When I was a kid, like most kids, I was pathetically naive. And I believed in Santa Claus and all the rest of the stuff kids believe in. I also used to lie awake in bed at night and worry about the bogey man and other phantoms that may come in the night and take little boys off into the night. Off course, when I grew up (Be quiet, EB, I really did grow up!) I not only found out there was no Santa, but there weren’t any bogey men nor any phantoms in the night to fear.
We wrote this just after we finished writing “Your Computer Won’t Bite II” – our newest ebook. While I was writing some of the chapters in that ebook, it became clear to me that there are many people and companies on the Internet that make a darn good living off the naïveté of those who are basically children when it comes to computers and the Internet. These software developers and bloggers have a vested interest in keeping you in the dark, in muddling your mind with misinformation, and in creating new phantoms and bogey men for you to fear. They take advantage of the very confusion and fear they themselves create, because they make a darn good living by preying on folks who really don’t know much about their computers, and even less about the Internet. They are in essence preying on the naïve.
And we mean no disrespect to anyone. There are many very intelligent folks who are very naive when it comes to computers and the Internet. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors and members of Mensa, may understand the most complex of things, but when they get behind the keyboard and start browsing the Internet, they somehow change and forget the common sense that has served them well in real life. It doesn’t matter if you have PhD or a M.A. or a B.A., the world of computers is a whole other world.
The companies and individuals who sell software using fear tactics make a living on scaring people. And it’s perfectly legal – the Internet is still much like the Wild West. They understand that the vast majority of those who use the Internet really don’t understand much about how it works or why it works, but only understand that it works. So there are millions of people using Norton 360 or McAfee Internet Security because it came with their computers – and they figure (wrongly) that if it came with their computers, it must be the best – and it’s what they should use. If a car company filled your tank up with Shell gasoline and put a sticker on your gas gauge that said “General Motors recommends you use only Shell gasoline”, you would laugh and peel that sticker off the gas gauge as quickly as your little fingers could peel.
Yet if some firewall vendor warns:
- That if you don’t use their 3rd-party firewall, your computer will be eaten alive by phantoms (hackers), and your computer will become a target with “I’m a Sucker” written in the bullseye (100% false).
- That you’re surely going to be a victim of identity theft if you don’t use their firewall (100% false).
- That your personal information is going to swept up by a cadre of lurking hackers. Hackers are 21st century bogey men who pray on the poor folks who didn’t spend $30 on a (insert the brand name here) 3rd-party firewall…
a lot of people will believe it. And many will spend $30 or more for something they don’t need, and something that can make their computer more annoying than it ever should be. Sadly, it’s true. Fear sells and nothing scares people like unseen phantoms, ghosts, and bogey men who supposedly float around just waiting for to attack their computers. It’s not true. These bogey men and phantoms are the same ones that frightened you when you were a kid – the same nonexistent entities that kept some of us awake when we were kids.
Yes, hackers exist, but their not bogey men who lie in wait for suckers without (name the brand) firewall installed. The chances of your PC becoming a target of hackers is about 1 in 1.2 billion. Your chances of getting struck by lightning or getting killed by a falling meteor are higher. Your chances of winning the lottery are much, much higher. If you’re going to worry, worry about something else more likely to happen. Are you going to spend $30 just in case you’re that 1 in 1.2 billion? If you do then you shouldn’t drive a car, your chances of dying in car accident are many, many times higher. You shouldn’t eat in a restaurant – your chances of choking on food are much higher; your chances of dying from food poisoning is higher. Are you getting the idea?
While there is a lot more accurate and reliable information on the web than there is misinformation, when it comes to good, accurate, reliable information about the Internet and computers, there’s a tug-of-war between the truthsayers and the doomsayers. From what we’ve seen, when it comes to information about computers and the Internet, there seems to be as much bad information as there is good information. You have companies making millions, even billions of dollars selling unnecessary and expensive security software – some of it useless, and some of it not worth the price. And how do you, the average computer user know what to believe? We wish we had an easy answer, but we don’t
We can tell you that there isn’t much money in telling the truth. It’s a sad fact. Every week we try to sift through the garbage and give you the truth. Even when the economy was good, we weren’t getting rich, and now that it’s bad, we’re struggling week to week. But as long as we’re able to do it, we’ll continue to tell you the truth. We’ve been on the web for 15 years and we’ve seen it all. We were once new to computers and to the Internet and we too were once naive We’ve been snookered into buying software we didn’t need. We’ve been afraid to click a link, we’ve been confused by conflicting information and misinformation. We took the time to find reliable sources for information, to learn who we could trust and who we couldn’t – and when we started our own Web sites in 1997 we committed to share with anyone who would listen the truths we had learned. We could have been rich if, in the heyday of email stationery we would have bundled questionable software with our stationery. During the Christmas season, we were averaging 50,000 downloads a day, and we had offers from companies that wanted us to bundle their software with ours of up to 50 cents per download. You do the math. We could have made $25,000 a day, on busy days, and $10,000 a day on average days, but we wouldn’t do that to our customers and visitors. We didn’t want to violate their trust. Needless to say, had we done that, we’d not be struggling now. But then again you probably wouldn’t be reading this because you wouldn’t have trusted a word we wrote.
The truth can set you free, and the truth can get you free of all those annual subscriptions for expensive security software – you can get most of the security software – and top quality software too – free of charge. But there’s a lot more money in misinformation than in truth. There’s a lot more money in using misinformation and preying on the naïveté of the average user to sell unnecessary software, than there is in telling the truth. There’s a lot more money, if you can live with the deceit and dishonesty, in creating imaginary but believable phantoms, demons, and computer-horror scenarios, and selling software to protect users from these specters, than there is in telling the truth.
We know all the angles and we know all the tricks. We know all the angels and we know all the devils. We know how we could make a lot of money, but something inside us both just won’t let us violate the trust of those who count on us to tell it the way it really is – maybe it’s integrity or maybe it’s stupidity. Your trust is worth more than money to us. We still believe if we do a good job for you and share the truth with you, we’ll do all right. We may be wrong – but we hope we’re right.
We wrote “Your Computer Won’t Bite II” as guide to your computer and the Internet. It’s a whole new book that bears little resemblance to the original “Your Computer Won’t Bite” – which by-the-way was our biggest selling ebook. We wrote “Your Computer Won’t Bite II” to be a guide for every computer user regardless if they’re using Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or the next version of Windows. It’s an ebook that will be just as relevant two years from now as it is now, because it’s all about the truth. We show you how it really is in the world of computers and the Internet, and how to exist safely in that world without spending a dime.
We are committed to telling you the truth, and to helping you find those islands of truth in the vast sea of misinformation. And if we go broke telling the truth, then we’ll go broke telling the truth. We’ve been on your side too long to switch sides now.
We hope that we will continue to have and to earn your trust. We are committed to help you walk safely around those potholes and pitfalls that so many seem to fall into. If you have the facts and you know the truth, you’ll save a lot of money. Learning all you can and knowing the truth will keep you safer than any software program ever will. And when you are confident that you are safe, and when you are confident of what you are doing, you can enjoy your computer and the wonders of the Internet a great deal more.
Learn to separate fact from fiction and you’ll never all prey to those who make their living by scaring you.
The truth will set you free.
If you’d like to help us continue our work of getting to the truth for you, please consider buying a copy of our “Your Computer Won’t Bite II” ebook. Your purchase will help us a great deal, and the information in our ebook will help you a great deal.