Ask Rick 041, 10/04/09
I use Internet Explorer as the default web-browser on my laptop
and run Windows XP. Ever since downloading iTunes software, every time I
attempt to connect to the Internet my security program warns me that something
called 'Bonjour Service' is attempting to connect to the Internet. Is this
sinister and how can I stop it happening?
Peter Walker, by email
The two events are connected and Bonjour Service is a component in
Apple iTunes (it's also in Safari Browser and PhotoShop). It's a Service
Discovery protocol, which basically means it scans networks looking for other
Services that you might want to connect to. It does this automatically, in the
background, so there's no need for you to faff around with IP addresses and DNS
servers. Services in this context can be anything from printers and wireless
adaptors to iTunes playlists on other computers.
Your security software, specifically the Firewall, is just doing
its job by intercepting and blocking Bonjour's attempts to connect to your
network and the Internet. You can safely allow it to do so and you shouldn't
hear from it again. Bonjour was originally developed for Mac systems and
there's some debate over how important it is on a Windows PC, which has it's
own Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP). Nevertheless, Bonjour doesn't
seem to waste resources so I would leave it be, but if you want to remove it
there are plenty of sites on the web with detailed instructions. Be warned that
it may affect some functions in iTunes
but you can always install an earlier version of iTunes that doesn't use
Bonjour (it first appeared in v5.0). You'll find them all on the OldApps
Wireless Loophole for Banking?
Does the use of a secure (https) web page mean that your
information is safe even if it is being accessed via a Wi-Fi connection? I have
always used my desktop PC for on-line banking but I have recently bought a
Wi-Fi enabled laptop and I am not sure if it is safe to use for this sort of
Paul Thomas, by email
Https or Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer is a
way of encrypting the data that is sent between your web browser and a remote
web site. A little locked padlock icon appears in the bottom right hand corner
of your browser window to show that it is working. Basically this means that
your data is about as safe as it can be throughout its journey, from your PC to
the web site, and this includes the short hop from your laptop to your wireless
router. Even if your wireless network was unsecured and someone was able to
intercept the data whilst you were connected to a secure website it would be of
no value, unless they also had access to a powerful computer, some very
sophisticated code-breaking software and a lot of time on their hands.
Even though your information is reasonably well protected whilst
you are on an https site you must still enable your wireless network's
encryption system. These days most Wi-Fi products use WPA or WPA2 (Wi-Fi
Protected Access) encryption, which scrambles the data flowing between your
laptop and your wireless router. It adds an extra layer of protection to secure
web surfing but its main job is to stop anyone else from accessing your
Internet connection or poking around inside your computers.
Fax of Life
I have just changed laptops, from a Tosh running XP to a Compaq
model with the dreaded Vista Basic. I want to be able to send and receive
faxes. Is there any freeware you know of?
Charles Holloway, Edinburgh
Once upon a time almost everyone seemed to have a fax machine but
I can't remember the last time I sent or received one. Nevertheless,
Microsoft's decision to only include Windows Fax and Scan with the Business and
Enterprise editions of Vista has annoyed quite a few people. I haven't been
able to find any freeware fax programs that work with Vista, and if anyone
knows of one please let me know, but there are a couple of commercial programs
that you can try. Both SnappyFax (http://tinyurl.com/2hrjka) and Fax Machine
(http://tinyurl.com/2zdh9s) claim to be Vista compatible and they are available
on a 30-day free trial. If you really don't want to spend any money, and you
are feeling adventurous, you could try dual-booting Vista and XP, or run XP in
Microsoft Virtual PC (http://tinyurl.com/2rwu3y
I recently purchased a netbook as a portable extension of my
home-based tower PC. Generally things are fine, but a couple of applications on
CD will not load when transferred to USB flash drive; XP asks: 'please insert
the CD'. Do you have any ideas, apart
from purchasing an external CD/DVD reader?
Tim Garrett-Moore, by email
Usually copying the entire contents of an installation CD to a
flash drive will work. When you get the 'please insert...' message there's
usually a Browse button that let's you point the program to the files it is
looking for on the flash drive. Have another go.
Another possible solution is to connect your netbook to your
desktop PC via your home network, wirelessly, or by LAN cable, and set up
sharing on the desktop's CD/DVD drive. Once the netbook can 'see' the drive you
should be able to use it install programs onto the netbook.
However, in the end an external USB CD/DVD drive would be the
simplest solution, especially if this is likely to be a recurrent problem.
They're not that expensive, if you shop around you should be able to find one
for less than £30. Otherwise you may be able to cobble something together. If
you have an old PC with a CD/DVD drive you could use that. All you need to do
is whip it out the case and hook it up to an IDE to USB converter module -
Maplin sells one for £20. You can do something similar using the connectors in
an external hard disc drive enclosure (around £10 to £15 online).
© R. Maybury 2009 1703