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PC Rescue newsletter November 2007

Our November theme is choosing Internet providers. One of the biggest problems we see with home and small business users is buying the right Internet connection. This year's report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman shows problems are widespread and we'll tell you how to deal with them should you be affected.

As usual, we look at security problems but this month has a twist in that we are finally nasties aimed at the Apple Mac. While the Mac isn't going to be overwhelmed with the rubbish Windows users have to put up with any time soon, it's a reminder that all computer users have to be serious about security.

Spyware is one of our favourite pieces of jargon. Our jargon buster list is growing quickly and we've added a lot more explanations. If you've found a computer term that baffles you, send us an email and we'll do our best to find the answer and add it to the list.

We're pleased to announce you can now buy our books online. If you want to get more from your computer, our books and training courses can help you. They are the perfect Christmas gift for those that want to understand their IT systems.

Finally with Christmas approaching, we're looking at purchasing new computers. With the Aussie dollar high against the US dollar it's a great time to be buying a new system. We've a few hints on getting the most bang for your dollar.


ABC Radio Spots


Nightlife, nationally on ABC Local Radio
The next Nightlife spot is Friday, November 23 at 10.15pm and we'll be explaining how to choose the right Internet plan. 


Sydney 702 Weekend

Our next Weekend spot is Sunday, December 9 at 10.10am and we'll be discussing preparing your home and office for the Christmas break.


If you'd like to call, or offer any suggestions about the shows, please contact us.


Who says you can't get a good computer manual? Our Dummies books are now available online. If you want to learn more about your computer, we have the answers.


Ask us a question

Our website, IT Queries answers common computer problems.


If your computer is has a frustrating problem, have a look for an answer at our site.


If you don't find one, just ask on the IT Queries site and we'll get a solution for you.


Get PC Rescue to fix your computer problems almost anywhere in Australia

PC Rescue has gone national! You can call us 24 hours a day seven days a week from anywhere in Australia. We can get a technician to you next working day in most major centres


Call us on 1300 798 957


Our services include, 

Troubleshoot & fix your PC 

We come to your home or office to troubleshoot & fix irritating problems.


PC Clean and Check

Prevent common PC problems and increase your PCs lifespan with a PC clean and check. We will clean the internal workings of your computer, removing dust that causes overheating and poor performance and we will also reconfigure and optimise your desktop.


Helpdesk Support (per issue)
Do you have a problem you just can't fix? For a one off fee our professional helpdesk consultants can help. If we can't help you, we won't charge you, guaranteed! Time limit of one hour applies.


Network Set Up (Wireless/Wired)
Let us set up your home network quicly and easily. We'll also secure it so you don't get any unexpected visitors or excess Internet usage fees.


Call 1 300 798 957 for more details or visit our website for the details of more of our services.


PC Rescue Blogs


As well as our IT Queries website we also have two blogs commentating on current issues.


The Australian Technology Blog examines technology and trends that affect Australians


Cranky Tech is where we vent our spleens on issues relating to IT support and small business.

Buying a computer

Shopping around for technology can be tough. There's so many options to confuse even the most tech savvy buyer.

This month we've updated our advice on buying new computers. In researching the current deals, we've noticed how much the prices have dropped recently. We really would recommend buying a system if yours is feeling a bit old.

The most important thing to be looking for in a new system is getting enough RAM, or system memory. Some cheap systems have as little as 256Mb which will leave you weeping as the poor beast struggles with the demands of modern software. We recommend a mimimum of 1Gb in all systems and would really like you to get 2Gb.

Of course, buying a computer is much more complex than we cover here, visit our website to get the full rundown of what you should look for when buying a new system.

Getting the most from rebates

we've noticed the rise of American style rebate programs offering 100-150 dollars back with a computer or printer purchase. We hate rebate schemes as explained in our Cranky Tech blog. In the US, they are deeply unpopular for the same reasons we dislike them.

Rebate programs are a dreadful deal for consumers. You pay full price, fill in a form, send it off and wait weeks or months for a cheque to come back in the post. We strongly suggest you avoid rebate programs, but if you do encounter one then follow our advice on getting the best deal.

Choosing business computers

Business computers are different to home computers. What you need in a business is different to a home; reliability and speed are essentail. Unless you're an architect, graphic designer or engineer you probably don't need a high end system to run the office, accounting and Internet application most business use.

So you should look for something more basic, it should have that recommended 2Gb of RAM and a decent size hard drive of upwards of 120Gb but you don't need to be worrying about higher end graphics and sound features in many home computers. The idea is it should be more reliable as your business depends upon it. We'll be updating buying the business computers page later this week.

Buy your kids another computer

One thing to watch for with is if you are working from home, consider buying your kids another computer. The kids have a habit of hogging the best machine so if you give them the better computer as that will mean they won't mess around with your system.

Beware of business "freebies"

We've recently encountered a few business being caught out by "free" photocopiers and TVs being thrown in with business service plans and Internet deals. It turns out thes extras are covered by separate leases. When you cancel the service, you find you are still lumbered with a lease you didn't want.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has issued a warning about exactly this issue. They make the point these "deals" have even included washing machines and mobile phones.

Getting the most from an ISP

The main feature this month is choosing the right ISP. With the massive changes in the market, we've comprehensively re-written the choosing an ISP page. We've put in there everything you should look for when choosing an ISP. It's a complex area where making the wrong decision can be expensive.

The key to avoiding expensive surprises with your Internet provider is to put a limit on what you can spend. All ISPs have limits on how much data you can send and receive each month. Some will charge you if you go over that limit while others will slow you down once you reach it, the latter are called "capped" plans.

We recommend you only consider "capped" plans as these mean you can't get a huge bill from your ISP. Having an "excess charge" plan is the equivalent of writing a blank cheque to your provider. We've seen bills bigger than $25,000 for one month's usage.

Again, this is a big issue that's beyond this newsletter, have a look at our advice and make sure you get the best deal. Even if you already have a provider have a look as the market has become incredibly competitive. If you haven't reviewed your Internet plan in the last few years, you might be pleasantly surprised at the improvement and savings.

Door to door salespeople selling Internet plans 

We're hearing stories of door to door salespeople selling Internet plans and making some outrageous and incorrect statements to get the sale. The danger with door to door sales is it's totally commission driven so unscrupulous sales folk have been known to tell porkies to get their numbers. We recommend you don't sign up to any technology plan sold this way.

One big danger with this is that while the legal cooling off periods apply as they do with any door to door sale, the telcos act quickly to "churn" you to a new provider. Once you've moved across to an inferior sevice, you may not be able to get back to your old provider. So be aware of this trap.

Disputing a telco bill

It's not only dodgy door to door salesmen you have to watch for. The TIO's 2007 annual report is a terrible indictment on the IT industry with ISP complaints up by a disgraceful 108%. If you find yourself in dispute with a telco or ISP we have the rundown on how to deal with it on our website.

Cheap software warning

Microsoft are warning about a wave of cheap counterfeit software being released in Australia. This is a real concern for businesses as the anti piracy mechanisms in MS Office can leave you locked out of your own documents. It also exposes businesses to massive fines and civil proceedings.

The old saw is "if it's too good to be true, it probably is". Take care with cheap deals.

Adobe Acrobat updates

Acrobat has been a target of a lot of malware attacks recently after several security holes were been found in it. Adobe have released a major update to Reader and we strongly recommend you download and install it. If you are running a later version of Acrobat, you'll have probably been prompted to install it and we recommend you should follow that advice.

Adobe also has a removal tool for earlier versions of Acrobat as part of this month's automatic update package. One of the bugs with Acrobat is how poorly it removes old versions and how they interfere with each other.

If you have multiple versions of Adobe Reader on your system, we'd recommend uninstalling all the old versions. Be aware you may have to reinstall the latest version after uninstalling the rest.

Apple Nasties

The Apple Mac has been untouched by the wave of evil malware that's washed over the millions of Microsoft users. Recently though, a few real life Mac specific malware programs have been found on the net.

It would be unfair to call these Mac problems "viruses", the proper term is "Trojan horse" in that they have to pretend to be something else to fool the user into installing them. Usually they pretend to be music or video playing software.

If you get a message that this website requires certain software or "codec" to play a media clip then be very, very cautious. This is a classic way to be infected. Check the "codec" is legitimate before going ahead.

We'd prefer you not to download and install these things. Certainly, if you aren't sure what something is then don't accept it and certainly don't run them.

Jargon Buster

If you're being confused by tech terms, visit our jargon buster  web page.  If you'd like some jargon explained, drop us an email.

Jargon watch: Naked DSL

You may have seen adverts about "naked DSL" recently. DSL, Digital Subscriber Lines, is the technology that brings broadband Internet down the existing telephones lines.

Until recently, unless you were very rich, you had  to have a telephone line that was connected to the phone network, that meant a line rental and some monkeying around with equipment.

With recent changes to Telstra's wholesale prices, Internet providers can now offer services without going through the Telstra system. This means better service and prices.

Choosing computer gifts

This is the time of year to be looking at gifts for your nearest and dearest. If computers are their thing, then a technology gift is a great idea. We have some tips on the website on how to make sure you get the right gift for the nerd in your life.

Coming up on the website

All the topics in this newsletter are currently on, or will soon be on, the website. If you have any suggestions, comments or have spotted one of our numerous errors, let us know.


Paul Wallbank

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PC Rescue Pty Ltd, Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 36 082 635 765
©Technology Publishing Australia, 2007