PC Propaganda

We have all heard those commercials on the radio or T.V. that claim they can clean your PC; or even speed it up.  Malarkey, I say…MALARKEY!!!  I believe they like to talk a bunch of garbage, but they never take it to the curb.   It’s like the late night infomercials selling you rubber spray paint or cleaner for your foggy headlights, or a pill to add extra inches to your wiener.  They make it sound like the greatest thing ever; but Billy Mayes they are not.  Speaking of that headlights cleaner stuff; I don’t think I buy into that junk.  I mean, a majority of the fogginess comes from condensation from inside the headlight.  I honestly don’t think it is designed to seep through the lens and go to the inside then, magically, clean itself.  Face it Fast Brite, you are not Scrubbing Bubbles, I’m sorry… Anyway, back to actual technology…Don’t buy into those “speeds up and cleans my PC” commercials –   it’s garbage! They simply want to take your $5 and give you .02¢ worth of product.  If you want a fast PC then don’t download tool bars, go to websites unknown to you, download “free” music or movies, or let your “friend” borrow it.  “Uh, I let my friend, uh, John, borrow my laptop and, uh, I think he got it infected.  Uh, there’s porn popping up all over it.  Uh, how did, uh, he do that?!” Riiiight…friend…  Bo’s here to tell you that there are other ways to keep you computer clean and running quickly.  Also, I promise you did not win a free iPad.  That’s bogus, too.

First and foremost; stay away from the craziness that is MyWebSearch and FunWebProducts. Some antivirus companies don’t classify these, digital cockroaches, as infections or adware, but others do – which are the ones that do I completely agree with. Both of these are adware; programs that are designed to download and play ads automatically on your computer.  They will also redirect you when browsing to a web address. For example; if you typed in www.google.com and hit enter you may be taken to http://www.funwebproducts.com/the_amazing_headlights_cleaner_and_restorer_that_doesnt_actually_work_but_you_buy_it_anyway.  I don’t necessarily consider them “infections” but they don’t exactly protect you from infections either; quite the opposite, actually, this stuff is like blood in the water for sharks.  At least if you have credible antivirus software you’re in a cage “You go in the cage, cage goes in the water, sharks in the water our shark.” Sometimes, however, you may get an infection that disables your antivirus and you’re left dead in the water.  At that point, your only option may be to take it to the pros.

Online couponing seems to be the new rage amongst you crazy kids nowadays, but this can also lead to trouble; much like MyWebSearch you’re jumping into a den of snakes.  Please…please…please…download Firefox and use the Web of Trust add-on. It will make your coupon searching much easier and safer if you follow the little green circle. “Dern Skippy it will, Bo.  Web of Trust will guide them to a better web surfing environment, because its Open Source.” Thanks, Ray. I see computers everyday where people have downloaded coupon programs or gone to sites and their computer is now infected.  Coupons are thrifty and all but do you really want to spend the money to have me fix it because you saved $1.25 on Nasonex?  Well, I want you to spend the money to have me fix it but that’s your call.

When you download some programs you’re asked to install a toolbar; I assure you, that you do not need this tool bar.  Not only will it clog up your browser like John Candy’s arteries but it will slow down your web surfing experience.  Internet Explorer and Firefox have a search bar installed by default.  It’s located in the upper right hand side of the browsers and functions the same as going to Google, Yahoo, or Bing and typing in your search query.  So, when you’re installing a new program, instead of hitting “next – I agree – next – OK – next – Yes, I’m sure – next – next”, take the time to see what it is you’re doing, because you can usually uncheck the box that installs the “load crap on my PC” toolbar.

“AOL, you miserable son of a – OH HI!” If you couldn’t tell, I’m not a fan of AOL in the least.  AOL is the Al Gore of the internet;   they both continue to claim to have invented it, even though we all know better and neither one will go away.  Sure, there may be a particular feature of AOL that you like and want to use (AOL Mail, AIM, etc.), so once it’s downloaded not only will it be there but a ton of bloatware from AOL will be there as well.  It’s called “bloatware” because it’s useless junk you don’t need or want and all it does is crowd your computer and make it run like one of Jeff Goldblum’s monologs.  You no longer need to use AOL for any reason, unless you have an email address that you just can’t part with.  You can check your email at http://www.aol.com, but you do not need to download anything from them to check it…I promise.

I mentioned bloatware above, and I don’t want you to think that it’s just centralized to AOL; Bloatware comes from all types of different places.  Quite a bit of it comes from when you first purchase a brand new machine.  Along with the bloatware comes vaporware; free trial junk.  When you first turn it on, go through your lengthy set up process, and finally get to your desktop you’ll notice several icons that really aren’t necessary.  A majority of this is from companies who have contracts with whomever you purchased the computer.  For example: if you bought your new laptop at BestBuy you might see icons for Roxio, Napster, and several others.  Basically what they want you to do is use the trial period or see what they offer, if you like it then you can purchase it, but it’s mostly junk you don’t need or want. There are also many programs that install things and you don’t even know they’re there; Wildtangent, for one, is a site where you can install and play games; you can also get a lot of bloatware from there too along with other sites of that nature.  “But, Bo! I use Firefox and the Web of Trust and wildtangent.com has the little green circle beside it! What the poop, man?”  I’ll tell you what the poop, don’t download anything from there, you can play the flash games all you want just don’t download anything.

There is so much more I could cover but I don’t want to overload you.  Please, just be cautious and educate yourself on how to protect your computer.  These  machines are now an everyday part of life; we do so much on them and if we lost them we would be lost.  There are people   out there, who know this all too well and will exploit us for every dime we have.  Use your head, don’t hesitate to read what you don’t understand, and feel free to send us, at Tech Corner, your questions. Take time when installing something and pay attention to every detail of what you’re doing.  A little rule I go by is, “if it’s not at www.ninite.com, chances are I don’t need it”.

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