1. Keeping Your Computer Safe - High-Speed Connections
Many of you, like I, have a high speed connection to the Internet at home, through a cable provider or through a DSL connection from a phone company. It makes using the Internet so much better to have a high speed connection, but there are dangers that you must protect yourself from. In order to offer this high speed link, your provider has set up a permanent (or semi-permanent) connection from your computer to the Internet. This means that anyone else on the Internet can access your computer if they know (or guess) the address that your provider has set up. There are many shady characters out there who have set up programs to scan all the addresses to find out who has a computer available on the other end. And when they find you, they can connect to your PC and find out what you have on your computer. Scary thing. But you can protect yourself. If you have a high speed connection, you should always have a hardware firewall to protect you. This small box, often called a cable/DSL router, sits between the Internet and your computer and is the only thing anyone outside can see. It prevents those outside from seeing past that small box, protecting your computer from prying eyes. These devices are available at all computer and electronics stores, just ask for a cable/DSL router and they will point you to a shelf full of them. My two preferred brands are Linksys (which I use) and Microsoft (which I have installed for others). You can get ones that allow four computers to be connected and share the high speed service, which is great if you have more than one computer in the house. You can also get a device that includes a wireless access point. This allows you to connect without wires by using a special wireless card that you install in your computer. If you go the wireless route, make sure you follow the instructions to set up high level encryption access to your device. I noticed unusual activity on our device one night and when I checked who was on, I found our neighbor was connected to our system! I quickly ended his session and turned on the highest level of security. These are the basics about using a cable/DSL router, if you need more details, search the articles in PC Magazine for articles that go into more technical details. In my experience, if you follow the instructions with the device, you will not have any problems.
2. New way to travel with your presentation I have discovered a new way to travel with your presentation that just may help you avoid buying a laptop computer. If you are presenting in a room where they already have a computer and projector set up (as many meeting rooms or conferences do these days), you may be able to use this method. It involves buying a USB hub, which is a small device that allows you to plug four USB devices into it and it then connects to one USB port on a computer (it costs about $15-20). Into this USB hub, you plug a USB drive (a small device that is like a hard drive but is made up of just memory chips) that contains your presentation (just plug it into your desktop computer and copy the presentation file over). You also plug in the receiver from your remote control (like the Interlink RemotePoint Navigator that I have recommended in the past). Now you can plug the USB hub into any other computer and it will recognize the devices and allow you to deliver your presentation from the computer that they already have. You may also need to carry the driver for the USB drive on CD because Windows 98 will not automatically recognize the device (most computers are running later versions of Windows these days). If the computer in the room does not have PowerPoint, you can also take the PowerPoint viewer along either on CD or on the USB drive. This approach gives you an option of carrying a very small package instead of a laptop and allows those with only desktop computers to take their presentation on the road. If you haven't got a USB drive yet, I suggest buying one that is at least 128 MB so that you can fit the new PowerPoint viewer that will be released later this year.
3. Useful Resource - PC Mag Windows XP Survival Guide
This recent article in PC Magazine is another example of the great stuff they write. It is full of tips on how to upgrade to Windows XP (if you are running Windows 98 or Windows ME, I strongly suggest upgrading) and to better use Windows XP. Two of my favorite tips are:
1) how to turn off IP messaging (those annoying pop-up messages that appear in the middle of your screen that you have to close every few minutes) link is: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1203121,00.asp
2) how to set the password so it never expires, link is: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1203115,00.asp The entire article is at this link: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1207086,00.asp