MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

Vol. 2005d

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 keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.   Second use a software firewall and/or a router if using broadband.   Last, obtain all the critical Windows updates.

Featured in This Issue
1.     Keeping Your Computer Secure
2.     Simple Computer Maintenance
3.     World Community Grid (website)

1.    Keeping Your Computer Secure
First, make sure that you have an up-to-date anti-virus program running on your computer.  I like AVG, which is free for individuals and non-profits.  (Search with Google for AVG.)  Don't forget to register the free edition.  Click around the control panel to find out where things are.  (Note: anti-virus software doesn't protect against malicious instant messaging attachments!)

Next, make sure you have a firewall that runs when the computer starts up.  The Windows Firewall is okay, but I prefer ZoneAlarm.  (Also search from Google.)  Once installed be sure to study the program list it monitors.  Under security and the advanced tab, make sure that your Ethernet and/or wireless adapter is checked.

Third, from Internet Explorer, select the Tools menu and select Windows Update and make sure that you have at least the critical Windows updates.  I usually get the hardware updates if there are any.

Last, you might consider purchasing and installing Webroot Spy Sweeper.  This program is excellent for hunting down and removing troublesome software that may have installed in your computer without your knowing about it.  This is important to prevent identity theft problems and to keep your on-line credit card use safe.

2.    Simple Computer Maintenance
First, every month run the Disk Defragmenter tool. (Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Defragmenter)  With Windows XP, select the Analyze button first.  If there's lots of red showing in the detail, choose to Defragment anyway.  The tool mostly looks out for Windows and may overlook other problems with the Analyze button.

Next with Internet Explorer, select the Tools menu and choose Internet Options.  Clear out the cookies and temporary files.

Last, uninstall unneeded programs. (Start | Settings | Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs)  Unneeded programs clog up the start-up and run of the computer.  I'm a firm believer that "Windows" should have made the "s" optional.  While it can run multiple programs at the same time and usually does, having lots of programs left open when they could have been closed, returns RAM for better use and helps to keep the speed you expect.

3.    World Community Grid (website)
World Community Grid is a site that allows you to download and install a program that does research in the background.  Once installed the program works between the work events that you do with your computer--studying protein folding or AIDS analysis.  Study the site to learn about this world-wide project running on thousands of computers.

I have it running on my computer as it starts each day.  When done with a work unit, the program connects to its home site, sends the research results, retrieves a new work unit and then starts work on it.

The best parts: no interaction with the program is needed on my part and I know that my computer is actually doing a useful service helping with medical/biological research.  The program has settled in quietly with my computer's software environment.

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E-mail to the editor: David Mawdsley

Copyright © 2005, The MadMod Computing Newsletter