Posted - December 27 2011 : 21:49:27
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Question: Rosie writes, "My laptop has been working really slow and everytime I get on the Internet it kicks me out. I don't think I have virus protection. I mean I did when I first bought it, but haven't replaced it with a new one. Can you please help?"
Answer: Great question, Rosie. It does sound like you may have an infection or two. But if your computer's JUST done that, then you might be able to use the Windows System Restore to help you get back to a better state where you can at least download some new scanning software from the Antimalware Toolkit. You didn't say which version of Windows you have, but if it's Windows Vista or 7, then you can turn your computer on, pressing F8 repeatedly until you get a text menu on a black screen. The top menu option will say "Repair your computer" and it will take you to a place where you can easily run the Windows System restore to get back to a previous state. That won't remove any of your data. It only puts your registry and program files back. If you have Windows XP, then you won't have a "Repair your computer" option, but the top option will be "Safe Mode". Go ahead and start in Safe Mode (not Safe Mode with Networking), and then you can click Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore. Follow the prompts to see if you can get back to a few days ago.
Now, if you have been dealing with this for several weeks, you might not have a "clean" restore point available. Finally, let me share a rule of thumb I learned from Microsoft several years back: Antivirus that isn't up-to-date is only marginally better than none at all. Rosie's not alone – people call all the time like this.
Cool Site: Graphwords.com: This week's site is way cool. I was always the guy who took forever to look up definitions in the dictionary because I was always reading the definitions of other words I found interesting along the way. This week's site is perfect for that sort of thing. It's at graphwords.com, and we'll have video of its use in the show notes. With graphwords, you don't just read a definition in the dictionary, but you enter a word at the top of the screen and it visualizes the connections between the word you're defining and other words with similar meanings. Words that are similar look like spokes radiating out from a hub that, when you point your mouse at it, shows the definition. To find more information on any word in the graph, just double-click the word of interest to define and graph it. There's a save picture feature that I'm thinking educators and homeschoolers alike will appreciate.
Cool Gadget: TurboSpoke Bicycle Exhaust: A lot of kids are going to get bikes this Christmas. When I was a kid, one of my bikes was a motocross bike complete with plastic gas tank and everything. It looked just like a motorcycle, except that I was pedaling it. I wish I had had this week's gadget: the TurboSpoke Bicycle Exhaust. I used to clothespin a card on the spokes of my bike to make it sound like a motorcycle. Who didn't, right? Well, this gadget is a card on steroids. In fact, it comes with three different-shaped cards to give the bike a different sound. But you can't hear that sound without amplification, which is accomplished with a megaphone shaped like a motorcycle's exhaust pipe. So, you bolt the TurboSpoke to your bike frame, select the card that sounds like you want your bike to sound, and hit the road. They run $22 at vat19.com, but they're out of stock right now, but they'll get more. Vat19 has something you can click to be notified by email when they're back in stock. Incidentally, that's a great way to gauge demand for a product.
Cool App: Cut the Rope: This week's app is called Cut the Rope, and is for iPhone and iPod Touch devices. In this top-selling, 99-cent game, your task is to feed a character named Om Nom candy that's attached to a rope. But in order to feed him, you have to, you guessed it, cut the rope, at just the right time so that the candy falls into his mouth. The game features obstacles to get around and gadgets like airbags, teleporters, and others to help you get around those obstacles. This game has won several awards and I understand that a Christmas-themed version is out as well. Best of all, it's Zak-approved!
It's All "Geek" To Me: WPA: Last week we promised that this week's term would be WPA, so, guess what? It is. Like WEP, WPA is also an acronym. It stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. This is the latest encryption scheme for wireless Wi-Fi transmissions. It's designed to overcome some of the limitations of WEP, one of which was that hexadecimal encryption key. See, 128-bits, expressed in hexadecimal, is 32 characters, which is so hard to remember that people didn't use it, or compromised security by writing it down, none of which mattered once it got cracked. But with WPA you can make up your own phrase to use to get access. WPA also includes protocols to change the key over time and other security measures, all of which are aimed at making your wireless communications more secure.
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TurboSpoke Bicycle Exhaust:
Cut the Rope at Apple’s AppStore:
Cut the Rope publisher’s website:
WPA defined at TechTerms: