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TUMBLEWEED HANDYMAN CORNER

 
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...COMPUTER CRUNCHES



 

 

      I know next to nothing about a computer other than when mine goes haywire I want to do to it what the fellow in the picture is doing to his. I'm going to tell you everything I know about the computer, so this page should be very short.

    Although I know little about the computer, I've spent a lot of time on the computer, and I've had to work around problems most people just pay someone else to fix. I can't do that, so here goes nothing:

NEW TECHNOLOGY:

    It stinks. It seems the more they learn about the computer, the more they fix it, the worse it gets. I have a computer I bought way back when they ran at a snail's pace, with 64 megabytes of ram and running Windows 95, and it's still works like it did when it was new. The older hard disks when the computer goes bad I can still read off the disk and copy the information to another source. No more. When the disk dies, as it's scheduled to do on or before three years, that's it. It's gone. I have a few new disks that can't be read that's either gone out on me or that I obtained from some other source. And I have some computers that lost it's hard drive, that I replaced, but it won't load the program. Ass for me I run Windows Millennium on an old library throwaway that came with Windows 95 and has a 5 gig hard drive, and it's still going strong.

    What am I saying here? I'm saying that if your new computer goes out and you're dead in the water, your computer is doing what it's supposed to do. Just make sure you're constantly making backups because that's your insurance. And don't count on your flash drives, I've had some that were bad out of the box, and others that burned my information and made it unusable. If you save to disk, which you should, test the disk to make sure your information is there. I've burned disk that verified that the burn went well, and I could see that the information is on the disk, but the info is unreadable or it says the disk is empty.

VIRUSES AND ANTI-VIRUSES:

    First the antiviruses. If you're buying one you're throwing your money away, especially if you're using a operating system program or computer that's more than two years old. The antiviruses are so heavy and complicated any more, especially the big name brands, that it takes all the power of the older machines just to run them. An older machine they will bog down to a snail's pace, if they run at all. Even the free antiviruses that used to be so light are now so heavy any more I can't possibly update them. I've let them run all night while updating, and the next morning I had nothing. If you use such a thing, let it update itself regularly on it's own, setting it to update when you're sleeping. Of course I'm talking about those of us on a slow line, not these fast lines like WiFi. If you're running one of these, then you got money, and you shouldn't be spying on us poor folk.

ZOMBIES:

    A zombie is a computer that an illegal company or individual uses to do business through without the owner's knowledge. These "business" send their information through computers that are on all the time, sometimes passing information through as many as 5 computers I understand. When the illegal action is discovered by the authorities, the source leads to you. And of course your computer is loaded with evidence that can be used to convict you. I suggest only turning your machine on when you use it. And be careful who uses your machine, and learn how to check to see where it's been if others use it. What they see is on your machine, not there's.

CHEAP ANTIVIRUSES.

    AVG and Avast! puts out free antiviruses that are on par with any of the big boys, and they're totally free. But make sure you get the antivirus from a safe source. There are people out there selling viruses under the cloak of being an antivirus or a registry cleaner or some other needful thing. I suggest going to Cnet for your programs. They have some amazing products to offer, and many of them are free. And they test what they offer for viruses and ads.

VIRUSES:

    We think we're safe if we stay in the common zone. This isn't true. What viruses I've had, which aren't all that many, have come through music or Christian sources. Anyone can call their website anything they want. There's no trick in seducing someone to a person's phony website. To learn more about these things, check the web. There's lots of information about how to avoid (if that's possible) viruses and other problems that are transmitted over the web.

    Remember, what comes over the web can and will be in your flash drives or copied onto your CD disks. I have a virus I got from a music company in MIDI form, a popular song way back when, that keeps popping up every time I load my music from disk to my hard drive.

POP-UPS

    They're everywhere. Never click on a pop up. Usually the pop up will have a place to click where it says if you don't want to receive this pop up, or you don't want the product or the window in the way, click here. Never do it. Anywhere you click you're saying yes, and you're telling the man behind the pop up that you're a live one. If it's simply a business looking for hot prospect, you put yourself high on that list because you show yourself to be a responder. I used to be a door-to-door salesman, and I found that people who post a no solicitor sign usually does so because they have no sales resistance. Never click a pop up, especially those that say they've tested your machine and found 15 million viruses. If you have an antivirus, you will recognize it's postings, and it won't be a general pop up or say "Windows somethingorother. Shut off your machine and run your antivirus, and let it check your boot time start up later on.

    Some of the viruses destroy your machine, even getting into the CMOS. If that happens the chances are you've lost your machine. I've seen one that flashes a big notice at startup saying your machine has been used for illegal something or other and you're being fined 300 dollars. Nothing you do can get around it. You may be able to go into your bios before startup and use the Restore function, I don't see why not unless it's in the CMOS, but the ones I've seen and heard of seem to indicate that the machine is gone for good, or it costs hundreds of dollars to get it cleared out of the machine.    

WEB DESIGN:

    This is something I'm fairly familiar with, but by no means an expert. I use simple HTML for my websites, nothing fancy, no CSS, no flash, no XML, no frames, hut basic HTML4. I learned the basics of HTML before I started my first web page, at a time when you had to pay someone through the nose to have one designed for you. Now it's a breeze. For merely getting information out to the public we have blogs (short for "web logs") such as Blogger.com and Yahoo. If you want to have your own website, check around, the difference in costs is enormous. My first purchase cost me about $500 for 7 years, and didn't' even offer me web hosting, I had to get that elsewhere.  For 6 of those 7 years I was paying for something I could no longer use (Tumbleweed.name). There are some free hostings out there, but I know little about them other than they usually want to run a lot of adds on your page, which is how they make their money. It's like the way newspapers used to be. The paper was essentially given away, the more papers circulated and printed, the more they could sell their advertising for, and it's through advertising they made their money. This holds true of web sites  as well. You click on a link on my page (which I don't have any such thing), and I make such and such amount of money. The more clicks, the more I make. The more clicks that come to a certain business, the more my website is valued, and the more I can make per click. That's why some pages you go to, that say they have the information you want, are nothing but links. You click on that link, and it takes you to another link. I've been to some such sites that do nothing but lead you in circles, and each part of that circle means another click in their favor.

    What you see is not always what you get. For instance you might have full confidence that you're going to, say for instance, the Chuckle Cheese web site (f they're still in business). You see Chucky Cheese right there on the link. But that link may lead you anywhere. For instance, at the bottom some of my pages I have a link that says something like "next page."That wording means nothing. I might have that link take you to Timbuktu.com or something of that nature. And when you see Chucky Cheese.com right on the link at the top of the page in the address box of your browser, you might not have the Chucky Cheese your looking for, but Chucky Cheeze spelled with a Z instead of an S, or it might be Chucky Cheese.net you see, and not Chucky Cheese.com, the real address, that you think you're seeing. There have been people of notoriety and reputation that have had their reputation destroyed, or nearly so, because someone created a web site that looked all so official and just like that person's website (a very simple thing to do). but have it quoting him saying something just the opposite of what he believes and is saying.

    It's impossible to avoid fraud and deception. All we can hope to do is keep our antivirus up to date, and don't send money over the web unless you're sure of the place you're sending it to. In this vein, since once a person has your card number they can use it to their heart's content until your money runs out, it's best to purchase a limited credit card from a store and use it. That way a thief has a limit as to how much they can steal from you because the card has a limit, the amount you paid for it, and that you haven't used yourself.

DREAM WEAVER:

    There are some very expensive and complicated programs out there for sale. They're so complicated, expensive and heavy that only the pros use them unless someone who doesn't know better gets involved with them. I began my website, and still use quite frequently, a free program that's very easy to use in designing web pages, and was free (and still is when you can find it). The program is called Front page Express. Don't get this confused with Front Page, which is a very expensive and complicated program. Another even better program, one that is also free and loaded with niceties is NVU (standing for New view). There's a newer version of this program called Kompozer, from the same source. I don't see any difference other than some features beyond my needs have been added. Some say the newer version is better, having less bugs. For myself, I've had perfect luck with NVU, and I can't find a thing wrong with it. Also, although Kompozer says in the ad that it includes a spell check, I don't have such a thing on the one I downloaded. But on the NVU, which I am using to build this Handyman Corner, it has an excellent spell check. You can get either one of these programs for absolutely free with no strings attached from Cnet. Just tell them Tumbleweed sent you, and they'll say "Huh!!??".

SOAP AND WATER:

    Don't use it on the inside of your computer. And unless you like the feeling of electricity running through your body, don't use it on the outside either. (This has been a public health statement issued by the Tumbleweed Bored of Health).

    First your mouse. If you're still using the old style mouse with a ball that rolls around on a pad, the chances are you've had problems with it balking and acting like a rebellious child. Open up the bottom of the thing, take out the ball, and clean (scrape where necessary using something like a fingernail, preferably your own) the  little wheel and the skinny rollers that pick up dirt and grime. (Unless your computer is off when you clean your mouse, your cursor and windows will go crazy, even to doing bad and nasty things.) I write so much that some days I have to do this twice, just to be able to finish that day's work.

FIRE HAZARDS:

    I've cleaned out two computers that were next to burning themselves up, literally. The first of these belongs to a friend who had a fairly new computer. I clean out his machine yearly when I visit him, both the box and the hard drive of stuff that doesn't belong. Computers keep everything, and I mean everything you've ever seen, or that you haven't seen. And unless you know how to do it, even when you use the standard method of cleaning the backups and the Temp files, they're still there. On one of my machines I had 2 gigs of temp files I couldn't get rid of, and the computer usually didn't show that it was there. It's such things as this, along with the registry that I clean on his machine yearly. Once the three year old machine had a virus that pretended to be an antivirus and a registry cleaner that he had bought over the web, from a pop up, that destroyed his ability to have an antivirus that could dispose of his virus-infected antivirus (confused yet?). I cleaned out the new, bad antivirus and reinstalled the good antivirus he had wiped out. This took a long time over a phone line. And because the computer was working so hard for so long, it built up heat, and because the vent holes on the side of the computer were filled with dust, it burned up the machine. I brought the computer home and tried to fix it ( he had already purchased a replacement), but I was unable to do so. But I was able to copy off the info from the hard drive and burn it to disk.

    The second computer that was a fire hazard was not that old, but it sat near a carpet, and the vent was in front, near the bottom of the machine. There's a fan in the back of a computer (and sometimes elsewhere besides) that blows hot air out the back. This causes a suction that brings air from the front of the machine, which as mentioned before was next to a carpet. Carpets collect dust, and when the carpet is stepped on, the dust flies a little ways in the air, and the computer sucks it up like a vacuum cleaner. This computer was so full of dust bunnies that I had to wear a mask to keep from choking, and I vacuumed the bunnies out before they could give birth to more. I suggested they place a piece of wood or cardboard over that section of their desk, at the bottom, so dust couldn't enter that area, yet it could still get plenty of air.

CD DISCUS THROW;

    When CD's first came out they were expected to last a hundred year. Well, we learned that this was an overestimated guess by about 99 and a half years. CD's do last a long time, sometimes. And other times they can't be counted on to work right after they're burned. That's why I always make three copies, and check at least one to see if the info is readable.

    CD's are made of plastic, which you already know. And you know that if the face of the CD gets dirty or scratched, or gets a fingerprint on it, the obstruction throws off or diffuses the laser beam, and at best causes the information to be scrambles at that spot. You not doubt have heard this happen when playing music. Information stored in that area may be unreadable, scrambled, or if in the right spot, cause the disk to become unusable.

    What you might not know is that the top of the CD is where the information is stored. If the surface is damaged in any way, it may permanently destroy the CD.

    DVD's are made from two pieces of thin plastic glued together with the recordable silver material between the disks, causing the top be done with as one pleases. However, the silver, being closer to the laser than a CD, requires another light to read it. A laser is designed to read a certain color of dye that is used to color the silver surface. In the right light you may be able to see a rainbow of colors. That's because several different dyes have been used. A laser is installed in the DVD player to read each of these colors. In other words, if 4 dyes are used, and 4 lasers are used, then that means the disk can hold 4 times as much information. a 4 gig disk can now hold 16 gigs of information (or thereabouts, this figure being only an approximation), meaning lots of movies, or a single very high density movie can be contained on a single disk.

    What was unknown in the beginning is that silver, over time, changes colors and becomes dull. It tarnishes in other words. This is called CD rot. If you look at the bottom of a CD that doesn't play right, skips, or is unreadable, you may notice gray spots, or even large area of gray. The laser is designed to read silver, not gray. So what should otherwise be a perfectly good CD has become useless. Perhaps this may explain why some of your good and favorite CD's no longer work as they should. It's not because the CD is worn out, there's no wear on the CD or DVD itself.

    Is there a way of making a CD or DVD that doesn't rot? Yes, on the more expensive of the disks they use gold instead of silver, But with the price of gold these days...?

    We might think that if it's silver used in the disks, that the disks can be salvaged and the silver reclaimed. However there's so little silver in the disks such a plan is not practical. Evidence of this can be seen in how little a package of new disks sell for, especially when on sale.

    Conclusion of the matter; Back up your disks, including your hard drive. And if it's been a while since you've burned a disk, copy the disk before it rots on you. 

    You might think that using a reputable brand of disks would better insure that you're getting good disks. Not necessarily so. If you recall not long ago a lot of the big name and reputable stores were under fire because it was discovered the dealer who sold all these stores medicine was distributing phonies. This shows that all the stores use a common source, and the product they sell is only as reliable as the source, not the store.

    A few year ago Rolaids was a favored brand of antacid. It's the brand I liked and used. But metal shavings were discovered in one batch of Rolaids, and from that day forward you can't find a Rolaid anywhere. Was it Rolaid at fault? No, a famous name candy company was making the product sold under the Rolaid label. The candy company seems to have felt no pain from their mistake, but the one with the label seems to have gone under.

    What has all this to do with CD's you may ask? Everything. Big name manufactures purchase their products from the cheapest source that will give them a deal. When you buy Maxell for instance, it may be the same product as Soney (picking names out of the air, don't quote me on this, I might be wrong about any one of these companies. It's the process I'm trying to show and nothing else). So you can't go by a brand name unless that brand has gained a reputation for being reliable. A check of the web or Consumer's Digest may be able to provide a satisfactory answers to this and other such difficulties.

OFF THE TOP:

    Off the top of my head that's all I can think of to say about computers. Like I said in the beginning, there's probably nothing here you don't already know. But in order to be complete as I can with this Handyman's Corner, I thought it best to include a little about computers, along with all the other things I know little or nothing about.

    A note on my ignorance. It's ignorance I'm coming from with all the quotes and examples I've given on this page. Accept nothing I've said here as fact, and doubt everything. If there's something you've seen here that interests you, don't use what I've said, check it out for yourself. I don't pretend to be knowledgeable in any area, just someone who desires to tell it as he sees it.

 

 
 

 


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