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With more people on the ‘net’ now then ever before, and more people using the Microsoft Windows platform as their operating system of choice I thought I would post some of the more common questions and statements I get as a systems professional.

  1. Q:  What is a firewall and why do I need one?

A:  A firewall is a system, hardware or software based gateway that acts as a guardian between the world and your LAN (Local Area Network).  (No your cable/DSL modem is NOT a firewall.)  You need one to keep the bad people out of your network.  Some solutions are:

  1. You can install a software firewall on your local computer.  This I actually would do as a last resort, yes it’s cheap but as the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”.  This is the least expensive way to go for a firewall solution.
  2. Microsoft XP SP2 comes with a built-in firewall.  Okay I guess this is better then nothing. I wouldn’t recommend trusting your machine to this piece of shit thing that was created by the evil ones.  Remember this was coded by the same people that created all the security flaws that this claims to help prevent.
  3. There are inexpensive hardware solutions that will more then do the trick to keep your machine safe.  There is a company AlphaShield that sells a VERY easy to configure firewall solution for home users, from all accounts including my own tests on it, it works and with a street price of $99.00US its one of the best options for the home user.
  4. For corporate networks contact me hehe

  1. Q:  Why do I need an anti-virus solution, I have the one that came with my   computer?

A:  An Anti-virus solution prevents your computer from malicious code being executed on your system without your knowledge to be used for nefarious purposes.  The anti-virus software that came with your computer is either:

a.       A demo of a software package, it’s on a timer that will run out and then no more updates of virus definitions.

b.      Norton Anti Virus or McAfee anti virus software. I consider both of these just former shells of what they used to be in regard to real protection for your computer. Please use another solution.  There are plenty out there that are much better and less bloated. What I mean by that is the above mentioned packages use a tremendous amount of resources to actively provide real time scanning of your computer. This slows your computer down to a crawl and makes it very difficult to work with, especially if you game with your machine.

My personal recommendation for anti-virus software is AVG.  It’s a small memory foot print, beats the big guys out in catching virus’ and Grisoft (the company that makes AVG) provides a free version of their software for home use. Okay about the free edition of their software, you do not have full control over certain functions like you do in the professional version, but for the home user its perfect. My one suggestion if you decide to use this and dump your pre-installed garbage, uninstall your old AV before installing this version, you never know when you will run into an unforeseen conflict. Better safe then sorry.

  1. Q:  I got this really cool screen saver or free do-hickey that does X but now my computer is slow.

A:  Yes, it’s called spyware or malware and it’s bad for your computer, in the words of Nancy Regan “Just say no!”  If you installed this crap on your machine you are wrong! There are things that you can do to get rid of this garbage on you machine:

a.       First things first, download and install Spybot Search and Destroy, next download Ad-Aware SE Personal. Install SB S&D run the update then run the software. After that guess what? You got it do the same thing with Ad-Aware install, update, and run. Now both of these things work decently, together they work very well, but I have found for the most part that your machine will never be the same after a bad spyware/adware/maleware infection.

  1. If you machine is infected with this crap it might be time to recover the entire machine by formatting the drive and restore it to factory settings, Yes I know you will have to reinstall everything blah blah blah, just think of it as a fine for putting this crap on your machine in the first place.
  2. If you get to the point where the machine just won’t boot or it’s taking 20+ minutes to start up your in real trouble. If you absolutely must have your data from the machine and it is in dire straights you do have a few choices:

                                                               i.      First if it’s actually booting, you can get a jumpdrive (That’s a USB drive folks) to copy your data to, it’s cheap and safe for the most part.

                                                             ii.      If your at the point where your machine isn’t booting up at all it just sits there and looks at you, begging to be put out of its misery you can always try a rescue disk there are a few out there BartPE is one of the easier ones to try there are also many flavors of Linux boot disks out there to help recover your very sickly box.  It’s not in the scope of this rant to provide a walk thru on each one of them; I actually use 4 different boot disks to recover systems depending on the situation with the machine.

                                                            iii.      If all else fails call a professional, not the kid next door no matter how much WoW he plays or that he restored a system ONCE. There are very good techs and very bad techs, also don’t be a user and call geek squad, those are the people that couldn’t get jobs in the real IT field.

  1. Q:  Internet Explorer came with my computer so that’s what I use to surf the net, it works well so why shouldn’t I use it?

A:  No it doesn’t, it never has worked well, web designers / developers have written their code with flaws to make it work well in IE. Stop using it, the software is bugged to hell, and even if you have auto-patch configured (I’ll go into this later) there are so many new security flaws in IE that it just defies logic.

Look if you are going to be hitting websites get yourself a good web browser, I recommend that if you are using IE right now, stop! Here download Firefox; you will thank me later, so in advance you’re welcome.

Once you have Firefox installed click OPTIONS|WEB FEATURES check the boxes BLOCK POPUP WINDOWS, Uncheck ENABLE JAVA and uncheck ENABLE JAVA SCRIPT now you might need those for some sites you do visit, if that’s the case you can always re-enable them at a later time.

  1. Q:  My friend/co-worker/family member keeps sending me file with a virus, I called them and they said there computer hasn’t been on in days, what is going on?

A:  Okay here is the deal, someone has that person in their address book with a version of Outlook or Outlook Express, and they haven’t had the wisdom unlike you to follow the above steps and protect themselves.  Their computer has a worm or virus that sends itself out to everyone in their address book and used other people in their address book in the “from” field of the outgoing email.

If you followed the above steps your anti-virus software caught the file that was sent to you, and stripped it of the badness before you did something stupid like trying to open it.

  1. Q:  My computer is slow, what can I do to pick up the speed a bit.

A:  Okay I always have four suggestions for this question:

  1. First run look at question 3C. Duh!
  2. Second click START|RUN type into the box ‘msconfig’ without the quotes click on the top tab all the way to the right labeled “Startup” and uncheck everything but your anti-virus software, click okay and you will be prompted to “Restart now” click it, when you finish rebooting you will see a configuration box in the middle of the screen telling you that you are in a selective startup mode, check the box that says NEVER SHOW THIS AGAIN, and then click okay you will never see it again and I bet your computer is running smoother already.
  3. Third thing I tell people is to put more damn RAM in to you machines damn it, its cheap and wont kill you, if you don’t know to put it in yourself read the one page directions that come in the package.
  4. Toss the machine in the garbage or recycle it into a boat anchor and buy a new one.

  1. Q:  I hate doing security updates; it’s such a pain in the ass.  Why should I bother?

A:  Tough shit you choose to use a Microsoft product. This is just a fact of life deal with it.

You can lessen the pain of the updates by turning on Automatic Updates from the control panel. Click START|CONTROL PANEL|WINDOWS SECURITY CENTER and turn on automatic updates. There are a few options to choose from about when to download updates and when to install them. Choose whatever makes your little heart happy but choose something and don’t leave your machine unpatched.

  1. Q:  My kids like to download music of peer to peer networks, that’s not going to hurt my machine right?

A:  The answer is Yes and No.  Teach yourself and your kids good file handling procedures when downloading files from a strange computer, unprotected downloading is just bad. If you feel the need to download from a peer to peer network use protection and scan all the compressed files on your computer before you open them. Hey I feel like a spokesman for Trojan!

If you are downloading ISO images like I do all the time use the checksum on the host site of the software to make sure you aren’t getting software that has been tampered with.

Now just a mad raving, you’re on the largest network ever conceived, try not to be an ass-monkey in the global community. This has been my home for many, many years back to the gopher days (If you don’t know what that is shame on you child) and no matter where you go or what you do here it’s a reflection on all…

Thanks to my wife that edited this post you could actually understand what I was typing.

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