Winter is back and we'll be using our computers more than ever. This newsletter will review some things to do and things to avoid along with a couple of "cool" items for you.
Things to do...
Keep the virus checker updated and turned on unless you have an application that won't work with it active. In that case, turn it off only when you have to.
If you use Windows XP, use the Windows Update and load the Security patches. I usually don't load the driver and feature updates unless they address an issue I am experiencing. (If it's not broken, don't fix it!)
Back up your important data and settings. It doesn't hurt to export your email address book or print it too. On Windows XP, use Start-All Programs-Accessories-System Tools-System Restore to create a restore point before loading new software or installing new hardware.
Download and run the newest version of AdAware occasionally. This will find and remove many Internet troublemakers.
Check operating system compatibility BEFORE buying new items. Many software and hardware products will not work with Windows '95 or Windows NT and some hardware may not have certified drivers for XP. I have discovered many printer drivers for XP included with the printer are buggy. Download and use the newest ones for best results.
Don't download files before you verify them. Check newsgroups, web postings, etc. for user comments. Make sure you understand everything a program does before you load it. Kazza is a popular music sharing program with MANY unpleasant side effects. I am undecided on music sharing. If I cannot find the song I wish to purchase, a download my be the only way to acquire it. This is also a great way for new artists to expose their work Recording companies need to adjust their pricing. Compare a DVD movie at $14.95 with a 10 song CD with one or two hits for the same price. It is not the manufacturing costs. Look at the CDs AOL gives away or the price of CDR disks. If you want to use sharing software, use the hacked version of Kazza- Kazza Lite, or try WinMX.
Don't upgrade until there is a need to. The latest and greatest is also the most expensive and buggy.
Avoid custom software. It is always expensive and usually is hard to update. It may need substantial modifications if the operating system is upgraded when you buy a new computer. Have you tried to buy a name brand Windows 98 PC lately?
Optical mice... inexpensive and they work. Get one or ask for one under your Christmas tree.
Try the 30 day demo of Ad-Subtract. This is a pop-up blocker that does a decent job. It is not perfect. I do like the pop-up my credit union's site uses for login. The dropdown boxes at travel sites are also needed, but blocked. It is easy to temporarily disable, but your browser sometimes needs to be restarted. You can find it at http://www.adsubtract.com/pro/features.html.
Adaptec's new EIDE RAID card works with standard IDE drives and most operating systems. Let's say you have an 80 gig hard drive in your Windows 98 computer system. A drive that size is definitely hard to back up, plus restoring Windows, your software, etc. when the drive fails (remember, it is not IF, it is WHEN) is usually very time consuming. Install this $80 card with another 80 gig or larger drive and it will "mirror" the two. If one fails, all your data, software, etc. is safe and you can still boot your computer normally. This only protects against hardware failure. If a virus destroys your software, you are still out of luck.
That's it for this issue... if you have a topic you would like me to discuss, just email me! Have a very happy holiday season!
Until next time... Happy Computing !
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