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.
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.
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.
can subscribe to Paul's, and other articles, for free
on the website.
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
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.
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.
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
PC Rescue website.
Vista Service pack 1
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.
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.
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.
The next Weekend spot is 10am Sunday, March
2 when we'll be discusssing email etiquette and Internet
nationally on ABC Local Radio
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Our sister website,
IT Queries answers common computer
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.
war on the Internet
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
you have a topic you'd like us to discuss on the websites,
Smart Company blog or the radio spots please contact
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