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Laptop is a little safer with cables

School is back in session for most of us, and the mailbox is bulging with spam and warnings about virus-filled mails I never sent. Let's try to wade through the junk and answer your questions.

Question: You mentioned getting a security cable for a laptop computer to keep someone from stealing it. I looked at them in the store and they were about $30. It seems to me someone can just break the plastic slot in the laptop or cut the cable and take the laptop.

Answer: The cables are designed to stop "crimes of opportunity," not prepared criminals. The slots on laptops that accept the cables are metal reinforced behind the plastic, which makes the slots much stronger than they look. The cables are steel and would take bolt-cutters to cut, which is not exactly standard equipment for kids in dorm rooms, motel maids or office cleaners. So they are cheap and moderately effective. There are other items, including small alarms, glue-on thingys and other options, that you can try. All are better than nothing.

Question: I may have my newspaper articles mixed up, but I thought it was your article that said "Ad Adware" was almost a necessity. So I installed it. Now I keep getting e-mail messages saying to check my system and if it's in my system, to uninstall it. What gives?

Answer: Ad-Aware, a program that hunts down spyware and other Trojans on your PC, is a great program, especially considering it's free. Just update the program every few months and run the scan again.

Question: We recently moved, switched our server and installed a new computer. I am now being bombarded with pop-up advertising. Many are for graphic porn sites. At times I will have to close 10 to 12 screens just to get back to the desktop. I do not want my son to walk in on any of these screens … What can I do to block this?

Answer: This is a perfect time to install two things; one is a pop-up stopper. There are good ones you can buy and a good free one. Check out PanicWare for the pay one and Google's new toolbar for the free one. Head to toolbar.google.com and download the free toolbar. I would download the basic (non-enhanced one). As for your porno spam, I would also install the basic version of Ad-Aware and scan your PC. You can get Ad-Aware at www.lavasoft.de.

Lastly, disable the Windows Messenger Service on your PC. Most people are running Windows XP and I will tell you how to do that. (For other operating systems, type in "disable Windows Messenger Service" in google.com and you will find other instructions. On XP Home:

Click Start and go to Settings on Control Panel

Click Performance and Maintenance

Click Administrative Tools

Double-click Services

Scroll down and highlight Messenger

Right-click the highlighted line and choose Properties.

Click the Stop button.

Select Disable or Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar

Click OK

WEEKLY WEB WONDER: Check out Spam (www.spam.org) for details on how to improve the spam load in your mailbox each month. It has lots of helpful hints.


James Derk is new media editor for The Evansville Courier & Press. His e-mail address is jderk@evansville.net.