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Computer Stuff FAQ

I receive many questions from friends and family about using the internet and computers in general. I don't mind answering them, but since the same questions do come up frequently, this is the easiest way to answer them. Some of it is also intended as reassurance, because many people are unduly intimidated by computers and the internet. I use Windows for the most part at home, so the resources I list here are definitely slanted towards that platform.

Please Read This, At Least

If you're reading this, you're on the net, right? And that means that you should be aware of and protecting yourself against certain risks. Just as you need more immunizations when traveling in certain areas of the world than you do if you're just hanging around your hometown, you need to be more aware of security and antivirus protection if you have your computer connected to the net than you did when you just used it for word processing and games.

Acquire an antivirus program. Install it, configure it, and keep it updated regularly - I suggest weekly updates at the very least if you're a heavy internet user. If you download a lot of files - especially if you get into warez - be even more careful.

If you have a broadband connection (cable modem, ISDN or DSL), give strong consideration to a firewall (go try Shields Up! to see how vulnerable you are or aren't). I've found the Norton Internet Security package to be reasonably priced, easy to configure, and convenient in that it combines antivirus and firewall protection. We regularly have strangers sniffing at our firewall with trojans like Back Orifice and SubSeven. If you want more information, read some of this:

Computer Virus Myths home page

While we're talking about viruses, don't bother forwarding virus alerts. Any of them. Or any other email that includes pleas for you to forward it to lots of other people.

Last updated December 19, 2000

 

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This file last modified 05/16/06