Is there a fix? Remove the armor and then it is too dangerous to use the Internet. HP has a habit of giving you "extras" that clog your machine with things you probably never wanted. Symantec/Norton assumes they know all and take control from you, and leaving you with a manual uninstall of 3 single spaced highly technical commands as an option of last resort. What can we do? I'm sorry to say "not enough". Start by removing every program and piece of hardware that you don't need or use. Remove all Java except the ones you need. Be sure to have your program disks handy. Check the Java icon in the "classic view" of Control Panel" and look at the settings. Shut off Java Quick Start. And set the Temporary Files from the DEFAULT of 1,000,000,000 (???? 1 GB???YES!) down to 20 MB or so. In Internet Explorer -Tools-options- with a high speed connection, set your temporary files to 20 MB. Try Firefox as a browser too. Next, run this free Microsoft tool... http://onecare.live.com/site/en-us/default.htm . It has a registry cleaner built in. The typical uninstallers don't do a good job, so this is often needed.
More and more you will see your software broken by updates. Software manufacturers sometimes are essentially forced to make updates to maintain compatibility with Microsoft's updates. If we use Microsoft products, we don't have much of a choice, so do the updates if you have to.
The new computer "remedy"...
Is a new computer a good option? Microsoft will not say how much "code" is in Windows 7, but it appears to be over 50 million lines. To be "fast", you need 4 processors, 8 GB of RAM, and a very fast hard drive. When the computer starts, the code is read from the hard drive to RAM (thinking memory). More code, the longer boot time becomes for the same hardware. What do I recommend? When asked, I ask "What do you need to do?" Asus has a Windows 7 Basic Netbook. (A netbook is a very inexpensive and very small laptop.) (Netbooks are slow even with the Windows 7 Basic edition... Asus adds a SECOND operating system choice to booting to quickly handle Internet and email and to enable you to avoid Windows 7 entirely.) When shopping, TEST the machines on display and look at their specifications. See how fast they boot, how fast Internet Explorer opens, even if they aren't online. Remember, what you see is the BEST it will be. (Updates, updates, and more updates and software, etc. will be arriving as soon as it is online.)
A personal story... my daughter just finished her Junior year at college. Three years ago, she wanted an Apple MacIntosh laptop for college. She had a reasonable Windows laptop, so I said "no" to my buying her one, practical dad that I am, but that if she wanted to spend her own graduation gift money and earnings, I would support getting it. She agreed and did. I loaded Open Office ( http://www.openoffice.org ) on it and there have been essentially ZERO problems with it. The most complex was getting her Palm phone to hot-sync with it using Blue Tooth. Do you want to try that with a Windows machine? Apple products aren't cheap. A lot of their stuff is proprietary. Is that bad when "proprietary" means they have control to be sure it works? For disclosure... I do own Apple stock, purchased at my daughter's recommendation. :-)
One last update on anti-malware products... I recommend frequent scans with the Microsoft scanner above and also Malwarebytes available free at http://www.malwarebytes.org My favorite antivirus is now the FREE Microsoft Security Essentials. You can learn more and download it at http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/ . As another "tidbit"... almost all the virus/malware infections I have seen in the past 6 months have come through Java on machines protected by Symantec products.
That's it for this newsletter... enjoy the rest of summer !!
Until next time... Happy Computing !
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