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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Guide to Computer Desks

Computer furniture has evolved over the years. Improvements in the design and decor of computer desks have revolutionized the way people work at the computer. With the increase in the number of computer accessories, such as keyboard, mouse, and additional attachments like the printer, scanner, hard disks, modems, the allotment of space for all these accessories has become a challenge. Modern office furniture has to be modular, movable and flexible.

The most important feature of a good computer desk is ergonomic design. As people work spend more hours at the computer, it is important that the desks are comfortable to sit at for long hours. Moreover, they have to look good and blend in well with the rest of the office or home. As greater comfort ensures greater productivity, companies are more willing to provide the best computer desks for employees.

Modular computers desks provide flexibility and versatility in use – they can be remodeled very easily depending on the use. These are ideal for the limited office spaces of today, and also work well in homes because they can be easily changed according to different requirements. Fittings are provided to accommodate various other accessories that may be required while using the computer, such as a document holder, wrist rest, file hangers, CD holders, or telephone shelf. Such desks are also often accompanied by a manual that contains comprehensive instructions for assembling or disassembling the unit. On the whole, computer desks today are leaner, and have fewer drawers and more shelf-space than before.

In most modern computer desks, the unique arrangement of the panel systems ensures optimum space, privacy and advanced wire management. The spine of the desk should be designed to not only provide power and data to the whole unit but also to support the desk assemblies, staking storage, divisional screens, transfer screens and other accessories. The end result is optimal space utilization.

A versatile computer desk should not necessarily compromise style. Computer desks are being designed with every kind of material possible ranging from traditional oak and wood to metal, glass and fiber.

About the Author

Computer Desks Info provides detailed information on corner, glass, roll top, home, child, oak and cheap computer desks, computer desk hardware, and more. Computer Desks Info is the sister site of Office Chairs Web.

Written by: Ken Marlborough

7 Barebones Computer Buying Tips

Getting a new computer should be a cool thing, especially a cheap computer. After all that time struggling with you old machine, probably fighting with it to get the latest software to run, your new computer should be a ray of light for your computing future.

Oh, if it were that simple. If things were really that easy or simple when buying a cheap computer, life would be much easier, but just like every other thing, its not that simple.

Barebones computers have become extremely popular, and for good reason. Getting a barebones computer which does not include a monitor and comes with the bear minimum of parts makes them an upgradable, practical and cheap computer.

But not all things are rosy in barebones computer land...

1. Missing parts

Although barebones computers do come with the essential pieces, most people need at least one or two extras for their day to day barebones system. This is simply due to different applications people use them for. Don't get caught missing that extra part from your barebones system that you then need to get later. You still need to do some homework and research to find out what you really need from your barebones system.

2. Super cheap computer deals

Beware, many corners can be cut to get those sub $200 dollar barebones systems. They can be great, but not always, carefully analyse the components of the package. Also remember that a barebones system couldn't possibly include a monitor for that price, which adds a lot to the price.

3. Mismatched parts

This could become a problem if building your own computer, but it even happens in pre-assembled barebones computer deals. There is a chance that you get something that doesn't fit with the barebones system. There are lots of different connections and speed ratings between parts. Make sure the ones you get match up to the other parts and your needs. Although not common, incompatibilities between parts are not unheard of.

4. Outdated components

To get super-cheap deals older parts are sometimes used in cheap computers. Although this can be a great cost-saver and some old parts are fantastic, there is nearly no chance of an upgrade without putting a major amount of money into your barebones computer again, perhaps as much if not probably more than you paid for your great deal.

5. Defective parts

Although this is another one that has gotten better as the competition has gotten stronger, there is a chance of defects in cheaper products. Your motherboard could be faulty, your power supply might give up after a month or two. These may not be intentional problems, but come hand in hand with "cheap computer stuff".

6.Refurbished computer parts

Refurbished computer parts are a great way to save some money. Not always the biggest saver, but there can be problems with the updates to these computers in much the way as mismatches happen in barebones systems. Often the computer is slightly updated to meet needs, but is really quite an old model, just with upgrades. Can be fine, but the parts they replace might be replaced with something newer but inferior.

7. Claims of great warranty

To try and entice you into feeling safe, offers of long warranties are made. Most of the parts in the computer could have past their warranty dates, so the warranties are purely from the company that put the computer together. They can be hard to contact and take their time to get replacements to you as well as expect you to mail the computer to them so that they can do the repairs.

Barebones computers can be a great way to put together a second computer, build a computer for simple purposes, like writing documents and casual web surfing. Barebones fit perfectly as a second computer. Just keep these things in mind and you won't get bitten by the bargain bin monster.

About the author:

Get the most honest and useful reviews to make the right choice at our Desktop Computer Hardware Reviews site or get practical computer buying tips at our Computer Buying Guide site

Written by: Peter Stewart

6 tips for Keeping Aurora Away from your computer... and 1 tip to Fix it if Aurora has Gotten You

1. Stay away from non-standard search engines... trust google.com and yahoo.com, all else - be wary!
2. Do not download unknown files to your computer - whether sent via an email stranger or a pop-up asking permission to download... "Just Say NO"
3. If you borrow someone's floppy disk or CD with word documents or web pages and .EXE files... SCAN it with a virus scanner before opening anything on the disk.
5. Run an antivirus scanner weekly.. and preferably have one running 24-7 on your computer in the background
6. Install microsoft Anti-Spy... it alrets you to any attempt to download and install software that is being done behind the scenes

Final Tip:
Now - If Aurora already has infested your computer, You are getting popups and all kinds of problems... you want to go to: http://www.reikihealingstories.com/Aurora_no_more.htm
And You'll see the 3-minute fix that finally worked for me.


About the Author

Brought To You By: http://www.reikihealingstories.com/Aurora_no_more.htm
Hater of Aurora and other Computer Viruses

Written by: Zach Keyer

6 Essential Steps to Protect Your Computer On the Internet For Free

Recently one of my friends asked me to check out if his computer was infected by virus. He suspected because occasionally the computer was shut down automatically when connected to internet. My first thought was the Sasser worm 60 seconds auto count-down. As he uses Windows 98 second edition with IE5, the virus must be a Sasser variant.

I'm not network security expert but I know some basic things he must do to protect his home PC. It was a shock when he told me that his 4 years old PC had no protection except McAfee anti-virus.

  • Bought in 2000 and no Windows service packs had been applied since then.
  • McAfee anti-virus software came with the PC when bought and no updates since then.
  • No firewall installed.
  • No anti spyware installed.

This is what I did to beef up his PC to the best of my knowledge.

Step #1: Patch the operating system.

The first thing I did was update his Windows 98 to the latest available Windows updates for Windows 98.

  • Open Microsoft Windows Update page at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/
  • Scan the PC to find out what critical updates and security fixes are missing.
  • Select, download, and install a selection of updates, especially any Critical Updates.
  • Restart the PC after finished.

When you open the Microsoft Windows Update page, click the "Scan for updates" link. The page will suggest what updates are needed based on your Windows version. You should install all Critical Updates suggested by Microsoft.

It took me about one and half hour to complete the above steps.

Step #2: Download, install, and run Spybot to get rid of all spyware.


http://www.safer-networking.org/index.php?page=download

Spybot-S&D is a free anti-spyware software to detect any spyware installed on your PC.

Spyware is any software that is installed on your PC and tracks your online behavior without your knowledge or consent. Spyware generally can

  • Track what web pages you are visiting and send these information to advertising companies. This kind of spyware is commonly called adware.
  • Track and record your computer activities such as what keys you hit. This is generally called Trojans.
  • Change your web browser's home page.
  • And more...

After installed Spybot, I immediately scanned my friend's computer and found 166 problems. The first run killed nearly all of them except some memory residents that had to be killed after a reboot.

Step #3: Download and install Kerio Personal Firewall (KPF).


http://www.kerio.com/us/kpf_download.html

Kerio Personal Firewall limited free edition is for home users. After installation, KPF works as the full edition for 30 days, after which it becomes the limited free edition.

You may also try the free ZoneAlarm firewall. Be aware that ZoneAlarm free edition uses a lot of computer memory.

The following is the free ZoneAlarm firewall download link. You hardly can find this download link on ZoneAlarm site because they want you to buy the Pro version which is a much better choice.


http://www.zonealarm.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp

Step #4: Download AVG anti-virus software


http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_dwnl_free.php

Because my friend has McAfee antivirus installed but has not been updated for about 4 years. I downloaded AVG Free Edition antivirus software and let him to consider if he wanted to pay and update his McAfee or use the freebie. Running two antivirus software on the same computer can cause conflicts.

Step #5: Install password management software - RoboForm free edition.


http://www.roboform.com/?affid=siter

RoboForm is a password management software with Artificial Intelligence built in that can automatically fill online forms for you. It has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New York Times, Financial Times, PC Magazine, etc.

Nowadays we all have many usernames and passwords to use on the internet. Some spywares record your keystrokes and send them to the hackers. It has been reported many times that people lost all their money in online bank account or internet payment system account.

One of RoboForm key features is designed to combat this kind of key logger hacking. RoboForm can

  • AutoSave passwords in browser.
  • AutoFill passwords to login form.
  • Click Login button for you.
  • Fill personal info into online forms.
  • Save offline passwords & notes.
  • Generate Secure Random Passwords.
  • Encrypt passwords and personal info using 3-DES.
  • All personal info is stored on your computer only.
  • Put passwords on USB KeyChain for extra security.
  • Sync your passwords and safenotes to a Palm.
  • Backup & Restore, Print your passwords.
  • More features: drill down for more.

RoboForm works best with IE 5.0 and above. IE6 is the recommended browser to use with Artificial Intelligence RoboForm.

Note: free eidition comes with some limitations.

Step #6: Apply additional security measures.

More security measures and resources:

Mission completed. It took me nearly 4 hours that night and the result is so far so good.

The author, Jerry Yu, is an experienced internet marketer and web developer. Visit his site http://www.WebActionGuide.com for FREE "how-to" step-by-step action guide, tips, knowledge base articles, and more.



Written by: Jerry Yu

5 Ways To Make Night-And-Weekend-Computer-Life Rich

Are you a computer-worm? Do you thrive on a computer 24/7? A “computer-worm” is analogous to “book-worm” – a person who spends most of the time working on a computer. Do you expend most of your time reading or writing emails, chatting with friends, watching movies, listening to music, cyber-window-shopping, etc? Do you relegate your important tasks of completing a school assignment, working on a contingency project, etc to realize later that you spent the prime-time idly? In this article, you would discover few ways of improving your cyber-life – how to make your working on a computer more useful and much more effective.

Technology revolution has supplemented the ease and increase of computer usage. The overall at-home global active internet use for a number of selected countries grew by two-thirds of a percentage point from February 2004 to March 2004 (Nielsen//NetRatings). Switzerland exhibited the largest growth rate at over 3 percent, while U.S. added the most active Internet users over the month. With this enormous increase in internet usage you have to keep the following 5 ideas in mind that would help increase the efficiency of work that you do while on your computer off-work.

1) Chat or email kills your time-

Avoid opening a chatting application, or an email application as your first window. When you find one of your friends on the chatting window (or email from one of your friends), you inadvertently start conversing with the person. On the other hand, if you do not find any friend, you search for a new chat-buddy. In both the cases you deviate yourself from important tasks. This hinders you from working on essential activities that you intended to do when you started the session.

Instead, make a habit of completing tasks that you planned before opening a chat window or an email window. Treat yourself with a chatting session (or an email session) for completing the daily (important) tasks.

2) Audio speakers add to your entertainment-

Turn on your pair of audio speakers, if you have one. Listen to online news, success stories, motivational speeches or jokes while working on your important tasks.

Online news is becoming common day after day. You can view and listen to news on many websites. You would find it easy to access online news channels if you have a “superpass” with Real Networks (http://www.real.com/superpass/). Nevertheless, websites like MSN (http://msnvideo.msn.com/), ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/) offer feeds to news and other interesting stories available for free download.

3) Do smart-browsing not the hard-browsing-

When you read on the internet, do it intelligently. One way of intelligent reading is to increase your vocabulary. Look up difficult words in the dictionary when you read documents on the web. You can use innovative internet tools like XemanteX (http://www.xemantex.com) that provide an online-running-dictionary. You can read through the document with a built-in dictionary. Just double click the word to get the meaning on the same screen.

4) Online games as concentration tools-

Play online games. Games not only give you entertainment but also help you increase your concentration. There are many websites that offer free subscription to the games on their website. Perform a Google search on “free online games” that would bring up thousands of resources. Enjoy playing a game, improving your personal skills at the same time.

5) Help your mind concentrate-

Split your entire sitting into various sessions. You would be able to give out more every session. Take a coffee or tea break every 45 to 60 minutes. This would help your mind free up its resources and get back on track after the break. Moreover, this would help you avoid narrow thinking. One gets to think through a narrow channel when deep concentration.

Okay, I told you 5 simple and common ways to make your off-work computer life easy. Try them out and feel the difference. You would be happier and feel more accomplished. As you know internet has redefined human’s life. Computer, which was used only by intellectuals and elite a few years ago, is a basic requirement for a common man now. To add fuel to the fire, internet has supplemented its power transforming them the best communication tool. Instant messaging, emailing, electronic news, etc allow for fast and easy communication among the internet users. Very soon, computers would be indelible parts of our life. You should realize that the tremendous power that this internet has can only be harnessed when it is put to use in the most efficient way.

Prasad Kopanati is the Vice President of XemanteX Inc. (http://www.xemantex.com), an internet company offering language related services as dictionary tool displaying meanings for words appearing in the text on the internet web pages. You can reach him via email at team@xemantex.com.



Written by: Prasad Kopanati

5 Tips to Color Code Your Way from Computer Chaos to Coherence

5 Tips to Color Code Your Way from Computer Chaos to Coherence
by Eve Abbott, the Organizer Extraordinaire
Excerpted from her new book, How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain TM

Color is just like a Porsche--There Is No Substitute
In anatomical illustrations you see the brain's large visual system, where the optic nerve is actually 25 times faster than our audio nerves (hearing). No matter which processing style you depend on, 90 percent of the sensory perceptions received by your brain are visual. This is undoubtedly why color-coding works even for Auditory and Kinesthetic Learners.

Color-Coding Your Calendar
Custom color-coding each entry is one of the biggest improvements in Computer Calendars. When your appointment window pops up for the details; You'll find a drop-down field option to choose which color you want.

Color-coding will reduce mis-reads by as much as 90%, even if you don't change anything else about your calendar's display.

One executive client codes his calendar with black for onsite meetings, red for travel, green for offsite meetings and blue for personal/family time.

I know soccer moms who color code for school, church, medical appointments, and family time. Truth is, they have just as many appointments to track as most executives.

Color-Coding Your E-mail
You can color-code your messages in almost every current e-mail program. You can do this by "training" your filters (sometimes called rules or screens) to recognize your clients or customers and make all their incoming messages appear in red.

Usually you'll find this function under Tools, and Options. Just fill in which e-addresses you want in what colors. You only have to do this once and it will work for you from then on.

My e-mail is set up to show all incoming messages from people I know I want to hear from in blue. Many of my clients set it so that any e-mail from their boss appears in red. Make color work for you - use it a lot in your office and on your computer too!

Color-Coding Other Electronic Files
It's not as easy to color-code folders in Windows Explorer as it is to color-code calendar entries or e-mail messages, but it can be done, at least in Windows XP.

First you need to get or make folder icons in different colors. (Try doing a search on "icon libraries" in Google.) Once you have some icons to choose from, right-click on the folder you want to color-code and select "Properties" from the list that appears. You'll see a "Customize" tab across the top of Properties window. Using this, you can put different pictures on different types of file folders, or choose a new icon for the particular folder you are modifying.

The icons or pictures should match your overall color-coding system, the one you are already using for your paper files, e-mail, and calendar. In the list on the left, the folders are named and color-coded in the same way as in the File Kits described below. You can, of course, choose an even simpler system, or a more complex one, depending on how many different computer files you have and how you want to be able to distinguish them.

This procedure is time-consuming (especially if you don't start when you first set up your computer filing system), but it can be worth it to the Visual Learner for whom file names and subfolders aren't enough.

No need to reinvent the organizing wheel. There are many program features that can help you, but be sure how you'll use it and where you'll put it. Otherwise you're just going to end up with a bunch of brightly colored folders and messages that you've piled more chaos on.

Now you know the techniques and tools you'll need to succeed with your color-coding computer tune-up. Go Forth and Color Code!

About the Author

Copyright, Eve Abbott All Rights Reserved. The Organizer Extraordinaire's new book "How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain" TM is available online at http://www.organize.com Sign up for more time-saving tips. Enjoy free brain quizzes to help you work at your personal best! Eve’s book is the first guide to offer easy, online assessments that will help you make your own personal organizing solutions match your individual work style.

Written by: Eve Abbott

5 Tips For Buying The Right Laptop Computer

It's easy to be intimidated by all the laptop models on the market today. There are literally dozens and dozens in every price range.

The key to finding the right one for you is to step back and consider exactly how you plan to use your laptop. When you define what you need before you go shopping, buying the right machine becomes much easier.

Here are 5 basic factors to consider:

1. SIZE

In the world of mobile computing, size definitely matters. The size of a laptop affects two key areas: portability and display size.

If you're always on the go and will be using your computer only in short bursts, a so-called ultralight will save you some shoulder strain.

On the other hand, if you're going to spend hours in front of your laptop, a larger display may be in order.

Today, some laptop displays exceed 17 inches, rivaling the display size of many desktop systems. The down side is that these monsters can easily weigh three times as much as an ultralight.

2. HARD DRIVE

Speaking of size, what about the size of the hard drive? One way to approach this issue is to ask yourself the following question:

Will this be my primary computer, or will it supplement my desktop system?

If the former, you should look for a bigger hard drive - 60 GB or more.

If the latter, you may be able to make it with a 20-30 GB hard drive.

But even this isn't absolute.

If, for example, you plan to copy a huge MP3 library from your desktop system to your laptop to make your music library portable, you'd be well advised to err on the side of too big.

3. MEMORY

In determining the right amount of system memory, or RAM, take a look at the ways in which you intend to use your laptop:

If your needs are somewhat mundane - email, spreadsheets, word processing, etc. - 256 MB of RAM should be plenty. This is a common configuration for many laptops, so it means you probably won't need to spend extra for more RAM.

On the flip side, if you're an aspiring mobile digital photographer or videographer, you should stuff your laptop with as much RAM as it can hold.

In fact, exactly how much RAM your laptop can hold may in part drive your purchase decision. Applications for editing and manipulating multimedia content are notorious resource hogs.

4. NETWORK CONNECTIONS

Thanks in no small part to the Internet, computing in the 21st century relies heavily on being connected:

Connected to the Internet, connected to a corporate network, connected to a wireless network, connected to a home network, connected to an online service.

Your life will be easier if you buy a laptop that includes built-in means to connect to them all.

5. PRICE

If you're considering a laptop, you're probably wondering how much money you'll need to spend.

A few years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find one for under $2,000. Today, there are plenty of laptops to be had for under $1,000.

What's more, most of the major manufacturers offer a variety of financing options.

Laptop prices have come down, to be sure. However, a laptop still represents a fairly major purchase for most people.

If you take the time to search for a laptop that meets your specific needs, you should get many years of use and enjoyment from this important investment.

--

You may republish this article, but must keep the resource box and copyright at the end.

The author, computer journalist John San Filippo, has created the definitive guide for buying a laptop computer. It's an easy read and explains everything you need to know. Check out ==> http://howtobuyalaptop.com/



Written by: John San Filippo

5 Sure-Fire Tips for Buying a New Computer

So you're thinking of buying a new computer...

Where do you start? There are so many brands and models of computers available, and it can all be a little overwhelming when you start to look around.

How do you decide what type of computer you need? And perhaps more importantly, how do you decide what the best value is?

I have sold computers professionally for almost 20 years, and there are certain "tricks of the trade" that most computer stores and salespeople use. Knowing these secrets can make your decision easier and will help you buy the right computer for your needs.

1. Buy What You Need, Maybe a Little More

One of the most important things you can do when buying a new computer is make a list of the things that you will be using it for. There are so many different models - with different capabilities - that you can easily buy more, or less, than you really need if you don't.

If this is your first computer, this can be a little tougher. Until you've used a computer, it's hard to know exactly what you might want to do with it beyond the obvious, like connecting to the internet.

Regardless, you should think about some of the things you might want to do. Some possibilities include:

- Connect to the internet
- Play games
- Digital photography
- Digital video
- Type documents
- Accounting
- Design websites
- Programming
- Digital scrapbooking
- Geneology

Some of these things need more power than others. For example, connecting to the internet really doesn't need a lot of power. Even the most basic computer available will probably work just fine.

Digital video and many games need a lot more power. If you don't get a fast enough computer with enough memory, you'll be disappointed with the performance.

Knowing what you're going to be using your computer for will help your salesperson, whether they're on the phone, the internet or standing in front of you, recommend the best system for your needs.

As a general rule you're always better off buying more power than you need rather than less, but buying too much can be a waste of money.

2. Warranty Considerations

Computer warranties are one of the most confusing and obscure parts of your purchase. Most manufacturers have cut back on their customer service to the point where poor service has become a given.

The three most common options are onsite, carry-in or manufacturer's depot service.

Onsite service can be helpful, but think about whether you want to have to be available for a technician to come and diagnose your computer, and possibly have to come back with parts at another time.

Carry in service is a good option, but find out whether the service center is factory authorized for warranty repairs, as well as whether the technicians are all certified.

Shipping your computer to a factory service center can take a long time - sometimes a number of weeks. It also creates risk that your computer will be damaged or even lost in shipping. In some cases, the manufacturer will even replace your computer with another unit and ship it back to you, rather than repairing it. This can result in your losing any information that was on your system and having to reload all your software.

Another aspect of the warranty to find out about is technical support. Find out if the computer manufacturer offers a toll-free phone number and what the quality of service is like.

The better computer salespeople will be honest about this and tell you if a company's service leaves something to be desired. You can also do some research on the internet - most of the computer magazines like PC Magazine and PC World have annual customer service comparisons that rate the larger computer companies.

Always find out how the warranty is handled before making your decision. Even if it doesn't influence your choice, knowing what to expect if something does go wrong will save some nasty surprises down the road.

3. Can You Negotiate the Price Down?

A computer is a relatively large investment - anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Many computer buyers expect that there is a significant amount of "wiggle room" on the price.

The reality is that most computer hardware - the physical pieces like the computer, monitor and printer - is sold at very low profit margins. Often, computer systems are even sold at or below the dealer cost. When you're buying a computer, it never hurts to ask for a better deal, but don't be surprised if you only get a few dollars off, if anything.

Over the close to 20 years I've sold computers, I watched the profit margins go from over 40% to less than 5%. It's almost embarassing to offer a $20 discount on a $2500 computer system, but that could mean the difference between making and losing money on the sale.

What you can do to get the best price is to do some comparison shopping. Most computer stores offer price-matching guarantees, so if you find your computer for less at another store, most dealers will match or beat that price, even if it means they lose money.

4. How Do Computer Stores Make Any Money?

You might be wondering how these computer stores make any money if they're selling computer for so little profit.

Their money is made on add-on items. The highest profit areas in most computer stores are cables and "consumable" products such as printer ink and paper.

Printer ink is a huge money-maker for most computer stores (even more so for the printer manufacturers). Why is this? Once you've bought a printer, you're going to have to replace your ink at some point, and continue to replace it as it runs out.

Most chain computer stores and office supply stores that carry a large selection of ink cartridges make more from ink than they do from the computers themselves.

Cables also have huge markups. A cable that costs the store $2-3 will often sell for $20-30. That's ten times their cost!

If you're buying a new computer, you will likely need to buy some cables. Some items - printers, for example - don't often include the cables needed to hook them up.

Many printers also come with "starter" ink cartridges that are only half-full. You might also want to pick up some extra ink cartridges.

This is where you should be able to negotiate a better price. Don't expect the salesperson to throw them in for nothing, but they should be willing to offer you a better price. After all, if you're happy with their service, you'll probably continue to buy your ink, paper and other products from that store in the future.

5. What Software is Included?

The last secret of buying a new computer has to do with the software that is included. Most new computer systems include quite a few programs and sometimes the value of the software can be quite high.

Something to watch out for when looking at the included software is "trial versions" or "limited editions".

Many programs that are preloaded are either crippled versions that don't have all the features of the full program, or trial versions that will only run for a certain amount of time before they expire.

Computer are often sold with trial versions of the following types of software:

- antivirus
- firewall
- MS Office or other office suites
- Accounting - both business and personal

The computer manufacturers generally don't make it easy to tell whether the software on their systems are trial versions or limited versions. This is a question that you should specifically ask if you can't find the answer in their promotional information.

If you're buying a new computer with trial versions of the software, keep in mind that you will need to pay to continue using it after the trial period is over. This is an added cost that you need to consider as part of your overall budget.

These five "secrets" of buying a new computer are fairly common sense, but they are not always made clear up front. Knowing what to ask will help you in two ways. First, you can be sure you are getting the right computer for your needs.

Second, if the salesperson or company that you're dealing with explains these things to you without being asked, you'll know you're dealing with someone who is honest and upfront.

Knowing you can trust the people you're dealing with is an invaluable feature of your new computer system.

About the Author

John Lenaghan offers easy-to-understand advice at the Computer Help Squad website. Sign up for our newsletter and receive your free report "5 Critical Steps to Protecting Your Computer on the Internet" at http://www.computer-help-squad.com/5steps

Written by: John Lenaghan

5 Stress Reducing Computer Tips

For most entrepreneurs computers are an intrical part of our business. An entrepreneur can not afford for their computer to be inoperable even for a minute. Implement some of these quick and affordable computer tips to keep your computer healthy and making money for your business.

#1 - Double Internet Speed

Comcast recently doubled cable modem download speeds. Now you can surf the Internet and download files twice as fast. However, you need to power cycle your cable modem [unplug it for 30 seconds and reboot computer] for the new configuration to be automatically downloaded to your modem.

#2 - Connecting to Work from Home

Having trouble with your corporate VPN connection when working from home? Oftentimes this can be fixed with a simple firmware upgrade to your network router or a slight change in settings.

#3 - Sudden Lost Connection

Has your Internet connection suddenly stopped working? Frequently computer users with software-based firewalls suddenly find their Internet connection no longer available. Oftentimes when you download a software update, it can change your original configurations. As a quick test, disable the software firewall. If connectivity returns, it’s a misconfiguration issue.

#4 - Slow E-mail and Internet Browsing

Has your computer been working wonderfully, but suddenly e-mail or Internet browsing is painfully slow? It could be your cable connection went out. And although the connection has returned, your computer and the cable modem may be having difficulty communicating. Try power cycling your modem.

#5 - Eliminate Popups

Google offers a free popup blocker with its toolbar. Download the toolbar at www.toolbar.google.com. System requirements: Microsoft Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later. The popup blocker requires Internet Explorer 5.5 or later.

Sharron Senter is co-founder of http://www.VisitingGeeks.com - an on site computer repair, security and networking company serving north of Boston, Southern NH and Maine. Visiting Geeks’ technicians are crackerjacks at squashing viruses, popups and securing and making computers perform faster. Learn more about Sharron at http://www.SharronSenter.com.



Written by: Sharron Senter

5 Simple Ways To Increase Your Computer Speed

If you're a computer expert, you'll probably already know about these tips (hopefully this will provide you with a little reminder). If you're not an expert, don't worry - these tips are simple, and don't require a lot of computer experience.

While an old computer will never operate at the same speed as a newer (and bigger & faster) computer, you can help your computer stay as "young & healthy" as possible.

1) Disk Cleanup

Performing a disk cleanup regularly is a good idea. Whenever you "surf the internet", open attachments, delete files, your computer saves a record of your activity. Many of these files are harmless, and individually are very small. But if you spend a lot of time on your computer, before long you'll take up enough space to slow your computer down a bit.

Disk Cleanup is a Windows utility that helps keep unused and unwanted files from taking up extra storage space on your computer. You can think of it as "spring cleaning” for your computer.

Basically, it removes files that may have once been useful or used but now are just taking up extra room that could be used for more useful programs and files.

To perform a disc cleanup, click on the Start button on the bottom left of your computer screen, then Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disc Cleanup. A small box will pop up, allowing you to select the files to delete (most files are OK to delete, but if you are unsure, it is best to not select the file). Then click OK, and the unused files will be removed.

If you've never done a disk cleanup on your computer, now is a good time to get started. Then, depending on how much you use your computer, you can perform a disk cleanup every few weeks to keep your computer running smoothly!

2) Defragmenting Your Computer

Another way to improve the performance of your computer is to defragment your hard drive. What is defragmenting, and why do you need to do it? Here's a simple explanation:

Basically, defragmenting is putting files back where they belong. With the files in the proper order, your computer will run more efficiently.

You don't need to hire a computer expert to defragment your computer. It's simple to do. You just need to plan ahead, because if you have a lot of "stuff" on your computer, it could take a while.

And it's best not to use your computer while defragmenting.

Not sure how to defragment your computer? You can either click on your computer's help file (Click the "Start" button on the bottom left of your computer screen, then Help), or click on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Defragment - for most computers) .

Keep in mind that the actual wording is slightly different depending on the operating system you use (Windows 95, 98, XP, etc) so you might need to refer to your computer's help file.

Periodically defragmenting your computer will keep it running smoothly!

3) Removing Spyware & Adware

If you've ever had spyware or adware on your computer, you know how frustrating it can be - strange things happening, your homepage changing, inappropriate popups, unfamiliar icons...
What exactly is spyware or adware?

Simply, files that are often downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge (or at least without you knowing what they really are).

Unfortunately, many of these programs "sneak" their way onto your computer, so avoiding them entirely is difficult, especially if you spend a lot of time on your computer, surfing the Internet and downloading new programs and files.

Fortunately, there are ways to remove these unwanted files from your computer.

Here are 2 adware/spyware removal programs that are simple to use (and both are free):
Ad-Aware http://www.lavasoftusa.com/support/download/>http://www.lavasoftusa.com/support/download/
Spybot http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html>http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

Why does adware/spyware continue to be such a problem? Because most of these programs make money for the people creating and spreading them, unfortunately. So, all we can do is try to avoid them as much as possible, and to remove them when they do find their way onto our computers.

If you do find spyware on your computer, don't panic. In many cases, you just have some extra "junk" on your computer. But keeping spywaer and adware off of your computer will help it run more quickly and efficiently.

4) Uninstalling Old & Unused Programs

While uninstalling old, unused programs will help speed up your computer, removing the wrong files can cause you some big problems. So, please proceed carefully. And if you are not comfortable, please ask for help from someone you know who is more knowledgeable.

Most programs that you download simply have an "uninstall" feature that comes with them. If you're like me and you download a lot of free programs or free trials, after a while your computer begins to slow down. That means it's time for me to remove some of the old programs I don't use any more (and most I only used once just to see how they work).

To uninstall unused programs from your computer, first click on the Start button on the bottom left, then Programs, then click on the name of the program and Uninstall. If there is no uninstall option, then click on the Start button on the bottom left, then Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs.

Again, if you are unsure whether or not to remove a program, it is best to leave it.

If you follow these instructions, you should find your computer working faster right away.

5) Get A High Speed Internet Connection

If you spend a lot of time on the internet, a high speed internet connection is a must. It is more expensive, but for most people the savings in time and effort is worth the added expense.

There are several advantages of having a high speed internet connection - faster surfing, web pages open more quickly, files download faster, and if you send or receive large files, like pictures or video, trying to open these files with a slower dialup connection is extremely frustrating!

If you're already spending $20 a month or more for your dialup connection (through your phone line) then you'll find DSL to be comparable in price, and a lot faster.

A cable internet connection might cost a little more, but it is usually the fastest type of internet connection you can get from home.

High speed wireless connections are available for those who travel a lot. And high speed satellite internet is available in areas where other options are not (check your options first, as this is the most expensive high speed connection).

That's all the tips for increasing your computer speed and helping your computer run more efficiently. We hope you found these tips helpful!

© 2005 Hi-Speed-Internet.com.

About the Author

Kris Bickell is the owner of Hi-Speed-Internet.com, a helpful site for consumers comparing high speed internet services. For information on high speed DSL, Cable, and Wireless Internet, visit: http://www.Hi-Speed-Internet.com>http://www.Hi-Speed-Internet.com, and sign up for the free email course “5 Simple Ways To Increase Your Computer Speed”.

Written by: Kris Bickell

5 Critical Steps to Protecting Your Computer on the Internet

Spyware, viruses and worms... oh my!

If you are connected to the internet, you need to make sure you get your computer set up properly if you want to avoid problems down the road.

With all the viruses, spyware and other threats on the internet today, no computer should be set up without the proper protection.

And that protection needs to be in place as soon after you hook up your new machine as possible.

The following five steps will make your computer a much harder target for threats. You still won't be completely immune to problems, but 99% of the time the threat will pass you by, looking for the easy mark.

1. Running a Personal Firewall

A personal firewall is software that basically makes your computer invisible to hackers, worms and other threats that can infect your computer over the internet.

Setting up a firewall is the absolute first thing you should do if you're going to connect to the internet. Without a firewall, your computer could get infected in as little as one minute after connecting.

If you have a brand new computer running Windows XP Service Pack 2, there is a firewall built into Windows. It will already have been turned on when you first set up your computer.

If you're running an older version of Windows, even an earlier version of Windows XP, there is no firewall automatically set up for you. In this case there are two possibilities:

- Your computer came pre-loaded with a firewall such as Norton Internet Security or McAfee Internet Security
- You have no firewall installed and should download one ASAP.

If you don't have any personal firewall software installed, you should do so right away. Zone Alarm is a very good firewall program that has a version that you can download and install for free.

You can download the free version of Zone Alarm from http://www.computer-help-squad.com/zonealarm

2. Turn on Windows Updates

Again, if you're running Windows XP Service Pack 2 this is already set up, but otherwise you should turn on Windows Updates. Microsoft releases updates for security problems and other bugs in Windows on a regular basis.

These updates will keep your computer running better, and they often fix security issues that could compromise your information or privacy.

If you are running Windows XP Service Pack 2, you can double-check that automatic updates are turned on by clicking Start, then click Control Panel, then double-click Security Center. The window that opens will tell you if automatic updates are turned on, and lets you turn them on if they're not.

To turn on automatic updates in earlier versions of Windows XP, click on the Start menu, click Control Panel and then double-click on System. On the "Automatic Updates" tab, click the option to "Automatically download the updates and install them on the schedule I specify."

To turn them on in Windows 2000, click on Start, click Control Panel and then double-click on Automatic Updates. Again, click the option to "automatically download the updates and install them on the schedule I specify."

Now when Microsoft releases updates, they will be downloaded for you automatically and Windows will tell you when they are ready to be installed.

3. Install & Update Antivirus Software

Most new computers come with antivirus software these days. You might have Norton, McAfee, PC-Cillin or another brand. No matter what program you have, you will need to update it when you get connected to the internet.

It doesn't matter how new your computer is - there will be new viruses, and new updates for the antivirus software, since it was loaded.

The exact process is different for each brand of antivirus program, but most of them will have an icon in the bottom right corner of your desktop, beside the time. The icon might be a picture of a shield (McAfee), a stethoscope (Norton) or something else.

In most cases, if you point to the icon for your antivirus and click the right mouse button, a menu will pop up with an update option. It could be simply called update or could be something like Live Update or Download Latest Updates. If you click on the update option (with the left button this time) it will install the newest updates for you.

If you're not sure which icon is for your antivirus software, just point to each one for a few seconds and a little title should pop up telling you what it is.

4. Install Anti-Spyware Software

Spyware - and other things known as adware and malware - is becoming as big a problem as viruses. Spyware programs can cause a lot of problems with your computer, not to mention they can track your personal information and you never know where it's being sent.

Some new computers might includes antispyware software, but most of them don't yet. There are quite a few anti-spyware programs available, some free and some not. The one I recommend is from Microsoft and is one of the free ones.

One of the reasons I like it is because it always runs in the background and will automatically catch a lot of spyware before it gets on your computer.

Many of the other programs don't catch it until you run a scan. Not only does this allow things to get on your computer, it also means you have to actually remember to run a scan.

You can download the free Microsoft Antispyware from http://www.computer-help-squad.com/antispyware

5. Set up a Free Email Account

This last item is not as critical as the first four, but I would highly recommend you set up an email account with one of the free services like Hotmail or Gmail.

Once you're on the internet, you'll find a lot of useful information that you want that requires you to provide an email address. In some cases, these people will end up sending you a bunch of spam.

If you use a free email account to sign up for anything that you don't know for sure you can trust, it's not going to fill your main email with a bunch of junk.

This goes for anything really, not just online information. If you're entering a contest or signing up for anything offline and you don't know where your information could end up being used, I would suggest using your free email address.

If worse comes to worse, and your free email address gets inundated with spam, you can always just set up a new one and let the old one expire.

Some of the better free email services are www.hotmail.com, www.gmail.com and www.yahoomail.com.

If you've had your computer for a while and never done any of these things, you should still take these steps to get it set up properly. It will definitely save you a lot of time - and possibly money - as you use your system.

About the Author

John Lenaghan offers easy-to-understand advice at the Computer Help Squad website. Find out more about these 5 steps - sign up for our newsletter and receive your free 5-part guide at http://www.computer-help-squad.com/5steps

Written by: John Lenaghan

4 Computer Money-saving Tips

Here are four tips that’ll save you money when buying your next computer.

Tip #1 -- Rebates: A rebate is not always a bargain. Computers with rebates are often close to being discontinued. You may pick up a good deal or purchase technology that's about to become yesterday’s news. What's more, stores will often package computers with a bunch of free items to make it look like you're getting more value. Chances are the extras are either poor quality or items you're unlikely to use. Also, they’re counting on you to not redeem your rebate, a very common occurrence.

Tip #2 -- Extended Service Warrantees: Buyer Beware! They're a gamble, but not always a bad idea. If you're purchasing a laptop and you plan to travel a lot, an extended warranty that covers replacement of the monitor/display can be a good gamble. Replacing a display can cost $400-$600, making the warranty worthwhile. On the other hand, if you plan on buying the warranty for routine maintenance; save your money. Oftentimes it can take weeks for the store to send your PC out for service. Also, remember the store where you purchased your computer does not always do warranty work during the first year, instead you may have to ship it directly to the manufacturer. In general, extended warranties cover electronics [things you can't see]. They don't usually cover physical damage. Most extended warranties have large gray areas, leaving the warranty provider a lot of room to reject claims.

Tip #3 -- Monitors: Don’t throw away your monitor if it's still working properly. Instead, keep it and save a chunk of money by just replacing your old CPU [computer tower]. Monitors last much longer than CPUs and the technology is usually compatible between your old monitor and the new CPU. However, if you’re dissatisfied, then monitors, keyboards and mouses are the three tools to spend extra money on, since you use them every day!

Tip #4 -- Networking: How are you connecting to the Internet? If you're using a high speed Internet connection, such as cable broadband or DSL, you'll want to make sure you have a network card built into your system. If you have a wireless network at home or at the office, save money and installation time by buying the wireless card built right into the computer.


About the Author

About the Author
Sharron Senter is co-founder of http://www.VisitingGeeks.com - an on site computer repair, security and networking company serving north of Boston, Southern NH and Maine. Visiting Geeks’ technicians are crackerjacks at squashing viruses, popups and securing and making computers perform faster. Learn more about Sharron at http://www.SharronSenter.com



Written by: Sharron Senter

30 Secrets Of A Good Computer Lesson

1. The lesson forms part of a unit which forms part of a scheme of work.

2. There is a good starter activity, one that gets the pupils settled down an in the right frame of mind to do the work you've planned for them.

3. The teacher spends time at the start letting pupils into the secret what the objectives (intended learning outcomes) of the lesson are, ie what is intended to be achieved by the end, and how this lesson fits in with the preceding and following lessons

4. Pupils are given open ended tasks (as far as possible), or at least not tasks with a glass ceiling. (Even lessons designed to impart a set of skills can still be more interesting than "drill & practice").

5. There are plenty of resources for the pupils to use, enabling the teacher to give QUALITY guidance, ie not confined to explaining how to save the document! Such resources will include "how to' guides and posters, on screen help (which the pupils will have been taught how to use), and each other.

6. Ample time is allowed for the plenary, thereby allowing it to be somewhat more useful than the POLO model: Print Out and Log Off. The plenary is an ESSENTIAL part of the lesson, used to check what learning has taken place, consolidate learning, and prepare pupils for the next stage. In fact, a lesson might have two or three plenaries rather than just one at the end.

7. Homework is set at the START of the lesson, enabling the teacher to explain what needs doing, and for the pupils to understand what they need to have achieved by the end of the lesson in order to be able to make a good job of the homework; note that homework is ALWAYS given, regardless of so called homework timetables! (It doesn't always have to be written down.

8. Pupils are given plenty of time on the computers, with the teacher helping individuals and small groups.

9. Work is set at an appropriate standard, taking into account the pupils’ prior learning and attainment, and what is expected of their age group in terms of national standards.

10. There is a lot of questioning â€" PROBING questioning â€" and assessment for learning techniques in evidence.

11. There is a good range of material to provide for differentiation (higher attainers and children with special educational needs) and personalised learning.

12. The teacher is aware of individual pupils’ needs, such as their individual education plans â€" and makes use of the assessment and other data she has â€" remember: data only becomes information if you DO something with it!

13. Not all work takes place at the computer.

14. Pupils come in on time, prepared, and ready to start work.

15. There is a good buzz in the room pupils are talking about the work, not last night's TV programs.

16. Pupils organise themselves and, if working in groups, work collaboratively rather than competitively at least with other members of their own group!

17. Pupils don't keep asking the time, unless they are worried about not being able to complete the work (see below though) and don't notice the time going by.

18. Pupils don't understand the concept of finishing the work in the sense of having time left over to check email, play Solitaire etc.

19. Pupils, even normally poorly behaved ones, ask to be allowed to stay on, come back at lunchtime or come back early in the morning.

20. Pupils respect the equipment and the room. For example, they do not leave discarded print outs on the floor.

21. Pupils are happy and confident enough to try out things you haven't shown them: they ask help from each other or look at the posters and manuals that are available for them.

22. If you interrupt their work in order to announce or explain something, someone asks you to hurry up so that they can get back to their work.

23. Pupils do a greater amount work, say for homework, than you have asked them to. For example, instead of conducting a survey with 10 people they decide to ask 20.

24. Pupils do a wider range of work than you have asked them to. For example, instead of just writing about what the hospital of the future will be like, they canvass the views of others and carry out some research about current developments.

25. Pupils want to show off to you little tricks they have discovered, such as keyboard shortcuts.

26. Pupils talk to their friends about the lesson.

27. Pupils discuss with their friends the possibility of taking a particular ICT course in 3 years time.

28. Pupils not only want to assist at open evenings/days, but are able to look after and even create an ICT presentation on your behalf.

29. Pupils are able to help other (younger or older) pupils with confidence and enthusiasm.

30. Pupils ask you questions that you are unable to answer.

This article is (c) 2005 Terry Freedman

About the author:

Terry Freedman has nearly thirty years' experience in education, and nearly 20 years' experience as a writer. A member of the UK's Society of Authors, Terry has had around a dozen books published, and over 800 specialist articles in leading newspapers and magazines.

Written by: Terry Freedman

3 Summer Computer Tips

#1 – Summer Computer Travel
Holiday travelers should be on alert when arriving home from long weekends, such as the Fourth of July, a popular time for computer viruses to spread.

Most computer users have a tendency to turn off their computers when away on trips, which means you’re not getting newly-released anti-virus patches or anti-spyware updates; the two most common areas that cause computers problems. We recommend you update anti-virus and anti-spyware scans before opening e-mail or going online after an extended absence.

We consistently see an increase in calls for virus related problems immediately following long weekends. Avoid the problems altogether by updating your security software before using your computer. For a free listing of viruses, spyware threats and trends, visit: www.VisitingGeeks.com/downloads.htm

#2 -- Should You Leave Your Computer Running?
One question we hear frequently is, "Should I leave my desktop computer on or turn it off?"

There are 2 schools of thought…
Turning it on and off numerous times during the day subjects the microcircuits to flexing and fatigue due to change in temperatures. Over time this could lead to a break in the circuitry and result in system failure.

Leaving the computer on all the time puts excess wear on the mechanical components (the hard drive spindle motor and cooling fans).

Best compromise. First user in the morning turns it on; last user turns it off.

We leave our desktops on all the time allowing for scheduled utility tasks to run during overnight hours. We also restart the systems (to flush the RAM and reset the operating system) on a regular basis and routinely remove the case covers to clean out any dust that may have accumulated, especially around the fans and screens.

#3 -- Stop Popups!
Never click inside the window of a popup. Instead, close it by clicking on the X in the upper right corner. Many people are fooled into installing spyware applications by popups that promise to clean their system. If you receive a message saying it can help, assume it’s spyware and don’t click!


About the Author


Sharron Senter is co-founder of http://www.VisitingGeeks.com - an on site computer repair, security and networking company serving north of Boston, Southern NH and Maine. Visiting Geeks’ technicians are crackerjacks at squashing viruses, popups and securing and making computers perform faster. Learn more about Sharron at http://www.SharronSenter.com


Written by: Sharron Senter

14 Household Ways To Protect Your Computer From Viruses

Computer viruses are deadly. They often spread without any apparent contact and can be a nuisance, or even worse, fatal to your computer. Individuals who create these viruses, estimated at 10-15 new ones a day, are the electronic version of terrorists. Their goal is to inflict havoc and destruction on as many people as possible by disabling, stealing, damaging, or destroying computer and information resources. Often, they have no specific target in mind, so no one is safe. If you access the internet, share files or your computer with others, or load anything from diskettes, CDs, or DVDs onto your computer, you are vulnerable to viruses.

Fortunately, there are good guys working just as hard as the hackers to develop cures for viruses as quickly as they send them off into cyberspace. And there are many things you can do to keep your computer from catching viruses in the first place.

Defining Viruses:

A virus is a small computer program that can copy and spread itself from one computer to another, with or without the help of the user. However, viruses typically do more than just be fruitful and multiply, which is bad enough in itself because it hogs system resources. Anything else viruses are programmed to do, from displaying annoying messages to destroying files, is called their payload. Often, they cannot deliver their payload until an unsuspecting user does something to make the virus execute its programmed function. This could be as simple as clicking on an innocent looking file attachment with the .exe (executable) extension.

Catching a Virus:

Most viruses are spread through e-mail attachments because it's the easiest way to do it. Although Macintosh, Unix, and Linux systems can catch viruses, hackers are particularly keen on exploiting the security weaknesses in anything Microsoft, particularly Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. Because of the popularity of this software, hackers get maximum bang for their buck, and they probably get some satisfaction from continually reminding Microsoft that being big doesn't mean you're perfect.

Solution 1: Anti-virus Software

Your first line of defense is to install anti-virus software. To be extra safe, also install firewall software, which is now included in some anti-virus packages. This software can scan all of your drives for viruses and neutralize them. Here are some features to consider when evaluating anti-virus software.

- Compatibility with your operating system - Make sure the software works with your system, particularly if you are using an older operating system like Windows 98.

- Firewall software - If it's not included, find out if it's available. If you must, buy it from another vendor.

- Automatic background protection - This means your software will constantly scan behind the scenes for infections and neutralize them as they appear. This provides some peace of mind.

- Automatic, frequent updates - Because new viruses appear every day, you'll want regular updates. It's even better if they occur automatically when you connect to the internet. If automatic updating isn't included, you'll have to check the vendor's website and download updates yourself. This is vitally important, because you will not be protected from new viruses if your software is out of date.

- Disaster recovery - Software with a recovery utility to help you get your system back to normal after a virus attack is always good to have.

- ICSA certification - The International Computer Security Associatioin has standards for the detection rates of anti-virus software. Make sure your software has the ICSA certification.

- Technical support - It's a good idea to select a package that offers free technical support, either online or through a toll-free number. If you're ever felled by a virus, you may need it. Some anti-virus software vendors are Symantec Corporation (Norton AntiVirus), McAfee Corporation (McAfee VirusScan), Trend Micro Inc. (PC-cillin), and Zone Labs Inc. (Zone Alarm Suite).

Solution 2: The Virus Scan

If you receive a particularly juicy attachment that you're dying to open, save it on your Windows desktop and run your anti-virus software on it first. To do this, click once gently on the file on your desktop ... don't actually open it ... then right click and choose Scan with (Name of Anti-Virus Software) to activate a virus scan.

If it's infected, your anti-virus software may neutralize it, or at least tell you the attachment is too dangerous to open. On the other hand, don't feel guilty if the very thought of saving a potentially damaging file anywhere on your system is enough to quell your eagerness to open it and make you delete it immediately.

Solution 3: Delete first, ask questions later.

When in doubt about the origin of an e-mail, the best thing to do is delete it without previewing or opening it. However, some viruses, such as Klez, propagate by fishing in people's address books and sending themselves from any contact they find to another random contact. You can spread a virus just by having people in your address book, even if you don't actually e-mail them anything. They'll receive it from someone else in your address book, which really makes life confusing. Because of the proliferation of porn on the internet, e-mail viruses often tempt victims by using sexual filenames, such as nudes.exe. Don't fall for it.

Solution 4: Beware of virus hoaxes

E-mails warning you about viruses are almost always hoaxes. You may be tempted to believe them because you typically receive them from well-meaning friends, who received them from friends, etc. These e-mails themselves usually aren't viruses, but some have actually fallen into the hands of hackers who loaded them with viruses and forwarded them merrily on their way as a sick joke.

The proliferation of e-mails about virus hoaxes can become nearly as bad as a real virus. Think about it, if you obey an e-mail that tells you to forward it to everyone in your address book, and they THEY do it, and this goes on long enough, you could bring the internet to its knees. If you ever want to verify a virus warning, your anti-virus vendor may have a list of hoaxes on it website. It's in the business of providing the fixes, so it will know which viruses are real.

Solution 5: Beware of filename extensions

The extension of a filename is the three characters that come after the dot. Windows now defaults to hiding filename extensions, but it isn't a good idea. Just being able to see a suspicious extension and deleting the file before opening it can save you from a virus infection.

To see filename extensions in all your directory listings, on the Windows XP desktop, click Start button | Control Panels | Folder Options | View Tab. Clear the check box for Hide extensions of known file types. Click Apply | OK. System files will still be hidden, but you'll be able to see extensions for all the files you need to be concerned with. Viruses often live on files with these extensions - .vbs, .shs, .pif, .Ink - and they are almost never legitimately used for attachments.

Solution 6: Disable the .shs extension

One dangerous extension you can easily disable is .shs. Windows won't recognize it and will alert you before attempting to open an .shs file. The extension is usually just used for "scrap object" files created in Word and Excell when you highlight text and drag it to the desktop for pasting into other documents. If this isn't something you ever do, or you have Word and Excell 2000 or later, which allow you to have 12 items on the Clipboard, click the Start button | Control Panel | Folder Options | File Types tab. Under Registered file types, scroll down and highlight the SHS extension. Click Delete | Yes | Apply | OK.

Solution 7: Dealing with double extensions

When you turn on your extensions in Windows, you'll be able to detect viruses that piggy-back themselves onto innocent looking files with a double extension, such as happybirthday.doc.exe. NEVER trust a file with a double extension - it goes against Nature.

Solution 8: Beware of unknown .exe files

A virus is a program that must be executed to do its dirty work, so it may have an .exe extension. Unfortunately, this is the same extension used by legitimate program files. So, don't panic if you find files named Word.exe or Excel.exe on your system - they're your Microsoft software. Just don't EVER open any file with an .exe extension if you don't know what the file's purpose is.

Solution 9: Watch out for icons

Viruses in attachment files have been known to assume the shape of familiar looking icons of text or picture files, like the wolf in the hen house. If you recieve an unexpected attachment, don't open it without first running it through your anti-virus software.

Solution 10: Don't download from public newgroups

What better place for a hacker to lurk and stick his virus than in the middle of a crowd? Sooner or later, someone's bound to download it and get the virus going. Don't download files and programs from newsgroups or bulletin boards, or open attachments sent from strangers in chatrooms ("Let's exchange pictures!") without first scanning with your anti-virus software.

Solution 11: Avoid bootleg software

This may seem like a no brainer, but sometimes that tiny price tag on a popular but expensive package can be too good to resist. Resist it! Likewise, be careful about accepting application software from others. You don't know where it's been, and what may have started out as a perfectly clean package could have become infected during installation on someone else's infected computer.

Solution 12: Protect macros in MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint

A common type of virus uses macros. Macros are sets of stored commands that users can save as shortcuts to perform long functions in just a few keystrokes. A macro virus may perform such mischief as changing file types from text files or spreadsheets into templates, locking up keyboards, and deleting files. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint come with macro virus protection. To make sure yours is activated, open each application, then click Tools menu | Macro | Security. On the Security Level tab, make sure Medium or High is selected. Clcik OK. If you are already infected with a macro virus, you may find that the steps of this procedure are unavailable becasue the virus has disabled them. In that event, run a virus scan on your system to see if your anti-virus software can kill the virus.

Solution 13: Use passwords

If you share your computer, it's a good idea to assign everyone a password. Passwords should be a combination of letters and numbers no less than eight characters long, and preferably nonsensical. Never write passwords and stick them anywhere near the computer. To assign passwords in Windows XP, click the Start button | Control Panel | User Accounts. Follow the prompts to assign/change passwords.

Solution 14: Update application software

Microsoft constantly issues patches for the security holes in its operating system and applications software. however, don't be lulled into complacency if you have Windows Update automatically checking things for you. Update checks for patches to repair bugs in the operating system, not for security problems.

To get the latest security hotfixes (as Microsoft calls them), visit www.microsoft.com and look for hotfixes for all your Microsoft software, particularly Outlook and Outlook Express.

Microsoft also has a free downloadable package called Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) that scans your system for missing hotfixes. It works with Windows 2000 and XP Home and Professional only. It doesn't support Windows 95, 98, or ME.

To download the MBSA, go to the TechNet section of the Microsoft Website. Be warned that the information is written in techie language, so you may find it daunting.

Last Words:

Now that you know some ways for avoiding and dealing with viruses, let's wrap things up with some solution you've probably heard before but have ignored.

- Back up your files regularly - If a virus crashes your sytem, you'll feel much better if you've got backup copies of all your important files. Make the backup copies on a media that's separate from the computer, such as on diskettes, CDs, or zip disks. Scan them for viruses before you put them away to make sure they aren't infected. If they are, they'll do you no good if you ever have to use them because they will just transmit the virus right back onto your computer.

- Make a boot disk - Create an emergency boot diskette before you have a problem so you can start your computer after a serious security problem To make a boot diskette with Windows XP, put a blank floppy disk in the drive. Open My Computer, then right click the floppy drive. Click Format. Under Format options, click Create an MS-DOS startup disk. Click Start. Keep the disk in a safe place. With luck, you'll never need to use it.

- Turn off you computer - DSL and cable connections that are "always on" may be convenient, but you should always turn off your computer when its not in use. Hackers can't get to a machine that's powered off.

You are free to reprint this article in its entirety as long as the clickable URLs remain in the "About the author" section.
About the Author

Marv Ko has many years of experience in business software and security. He is the editor of http://bestarticles.biz and also oversees http://best4biz.info Email: editor@bestarticles.biz

Written by: Marv Ko

10 Tips on Computer Clutter Clean Up

10 Tips on Computer Clutter Clean Up
by Eve Abbott, excerpted from her new book, How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain TM

The secret to getting and staying organized is the same as the answer to "How do you eat a computer?". The answer is "One byte at a time!". Set a monthly reminder and use these tips to crash clutter instead of your hard drive.

Do it for you! Even an occasional clean up will reduce your daily frustration.

BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP
Backing up your work on a regular basis gives you the security of knowing that even if you do toss something before its time -- you can retrieve it. This makes maintenance a worry free activity. You will be amazed at how much you never refer to again.

Remember, 80 percent of what we file never gets referred to again. I back up my entire hard drive with Norton Ghost onto an external hard drive every week!

EVERYDAY BASICS:
Regular maintainance eliminates wasting time searching long directory lists every time you open a file.

Put an exclamation point (!) in front of any folder or subdirectory that you use frequently so it appears at the beginning of any directory. (ie, !seminars).

Always review temporary (.tmp) files before deleting.

Back-up large unused files (or when finishing a project) to CD Rom.

Make Archive folders in each major directory/folder for sorting unused files and compress them.

QUICK MAINTAINANCE ON WINDOWS SYSTEMS:
Empty the recycle bin.

Delete all files in the Temp folder in the Windows folder.

Right after powering up, do a FIND ALL *.tmp* & delete:
from Start Menu, select Explore, Tools,
Find, Files or Folders.

Run the ScanDisk hard-drive housecleaning program:
from Start Menu, select Programs, Accessories, System Tools, ScanDisk.
After ScanDisk runs, Run Disk Defragmenter (before lunch or a meeting), from Start Menu, select Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter.

ON THE NET:
Use your Internet browser to clear its Disk Cache or Temporary Internet Files.

USE A QUICK, THOROUGH DRIVE CLEANING SOFTWARE LIKE:
Cleansweep, PowerCleaner, Remove-It, WinDelete 3.0 which will:
Remove promotional software (Windows uninstallers won't).
Find temp files so you can delete after reviewing.
Delete redundant files.
Monitor future installations to enable complete uninstallation.

You'll hae a better day when your computer is less cluttered!

For more time saving tips go to http://www.organize.com

About the Author

Copyright, Eve Abbott All Rights Reserved. The Organizer Extraordinaire's new book "How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain" TM is available online at http://www.organize.com Sign up for more time-saving tips. Enjoy free brain quizzes to help you work at your personal best! Eve’s guide is the first book to offer easy, online assessments that will help you make your own personal organizing solutions match your individual work style.

Written by: Eve Abbott, the Organizer Extraordinaire

10 Secrets To A Healthy Computer And A Happier You

There comes a time in a person’s life where no matter how much you fight it time takes its toll and we begin to slow down in how we perform our daily activities. However, in order to extend our youthful glow and energy levels it is important to eat right, exercise, and keep a positive outlook on life.

Now you may ask what has any of that got to do with “Secrets To A Healthy Computer?”

Well, in a way we’re all just like a computer. If you neglect to take care of yourself you soon will cease to function properly and the many tasks that once were easy to do now take twice as long to accomplish and often require you to rest or “reboot” after a malfunction.

I can’t tell you what foods to eat or what exercises to perform because I am not a nutritionist. Although, with my experiences in the personal computer field I can share with you some tips of how to keep that rectangle box of circuitry that sits within sights range functioning at maximum performance as long as time will allow.

Some important steps to follow are…

*Make certain that your computer is located in a well ventilated area and that all air vents are unobstructed to prevent overheating and premature failure to any internal components.

*Clean out the dust build-up at least every 6 months from the inside of the computer case including case vents, power supply vents, and all visible circuitry with a few cans of compressed air that can be purchased from any major computer store or electronics outlet. This will help reduce the chances of overheating and circuitry damage.

Before cleaning just be certain to always unplug the computer from the wall outlet and never physically contact the circuitry inside the computer case to prevent damage.

*Be prepared for an unsuspected failure by always making backups of any important data that you do not and can not afford to lose.

I personally keep updated backups of my website and even store the disks at a remote location away from my every day use computers just in case a disaster were to occur and my main computers were destroyed resulting in the need for those lost files.

*Purchase and install a well known anti-virus program that can be regularly updated with the latest virus definitions and ran during boot-up to help protect your computer from being the victim of an unwanted infestation.

*Every few months or so run your computer’s “Scandisk” program followed by the “Defragmenter” program to maximize the efficiency of your hard drive.

If you are not certain of how to use these utilities and being that the steps to execute these programs varies slightly from one operating system to the other it would be easiest to simply use the “Help” option that can be found by clicking on the START button found on your computers desktop.

The START menu will open up a drop-down-box that should display the “Help” option. By going here you can enter the keywords that deal with the answers to the subject you are searching for.

*Run your computers “Disk Cleanup” utility every other week or so. If set the “Disk Cleanup” utility will automatically empty the recycling bin and recover some wasted disk space by removing the internet temporary files that seem to always accumulate.

Again, use the “Help” option if you are uncertain of how to perform this task.

*Never smoke near a computer because the cooling fans will pull the smoke into the case where it can coat the inside parts of the computer with a residue which in turn can damage sensitive components.

*Place the computer case in an area where it will not be accidentally kicked or bumped to prevent the loosening of cables and damage to internal parts.

*Invest in a high quality surge protector to provide your computer and monitor against voltage spikes or “surges” that can dramatically shorten the life of your system. Just like most items in a store, “You get what you pay for”. So don’t skimp out on this important device!

Its also not a bad idea to invest in a surge protector that includes what is called a “Data Line Protector” which allows you to connect your telephone lines to and serves the same purpose for the telephone line to your modem just like the surge protector does for the electrical household current lines.

*Finally, if you plan on being away from home for more that a few days at a time or if there is a thunderstorm brewing in your area it is a very wise decision to always unplug all electrical lines and modem telephone lines from your system. Even with a surge protector installed it is possible that such a large voltage spike such as one caused by a lightening strike could prove fatal to any computer system.

Dan Preston is the webmaster of a neat site called InfoHeaven Digital Books and The Online Book Store where you can find useful and Fr'ee information along with many how-to digital books that cover a large variety of interesting topics. http://infoheaven-digital-books.com and http://online-book-store.net.



Written by: Dan Preston

10 PROVEN TIPS TO SURVIVE A COMPUTER CRASH

10 PROVEN TIPS TO SURVIVE A COMPUTER CRASH
By Eve Abbott, excerpted from her new book, How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain TM

COMPUTER CRASH
Do these words strike fear into you? If not, maybe they should! A computer crash is at best time consuming and expensive, and at worst a genuine business disaster. Here are things you can do now to prevent a crash and/or insure a smooth recovery whether you use your computer at work or for your personal life-or both, like me!

The first rule in minimizing computer disasters is backup. The second rule in easier data recovery is BackUp. The third rule in computer organizing is BACKUP. I am astounded at the number of people (in large and small businesses) who do not back up their work regularly. Without good backups, you risk losing everything if your hard drive goes belly-up.

Start by setting all of your programs to save automatically after 2 minutes. This will protect your work against temporary freeze-ups and unplanned shutdowns.

Second, plug your computer, monitor, and other electronic equipment into a UPS Battery Backup unit to protect it from power surges and outages. A unit like this one will give you 5 minutes to save your work and shut down your computer normally if the power goes out.

Then-BACK UP! (If you're not sure what the best way to back up is, keep reading.)

I bought a brand new Hewlett Packard Pavilion XP system and began to back up weekly. Seven months later, I returned from making a cup of tea to hear my computer going click-click-click loudly. My hard drive had just crashed for no reason at all. As is often the case, I lost everything on it.

I felt confident because I had my data backed up by copying my entire working C-drive onto a CD-but even with backups, and even if your computer is still under warranty, let's get realistic about how much time and money a crash can end up costing you.

It took four days for me to get the special shipping box HP sent me to return the computer. They replaced the hard drive, and it was returned within 10 business days at no charge for repair and shipping. This still adds up to three weeks without my computer.

First, I rented a laptop and spent hours installing the programs I normally use. Laptop rental cost me $250.00 for one month, with a $500 refundable deposit. I could have rented a desktop system for a little less per month, but I would have had to wait a week to get the computer. It was great to have the laptop to use until my repaired computer arrived. But, I had to go through the same restoration process again when it was returned with a new hard drive. More time lost and more frustration, too.

Second, I spent hours importing my data from backup CDs. I still lost almost a week's worth of data (Quicken entries, Word documents, calendar and contact information) because that's how long I go between backups.

Third, I spent hours recreating the custom settings on my software. Fourth, I had to install some smaller programs that I'd forgotten I would need.

THE DAMAGE:
Sometimes data can be recovered from a dead drive, depending on what has caused the crash. Professional data recovery services charge from $500 to $1500 to get your data back, and you have to pay whether or not they recover anything.

You can find more information about data recovery services at http://www.drlabs.com/pricing.html and http://www.dtidata.com/data_recovery.asp.

I paid $1,000.00 in computer consultant fees to get the laptop set up, and my computer taken apart and set up again to get it running A-OK. That's apart from data recovery costs, which my backups saved me from having to pay.

The grand total: $1,250.00 and 7 days in lost time.
Pretty expensive considering that I had all my current data backed up onto CDs.

BACKUP OPTIONS

There are many ways to back up information. Diskette, CD, Zip drive, External hard drive and Web (on-line). I will not discuss tape drive backups simply because tape media is unreliable and awkward compared to newer technologies. If you have more than one computer, you can back up from one to another via network drives-but that only protects you in the event that disaster strikes one machine at a time.

There are four questions you need to ask yourself regarding your back-ups:

1) How critical is your data? (My business and life are on my hard drive = critical)
2) Do you add or process high volumes of information?
3) In what time frame do you add enough to make it a real loss? (day, week, per project)
4) Do you work with very large files of any type?
The more information you process or add to your computer hard drive, the more often you need to back up. For high volume or crucial files you need to backup daily.

Diskette:
There is the small file backup onto diskette. For example, you just entered a lot of Quicken data and you don't want to take a chance on losing it but you don't want to do a full back up, or you have a single Word file, just pop it on a diskette. Remember to label any and all backup media with contents and date.

ZIP drives and disks:
ZIP drives and disks can work well for back ups of larger projects. I had a client who was an author and she kept one ZIP disk for each of her books, which contained every file related to the book - not just the text. If you are satisfied using a ZIP drive and disks for your data storage - don't change to another media. Note: many more people have CDs than zips, so if you need to share data you may need to switch to CDs.

CD:
In the same way you archive paper every year after taxes (along with a backup of your accounting program and data), consider backing up entire projects onto CD when you're finished. This keeps the data available and safe, without cluttering your hard drive. You can file a project closeout CD with the matching archived paper files. Or keep a variety of backups in a CD organizer (date labeled) divided up into Projects, Backups and Programs.

The backup CDs I use are 'data only' to safeguard important information in case a problem develops in between system backups. If you are going to archive (e.g., taxes) and may not access the backup for a long time - go with CDs. CDs are more stable, and you are less likely to run into trouble with irretrievable data. Always use premium brand-name CDs (or other media). Discount media is more likely to fail.

Disk 'Cloning':
For $70 or less, you can back up your entire drive (operating system, programs and data) using "disk cloning" software (Norton Ghost, Paragon Drive Backup, or PowerQuest Drive Image. You can store this "image" of your drive on removable media like CDs and ZIP disks, on tape, or on an external hard drive.

You'll still have to spend a lot of time doing the backups and most people will end up with a set of at least 10 CDs for each backup, since the copy of your drive will take up about 50% of the storage space as your drive itself. (That's not the size of your whole drive, just the part you have filled up.)

You can get more information about disk cloning software at:
http://www.powerquest.com/driveimage/
http://www.symantec.com/sabu/ghost/ghost_personal/
http://www.acronis.com/products/trueimage/
http://www.drive-backup.com/

Web:
There are on-line services (e.g., www.connected.com) which will automatically back up your computer (either totally or just the changed files). This backup and restore option is limited only by the speed of your connection to the internet. Some people leave their computer on all night to do the backups. The reverse process will be more complicated, because you cannot restore directly from the web. Many information technology and graphics professionals use web services because of the massive files they process each day.

Your backup files are stored on their server. This is good because it is off-site in case of disaster recovery. Unfortunately, your data is only as secure as the server it is on. I don't use this option, because I don't think there is any function on the internet that is as secure as doing it myself and keeping control over all the data at all times. If you don't use massive files, you don't need it.

External Hard Drive (XHD):
I chose this option after my crash disaster because I can recreate my entire system without the wasted time of restoring my operating system and settings, downloading programs and data from backups, and resetting application customizations, etc.

An external hard drive ($200) with 'disk cloning' software lets you put your entire drive onto your backups. If you don't use the ghosting software you can only put programs, and data backups onto the external hard drive, not the operating system itself. The ghosting software will enable you to make a 'boot disk' just for restoring from the external hard drive to your main computer.

This option will allow you to completely restore your computer, if necessary (with no hard drive damage). Or, install a new hard drive on your computer and then restore immediately.

Just plug the external hard drive into the computer and start the backup, which verifies the data. Then, you unplug the external hard drive. This takes about fifteen minutes total for my backups. After backing up, I store the XHD in the trunk of my car (in a laptop case for protection). Even if the house burns down I still have my entire computer capability just outside in my car.

First, put an XHD ghost of just your operating system and programs with all the custom settings. Second, do a ghost of your entire system (operating system, programs and data). Third, do regular working drive data backups. Make sure any programs you ever use are in the second XHD backup, and/or in your working hard drive for your 'regular maintenance' backups.

I can get a new computer, copy everything I need and get to work. One possible downside to this; if you have to 'recover' on a new computer with a new system (different configuration and drivers), you will have trouble using the restored system until you reload the correct drivers and eliminate the 'old' ones.

Backup, BackUp, BACKUP!
So, how can you combine these different backup choices to work in your particular situation?
Take the simplest method that will safeguard your information. If all you need is a diskette file box for backups - great!

I use the XHD once a week for a programs and data backup. In between I use diskettes or CDs, depending on the size of the files and how long I want to maintain them. There is enough room on my XHD to put 4 total system-program-data backups of my entire XP system into it. Once, you've done an operating system backup, unless you change your configurations or programs, you don't need to do it again. For regular maintenance, do your working 'data' drive.

If you do nothing, you are guaranteed to have a disaster sooner or later. Choose what works best for you and set a reminder to BACKUP as often as you need to stay sane when it does happen.

For more time saving tips go to http://www.organize.com
Copyright 2005 Eve Abbott. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Copyright, Eve Abbott All Rights Reserved. The Organizer Extraordinaire's new book "How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain" TM is available online at http://www.organize.com Sign up for more time-saving tips. Enjoy free brain quizzes to help you work at your personal best! Eve’s guide is the first book to offer easy, online assessments that will help you make your own personal organizing solutions match your individual work style.

Written by: Eve Abbott, the Organizer Extraordinaire