BOOT CAMP 302 (25/11/03)
TOP TEN TRAUMAS, Part 1
The thousands of emails and letters sent to the Faqs!
Facts! Fax! column each year provides us with a unique insight into the
state of the nation's PCs - or at least those belonging to Connected
readers - and this year, as in previous years we've compiled a list of
your top ten gripes and grumbles.
of Windows XP has been clear to see and for the first time, we've
noticed a sizeable drop in the number of complaints concerning crashes,
lockups, strange error messages, and start up and shutdown problems.
Computers really do seem to be getting more reliable, but they're no
less annoying. Far and away the biggest bugbear for many users are the
convolutions of the Internet and email, and in particular the twin
scourges of Spam and viruses. So without further ado here's the first
batch of annoyances.
1. Messenger pop-up spam (Windows XP only)
The relentless tide of email Spam flooding the
Internet is bad enough but Spammers are now busily exploiting a
loophole in Windows XP, which allows 'pop-up' adverts to appear on
users desktops. They are generated by the Messenger service, a facility
for sending administrative messages across PC networks.
trouble is it is enabled by default in XP (please switch it off Bill,
on XP Home at least…) and many home users find themselves on the
receiving end of a stream of unsolicited garbage. Fortunately the
Messenger Service can be switched off, simply go to Run on the Start
menu and type 'services.msc', without the quotes, and click OK. In the
right pane scroll down to and double-click Messenger then the General
tab and under Service Status click Stop. In the Startup Type drop-down
menu select Disable then Apply and OK.
2. Unrequested dial-up connections
in at number two are repeated and unauthorised attempts by your PCs to
connect to the Internet. There are a number of possible reasons for
this erratic behaviour, some of them perfectly innocent.
and many recent applications have an automatic update utility, however,
it is far more likely that the PC in question has been spiked by
Spyware, Adware or a Trojan from an infected web site, email or file
download. These are programs that surreptitiously collect data from the
PC (from information about web sites visited to personal data files,
passwords etc.) and then use the Internet to send it back to 'base'.
Windows 98 onwards you can usually disable automatic program updates by
going to Run on the Start menu and typing 'msconfig' (without the
quotes), select the Startup tab and deselect any 'services' or 'auto
update' entries. To disinfect your PC download and run a freeware
cleaner utility like AdAware, which you will find at: http://www.lavasoftusa.com/
3. Outlook Express: blocked attachments
new entry. A lot of readers have complained that Outlook Express has
started displaying a message that says 'OE removed access to the
following unsafe attachment'. This usually means you (or your PC) has
recently installed an update or Service Pack.
most viruses and worms are spread by people opening email attachments,
without first checking that they are safe, Microsoft has decided to
switch the feature off. It's easy enough to switch it back on again, go
to the OE's Tools menu, select the Security tab and uncheck the item
'Do not allow attachments...etc.'.
4. Virus hoaxes
year we have received an extraordinary number of emails warning us
about a virus called 'jdbmgr.exe' which could be infecting our PCs. The
email usually has detailed information on how find it – look for a
Teddy Bear icon' - and removal instructions.
is a hoax, and jdbmgr.exe is a Windows system file, fortunately not an
especially important one, but it should still be left alone. However,
the point is you should never delete files on your PC on the strength
of a message from a friend or colleague, no matter how well meaning or
urgent it might sound. Always check and the easiest way to ascertain
the purpose or legitimacy of a file is to type the name into Google's
The jdbmgr hoax is still doing the
rounds but even more worrying is the recent spate of fake Microsoft
Security Updates, which usually does contain a nasty little email worm.
The message looks very convincing but you should know that Microsoft
updates can only be downloaded from the MS web site and the company has
never, and never will send out unsolicited software updates by email.
5. Deleting Google's search history
had a lot of Google users writing in asking how to delete details of
previous searches, which appear when a new term or keyword is types
into the Search window. In fact this has nothing to do with Google (or
any other search engine for that matter), it's a facility in Internet
Explorer, called AutoComplete.
selectively remove personal, private or embarrassing entries by
right-clicking on them and selecting Delete, or better still, switch
off AutoComplete by going to Internet Options on the Tools menu, select
the Content tab and click the AutoComplete button, uncheck the options
and click the Clear Forms button. If you have installed the Google
Toolbar you should click on the Google logo then select Clear Search
History form the drop-down menu.
Next week: Top ten gripes, part two
operating in the background, usually installed by an application and
loaded at boot up, which regularly access a network or the internet.
Service Pack (SP)
A bundle of updates and patches for an application of operating system, intended to fix bugs, glitches and security problems.
program 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.
Return to top
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