Welcome to the Computer Corner. My purpose in writing this column is to help the average computer user keep their machines running smoothly.
Sometimes, this is not an easy task. Computers and the software that runs them are very sophisticated, but they are vulnerable to attack from people who have nothing better to do with their time than to write programs that wreak havoc on your machine. These "spammers" find ways to harvest email addresses and send viruses to unsuspecting computer users by tricking the user into opening an email and launching an attachment. More about this next time.
If you haven't already done so, go to www.lavasoftusa.com and download the latest free version of Ad-Aware. Run the program and removed whatever it happens to find during its scan. Ad-Aware looks for malicious code that may have been dropped onto your hard drive.
I've helped friends and colleagues whose computers were so bogged down with "stuff", that they could barely open up a program. Update and run Ad-Aware at least once a week to keep the junk from collecting on your machine.
One of my biggest pet peeves is forwarded emails. Let me get this off my chest right away. Bill Gates is not going to be sending you a check any time soon (unless you happen to own stock in Microsoft). He has not developed an email tracking system which will pay you big bucks if you forward emails. Also, no one is going to be sending you a $250 or $500 gift card, unless you spend that amount of money for it.
Even in the computer world, there is no free lunch. So, do yourself and your friends (and all the email servers in the world) a big favor, don't forward emails that sound too good to be true. If you have a doubt as to the authenticity of an email offer, or a sad story about a young girl who has cancer, whom the American Cancer Society has agreed to send 5-cents for every email forwarded, check out www.snopes.com. This website is dedicated to finding out the truth about all the various stories and chain letters that are circulating in cyberspace.
Just like "the old days" when we received such things in the US Mail, 99.9% of them are bogus. Their main function is to gather email addresses, so the perpetrators can send out more and more junk mail (a.k.a. spam).
Look for my column on a monthly basis for more ways to keep your computer up and running. And if you have some spare time on your hands and you enjoy word puzzles, please visit my website, www.cryptoquote.com.