FACTS FOR COMPUTER DUMMIES
Here's a simple true-false quiz designed to help get to the bottom of common computer misconceptions. Finally, here's some information you can feel good about e-mailing to your friends.
True or false? My PC will start behaving worse than a tired toddler if I don't power it all the way down at night, every night.
False. Your PC doesn't need to be shut down fully every day to stay healthy. Many people hate to wait for Windows to shut all the way down. And they really hate to wait for it to boot all the way up again. The more programs and utilities you have running, the worse that boot time becomes. One answer: Use Windows XP's Hibernate option (look for it in your Control Panel under Power Options). This will make your PC go to sleep instead of shutting all the way down.
True or false? If I spill a drink on my keyboard, it's totaled.
False. A desktop computer's keyboard will usually survive a spill (though you Big Gulp types should be extra careful). Turn the keyboard upside down on top of a kitchen towel and leave it alone for a while. Then you can wipe the top of the keys down with a slightly damp cloth and be back in business.
Disclaimer alert: You can try the same drill with a laptop's keyboard, but it may not fare as well because critical parts live beneath the keyboard and some liquid may ooze down. And beware, spills typically void a laptop's warranty, so some owners may find it worth the money to buy an extended warranty or accidental damage coverage that specifically covers drops and spills. Get it from the manufacturer who sold your equipment to you.
True or false? If I stick a magnet near a floppy disk, it will erase the contents.
True. You've never seen James Bond do it, but it works. If you rush to the refrigerator, grab a magnet, and stick it on a floppy disk, you'll probably destroy the files.
True or false? My PC is running slow and I have strange icons in my system tray, therefore I probably have a virus.
False. If you are running antivirus software and keep it updated, you probably have spyware instead. These nasty little invaders run in the background, slow down your PC, change your Web browser settings, and leave weird stuff lying around that can be harder to remove than dishwasher gunk.
True or false? I can't have spyware, because I ran an anti-spyware program and it erased several items.
False: Anti-spyware programs vary greatly in effectiveness. In PC World's recent tests, these programs grabbed as much as 90 percent of spyware and as little as 66 percent. You may need to run a couple of programs to remove it all. (Fortunately, a few good spyware removers are free.) For the scoop on which products to consider and how to kill all the spies, see PCWorld.com.
True or false? There's no way for me to remember all my passwords, so I need to make crib notes on a piece of paper and hide it well.
False. Some people write passwords on Post-It notes and stick them someplace near the computer, but this is a really bad idea. Sure, you have to remember a ridiculous number of user names and passwords these days, for dozens of programs and sites. But there's a better solution to the problem. Check out Password Safe, a free utility that creates strong, unique passwords and saves all the info in an encrypted database. You don't have to remember all your passwords, just one.
True or false? If my PC breaks under warranty, my PC company will replace the parts good as new.
True. But the key phrase here is "good as new," not "new." Many PC owners are surprised the first time a part fails, and they learn this lesson. But most PC companies have language in the warranty that allows them to send you remanufactured parts as replacements. These parts are not strictly brand new, though they go through some reconditioning and testing.
True or false? My laptop's batteries will become less effective if I keep recharging them before they're empty.
False. That is, unless you have an ancient notebook PC with a nickel cadmium battery. Today's lithium ion batteries do not suffer from this problem. You don't have to run them down to empty all the time, but you should occasionally.
True or false? I don't need to pay for tech support because my cousin's kid works with computers and helps me out when I have questions.
False. Your little helper will never tell you, because he or she is too polite, but no one likes being the "computer kid" to the extended family or neighborhood. Here's the good news: Great tech-support services now exist where you pay a reasonable monthly fee, or buy a block of phone-support minutes, with a company that can use the Internet to remotely peek at, control, and fix your PC--or just quickly answer your PC-care questions. For a good option, try PlumChoice.
True or false? I'm ready to give away my old computer after I've deleted all the files.
False. Deleting files isn't good enough. You'd be amazed what people can pull from the hard drives of secondhand or donated computers if the hard drive hasn't been completely reformatted and Windows reinstalled. (And if you pass along the PC to a family member, you're probably not going to do this.)
PC World did a story where we found Social Security numbers, income tax returns, and other personal and important information on old, discarded hard drives. Once you pass along your old PC, you have no idea where it will travel down the line. To erase your info, try a free utility program, such as Eraser, to zap documents into oblivion. There's also Webroot's Window Washer for cleaning up the many little nuggets that lurk elsewhere.
O.K. your can pick your jaw up off the floor now, I didn't become and over night Tech Guru, I'm still a Computer Dummy.
Credit for this goes to:
Laurianne McLaughlin a freelance technology writer.
However I thought I would add this little bit of information for those of us that need all of the help we can get.
There is a wonderful place called TECH TUESDAY , If you venture to go there and scroll half way down the page you will find all kinds of information such as: Beginner's Guide, Tips and Techniques, Useful Downloads and more. Take a peek sometime.
Just seek and ye shall find, or maybe I should say, click, click, click and ye shall find.