Tech Talk #2, June 20, 2015
Antivirus – Viruses are the least of our problems on computers these days. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have antivirus protection, though; I just don’t recommend paying for it any more. The free antivirus products available today (AVG, Avast, SUPERAntispyware, etc.) will do a fine job of protecting you from the viruses that still exist.
What we all need to watch out for are Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) also known as malware. Malware spreads when you click on a link on a search results page or click an ad on a web page. Malware can trick you by offering you stuff for free — browser toolbars, file openers, driver update programs, PC clean-up and PC speed-up programs, PC backup programs, fake Adobe Flash FLV players, download helpers and download managers, and so many more. It can be really hard to tell what’s safe to click on these days. To be safe when searching the Internet, stay on the first couple of pages of search results. The further away you get from the first few pages of search results, the worse the neighborhood gets. Also, don’t click on the paid search results (ads) on the top or side of the search results pages unless you know who you’re clicking on.
Antivirus programs don’t stop PUPs or other malware so be careful out there. MalwareBytes is a good free cleanup program if you’ve already got some of this junk on your PC.
And of course we don’t click on links in emails from people we don’t know, and we don’t ever open the email in our Spam or Junk folder, right?
The Cloud – You hear about storing files in “the cloud” all the time, but what is it? The term cloud is really shorthand for cloud computing and is a concept that’s been around since the mid-1990s. Practically speaking, cloud computing means using a network of computers to store and process information. That network of computers could belong to Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, Instagram, Pinterest, or somebody else.
When you store something in “the cloud,” that picture, song, or document goes across your Internet connection and gets put on a physical server, usually more than one, in a data center that’s owned by whichever service you’re uploading to. The uploading process makes several copies of your file. Those copies live on multiple servers in multiple data centers scattered around the world. This redundancy means that if there’s a meteorite strike or earthquake or power outage at one of the data centers your file will still be there for you.
Did you know? – There really were bugs in early computers. The terms “bug” and “debugging” are both popularly attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, USNR. In 1947, computer operators on her team traced an error in the Harvard Mark II computer to a moth trapped in a relay. The moth was carefully removed by the operators and taped to the log book with a notation “First actual case of bug being found.” Admiral Hopper loved to tell this story.
Admiral Hopper had a PhD in mathematics from Yale, signed up for the US Naval Reserve in 1943, worked on the UNIVAC program, worked at Remington Rand and Digital Equipment Corp, advocated replacing large computer systems with smaller networked computers, wrote the first computer program compiler, worked on the COBOL language, and helped develop the computer testing standards that later became part of the National Institute of Standards and Testing. Hopper retired from the Naval Reserve at age 60 in 1966. She was recalled to active duty in 1967 for a six-month period that turned into an indefinite assignment. She died in 1992 at the age of 85 and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.