Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Clean Computing and a Better Life

For some folks, their New Year's Resolution is to finally do something about the things that they've been tolerating that are really driving them nuts. If you've been putting up with any of those annoying little technical issues we all see from time to time, maybe I can help - or maybe you have ideas that will help others.

I know we all hate pop-ups and spam. Now I'm beginning to hear from more people whose computers are "hijacked" by some of the adware and spyware that gets installed (unbeknownst to the user) when visiting various sites. Kind of a pain, and being a geek does not always make us any less prone to such things.

In trying to help out some family members whose computers had been hijacked, I ran across a useful site that will check for you to see if any detectable parasites are using your browser. One one computer alone, I was able to detect and find instructions for removing Newdotnet, BDE, DownloadWare, EnhanceWindow, SaveNow, and SCBar. is the website that supplied me with all the useful information, so thanks to Andrew Clover for making this possible.

For blocking pop-ups and having some control over the allowing those to come through that I do want to see, I'm still largely in favor of the Google Toolbar. I'm sure there are aspects to this feature that could be seen as suspicious... I just haven't been personally offended by any of them yet and I have been concerned about what might be happening with other popular pop-up blockers. For example, one person I was trying to help had trouble using PanicWare in allowing desirable pop-ups to come through - it could be because this person isn't real technical, but hey, you shouldn't have to be, should you?

Spam filtering is getting better at work (when they shell out the bucks for fancy applications) and through some email services. What do you do if you're one of those caught betwixt and between? If you're using Outlook and are still in need of something good, check out SpamBayes as it seems to work pretty darned well without a whole lot of effort or trauma on my part. I've started to run into some instances when it won't move messages I want to Recover from Spam or Delete as Spam, however I'm chalking it up to a memory issue I know I have. What's that about the cobbler's children having no shoes?

If you know of tools or helpful websites out there that others might benefit from knowing about, please send them along to I'd like to share whatever's useful.

Some folks (especially the geeks, right?) may find it tougher to address non-technical issues in their lives. These are worth addressing too and there are lots of great self-help books and coaches out there to help tackle whatever it is... providing you don't think you're above all that sort of thing and you understand that the personal issues sometimes take a little time to work through. For some things, there just isn't a silver bullet; that doesn't make them any less worthwhile pursuing.

What's one thing that you want to be different this year? And are you willing to actually do something about it?

Tolerate less and enjoy more.