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Virus Tips You Should Know
by Michael Marquette (Rev. 6/2/00)

Because of all the continued attention from the media about new computer viruses, I feel it's necessary to remind everyone to take precautionary measures when receiving e-mail.

Skull It appears that all new viruses to come will most likely be transmitted via e-mail. With so many people using e-mail for both work and pleasure, it is the easiest and fastest way of spreading a virus. With a little common sense, and following the tips below, you shouldn't have too much to worry about. Almost all viruses transmitted via e-mail require the user to do something, usually double-clicking a file attachment. If you never try to run these attachments, risk of infection is almost eliminated. Also note, these new viruses are transmitted as if they are coming from someone you know, so you can no longer trust any message you receive.

Three Important Tips

How do you protect yourself? First, you should have an anti-virus program installed on your system for when you need it. Second, and most importantly, you must follow the following rules:

  • If you receive an e-mail message from someone you do not know, simply delete the message. Don't even bother reading it, it probably isn't important anyway.

  • If you receive an e-mail message from someone you do know, save the attachment to your hard drive and manually scan it with your anti-virus software. Many of the new viruses are actually script files made to look like a harmless file, so it is now more important than ever to make sure the attachment is really what it appears to be.

  • Scan EVERY diskette you insert in your computer that comes from an outside source, even if you know the person giving it to you. The majority of virus are still spread via disk, although this could be soon overtaken by the e-mail attachment method very soon.

Remember, do not rely on anti-virus software alone, new viruses begin spreading before the anti-virus vendors have an opportunity to update their virus signature files.

A Few More Tips

If you receive a virus alert message from someone, DO NOT forward it to every one you know. First, check the validity of the the alert by checking the web site of your anti-virus software vendor. If the alert is accurate, only forward the message to people you know would not normally hear of these warnings. It's likely many people you know have already received the message from someone else. Second, many virus alerts forwarded to so many people are simply hoaxes. If you would like to read more about these hoaxes and urban legends, take a look at the Computer Virus Myths page. Perform regular scans of your system and scan all files you download from the Internet. Very few files from well known download sites are infected, but it's better to play it safe. Also, keep your virus signature files up-to-date (most vendors offer monthly updates). Most of all, DON'T PANIC! Do your homework first. If you have anti-virus software and follow the three tips above, you are unlikely to have a serious problems with viruses.

So you bought a home computer...
by Michael Marquette (1/11/99) what do you do with it?

It's always exciting buying a home computer, but what happens a few of weeks later when that excitement subsides? Many computers soon become idle, making the owners question the value of their purchase. It doesn't have to be this way, and with a few well-chosen accessories it could become the most used item in the house.

When shopping for a new computer, 95% of the features given for comparison are hardware related, but it's only part of the picture. Although the hardware you select is important, your choice of software will ultimately be the most important decision you make. Why? Because a computer can only do what you make it do, and if you don't enjoy the software you have, you won't want to spend any time using it.

If you take a look at some of the name brand systems available, you'll see they try to bundle a variety of software titles suitable for the whole family. Following this lead, select software that not only the whole family can use, but can use on a regular basis. Two excellent choices are greeting card software and image editing/graphics software, such as Microsoft's Greetings Workshop and Picture It!. Most greeting card packages not only allow you to make cards, but also signs, calendars, return address labels, stickers and more. Image editors, along with a color printer, scanner, digital camera or picture disks, give you everything you need to be an electronic artist. Enhance images with fancy frames, special edges, fun templates or special effects. You can even use your images in the greeting card software.

So why am I focusing on the fun stuff? Because that's what gets people interesting in using computers, and the more you use them, the more you'll find you can do with them. By choosing your software carefully, you'll not only be pleased with your investment, but your family might be fighting over who gets to use the computer.

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