Houston We Have a Problem 10

  

 

Houston We Have A Problem 091, 13/02/10

 

More Anon

I have heard about something called an ‘anonymizer’, which hides a computer's identity. They claim to be able to stop phishers, keystroke logger and other viruses. On the face of it, this seems sensible in which case why is this type of software not incorporated into the operating system so everyone gets these benefits?

Alan Chevin, by email

 

Most anonymizers are actually websites or networks that act as a relay, surfing the web on your behalf, hiding or masking your computer’s IP address. Not surprisingly they are popular with human rights activists living and working under harsh or repressive or oppressive regimes but their value in protecting your PC against web-borne nasties is questionable.

 

Anonymizers are also widely used by criminals, paedophiles and the sort of anti-social characters who create malware, viruses and carry out phishing attacks. To make matters worse some anonymizer services are run by scammers and identity thieves who intercept the data flowing through their site, harvesting PINs, passwords, bank and credit card details.

 

The have little value for most users and providing you keep your PC’s operating system updated, use decent security software and take the usual precautions you’ll be reasonably well protected. Hiding your identity online is another matter. Even assuming that you find a totally reliable anonymizer service – and I would avoid the free ones like the plague – your identity and the sites you access will still be known to your ISP and the anonymizer, in fact almost everything you do online is logged somewhere, even by your own computer, and remaining completely anonymous on a fixed-line computer, in the UK at least, is surprisingly difficult.

 

 

Making the Grade

I have just bought the Windows 7 (Home Premium) Upgrade but, before I try to install it, I would like to know if I will lose Firefox, AVG Free Antivirus, Microsoft Word and other items, such as documents, etc. that are on my computer. Are there any precautions that I should take?

Ronald Silverblatt, by email

 

In theory the W7 Upgrade should leave all of your programs and data files intact. In most cases it proceeds without incident, though you may need to be patient. There have been reports of it taking 15 hours or more. Fortunately such extreme cases are very rare but even on a reasonably fast but well used PC with a half full 250Gb drive you can expect it to be out of action for at least 2 – 3 hours. Personally I’m not a big fan of Windows upgrades but the Vista to W7 does seem to be less troublesome than usual. Even so things can and do go wrong so make sure that all of your irreplaceable data is securely backed up before you begin. Most programs that run on Vista should be okay with W7 but it’s a still good idea to check the program’s support websites to see if there’s any patches or updates. You should do the same for your peripherals, especially if they are pre-Vista, in which case drivers may be unavailable.

 

 

Bird Box Banding

I have a wireless camera in a bird box. The camera’s receiver is linked to a USB capture device plugged into my computer. The picture on the monitor suffers continuous interference from a horizontal rolling band, which stops when my modem router is switched off. I have been told that the router should automatically correct for this, what is going wrong?

Ian Soutar, by email

 

The router and camera are probably using the same or adjacent wireless channels, or the camera’s receiver module is not very good at rejecting interference. Most wireless routers try to avoid channel clashes but in order for this to work you may have to reboot it by switching it off then back and on, whilst the camera is operating. It may be possible to change the channel the wireless camera is using; look for tiny switches on the transmitter and receiver modules. Otherwise you should be able to manually switch channels on the router though the setup menu; details of how to do this should be in the instruction manual. 

 

 

The Numbers Game

Every year I find myself being committed to printing tickets for several local amateur shows. I have no problem designing, copying or printing the required quantities. However I have been unable to discover any technique using Windows XP, or a simple free program, which would allow each ticket to be automatically sequentially numbered. Currently I have to do all the numbering by hand!

Mrs. P A Hedges, by email

 

You can do this in Word using a macro or the AutoNum or SEQ Field Codes; these methods are a little involved and not for absolute novices but if you fancy a go there’s some reasonably easy to follow instructions for using Field Codes at: http://tinyurl.com/y9jf4dh. The alternative is to use a ready-made Template, where all you have to do is modify or replace the example text. There are several ticket designs on the Microsoft Office website at: http://tinyurl.com/yc3rhvj, though not all of them have an automatic numbering facility. There’s a fairly basic ticket template at: http://tinyurl.com/kt2vlq, but it does have sequential numbering and the simple design should make it easier to customise or embellish.

 

 

Missing Mail in Windows 7

I am looking at buying new computer with Windows 7 but understand that Outlook Express is not included. I only want a simple email system, if I am correct what are the alternatives?

Maurice Rushton, by email

 

The lack of a native email program in Windows 7 surprises a lot of users but it’s easily rectified, however, you can’t use Outlook Express, which won’t work under Vista and W7. Windows Live Mail – free from Microsoft at http://tinyurl.com/5gnfxo -- is the most popular choice. It’s well featured and once you get used to it, very easy to use. Otherwise try Mozilla Thunderbird (http://tinyurl.com/ycz3fxt), which looks and works a lot like Outlook Express. See also ‘Top 12 Free Email Programs’ on the Ask.com website at: http://tinyurl.com/hrt54

 

 

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© R. Maybury 2010 1801

 

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