Terry's Computer Tips - Newsletter
February 19, 2006
Volume 1, Number 36 — Sunday, February 19, 2006
New Web Hosting Section at Terry's Computer Tips
I've been rearranging and updating the web hosting information at Terry's Computer Tips.
Now, I have a web hosting companies summary page, with links to the hosting companies and to my pages about them.
4. Comments from Readers
Harold, one of my email newsletter subsribers, wrote to say:
I know everything is always changing with hardware, and software. They have to change to try and deal with the hackers. One sure can't get comfortable with their pc security. They have to keep looking for something for the latest problem.
I appreciate your newsletter and can't imagine how much time you put in on it. I have recommended it to some of my friends but haven't gotten any feedback that they subscribed or liked it. The odd thing about most people and their computers is that they turn it on and if it doesn't work then they take it to a shop to be worked on or cleaned up. They don't even think about firewall, viruses, and try to do anything to prevent them. I am constantly trying to keep mine free from viruses, spyware, etc. and am constantly cleaning up unneeded files. Sometimes it seems like ignorance is bliss.
Thanks, Harold. You may be right -- in this case, ignorance may be bliss -- if you don't mind paying someone to fix the problems each time.
Ivan Tadej, another email subscriber, wrote with two feedback items on my last online issue:
Hey Terry, yet another e-mail message regarding your newsletter ...
It's about to your last newsletter issue:
http://www.terryscomputertips.com/archives/news_20060212_3.php (Part 3), particularly the *8. Starting Programs "Maximized"* entry.
[quote]To make the program maximize on startup:
1. right click on the icon for the program
You see, I think that Ralph might be confused because you you wrote: "/click on the icon for the program/", and as far as I know it should be "/click on the *shortcut icon* of the program/" (i.e. the icon of the shortcut pointing to program); at least I assume that may be the reason why he have can't find every that menu/setting.
P.S., While regarding the *10. The Computer Keeps Dialing* entry in the same issue of your newsletter, beside "*/Never dial a connection/*" I also recommend to set the computer's modem to "/*Show terminal window*/" before dialing. For much more about this, check the "Security and dial-up" page at CastleCops Wiki: http://wiki.castlecops.com/Security_and_dial-up (I've created it) or the "config.html" page on my own home-site: http://users.volja.net/tayiper/other/config.html.
Ivan Tadej, Slovenija
Thanks, Tadej. That's an excellent tip to help keep a "dialer" trojan under control, in case we ever get infected.
It's also important for those of us connected to the Internet via cable modems or DSL, if we also have a phone line connected to a dial-up modem so we can fax.
5. Another Look at Screen Printing
Reader Gene Gould wrote to say:
Way back in the dark ages, say between 1994 and 1998 I used to do quite a bit of writing for the Capital PC User Group, see www.cpcug.org , which at that time had around 5,000 paid member and published a month magazine called the Monitor. It won many awards in large user group publications. I wrote a regular monthly column, special how-to articles and software reviews. Writing those kinds of things for that kind of a publication almost required the use of screen images to illustrate what you were talking about. The use of the Print Screen function along with the use of the Clip Board was not a satisfactory solution.
So I did a survey of around ten different screen capture utilities. Most were shareware, a few freeware. All dutifully downloaded and tested and tried. When the dust settled the hands down best was, and I believe very likely still is, a piece of shareware called Lankford Screen Copy Utility, better known as (LSCU.) After I read your bit on screen prints I checked on the web to see if it still exists and it appears to be alive and well. If you just need one or two screen shots, then the clipboard is okay, but in the case of illustrating articles I customarily captured as many as ten or twelve screen images, adding them into the article as I went. Deleting unnecessary ones and coming up with a well illustrated article in fairly short order. The interesting thing about this utility, and as far as I know once you buy the shareware, it is yours for life with upgrades, is that you can tell it which format in which you wish to save the screen. It also provides options such as entire screen, open window and features like that. In your web site and the kind of work you do, it would appear to me that an occasional illustration would be a decided bonus. When you finish the article you just go through and delete the shots or if you wish file them in a folder.
I suggest you take a look at it. I would be interested in hearing your opinion. As a bit of side humor, we had an old guy, even a bit older than I am who was a true DOS Dinosaur. He had a great deal of trouble understanding or accepting Windows and continually looked for ways to write DOS commands that you could do in Windows with the click of a mouse. It got to be sort of a running joke. He would write a column on the subject of making mailing lists or some such thing using DOS commands. Next issue I would have an article explaining the how to do it in Windows 3.1, to begin with and then Windows 95, and then Windows 98. I decided to quit that writing business and teach computers to seniors when our new Loudoun County, VA Senior Center opened in May of 1999. I even retired from that a couple of years ago and now only teach photo editing and restoration.
I have recommended your newsletter and website to a number of not so techy friends.
Thanks, Gene. There are several good screen print utilities out there, and I'm glad to learn about another one. I do most of my screen prints -- usually prints of the "active window" -- using the Alt-PrntScrn key combination. Since I'm usually trying to create an image for a web page or newsletter, my next step is to paste it into my favorite graphics program (PhotoImpact 10) using the "Paste as New Image" function. Then I can resize it or crop it as necessary.
6. My Computer Security Software Recommendations
My Philosophy: Many people want to pick their most economical solution and prefer an all-in-one anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall solution. In concept, that's a great idea. In actual practice, this type of package is not likely to be the best in all the protection categories you need.
Other people want to pick the best of each type program. I'm one of the these folks.
So, I've got two types of recommendations below: the all-in-one solutions and my picks of the individual products for people who want to pick a program of each type.
For your anti-virus needs (and, yes, you do have anti-virus needs!) I recommend anti-virus software from Trend Micro, Panda Software, Kaspersky or ESET.
Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2006 offers anti-virus, anti-spam, and firewall for your PC and PDA. TrendMicro provides an easy-to-use product that is from one of the big names in the anti-virus world.
Panda Software's Platinum 2006 Internet Security offers anti-virus, anti-spam, firewall and more.
The Kaspersky Personal Security Suite is a program package specifically developed to provide comprehensive protection from all types of malicious programs for personal computers running under the Windows operating system (Win98, WinMe, 2000, XP). This solution prevents the infiltration of viruses, worms, spyware, adware and other malicious programs via potential penetration paths, provides protection against unauthorized access attempts, and includes anti-spam components. Kaspersky claims the industry leading virus detection rates and the fastest virus updates. Kaspersky offers a 30-day free trial on its products.
If you get either the PC-cillin Internet Security or the Panda Software Internet Security package above, you are covered from a firewall point of view. Just don't count on the Windows firewall to provide your needs — while it's better than nothing, you need better than that.
The Windows firewall does not control outbound communications from your computer -- and you want control if adware/trojans/spyware or even commercial products want to talk to the Internet (do you want your drawing program to call home every time you start it?)
If you don't get either of the above, ZoneAlarm Pro or the ZoneAlarm free firewall are my recommendations. ZoneAlarm has been (read below) my choice for a firewall. Read more about firewalls in The Internet Versus You at my Terry's Computer Tips web site.
Preview — Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall has a good reputation. I'm trying it now and like some things, but don't like some others. I am not ready to recommend it, yet. Look for a review in an upcoming issue.
Kerio was going to kill the product, but Sunbelt Software (makers of CounterSpy) purchased the Kerio Personal Firewall from Kerio and have just released it under their name — Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall. The product is available in two forms -- free and paid, which has additional features.
Either way, the download file is the same -- the difference is whether you buy an annual license or not. You can try the full-featured "paid version" of Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall free for 30 days -- after that, it loses the special functions of the paid version. The paid product has an introductory price of $14.95 through March 31. The regular price will be $19.95. I'm not ready to add Kerio Personal Firewall to my recommendation list, but I expect to add it as an alternative, based on the reviews it has received and my current experiences with it.
I am currently using Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall on my notebook and I am impressed. It has "basic user" and "advanced user" settings -- and a choice of which you want as you install. Unless you're an advanced user, pick the "basic user" installation. Again, there are some things I do like and others I do not. Look for a review in an upcoming edition of my Terry's Computer Tips Newsletter.
Anti-Spyware / Anti-Adware Software
CounterSpy, from Sunbelt Software, has received many kudos from the computer press for its always-running and periodic full system scans. I use CounterSpy on my notebook, my wife's computer and my son's computer. I highly recommend this program.
Panda Software's Platinum 2006 Internet Security also includes anti-spyware. Anti-spyware is one situation where more than one scanner actually is better. Only let one program provide the real-time, always-running protection, but doing periodic scans with two different programs are a better solution to adware & spyware than only one scanner. No one anti-spyware program catches everything. Also, different companies differ in their criteria for classifying programs as adware and/or spyware.
In today's Internet world, the question is not "if" you will get spam, but when and how much. I recommend Mailwasher Pro, or the free version of Mailwasher (www.mailwasher.net) to handle spam before it ever gets into your computer's Inbox. Mailwasher Pro uses on-line Realtime Black Lists mail servers sending spam recently, "training" by you of what you think is spam, and your own "friends" and "blacklist" lists. Mailwasher Pro can even bounce spam messages, as if your email address was not valid, although the usefulness and appropriateness of this is questionable. While "Mailwasher" can do many of the same things, it puts a line of sponsoring ads in the Mailwasher window.
Mailwasher also has less functions than Mailwasher Pro. "Mailwasher Pro" also has "learning filters," can handle multiple email accounts, can access the Realtime Black Lists (Internet sites that maintain lists of which email servers are sending spam now, has technical support, accesses the "FirstAlert! global spam database," and can access IMAP, Hotmail, MSN and AOL email accounts.
PopFile (www.popfile.org) uses a different approach to spam — it does nothing to reduce spam but does a good job, after training, of identifying and segregating spam. PopFile, in my opinion, is not a good choice unless you are an advanced PC user.
If you have a cable modem or a DSL modem, you need to have another layer of inexpensive protection between you and the Internet. A cable/DSL router isolates your computer from direct connection to the Internet. Your computer can easily request your email, web pages, etc. through the router. The responses come back to the router and are smoothly routed to your computer. But, someone on the Internet side of the router can not initiate a connection to your computer — they can only respond to your request.
Even if you only have one computer to connect to your cable or DSL modem, I recommend that you purchase and use a cable/DSL router because of the protection it can give you against attempts to attack through some flaws in Windows itself.
A router isolates your local network, whether it is only one computer or several, from the Internet by actually making it a separate network. The router gets the "public" IP address and handles all your outbound communications and the responses to them. But, it blocks computers on the Internet side from being able to initiate communications with your computer! This will prevent you from falling prey to many worms that try to attack security holes in Windows itself.
My pick is the Linksys WRT54G 802.11g wireless router. If you don't want wireless now, or at any time, the function is easily turned off in the router's menu. You may be able to find a wired (that is, non-wireless) Linksys router on sale. Either way, based on my experience, I recommend Linksys routers. Read more on my Wireless Security web page.
Note: Many of the above links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy these products, please buy them via these links to help support my Terry's Computer Tips newsletter and web site.
Copyright © 2006 Terry A. Stockdale. All rights reserved.