Timely Computer Advice From Darcy & TC
Your computer is just a machine. You operate it, it does not operate you. Do not make things more difficult by over-thinking things or finding problems where there are none. Most problems are minor annoyances and can be easily corrected. We have seen many folks who find problems that are not problems at all – phantoms, specters, ghosts. They get frustrated and when they do, logic and common sense fly out the windows…
Don’t get frustrated — count to ten, think it through, because the problem may be easily fixable. Yes, some problems require a professional to fix, but many times those little annoyances can be fixed by using a little gray matter, a little research and a touch of logic.
There’s another side to that coin too. People have problems with their computer, or more often their browser and they’ll blame a program or a Web site for their problems. Some programs indeed do cause problems, but most software that’s been around a while works. If it doesn’t work for you, it’s probably your computer, not the software. And it may be true that Web sites go down, but most are not down for more than a few minutes – or a few hours at most.
For example, we recently had a reader write to us and say that most of the sites we recommend do not work for her. If you think about that for a moment, saying that most of the sites we recommend don’t work assumes we never checked the site out — but we always do and more than once – or we sure wouldn’t recommend it.
The best thing you can do is to keep things simple. Computers don’t have to be any more complicated than other electronic devices we’ve all grown used to over the years. Don’t be afraid of your computer. Don’t be afraid of trying new things; there are very few things you can do to a computer that will cause major problems or that cannot be reversed. Steer clear of toolbars, especially those dealing with saving money, downloading or watching videos, music toolbars, game toolbars, search toolbars (with the exception of Google and Bing — careful though, Yahoo’s toolbar borders on malware), or any toolbar that you’re only rarely going to use.
When downloading software, especially freeware, make sure you click the correct download button. The web is replete with sites offering downloads whose download pages are labyrinths full of big green download buttons that won’t download the program you want but will download malware.
Use a site like www.snapfiles.com. when you can. Don’t trust CNET, Tucows, Softonic, File Hippo, or other download sites whose pages feature dazzling mazes of download buttons and links – you should not have to spend five minutes looking for the right download link. If you come to one of these pages, google the software program and find another download location, someplace where they don’t place guess which link is the correct one. If you can’t find it anywhere else but on a site like CNET, use extra caution when downloading.
And, just as importantly, when installing software, don’t rush through the installation dialogs — more than half of all freeware is loaded with malware or PUPs. Software bundling is pandemic. If you pay attention to every dialog screen during the installation you will probably find the program offers optional software it can install, and they may make it sound like a wonderful additional program to have. More often than not, this extra software will have a checkbox next to it and it’s checked. That means it’s going to install WITH your permission if you leave it checked.
First Dialog: This will install John’s Super Duper Video Downloader. To install the software click Next, to cancel, click Cancel
Next Dialog: EULA (End User License Agreement) You acknowledge you’re read and understand the terms of our EULA (Yes/No)
Next Dialog: Install John’s Super Duper Video Downloader (NEXT/CANCEL)
(x) install the wonderful Mr. Off-the-Wall virus scanner. This free software will protect your computer from all manner of despicable things!
(x) Install the wonderful Magic Image Grabber toolbar. You can grab images from anywhere on the Web! It’s great! You need this! It’s amazing
Please wait while we install the software YOU selected.
Installation progress animation
Thank you for installing John’s Super Duper Video Download! Your new software is ready to use!
Many people click NEXT/NEXT/NEXT/NEXT/FINISH. If you don’t pay attention you’re going to install malware and/or PUPs. In the example above, if you don’t stop and uncheck Mr. Off-the-Wall virus scanner (a fictional worthless, shameless advertisement-program that tries to continually upsell you to the full “professional” program) guess what? You are giving explicit permission for the installer to install Mr. Off-the-Wall virus scanner on your computer. The same goes for the Magic Image Grabber toolbar. If you don’t uncheck it, they have explicit permission from you to install this garbage on your computer.
If you don’t pay attention when you install software, and you don’t uncheck the bundled software, you’re going to have a computer full of garbage. And eventually, it’s going to cost you — either time spent to remove all this junk – or money – paying someone to fix your computer after it has been damaged by malware.
Always use common sense and thoughtful caution. Use good anti-malware and anti-virus software – something that will warn you if you’re installing software you may not want. We highly recommend Emsisoft Anti-Malware because it’s one program that helps you prevent getting sneaky malware and PUPs on your computer. It’s also a top-rated antivirus too. You’re not very likely to run into viruses these days, but you are almost certain to encounter malware almost every day.
Most of all remember that computers, The Web, and all that it contains, are tools — but it is a reflection of humanity and society too. There’s good and bad in the real world — there is good and bad in cyberspace. The one difference is that the bad (as well as the good) travels at the speed of light on the Internet. Scammers can operate in virtual anonymity, and work at the speed of light.
One more thing: It’s Christmas season. The scam emails will be all over the place. Fake shipping notifications and fake “confirm your order” and other spam and phishing emails will surely hit your inbox in the next week or so. Here’s some good advice: If the email is from unknowns sender -NEVER click the links in that email. If the sender is a bank or financial institution, never fall for the “update your password” / “update your account” or “Suspicious activity detected on your account” emails. If you aren’t sure, open your browser and type the address of the bank or other financial institution in the address bar like www.mybanklovesme.com and check your account information. Or call your bank or financial institution. NEVER click links in email from banks, stock firms, credit card companies or other financial institutions. Use your head and think before you click.
Keep things simple, don’t overreact, don’t panic, don’t go looking for problems, be logical, take your time, and think. Most computer problems can be avoided by having a good antivirus/antimalware like Emsisoft installed, and just as importantly being aware of the potholes and pitfalls that surround you when you’re on the Internet.
Most of all we want you to have fun and be productive with your computer.
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