BOOT CAMP 258 (31/12/02)




Whether you’ve just finished unpacking your first computer or you’re on your third or fourth PC there’s nothing like starting off the New Year with a few good intentions, here’s a small selection to be getting on with!


Let’s try and stamp out viruses, worms and hoaxes once and for all by making sure that every PC you use is running anti-virus software that’s regularly updated. It needn’t cost you a penny, there are several excellent freeware virus scanners available including AVG Antivirus  from and AntiVir, which you’ll find at:


Keep your email client and browser up to date, the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Outlook Express (version 6) plug most of the loopholes that allowed mass-emailer worms like Klez and BugBear to spread like wildfire over the past year.


Resolve never to open unexpected email attachments, or even attachments from people that you know or trust, especially if the attachment has an unfamiliar file extension, if in doubt check with the sender.  Never delete files on your PC on the advice of a friend, or anyone for that matter without checking first. It only takes a few seconds to type the file name into Google and you’ll quickly find out what it does.


It would be good to see and end to ‘Spam’ as well and there’s a lot you can do to help eradicate it. Never open Spam email, right click on it and send it straight to Deleted Items. Never email to unsubscribe or reply to Spam unless it’s from a well-known UK-based organisation because the it was probably sent to you on spec from overseas and once you reply they know yours is a live email address. Don’t encourage them; make a point of never buying anything from any company that sends unsolicited email, if everyone does likewise they’ll soon get the message.


Pop-up Ads are almost as annoying as Spam. You can get rid of over 95% of them with freeware programs like PopUpStopper ( and Free Surfer (


Never send personal information or credit card details by email or on a website unless it is encrypted or via a secure server – look for the little padlock icon on the bottom of your browser window.


Be extra careful when buying anything on the Internet from overseas companies. Even if the company is legitimate it may well end up costing you a lot more than you think, particularly if it’s coming from outside the EC, since most purchases are liable to import tax and VAT, and that can easily wipe out any savings.


Make this the year you get broadband, not only does it make the internet a more rewarding and enriching experience it frees up your telephone line and it may even work out cheaper than your current dial-up connection when you take into account the time you spend waiting for web pages and files to download. If it’s not available in your area pester BT or get together with your neighbours to lobby for your local exchange to be upgraded.


Install firewall software, even if you’re still using a dial-up connection, there’s plenty of free programs around like ZoneAlarm ( and Outpost ( and scan your PC at least once a week for Spyware and Trojans with freeware programs like AdAware ( or SpyBot (, and update them every few weeks. Never give permission to web sites to install programs or files on your PC, no matter how authentic or official they sound. The chances are you don’t need them and there’s a possibility they might contain something nasty.


When installing programs, especially software downloaded from the Internet read the EULA (End User Licence Agreement), even if it’s just a casual skim through. Look out for suspicious phrases like ‘advertising messages’ or ‘help us to identify…’, ‘assist in your web browsing’ etc., that may indicate that the program contains spyware.


It’s a good idea to keep your operating system up to date with patches and security fixes but wait a week or two before downloading them, to make sure the inevitable glitches and incompatibilities have been identified and ironed out.



Don’t use the same passwords for logging on to your PC or websites and change them regularly. Be creative in your choice of passwords; don’t use the obvious (your name, spouse, children’s or pet’s names etc.), use a mixture of letters and numbers. If you have to write them down to remember them disguise them in an innocuously named word processor document.


Buy a CD-writer and backup all of your irreplaceable data files at least once a week. When a program suggests that you save your work do so!


Don’t clutter your PC with trial and demo programs from PC magazine cover mount CD-ROMs.


If your PC freezes frantically hitting the keys, or the PC case might make you feel a bit better but it almost never works and may even make things worse.


Commit the following keyboard shortcuts to memory. You can copy and paste just about anything to and from web pages, documents, graphic programs, spreadsheets by highlighting the item them pressing Ctrl + C (to copy) and Ctrl + V (to paste). You can copy whatever is on the screen into the clipboard by pressing the PrntScn key, or just the active window or dialogue box with Alt + PrntScn, and paste it into a document or graphics program with Ctrl + V. If you make a mistake you can undo the last action in almost every program by pressing Ctrl + Z.



Next week –  Keeping Your Cool





Program, usually put onto your PC after visiting a web site, that makes use of your internet connection – without your knowledge or permission -- to send data back to its parent site



Hidden program on a PC, usually installed surreptitiously or by an email attachment that allows an external 'client' PC to access files stored on the hard disc drive when it is connected to the Internet or a network



A type of virus, usually hidden inside another program, designed to penetrate a computers operating system. Once activated it is programmed to replicate and attach itself to other programs or emails



A few blindingly obvious things for all new PC owners, and old hands, to remember (print out and stick to the front of your PC)…


No computer in history has ever been fixed by swearing at it!


If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it


When you’re in a hole stop digging


And most important of all…


When installing any new item of hardware or software always RTFM – and if you don’t know what that means find out and do it!

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