Thursday, July 21, 2005

Update, Update, Update and Software

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Keeping your system running well is not as hard as you may think.The first thing that needs to be explained or encouraged is Operating System Updating. If you haven’t been doing it, start – NOW! Not only does it install improvements, it also takes care of Security problems that have been identified. For the Windows user, Microsoft has a Windows Update page that’s on the www.microsoft.com web site. Look for and mouse click ‘Windows Update’ on the left of the page. Follow the instructions on the screen and you’ll get all necessary updates. You might need to access a few times if you’re really behind, but you’ll be glad you did. There’s also an Office Update that is handled the same way. Takes a bit of time but the benefits greatly outweigh the time spent. For the Mac user, www.apple.com has a link to the OS X update area on the front page. Click it and follow the directions.Why are there updates? Simple! The operating system contains weaknesses that can be exploited by ‘evil doers’ to borrow a phrase(thanks ‘W’). These folk are determined to either mess up your system or hijack it to use for their own agenda! When those weaknesses are found by the good guys, the developers that wrote the OS make corrections to strengthen it, thereby ‘closing the door’ on the bad guys. So, to make sure your system stays healthy and yours, update it and keep it updated. Microsoft has an Autoupdater that will take care of it for you. I don’t know if Apple has such a thing but in any case you should go to the sites and check to see if you are up to date.

This might sound silly but the next biggest need for any computer user is software. If you need a special program or a driver to update your system or maybe a game or two for fun, take a look at www.downloads.com for that special program. The site is part of CNET’s product review site and has an impressive reputation. You can feel assured that if there’s a program written that does what you need, it will most likely be available. Not all the software is free, but you should be able to find something, even if it’s only a demo or timed trial. The search facility is quick and will match your entered criteria surprisingly fast. Downloading is easy and the packages install with no problem. Access is free, too. Just for fun, enter the word ‘blog’ in the search box at the upper right of the screen and hit enter. You will be presented with a list of entries that will contain the word ‘blog’ in the supplied text. Another good site to look over is www.tucows.com Basic functions are the same, just a different organization. Tucows uses mirror sites for the collection and you’ll need to select the mirror you want to use, but don’t let it intimidate you. Just like Downloads, you can enter a program name or descriptive word (don’t get too wordy) and the site will display a list of matches.

I guess I should say something about the software. Basically, it comes in one of three different distribution methods. Freeware, Shareware, and Commercial. Freeware is just that, FREE. The author may want you to register but it doesn't cost you anything. Shareware is free up to a point. You will be asked to register but it will cost you something. Usually it isn't too much, so it's affordable to register. The Commercial is boxed, bought off the shelf. Purchased from a retailer like CompUSA or somplace like that. Which is better? Quality wise, it's hard to say. I've seen Commercial software that should have been dumped to the trash and Freeware that couldn't be beaten. As we go along with this blog, we'll try ro point out the really neat and cool Freeware and Shareware AND the Commercial software that is just too good not to buy. Until next posting...Have FUN!