Issue #51 February 3, 2004

1. Removing Spyware

If you have had your web browsing suddenly slow down or you have noticed that strange things happen when browsing, you may have run into a problem I had last fall - spyware. Spyware is a term referring to programs that are usually installed without us realizing it. It may be installed by a program that loads from a graphic you click on, hidden in a utility you download or attached to file sharing applications. The purpose of these programs is to feed information about your browsing to third parties, which use them primarily for advertising purposes, but may be using them for worse. Last fall I had a problem with a program that took over my browsing experience. It would highlight certain words on pages and turn them into links to other sites. It would automatically open new sites based on words I typed in to the address bar. It took me a while to figure out what was going on and I still don't have any idea how this program got onto my PC. If you suspect you are having a similar problem, you need to get a great free utility called Spy- Bot Search and Destroy. It is available for download at http://security.kolla.de. Be sure to read the instructions before you use it, especially the part about downloading the latest file of spyware programs to detect (it is like virus protection software, you always need the latest file of threats to detect). I had to run it three or four times to clean out that spyware program, including rebooting so it could wipe out the part of the spyware program that automatically loaded every time I booted my computer (see how insidious these programs can be!). Search and Destroy will detect certain types of programs that you will not want to wipe out, such as the Google toolbar, so carefully select what you want it to delete, don't just use blind faith and delete everything it suggests may be a problem. Highly recommended if you have seen your browsing speed drop or funny things happening to your PC.

2. High-Speed Internet at Hotels - part 1

If you travel at all, you have probably thought about trying the high-speed Internet service provided by many hotels these days. It is usually an additional cost and is it really worth it? If you have tried these services already, you know as I do, that it is something that I now cannot live without. I have experienced the high-speed offerings at a number of hotels over the past 18 months and in the first of a three-part series that starts in this issue, I want to pass on some advice from my experiences. Today we will look at how to tell what type of service a hotel really offers. Because I rely so much on the Internet to communicate with all of you and my clients, I now have at the top of my hotel criteria list that they have high-speed Internet access in the rooms. In fact, I am to the point where, unless the client specifies where I must stay, I will choose a hotel with high-speed over a hotel that is closer to the client location. This is so important to business travellers today that it seems like almost every hotel advertises that they have high- speed Internet. The problem is that hotels use the term very loosely and it can mean very different things. It may mean that they simply have a high-speed connection in their business center. And many times, that high-speed line is permanently connected to a desktop PC, meaning you can't hook up your laptop to make a high-speed connection. If they do offer high-speed in their rooms, check to see if they offer it in every room or not. Some hotels are adding in-room high-speed floor by floor, and you will have to ask that you get a room that does have high-speed in the room. Make the request when you reserve the room or all the rooms with high-speed may be gone when you check in. Some now even offer wireless access, so check to see what type of connection they offer before you get there, or you may not be able to access the service. Next issue we will look at how the connection in the room works and how to get up and running with the high-speed service.

3. Useful Resource - Faster Windows Boot Time

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that the length of time it takes to start my computer seems to get longer for no apparent reason sometimes. It is to the point with some people that they turn their PC on, go get a cup of coffee and by the time they are back, it might be ready to go. I recently came across a good article from PC World on how to get Windows to boot faster. It gives tips and links to more information, so if you want to see if you can speed up your boot time, check out this link: http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,112923,00.asp