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 www.grisoft.com and AntiVir, which you’ll
find at: www.free-av.com/.
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 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 (www.panicware.com) and Free Surfer (www.kolumbus.fi/eero.muhonen/FS/mail).
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
Install firewall software, even if you’re still using a
dial-up connection, there’s plenty of free programs around like ZoneAlarm (www.zonelabs.com) and Outpost (www.agnitum.com/products/outpost)
and scan your PC at least once a week for Spyware and Trojans with freeware
programs like AdAware (www.lavasoftusa.com) or SpyBot (http://security.kolla.de), 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
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
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
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
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
TIP OF THE WEEK
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
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!