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Computers
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Our recommended programs

We use millions of lines of code these days to run our Computers. From business, education to design and gaming, the little PCs have come a long way since the early Eighties. Apart from the washing up (unfortunately!) computers can do just about anything to run and manage your life, and earn an income. However, with all the goodies, attractive graphics and high-speed communication comes a series of headaches.

The first starts off slowly, in fact too slowly for you to notice at first. That is because you have been overlooking a few basic housekeeping routines. As a result the computer begins to get bogged down with unnecessary files, left over program code and other garbage. Only after some months does it dawn on you that your PC performance has noticeably deteriorated. Then there is the frightening array of nuisance attacks and security issues that add to your headaches. They are not going to go away, and in fact you are going to have to invest some time and money in protecting your privacy and personal data.
That’s only the beginning. The cost of running your computer and keeping it up to date starts mounting. You search for better alternatives, but too often you run into a cul-de-sac only to find the promises and the program you purchased were a waste of time, money and hard disk space.
With all those millions of lines of code to run it is perhaps not surprising that even programmers leave mistakes behind and fail to find some of the errors. Indeed, it has become almost impossible to guarantee one program will not clash with another as they whiz through your CPU side by side.
So, how do you find a well-written program that will do the job properly?
What we want is the most cost-effective way of enjoying high speed computing in a highly secure environment. This series of articles will report on our voyage of discovery to achieve just that. We will guide you on how to keep your computer in tip-top condition, and how to keep it secure. At the same time we will keep the costs down to a minimum. One or two programmes we recommend might cost from US$15 to $40 but a great many will be free. We will discuss them in detail in the rest of the series. But for now here is a brief list, firstly in order of defence, followed by housekeepers and finally a brief list of programs we like. By Nigel Benetton

1] Defenders

Mailwasher — this little program allows you to verify email before downloading it.
An older version for this is recommended. Go to www.oldversion.com and if it isn’t listed, go to the bottom of the page and Google it.

ZoneAlarm — simply a must. This is a high level firewall that traps a great deal of naughty things at the gate: www.zonealarm.com

Windows Defender — Microsoft’s antispyware package is a useful corollary at: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx

Lavasoft Ad-Aware SE — probably one of the best anti adware and spyware programs with frequent updates, and a removal service. www.lavasoftusa.com

Avast! — Anti-virus program we prefer to Norton at www.avast.com.

CureIt — Dr Web Anti Virus first aid. Quick scanner to check up on your other anti virus programs! www.drweb.com

Netcraft Toolbar — An antiphishing tool bar for Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox web browser that gives site safety reports. http://toolbar.netcraft.com

2] Housekeepers

Cache Cleaner — cCleanerSetup removes unused files from your system, cleans up your browser tracks and much more. www.ccleaner.com

Belarc Adviser — a PC audit report than produces a full list of all your computer software, settings, hardware and security detail. Works online. www.belarc.com

Registry Platinum Cleaner — a program that scans and fixes piles of errors in your Windows registry. www.registry-repair-software.com One of the few programs here you need to consider paying for.

Startup Monitor —this will notify you when any program registers itself to run at system startup. It prevents annoying programs from registering themselves behind your back. You then decide. At the same site is StartUp Control Panel you can use to configure what you want to run. www.mlin.net

3] Nice to have.

Mozilla Firefox — internet browser preferred to the over popular Internet Explorer. www.mozilla.org
Foxit Reader — for .PDF files more advanced than the free version Adobe Acrobat, and still free. www.foxitsoftware.com
TypoGraf — very good font organiser. Costs a bit. www.neuber.com
Virtual CD — copies the CD to a virtual hard disk drive and loads the program without original CD. Long reliable history and we have been using it for years. Cost around $30 www.virtualcd-online.com/
RealPopup — only program we’ve found to type messages between PCs on your local network that works with all Windows operating systems. You can find it at www.tucows.com or www.download.com
FreeClock — decent more readable system tray clock than the cruddy Microsoft offering, that shows the day and month too. Different skins available. www.drive-software.com
BizWare Magic Date — a desktop calendar you can quickly load to check dates, then close. www.bizwaremagic.com

Footnote: Please note, if any of the links fail to work, backspace to the previous hash and try again, or work your way back to the root address. You can also Google the program you want and you will get directions. At www.oldversion.com you will find quite a few of the programs also listed, though these may be older versions, sometimes they work better or, at least, the free versions retained more features. If you don’t come right, please write to editor@insurance-times.net.
 

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.7 1st August, 2007
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