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Computer HELP!!!!!!

Hi!, My name is Mike and I am the webmaster for this website. I will also be doing the computer seminar at the Samboree. This page will offer some limited information and a review of what was brought up at past Samboree's and link's to topics covered. I hope that the below info helps and if you have any ideas for topics that you would like to see covered at a future Samboree, use the 'contact' or 'webmaster' links on the home page to drop me a note.

Want a simple, no frills computer? One that can surf the web, do Email, keep the checkbook up to date, compose a letter; you know, just the basics!! Check out this article from PC Magazine:,1895,1880361,00.asp

Got a new computer, or your first computer? Want to bypass the children and grandkids for advice and instructions? I use a website called Refdesk as my homepage. It has a handy page called, aptly, "The Beginners Page". It has a super size bunch of links to websites that offer help on different aspects of computer operation. If your new to computing or just want to see what the pro's suggest, click here.

Another great source of info is the Kim Komando radio show and website. PCWorld magazine has an extensive inventory of information as do most of the computer related magazines. If you have a problem check them all out!

Web-O-Pedia at is an info site that is WWW related. They have a web related encyclopedia and a free newsletter that you can get that sends you one computer term daily and tells you what it means. Want to show off at your next gathering? Learn some of these terms and stump the know-it-all!

For a free (and very good) anti-virus program, go to for the AVGR antivirus prgm. Yes, it is free and a very good anit-virus utility. A number of Spring Samboree attendees use it as well as I do on my laptop.

I can't count the number of times that folks ask me a question and don't know what version of Windows or other OS (operating system) they have that runs their computer. They are unaware of how much memory they have on their machine, how big their hard drive is and don't really know what programs they have installed. Here is a link to Belarc Adviser, a little FREE program that will give you the most complete report that I have ever seen of what is inside the box. . While at their website, take a look at their products. Always good to thank them also.

Email spam is really turning into a mess. The government is thinking about getting involved (please be careful whishing for this. No scarier statement is "I am from the government, and I am here to help you!). Your ISP (internet service provider) probably has some sort of spam filtering program that you can use to try to beat spam. While they work pretty good, they are not infallible and sometimes block legitimate email as being spam. If you don't check your 'trash' box often, you may have an email from the IRS identified as spam and you may next hear a knock at the door because you failed to reply. I have tried them and am not sold on the idea yet. I want more control of what is spam and what is not. I use a FREE trial of a program called Mail Washer to preview what is in my inbox and I make the decision on what to do with it. They have a neat feature that allows you to bounce an email back to the sender which gives them the idea that your address is really not a good address. It looks just like a bounce message that I am sure you have gotten at one time or another telling you that your message could not be delivered for one reason or another. Here is the link to give it a try .

Ever wonder how your information gets passed around the world without your permission? Little programs called SpyWare are inadvertently installed on your machine and when you are online, they report back to their boss what you are doing, where you are going and all sorts of other nasty things. While it is extremely tough to stop them from being installed, you can do a periodic check to see if there are any spying on you and remove them. A FREE program called SpyBot Search and Destroy will do this for you. Here is the link to the program .

Want to look for some more miscreant programs lurking inside the box? The following is straight from the Ad-aware website about a FREE product that I use to keep my computer free of spam; Here is the link to the program .

What is Ad-aware?
Ad-aware is THE award winning, multi-trackware detection and removal utility (designed for Windows 98 / 98SE / ME / NT40 / 2000 / XP Home / XP Pro) that will comprehensively scan your memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known Data mining, aggressive advertising, Parasites, Scumware, Keyloggers, selected traditional Trojans, Dialers, Malware, Browser hijackers, and tracking components.

Would you be interested if a program had been installed on your computer and you didn't want it? Here is a little program that looks for new installations and asks you if you want it to be allowed or not! It is not a fool proof little detective, but it does ferret out some devious programs trying to get into your machine. Scotty the watch dog will monitor your system and notify you that a program is trying to install on your computer and asks if if want to allow this action. .

Pest Patrol is another of the spy/ad program detectors and does a real good job of looking for suspicious programs and activity .

Zone Alarm at Is a great firewall program that unlike the MS SP2 firewall monitors outbound problems as well as inbound. They have a free version and a high end program that is not that expensive. Don't know why MS didn't include outbound protection in theirs, but that is Microsoft.

Past Samboree Seminar topics:

A variety of discussions are held and it is great info shared by all.

We talked about Defragging your hard drive, what it meant and how to do it. Defragging your hard drive will help it run faster as it grabs all of the scattered program or file data on your hard drive and puts it all next to each other. This keeps the drive from searching all over the drive for bits and pieces on data to fulfill your request. Older machines with small hard drives will benefit more from defragging than larger drives in that most folks won't ever crowd up an 80 gig hard drive (that's a lot of room). It was also discussed about the length of time that it takes defrag to finish the job and the point was made that even with larger drives, the more often you defrag, the less time it takes. We also discussed that programs running in the background will make defrag and scan disk work slower. One great suggestion was to boot up in Safe Mode and run disk scan and defrag from there. Reason is that Safe Mode runs windows but without all of the other drivers and background programs. Almost all versions of Windows will go into Safe Mode by pressing the F8 key on your keyboard as the first Windows screen appears when you turn on the computer. If you are not sure where Scan Disk and Defrag are located on your computer or how they work, check your computers Help files. Remember that you must run Scan Disk first before trying to defrag.

A question was asked about how to find out what computer was the best to buy. It all depends on what you want to do with it when you get it! Be a good consumer and do your own homework. I suggest that you check out sites like PC World magazine. They do a monthly Top 10 of just about every computer product. After you decide on a brand or model, go to the manufacturer's website and use their 'customize' or 'build your own' functions to build the computer that you need. Great pro's and con's were discussed as to going to your local computer store and having them custom build one for you. I would suggest that you at least go down and talk to them and see what they offer. As technology and your needs may change,  make sure that your system is expandable and upgradeable. Always check with your local Better Business Bureau before purchasing one from anyone.

Need a tip on Internet Explorer security? Click here for a great article from the Kim Kommando website. Kim has a very good Saturday morning show and has some very informative newsletters that you can sign up for on her website. She has a very strict privacy policy as to your email address.


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Revised: November 10, 2005 .