Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

 PC Rescue logo

PC Rescue newsletter February 2008

This month we look at Tony Delroy's additional tech spot on jargon, ask why Canberra has a problem with the Internet and maintain our aversion to Windows Vista despite Service Pack 1 being released.

We've been getting a lot of feedback from both consumers and businesses about how difficult it is to buy technology. So we've updated our computer specs page to help buyers with the basics and we'll be looking at the issue on the next ABC Nightlife segment.

The spyware epidemic seems to be easing but it still pays to be on guard as the infections we see are nastier and more difficult to remove. We discuss below why Myspace and Facebook users should be particularly on guard.

While the bad guys can make our computing lives a misery, we can do a pretty good job of on our own. One way to do this is to abuse your email. We start this month's newsletter with a warning about not rashly hitting the send button.


email pictureEmail Etiquette

A Brisbane restaurant got a rude reminder of why it is important to think before you send an email. By calling a customer an idiot they managed to get international attention. Someone once said that all publicity is good publicity, but they probably didn't have international noterietory in mind.

Most of us have regretted sending an email that could have been worded better or simply shouldn't have been sent at all. That in mind, we'll be revisiting our email etiquette guidelines on this weekend's ABC Sydney spot.


Retired software

Software and hardware companies regularly stop supporting older products. This is because management have decided the cost of keeping the product up to date with technology and security developments isn't justified. They normally call this "the end of support" .

While this means the product no longer gets updated and the maker won't help you with problems, it doesn't mean you can't use it. There's plenty of people using ancient (1996) printers and more than a few using Mac OS 9, Windows 95 and 98. As long as the system keeps working, many people don't have reason to change.

The downside with using the older products is that they won't support newer systems and you can't do the flashiest and latest things on them. However that's fine for many people who just need a computer for a few basic tasks.

Over time though, things do fall behind or fail and moving to a new program or system becomes necessary.

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

PCs for Dummies
Internet for Dummies
Laptops for Dummies



Goodbye Netscape

AOL's abandoning Netscape is an example of a company finishing support, but it's also the end of an era for the Internet; Netscape was not only the first commonly used web browser but it's stock market float in 1995 triggered the dot com mania of the late 1990s.

The death of Netscape prompted a lot of calls to our last ABC Nightlife spot. while Netscape's no longer supported by AOL, it can still be used and still lives on in the form of Mozilla Firefox. While not many people used Netscape itself any more, which was the reason for AOL finishing support, it was an alternative to the Internet Explorer monolith.

Netscape in the end was a victim of Microsoft's determination to "own" the web through Internet Explorer. While they succeeded in crushing Netscape, the deep integration of IE into Windows gave rise to the spyware epidemic that has plagued Windows users for the last five years.


Alternatives to Internet Explorer

Spyware is in a slight decline due to improved security in Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7 but it is still a problem. The number one way of reducing your risk of being caught by malicious software is to avoid using IE for general web surfing. Our preferences are Mozilla Firefox and Opera.

You can't get rid of Internet Explorer as it's a fundamental part of Windows ME, XP and Vista. You wouldn't want to anyway as some websites only work properly on the Microsoft product and you need to use Internet Explorer for those websites to work. For general web surfing where you can't trust everything you visit, it's best sticking to Opera or Firefox.

Business tech talk column

This month, Paul's weekly Tuesday blog on the Smart Company website looked at email disasters, the hackers inside your business and how the Internet increases business complexity

Smart Company is a free news, information and resource site for Australia's entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises. You can subscribe to Paul's, and other articles, for free by registering on the website.

Social networking bugs

A good example of where it's good to avoid Internet Explorer is when visiting MySpace. In an effort to give anyone over 23 a migraine, MySpace users cover their pages in plugins that make their sites more interesting to their friends and even more painful to their older siblings and parents.

The problem is some of these plugins are less than trustworthy and try to install malware and other unsavoury tricks. If you or one of your family are a MySpace or Facebook user, please be careful about the applications you add to your page. If you're a regular visitor to these sites, stick to using Firefox or Opera.


IE Tabs

Some callers to this month's ABC Nightlife computer spot mentioned you can use the IETabs add-in to get Internet Explorer specific sites to work on Firefox.

In our view IETabs adds the Internet Explorer security holes to Firefox and defeats the purpose of avoiding Internet Explorer. We'd recommend not installing it and simply using Internet Explorer on sites that wouldn't work otherwise.


Tuning your computer

Keeping your computer in good shape not only makes it faster and easier to use but also extends the life of the system. So an hour or so a month of regular maintenance can save you a bundle of money and time.

We have a run down on what to do as this week's problem of the week. You may be surprised at how much difference cleaning the junk off your system can make.


Archiving folders

An important aspect of cleaning your computer is to keep your inbox to reasonable limits. Leaving too much mail in your inbox is a common mistake. The problem with an overfull inbox is that email programs don't like it can cause computers to crash and lose data.

Fortunately you can control your inbox through archiving and other methods, this files older emails away from the inbox in a way that's still accessible. We have the instructions on the PC Rescue website.


Vista Service pack 1

We've been advising prospective computer buyers to hold off Windows Vista until the first Service Pack is released. That pack was released to manufacturers at the beginning of the month.

So far it's appearing that the service pack doesn't really address many of the difficulties customers were finding with Vista. Given the way Microsoft have released it, there's also few systems on the shelves that currently have the newer version installed.

Overall, we'd still recommend customers stick with XP for the moment. There's very few compelling reasons to buy Vista and a lot of downsides. Unfortunately, laptop buyers are finding it difficult to get hold of Windows XP for many portable systems.


ABC Radio Spots

The March radio spots are on over the next two weeks. For Nightlife listeners in WA, Victoria and Tasmania this is the next Friday spot is the last you'll hear on air before the AFL season starts. For Sydney listeners, this Weekend's spot is one of the rare appearences of Simon Marnie.

702 Sydney Weekends

The next Weekend spot is 10am Sunday, March 2 when we'll be discusssing email etiquette and Internet disaters.

Nightlife, nationally on ABC Local Radio

The next Nightlife spot is Friday, March 7 at 10.15pm when we'll be looking at buying a computer and is the Mac a better option. 

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


Types of Vista

If you are forced to buy a system equipped with Vista, insist on Vista Home Premium or Vista Business. The appropriately named Vista Home Basic supplied by many bottom end machines has very little in the way of features or benefits. It's shame Microsoft had to insist on so many different versions; at least when you buy a Mac you get a full feature OS with no nonsense.


Buying a computer

The mind boggling range of different operating system versions is one of the reasons so many consumers find it confusing when buying a computer. A lot of callers on the Nightlife spot mentioned how daunting the process is.

There's no doubt about it: vendors and shops make it hard to wade through the jargon. We're constantly updating the Jargon buster and buying a computer pages to reflect what you should be looking for in a new system. If you are still confused, ask us and we may be able to help.


End of the free web filters

The Federal government has flagged the end of the Netalert program and the free Internet filters. If you want a free filter to protect your family get yours while you can.

The poor take up rate of these filters is an interesting subject. Despite the former Federal government spending $22 million publicising the scheme, less than 150,000 copies were downloaded and fewer than 30,000 are in use. We suspect it's due to the complexity of these programs and we'll probably explore this on a future Nightlife spot.

The Federal government is now proposing forcing all ISPs to provide a "clean feed" that takes out offensive content despite the fact previous trials have failed. This raises the problem of how they are going to get one to work and who exactly is going to monitor and administer the thing, not to mention just who is going to pay for it.


Ask us a question

Our sister website, IT Queries answers common computer problems.

If your computer has a frustrating problem, have a look for an answer at IT Queries. If you don't find one, just ask on the IT Queries site and we'll get a solution for you.


Canberra's war on the Internet

You have to wonder what Internet providers have done to upset the new Federal government. The mandatory family friendly feed is one proposed headache, but another area of concern is the Federal government is considering a UK proposal for ISPs to monitor and police file sharing.

On many fronts this is bad news. Should this come into law, we will see an increase in ISP charges and innocent users having their Internet connections cut off for false positives. This is a bad idea designed to protect the failing and incompetent record companies at the expense of the wider community.

Given the new government seems to be determined to repeat the mistakes of the previous government, you have to ask if this urge to cripple the Internet is something deep in the parliamentary psyche or perhaps something in the Canberra water. We'll be watching these developments with a lot of interest over the next few months

Business 1500 Bundle

Jargon Watch

This Friday night (February 29) from 10pm Tony Delroy will be looking at how technology has changed the way we speak with Kel Richards and Roly Sussex. This may be good opportunity to ask about any jargon that baffles you.

Jargon of the month: Digital Natives

This is one of our favourites. Digital Natives are those who have grown up with digital technology such as computers, mobile phones and video games; basically anyone born after 1985. The idea is the digital natives have a better grasp of technology than the "digital immigrants" who have learned to use technology as adults.

Alas, all is not well in the land where the digital natives rule. Research by the British Library showed the "Google Generation" aren't so hot at using the web after all. This isn't surprising to anyone who deals with family computer issues.

One of the topics of Paul's talks is "taming the digital natives" where we look at the reality behind the myths that older computer users are at a disadvantage to younger users. If you'd like a speaker at your business or community event, we can help you.


Next month on the website

In March, we have a good range of topics lined up. We'll be looking at buying a computer, the pros and cons of Macs and PCs, the latest laptops and troubleshooting wireless connections.

If you have a topic you'd like us to discuss on the websites, Smart Company blog or the radio spots please contact us.


If you wish to unsubscribe, please send a message to

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