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PC Rescue newsletter December 2007

On behalf of everyone at PC Rescue we'd like to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. We hope you have a great holiday and a happy and prosperous 2008.
While we're all on holidays, our computers are still at risk so before you shut down your office or lock up your home to go away, make sure you turn off your computers and unplug them from both the power and the Internet.
We have the detailed checklist of what you should do on our website as our problem of the week.

Christmas and New Year are times when you should relax. Nothing can ruin your holidays by returning to find all your valuable data lost. By backing up your systems and taking some precautions you can relax that your business will be up and running quickly when you get back to work.
The newsletter this month looks at why protecting your wireless network is so important, we also have a look at recycling programs and try to cut through the confusing mess that is the Microsoft Office range.


ABC Radio Spots


If you have any suggestions for our times or improvement to our segments please contact the Weekend or Nightlife producers in the next few weeks.
Nightlife, nationally on ABC Local Radio
The next Nightlife spot is TuesdayDecember 25 at 10.15pm and we'll be explaining how to choose the right Internet plan. 


702 Sydney Weekends

We don't have any dates confirmed for the Weekend show over the summer break. We will be doing some and we'll advise newsletter subscribers as soon as we know the dates. 


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.

PCs for Dummies

Internet for Dummies

Laptops for Dummies


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.


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.

Microsoft Office confusion

It's hard not to come to the conclusion that the main aim of Microsoft's business is to confuse customers. Not content with five different versions of Vista, they have THIRTEEN different versions of Microsoft Office available. We discuss the differences between the different versions on the website.

It's useful to understand the differences as the right choice can give you big price savings. For instance the Academic Edition of Office Professional is 60% cheaper, being a saving of $500. On the other hand if you make the wrong choice, you could end up having to buy another version or, much worse, being accused of software piracy.

Generally the cheapest versions are for academic users, home users qualify for this if someone in the household is a student. If you want to use Office in a business then you have to buy the most expensive version. 

Business users should also keep in mind that using academic or home editions for commercial use is a breach of the licence and can result in hefty fines and damages.

We try to make sense of this on the website. If you are still confused (and who isn't) contact your local IT guy or computer shop for more advice. Of course, you can always ditch Microsoft Office and use an alternative.

Transistors turn sixty

The one device that's responsible for all of this qualifies for a Seniors Card this week. Without the transistor, we wouldn't have a fraction of the technology we know take for granted. Still, vacuum tubes can look better.

Jargon Watch: Beta software

In the modern computing world there's an almost infinite number of combinations of software and equipment people use on their computers.

This makes testing computer software extremely difficult as no company can predict exactly what their customers will do with the product. To overcome this, software companies release a test edition called a Beta version.

The idea is people will test the product in their home or office and report back any bugs they find. It's like Holden giving you a new Commodore for free on the understanding you'll tell them if the brakes don't work.

Running beta software is strictly for computer geeks, IT techs and people who like to fiddle with their computers. Normal people should avoid Beta software like the plague.

In the last fortnight Microsoft have announced the beta releases of service packs for Windows Vista and Windows XP. 

While we are genuinely waiting with bated breath for both of these to be released, we recommend you don't install the test versions. So why are service packs so important?

Microsoft service packs

One of the constants in the IT industry is that technology is always changing. It means products have to be constantly updated and that presents a big challenge for software companies. Microsoft partly manage this by releasing service packs.

A service pack is a big package of all the recent updates to a program bundled together. Usually Microsoft take the opportunity to improve things that don't work quite right.

This latter point is why we recommend you wait until the first service pack of any Microsoft product is released. Otherwise you're buying a bunch of bugs as many Vista users have found.

Both Windows Vista and XP will have service packs out before Easter. The first Vista service pack will flag the time to consider Vista. For XP users, the exceptional and disgraceful three years it's taken to get a new service pack out mean this one will be essential. 

Computer recycling

If your Christmas means you'll be getting rid of of your old computer or mobile phone, we have links to to some of the recycling schemes available.

Dell will take your computers away for a fee and the mobile muster will get rid of your old mobile. Victorian readers can take advantage of the new

Green IT will be one of the big issues in 2008 and we'll be discussing this extensively over next year. Recycling of old equipment is only part of the bigger picture, saving power, paper and other consumables is another issue. One of the big questions is how we can extend the lives of existing equipment.

Why passwords are like underwear

1. Change yours often.
2. Don't leave it lying around.
3. Don't share yours with anyone else.
4. The longer the better.
5. Be mysterious.

Securing your wireless network

We've warned for many years that it's important to secure your wireless network. A recent police arrest shows just how dangerous unsecured wireless networks can be. Basically it allows the bad guys to use your network to do their dirty deeds, which means you get the knock on the door when the police come looking.

You should make sure your network has a minimum of WPA security enabled on it. We discuss this in detail on the website and you should take this seriously. If you don't understand how to do it, call in a tech.

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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©Technology Publishing Australia, 2007