computers



See Computer Work

This month's subject: VIRUS ALERT

Welcome to our newest section of Magic Web Channel. Here in "See Computer Work", you will find out things you may or may not already know as we attempt to de-mystify this computer and Internet world we all live in.

So many people I know, from all walks of life, admit to me that they can't get around their computer without help. Some have admitted that their wife or secretary handles the Emails and Internet business. Others, like Ali Bongo, insist that computers are a fad and they refuse to be a part of.

Well, friends, whatever you do in life, if you haven't already, you will, at some point, be affected by computers in ways you may never have even dreamed of. Eventually, the computer, the telephone and the television (aka "THE BIG THREE") will all be one in the same, connected to the Internet, and impacting and controlling every aspect of our lives in so many ways.

You can, if you look around, see evidence of this in everyday life, both at work and in your personal life. The Internet is a source of information and communication. You can now, with some combination of the BIG THREE, talk with someone clear across the globe, shop anywhere in the world, pay your bills, apply for a job, learn a skill, research a paper, answer nearly any question, seek advice on thousands of topics, attend a workshop or conference, and on and on...all without leaving your house! Or, if you prefer, with a handy laptop, you can do all of this and more, while sitting on the beach, in a boat, or on an island in the middle of the Pacific.
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This may all be too much for you to wrap your brain around at the moment, and I may have already given you a headache. I know Seabrooke is dumping new ice cubes into his glass and pouring a fresh one at this very minute.

For the moment, and in each new column in this section, we will address some simple task, that may seem simple to many us, but may be a BIG DEAL for some of you. And I promise that you will benefit greatly from all of this, and everything we tell you will be EASY TO FOLLOW. Simple stuff.

Trust me? Great. And if there are some aspects of the computer, or the Internet, or anything related to them, that you have a question about, send us an Email with your question. We will cover these in subsequent columns.

THE VIRUS ALERT

Last week we had a nightmare in our office. After several weeks of confusing, frustrating activity on our compter, the main one here in the office, where all of MagicWebChannel files live, we were ready to throw the computer out the window. I know we all have gone through this at some point when dealing with these contraptions. It's part of life, I'm afraid. Computers crash. They freeze. They stop working at inconvenient times. There is no logic, or so it seems.

There are steps that can be taken to minimize these annoying habits. But first you have to know what you are dealing with. We suspected that the computer may have been infected with a virus. It was exhibiting all the symtoms of a virus. Frequent crashes or freezes is something that a virus will cause. Among other things.
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What is a computer virus?

It's a nasty bug that enters your computer from another computer. WHen you connect your computer to the Internet, you are connecting it to the same line that is connected to thousands and thousands of other computers. Every web site you connect to is just another computer somewhere (in outer space). Every time you open up an Email, it is merely a file that was created on another computer. A virus can come from any file on any one of those computers and enter your computer through your Internet connection.

Once inside your computer, it begins to do nasty things. Some of them, the more dangerous ones, delete all of the files on your hard drive, and then send themselves to everyone in your address book and begin doing the dirty deeds on every computer they get inside. Others merely keep creating empty files, filling your hard drive up until it begins to crash a lot and you find that you have no more space on your hard drive.

It's like catching a cold when you are out among people. If you come in contact with someone who has a cold or virus, you have a chance to get it yourself. And when you find out you are infected, you start to take steps to get rid of it. The computer virus is the same.
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How do I find out if I have a computer virus?

We discovered, through one of our computer geniuses on our staff (Brent) a way to determine if a computer is infected, and not only that, if we have a virus, just what kind of a critter is it, and how do we get rid of it...

Here's what you do. Obviously, if you are reading this page, you have connected yourself to the Internet, right? (Or you had someone do it for you). You need to go to the following web site: http://www.trendmicro.com

If you want to do it now, just click on the link from this page and you will be transported there. Once on that page, look for the link called "FREE TOOLS". Click on it. Then, on the new page that pops up, click on "HOUSECALL". This is a diagnostic program that runs all by itself. It will begin by downloading some files to your computer, then it will actually look at every single file on your computer, and it will scan each file for a virus.

You really don't need to know all that information. Just go to the trendmicro.com web site, then click on "FREE TOOLS", then on "HOUSECALL", then sit and wait. Go have a drink, a soda, an adult beverage, a cookie, whatever. The first time you do this on your computer, it may take several minutes. But after that, when you do this again (you should do this once a month).

When the program is finished, it will displpay a box with a list of files in it. It will say something like, "17,000 files scanned, Number of files infected: 0".

Or it will tell you how many files were found to be infected. Not only that , it will list each file that is infected, and it will describe the type of virus the file contains. Talk about magic! This is an amazing program. It is completely safe. It is easy to do (just follow the steps on the screen) and watch it happen.
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What do I do if I have a virus?

Once you find out what HOUSECALL has discovered, you can then get rid of the viruses by following whatever procedure the web site recommends. In our case, we came up with 21 viruses. There were only two different kinds, and each required a different procedure. One was very simple, which eliminated 17 of them. The remaining 4 were handled with a program that I had to download (for free) from the trendmicro.com site. Again, all of this was quite simple to do, and not a complicated procedure at all.

All you have to do is log on to the site, follow the simple directions and with a click or two, you will have your computer diagnosed and you will know what you are dealing with.

How can I prevent my computer from getting a virus?

Virus protection software should be on your computer at all times. If you connect to the Internet, you need to practice "safe computing" by protecting your computer with a good virus protection program. YOu can buy these at any computer store, or online through a number of reputable dealers. I recommend either the program that is sold on the trendmicro.com web site you were just using, or the old standby, Norton Utilities. They are less than $50. and come with free upgrades. All you do is open the package and slip the disc into your computer. It does it all by itself, and it will ask you to enter some information when it is finished. If you buy it online, you simply hit the download link, and wait. This is not a complicated procedure. Don't be afraid of this. It is vital that you do it.

 

 

 


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