MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

Vol. 2003c

Welcome to this edition of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way.

First, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to use Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter--at least monthly.  Second, keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.  Last, obtain the critical Windows updates.

Featured in This Issue
1.     Dealing With Windows Updates
2.     Being Careful With Magnets
3.     Martindale's "The Reference Desk" (website)

1.    Dealing With Windows Updates
To improve the security level of your computer and help keep intruders from the Internet, it is a good idea to periodically obtain the critical Windows Updates from Microsoft Corp.  Close out all other applications such as Word or Excel that you're not using at the moment before beginning with the updates.

To get them, connect with your ISP, start Internet Explorer, select the Tools menu and then choose "Windows Update".  Microsoft's Windows Update site will then be located.  Click "Scan" to begin the process that will compare what's available that your computer doesn't yet have.  Concentrate on the critical updates first.  Click the "Remove" buttons to remove the updates you don't want at the moment.  Then select "Install" to begin the download/install process.  When you have some time again (probably a different day) repeat the Windows updater and install the next critical update, etc.

I prefer installing only one update at a session--particularly when some of the downloads take a lot of time--particularly with a dial-up ISP.  Many updates require that the computer be restarted after the update has been installed for the changes to take effect.  I usually like to see how the computer is performing with the new update before getting more of them.  Once your computer is finally up-to-date, check for critical updates monthly or unless you read of an announced update in the news.

2.    Being Careful With Magnets
Magnets for the refrigerator or which contain your paper clips can corrupt or destroy data on floppy disks making them unusable.  As a general rule, keep magnets of all forms away from places where floppy disks are likely to be put.  Magnetized tools, paper clips, magnetized business cards, even some car keys can corrupt the data on floppy disks because floppy disks are magnetic media.  Keep floppy disks away from speakers, the tops of computer towers, and anything having a motor nearby.  (CD-ROMs, on the other hand, are optical media not affected by magnetism.  CD-R's and CD-RW's that you create have a different enemy--they are sensitive to sunlight!)

As a best practice, keep loose floppy disks in a floppy disk container or a non-metalic box designated just for that purpose.  This keeps them at a distance from magnetism sources, and thus makes them less likely to become damaged.

3.    Martindale's "The Reference Desk" (website)
Most people have a calculator or two at home but which tend to be limited to basic math.  Your computer comes with a handy one which can be found at Start | Programs | Accessories | Calculator.  This calculator can be set to a Standard or Scentific format in the View menu.  The calculator is easy to use.

However, suppose you need a specialized computation such as a mortgage payment or your body-fat index.  Martindale's "The Reference Desk" has a huge number of specialized calculators grouped in many subject fields.  All are free to use.  Just click on the calculator of your choice and then follow the directions.  Try out some of the calculators and be prepared to be amazed at how capable they are.

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E-mail to the editor: David Mawdsley

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