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Tech TALK

by Archives March 16, 2005

“We can rebuild it. We have the technology. Better than it was before. Better…stronger…faster.”

Okay, maybe we’re not talking about something as drastic as building the world’s first bionic man. But this list of free software will protect you and your computer from the worst the web has to offer.

The first thing you need to do is replace Internet Explorer with Firefox. Internet Explorer has a lot of security issues, and I mean a lot. I’d give you a number, but I’ve been told numbers that big don’t exist. Firefox is faster and safer. Don’t worry about your favourites, the transition is silky smooth, Firefox will import them automatically.

Next you need some anti-virus protection. If you’re cheap like me, you’ll like AVG Anti-Virus free-edition. It’s a fully functional anti-virus program that includes a “real-time” scanner and an email scanner. What does that all mean? It means you don’t need to spend $60.

Spyware is crap that, one way or another, gets onto your computer, records your computing habits and reports back to its boss like a snitch that needs to get shivved. Spyware is generally annoying and mucks things up. Grab Ad-Aware and Spybot-Search & Destroy to rid your computer of these pests.

While you’re at it you should probably consider a firewall, especially if you have broadband. Think of a firewall as your computer’s doorman. It lets friendly packets into your computer while keeping the riffraff out. You can just Google “Free Firewall” for all sorts of options. I like Sygate Personal Firewall. And no, Windows XP’s firewall is not good enough.

Windows users should visit Windows Update – www.windowsupdate.com – periodically to get the latest security patches. Hmm…I wonder why Microsoft doesn’t make the site Firefox compatible?

Even with all the precautions taken, chances are something bad will eventually happen. Most nerds recommend you perform a complete backup of your computer regularly.

Yeah…I’m lazy, so how about no. Instead of investing the time and money into making full backups, just burn a CD of all the photos you’ve taken with your digicam and can’t live without. While you’re at it save your important school projects, CV and internet favourites on a floppy disk or USB flash drive.

So what do you do if a virus deletes all you’re mp3s and every school project you’ve had since you were eight years old? Once you stop crying like you’re on LiveJournal you can grab a file recovery program.

“But the files were deleted. They’re gone, forever…just like fluffy.”

The files aren’t really gone. Think of your computer’s hard drive, the place where files sleep at night, as a big book. Imagine two parts: an index and the actual chapters of the book, which represent files. The index tells you where each chapter is and each chapter contains certain information.

Say you decide to “delete” a chapter. The chapter itself doesn’t get erased, the index just gets modified so the chapter isn’t listed anymore. The information is still there, but from the operating system’s point of view anything that is not listed in the index doesn’t exist.

Here’s where file recovery software comes in. It will go through the book page by page and find the missing chapters instead of just checking the index. There are a few free file recovery applications out there. I’ve had success with PC Inspector File Recovery.

If you’re going to try recovering deleted files, do so as soon as possible. The longer you wait the bigger the chance you’ll lose them for good.

Potentially Offensive Site O’ the Week: www.bash.org

-The IRC Quote Database

If you ever used Internet Relay Chat you’ll find this hilarious. Check out the Top 100 quotes.

Webcomic O’ the Week: www.whiteninjacomics.com

-white ninja comics

Genius!

Free Application O’ the Week: www.bsplayer.org

-BSPlayer

If you use your computer to watch movies or TV shows you’ll appreciate this media player. BSPlayer has more options then Windows Media Player, uses less system resources and is more likely to successfully play that corrupted, bootleg copy of whatever Hollywood blockbuster you questionably procured.

RIAA Safe Album O’ the Week:

-Picaresque – Decemberists

Screened with RIAA Radar www.magnetbox.com/riaa

Gmail provides 1000 megabytes of storage and is, generally speaking, everything you wished Hotmail was. It’s still in the testing phase so you can’t just sign up. Luckily for you isnoop.net’s Gmail invite spooler – isnoop.net/gmail/ has over 400,000 invites to distribute for free.

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