Author Avatar Archives – Smart Computing

by Webnme2 on Feb 11th 2010

In the Archives – Smart Computing

The old website featured resources for smart computing. Links to to those archival materials are found below.  (Please be aware that these materials are no longer actively maintained and may be dated.)

Smart Computing

If you think you already are pretty sharp about safe computing on the Internet, try out our Internet License – Beginner Permit Exam and see whether you are up to snuff.

  • Anti-Virus: First Things First – Don’t connect your computer to the Internet until you have anti-virus software installed. Pick an Anti-Virus Product of your choice and install it.
  • Personal Firewall: Anti-virus products are not enough by themselves to keep your computer safe. You really need to have a personal firewall for your computer whether it is software or hardware. You need a firewall to keep intruders from entering your computer and to control what goes out from your computer to the Internet. Pick a Firewall Product of your choice and install it.
  • OS and Software Updates: Every operating system and every piece of software can become a security vulnerability. Make sure you regularly download and install updates from all of the vendors for the software you use on your computer. If you aren’t sure what software you have installed, run the Belarc Personal Advisor to get a list of all the software installed on your machine. Print it. Add the web addresses for each vendor and visit each to see what updates are available. Download and install them.
  • Pop-Ups: Pop-ups are just rude and in bad taste. Sometimes they are need for a web transaction, but most of the time they just become a useless nuisance. The easiest solution is to install the Google Search Toolbar. It includes a free and very effective pop-up killer that integrates into your browser and which also lets you designate any site as okay for pop-ups.
  • Spyware:  Knowing what you do on the web is worth big bucks to marketing companies and thousands of e-mailers and websites do their best to get you to install or accept spyware on your computer. A cheap way to fight this is to use Spybot Search and Destroy. It is free and great software.
  • Browser Hijacking:  Unscrupulous websites will attempt to take over your browser and change its settings so that their page becomes your home page, so that your security settings are lowered, etc. Don’t let this happen to you. Try out Browser Hijacker Blaster. It is also free.
  • Spam: Unsolcited Commercial Softare (commonly called spam) is annoying and sometimes dangerous. There are hundreds of products out there that will assist you in blocking spam at your mailbox. Some integrate directly into Outlook and other mail programs. Others run as a separate process. Outlook 2003 actually has a pretty effective Junk Mail feature that incorporates a lot of anti-spam technology. If you use this version of Outlook you may not need a separate anti-spam product. If not, do your homework by visiting many vendor sites and pick the product you think is best for your needs.
  • Maintenance: Understand that the job of keeping your computer and your money safe is never done. Each week new vulnerabilities are found in software and websites. Vendors update software with patches and fixes to correct these problems. It seems to never end. If you update once and think you are done, well you may be done-in by an intruder who can then steal your information and use your computer (which may include making it look like your are sending spam, attacking other computers, etc.). Ultimately your ISP could terminate your access to the web for failing to abide by your contract’s terms of service. Other people on the web may believe you are the source of spam or attacks and seek redress against you. Make it a matter of routine to continually update your computer’s software. Always, always, always update your anti-virus and firewall programs. Always, always, always update your operating system with any vendor security patches.
  • Safe Practices and Smart Shopping
    • Trust Your Gut Feelings – Follow Your Instincts: If the price is too good to be true, the chances are the item is a forgery, counterfeit or pirated item. This is particularly true of software where it is not uncommon to find packages that look pretty much like the real thing at very cheap prices. Chances are you won’t get what you ordered or you may not be able to use it in the way you had planned.
    • Read Critically: Does the product come with a warranty, licenses, and a certificate of authenticity. If not, then you probably aren’t getting the real thing. Before you go shopping have a list of what you want out of a product. If the great deal online doesn’t specifically state that it will do all the things you want, chances are it isn’t going to meet your needs when it arrives.
    • Beware of So-Called “Back-up” Copies of Software: Usually this is an indication that the software is on the media, but that there is no license. You may not be able to successfully install such a product without paying for a license from the original vendor who will almost always provide you with any related media.
    • Check Out the Seller’s Privacy Statement: Read the site’s privacy policy and any licenses to learn whether or not the seller plans to share your e-mail address and personal information with other vendors or send you newsletters and other e-mail that you may not want. If you don’t agree with the vendor’s privacy statement, don’t make the purchase.
    • Do Not Click on Links in Spam E-mail or Visit Sites that Sound Strange: It is very simple to create a button to click that makes it look like you are at website A when in fact you’ve been redirected to website B where hostile code has been placed on a web page in an effort to get data from you or intrude into your machine. A safe example of how easy this trick is to do is at
    • Report Attacks on Your System and Attempts to Defraud You: Call your local law enforcement first. If you think your personal information has been stolen, you should go to the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Website for information on what to do.
    • Report Piracy of Software: Call the Business Software Association at 1-888-NOPIRACY or visit them on the web at

About Webnme2

The author's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites. This is his personal blog. The opinions expressed are his own.

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