Our oldest news stories are archived here. We haven't put these
into the forums, but may do so soon.
Can DVD burners burn CDs?
The short answer is "Yes!"
This is a question we get often when someone new to DVD
burning is looking to buy a new computer. They want to be sure that because
they'll be making more CDs than DVDs, they are getting what they need. CD's
are easy because long ago, a single standard format emerged for creating
them. DVD's are another animal altogether! The first format available was
DVD-RAM. Then followed (in no particular order) DVD +R and DVD -R which
competed to become the de facto standard. What we wound up with was
both, DVD +/- R. A single-layer DVD can hold up to 4.7GB of data. A
double-layer DVD can hold twice as much, 9.4GB, but requires a double-layer
burner. The DVD burner we use in our computer systems will read and write
everything from single-layer DVD-RAM to double-layer DVD +/- R.
By the way, if a particular type of disc has a "W" at the
end, as in CD-RW and DVD +RW, this indicates that this type of disc can be
erased and rewritten. "R" by itself means "Recordable", "RW" means "ReWritable".
You can find a table showing which drives generally read
and write which discs
Have no fear, upgrades are available
Posted 3/2/2007, Updated 3/23, 4/17/2007
Have you seen this message lately? (Click it for a
larger image in a new window)
99% of the time, it means that the Windows Defender Beta
you downloaded before January 1, 2007 has now expired. If you downloaded
Windows Defender after that time, this message means you have a problem.
Windows Defender is still available to Genuine Windows XP
and Vista users. Windows 2000 is no longer supported, and I think that's a
shame, especially since the only difference I can actually see between the
pre-2007 version and the 2007 version is that it requires you to validate
Windows' Genuine-ness twice: once before downloading, and once when you
install. Other than that, the combination of Windows Defender, Spybot Search
& Destroy, and Ad-Aware is still recommended as the best way to keep spyware
off your computer.
You can find download links for Windows Defender, Spybot
S&D, and Ad-Aware here.
Also, if you haven't downloaded a new copy of AVG Free
this year, be aware that version 7.1 has expired. A free update to version
7.5 is available at their website.
Vista released, Upgrade vouchers with all new Windows XP-based computer systems
Posted 12/29/2006, Updated 4/17, 5/16/2007
Please Note: The upgrade vouchers mentioned
in this article are expired. If you still need to run Windows XP, we
recommend either purchasing your computer with Windows XP preloaded on it, or
with Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate and use the downgrade
rights afforded by those editions of Vista to run Windows XP instead.
As we reported on October 16, Windows Vista upgrade
vouchers are being included with each new computer system we build preloaded
with Windows XP. We are now able to build computers preloaded with Windows
Vista as well (subject to distributor availability).
Our current recommendations are:
- If you are a home user looking for a new computer,
choose Windows XP Media Center Edition now, then use the upgrade voucher
to obtain Windows Vista. Just don't install it immediately.
- If you are a business user looking for a new
computer, choose Windows XP Professional now, and use the upgrade
voucher to obtain Windows Vista.
All editions of Windows Vista come on DVD. The 32-bit
editions of Windows Vista Business and Home Basic are also available on CD.
You will want to make sure that any new computer you wish
to run Vista on either now or in the future includes the following
- At least 1 gigabyte of memory, 1 gigabyte is the
minimum to take
advantage of the new Aero Glass interface. We recommend 2 gigabytes.
- 3D Accelerated Graphics capable of 800x600
resolution, with support for DirectX 9 (minimum), 32 bits per pixel
(i.e. True Color), Pixel Shader 2.0, and a WDDM driver. (If graphics are
on a separate card, the card needs a minimum of 128 megabytes of video
memory. If graphics are built into the motherboard and use shared
memory, 1 gigabyte system memory)
- DVD-ROM Drive, DVD/CD-RW Combo, or DVD +-RW
- Internet connectivity - This is an absolute MUST. We
- 80 gigabytes of hard drive space, 250 gigabytes or
more if you wish to use it as a DVR (Digital Video Recorder).
If you are in the market for a new system, give us a call!
Baby & Mom are doing fine
Posted 11/8/2006, Updated 4/17/2007
Well, it has been a hectic time for us this past week,
but we have a new baby boy, Zakary David, born November 1, 2006 at 8:28am.
He was 7 lbs, 14 oz, 20 inches, and a head-full of hair!
The hospital posted pictures of him from that first day
which have now been taken down. Pam will be off work until mid-December (just in time for Christmas) and
I've been hitting and missing a bit lately. If you've called and had trouble
getting through, or getting a call back, that's the reason. Thanks for your
patience and support during this period of growth for our family.
We know our advertisers
Advertising is an important part of any commercial
website. Ours is no different. Some websites present random ads at random
intervals. Some of those advertisers paid the company to place their ads. Is
anything wrong with that? Not inherently. After all, television and radio
advertisers pay to have their ads appear during the shows you frequent.
Sometimes ads have a celebrity spokesperson. Sometimes
those "spokesfolks" actually use the product, sometimes perhaps not. On our
website, you'll only find ads from companies I have personally used. I hope
this will help you trust the advertisers that much more.
What about the "(popup)" notes all over this site? I long
ago decided that we would not use any popup advertising on our website. I
also found that sometimes it was hard to get back to the page I was on if I
clicked a link that pointed offsite. So, the best compromise I found was to
not use popup ads, but to tell you which links were the popup-ad style link,
so that you'd know they were coming.
So, with the exception of the ad that's just above our
page counter below, I personally endorse the products or services you see
advertised here because I've used them. You deserve that.
Free parody of current copyright/DRM mess available
Posted 10/11/2006, Updated 10/12, 10/16/2006
I've always been a fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic, but now he's
become one of my heroes. Take my word for it and go listen to a song from
his new album, "Straight Outta Lynwood", I'll wait. It's at
www.dontdownloadthissong.com (popup) and the song is played in a popup
You back? Was this cool or what? The song really
gets at the heart of one of the main arguments used by the RIAA and others,
namely that the piracy of intellectual property deprives the creators of
revenues that are rightfully theirs. And please understand, I don't entirely
disagree with that premise. But have you seen MTV Cribs? Watching one
episode of that show makes it hard to see how much actual "damage" is being
done to their bank accounts. "Weird Al" sums it up thusly, "Don't take away
money from artists just like me \ How else can I afford another solid gold
Humvee? \ And diamond-studded swimming pools, these things don't grow on
trees \ So all I ask is, everybody, please... \ Don't download this song"
Don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge recording artists and
others who work very hard to create and produce the music we listen to and
other types of intellectual properties we consume of their rightful
revenues. But the question remains: At what point does "rightful revenue"
end and "greed" begin? The answer is admittedly and apparently relative.
If I may rant a bit more...
This song also pokes fun at an idea that is really central
to the whole issue of copy protection, whether applied to music, software,
or movies. The idea is that you, the consumer, are guilty until proven
innocent. This is most noticeable when we have to activate and validate
before we can use what we've paid for, but is also evident if you try to
transfer a DVD movie to a VHS tape, or some CDs to other formats for playing
on other devices. In the computer software world, this sort of thing is a
bit more understandable because all the distribution media is really used
for is installation. But even then, I think some software makers are
beginning to cross the line from "rightful revenue" to "greed". The whole
point of the Fair Use doctrine is to help define where that line is, in my
opinion. If this trend continues unabated we'll probably find ourselves
unable to even use a computer that doesn't have Internet access
because it will have to check with the copyright owner before allowing us to
run software we legally purchased, every time we run it.
Our lawmakers haven't really helped the consumer out here,
either. At least UCITA died as a bill in most states. If you haven't heard
of it before, understand that sometimes, certain license restrictions are
held by the courts as unenforceable, even if you've clicked "I Agree". UCITA
basically does away with Fair Use and pretty much makes all license
restrictions legally enforceable. It was bad law when it was proposed, and
in the two states that have (had?) it, it was still bad law when it was
passed. But one particular provision survived: it is illegal to distribute software
to defeat copy protection schemes. DeCSS was a process used by software
products like DVD XCopy. CSS is a copy protection scheme used on DVDs. DeCSS
allowed users to decrypt their DVDs so that they could archive them onto
these huge hard drives we have now. Other uses of the software existed, to
be sure. Provisions of UCITA in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
were used to make programs that used the DeCSS process like DVD XCopy, and
others illegal to sell. If you already have such a program, you are allowed
to keep it and you can use it as long as it continues to work. To do
otherwise would cause this to be an unconstitutional Ex-Post Facto
law. (Ex-Post Facto: A legal doctrine that states you cannot be
punished for doing something that was legal at the time you did it, if that
act is now illegal. e.g. If a speed limit is lowered, you can be ticketed
for traveling at the faster speed now, but you cannot be ticketed for having
traveled at the faster speed before the limit was lowered.) But you can't
make a backup copy of your DVDs in case they get scratched, or transfer them
to another medium, like tape. If the publisher goes out of business, or
decides to stop making the DVD you bought, you could wind up with a paid
license to view — nothing!
Well, let me step down off my soapbox... for the moment.
Even our cell phones aren't safe!
Just when you thought it was safe to text message,
now comes SMISHING! This is a scam wherein the smisher sends a text message
to the victim "warning" them they've been set up on a dating site, for
example, and if you don't want to be charged $2 per month, you need to visit
this website and unsubscribe. When the victim visits the site, bad things
happen: spyware downloads, viruses, etc.
Better late than never!
Yes, the World
Wide Web is 15. But we're a bit late on the announcement. The Web's birthday
was really back on the 6th. The first web browser was Mosaic. They're still
good, but the top browser in use is, of course, Internet Explorer.
Will this madness ever end?
Well, we first
had phishing wherein the victim would get an email asking him to click a
link. The link would point to a fake site that the phisher hoped looked enough
like the real site to fool the victim. If the victim entered his login
information, the phisher could drain bank accounts, and otherwise wreak
havoc on the person's financial health. But wait... more to come...
Pharming was next. With this type of scam, various tricks
were employed to cause legitimate links, favorites, and shortcuts to go
to the pharmer's website instead. And they still weren't done!
Now, we have to worry about Vishing. What's that, you ask?
Well, you've seen the Vonage commercials, right? So have identity thieves.
Vonage and Skype are a new class of service called VoIP (Voice over Internet
Protocol). With VoIP, your actual location in the world is no longer
relevant. You can still be reached. For legitimate uses, this is great
because the same phone number works no matter where in the world you happen
to be. As an example, Skype allows you to have phone numbers in any 10
countries that all funnel calls into your Skype account. So what vishers
(voice phishers) do is typically send an email to the victim, asking them to
call their bank at the number enclosed in the email. The automated attendant
asks the victim to enter their account number, something we're all used to
doing, but nothing else happens. Except that now the visher has the victim's
account number. Now they can do all kinds of bad things to the person's
How do I fight this? Regardless of what any email says,
only call the customer service number listed on your statement, or the
number on the back of your card. Be on the lookout, and be safe.
Now you can switch ISPs and still keep your AOL email
17 million users at this writing, but they are losing about a million users
per quarter. Since the direct subscription model isn't working as well any
more, AOL is moving to a business model that is advertising-centric. I
must admit, I have trouble seeing how they can be any more
advertising-centric than they already are. Do you ever get to log in
to AOL without having to click at least one "No, thanks" button?
So, if you're tired of the $23.95/month bill and would
rather pay less, why not give us a try? For a limited time, we're giving a
$5 discount off the first month's bill for all former AOL clients. Keep your
email address, just pay less for your dialup. Our regular price is
$14.95/month ($9.95 discounted).
Batteries that catch fire not their only problem
Posted 8/16/2006, Updated 8/17/2006
You'd have to be
living under a rock to have not heard that Dell, the Round Rock, Texas based
PC maker long considered the bane of smaller system builders' existence, has
recalled something like 4 million notebook batteries installed on notebooks
sold between 2004 and July of 2006. But that isn't the biggest problem they
have. According to an article in this week's
(popup), Dell's earnings per share decreased 44% from last year. This isn't
the first battery recall they've had, either. A much smaller battery recall
happened last year.
Take a look at the article noted in the link above to find
out more. A new one has been posted on MSN MoneyCentral
here. Then see our article "Did You Also Know?" in the news archive,
because we can do better.
At least until the end of the year
Download the new
Skype software version 2.5 (or later) and until the end of 2006 you'll be
able to call regular phones in the US and Canada for free for the remainder
of the year. That usually costs 2 cents per minute.
I just tried it and it works well over cable and other
high-speed Internet connections. There is a slight delay in the
transmission but overall I like it. Two big drawbacks are that the phone
number displayed in Caller ID is 0000123456 and that without buying SkypeIn
minutes you can't be called on your Skype account unless it's a
David Anderson Consulting Offers 1-on-1 Training
Posted 6/12/2006, Updated 10/3/2006, 3/30/2009
Does your computer intimidate you? If you answered, “Yes!” you’re not alone. When someone buys a new computer, he often faces a bewildering array of new gadgets and capabilities. That person may take a class to learn more. He comes home, things don’t look the same as they did in class, and he gets discouraged.
Here’s the answer: One-on-One training in the comfort of your own home.
"Great, but I bet it costs an arm and a leg. I mean, I only paid 500 bucks for the whole computer!"
For just $30.00 you can now get an hour of training on your new computer. Or the old one… we’re not picky.
Elsie has joined the team at David Anderson Consulting and will personally train you in topics ranging from computer terminology, to using the mouse, browsing the web, sending email, and more. Imagine your computer going from “booger-bear” to buddy in just an hour! You won’t be an expert. But you won’t be quite so intimidated anymore and that’s the first step.
This service is no longer available since Elsie moved.
Now you can sign up online!
If you are looking for a faster Internet connection, please
see our broadband page. From this page, you can order
service and determine the availability of DSL in your location. Plus, you
can order these services as well.
If you're still using Dial-Up and just looking for a less expensive
alternative, don't forget that we offer accelerated Dial-Up Internet Service
at only $14.95 per month. If you already have a broadband connection but are
finding that it is sometimes unreliable, we offer a special Dial-Up Account called
our Broadband Backup account. It's not intended to be used every day, has no
acceleration or e-mail account*, and is only available in conjunction with a
high speed connection. It's $8.95 per month.
*You can receive e-mail normally, but to send a message,
you'll need to change your outgoing mail server to mail.daconsultnet.com, or use a web-based
alternative while on the Broadband Backup account.
Schedule for final round has been finished
Updated 1/24, 2/21, 3/2, 4/4, 4/11, 6/12, 6/21, 7/25, &
Like last year, we offered basic computer classes
which ran from April 3 to July 6 at
the Jacksonville Public Library.
After meeting with Library staff, we decided on scheduling and content of these classes.
The classes we've offered are the same as 2005's classes, but we
added a couple of extras based largely on work I've done lately. The list
of classes for this year was:
- Basics of Microsoft Windows XP
- Introduction to the Internet
- Surfing & Searching
- Introduction to E-mail
- Advanced E-mail including Attachments & Slang
- Basics of Microsoft Word
- Basics of Microsoft Excel
- File Management 101
- Securing Your Computer & Identity
Each class met from
8:30-11:30 on Monday and Thursday mornings. We didn't get the slide shows
linked up as we had hoped, but we hope to do that soon.
Until then, if you'd like to know how a microchip is made,
the folks at Applied Materials have an eight to ten minute flash video
explaining the process. They give you a somewhat simplified idea of the
process which they say actually has about 350 steps. It is a
little technical, as you might expect, but quite good. You can find it
Until next year, here's some of what last year's attendees had
to say: "Thank You", "Enjoyed and learned from class", "More 'hands on' with
downloading, etc." This feedback is integrated into the classes for next year.
Please keep watching the home page for more information whenever we begin
scheduling for next year's classes.
Beta 2 of Their AntiSpyware Solution Released
Posted 2/21/2006, Updated 5/9/2006
Microsoft has updated their flagship AntiSpyware
product. We continue to recommend this product highly for our clients who
run Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Server 2003. We had previously recommended holding off
if you had Windows Server 2003 or Small Business Server 2003, but now the setup problems
seem to have been resolved.
You will need to install GDI+ and the .NET runtimes from
Windows Update if you haven't done so already. This is already done on
Windows XP, but on Windows 2000, the setup will stop and warn
you about this, referring to something called "Windows
Security Prerequisites". See
this article in
the Microsoft Knowledge Base for help and the link to download what you need. The .NET runtime is a 23
megabyte download. The download for Windows Defender is only just over 6
megabytes like Microsoft AntiSpyware had been. This makes it understandable
why they didn't add it to the package you have to download. Both the .NET
runtime and Windows Defender can be downloaded from the
Microsoft Download Center.
$190 Billion Stock Deal
Hard drive maker Seagate (one of our favorite brands)
yesterday announced a deal to purchase rival Maxtor for $190 Billion in
stocks. The merged company will keep the Seagate name.
Maxtor has traditionally been one of the first vendors to
market with higher capacity drives, while Seagate was one of the first non-IBM hard
drive makers for PCs. Seagate drives are a favorite for me because they tend to
be very trouble-free. They also have the longest warranty I've seen - 5 years -
so this company stands behind its products.
The company's official press release can be found
David Anderson Consulting Offers Quality Computer
Are you in the market for a new PC? If you've been
thinking about buying a D*LL, have a look at
this news article from CRN (popup)
before you do. We've found that when we make D*LL compete with us, we
almost always have the lower price and always are within a few
Some of the questions we've fielded regarding our systems:
What do you mean, "make D*LL compete with us"?
- All our systems come standard with a three-year onsite
warranty (geographical restrictions apply). Their lowest-priced systems have
a 90-day warranty. Ninety days is barely enough time to get to know
your new system.
- We deliver your computer, set it up and transfer the data
from your old PC for you (if you want). If the PC is going into your home,
this service is FREE, up to a full hour. If the PC is going to a business,
we'll estimate the amount of time it will take, and have to charge you for
it. Additionally, we'll set the system up for your network, and do our best
to insure that the system has all the same functionality as the one we're
replacing. We do this at a lower cost per hour than most all of our
- When you call for service, you will be able to speak to
the precise individual who built your PC, and knows it inside and out. No
thick, foreign accents, no interminable phone menu system.
D*LL is a large company, you are a sole proprietor. What
happens to my warranty if you fall off the face of the earth?
This is a fair and valid question which actually exposes how
we are able to offer a three-year warranty at no extra cost. Each component used
in our own computer systems has a manufacturer's warranty. All major (i.e.
expensive) components have a three-year warranty or better. The less
expensive components have at least a one-year warranty. The typical warranty for
the individual components is as follows:
- Intel Processor, System Board: three years
- RAM Memory: lifetime
- Hard Drive: three years if Western Digital, five years if
- Monitor: varies by manufacturer, but I tend to choose
those with a three year warranty
- Microsoft Keyboard/Mouse: three years
- Floppy Drive, Optical Drive, System Chassis: one year
(industry standard for this type of component)
If, heaven forbid, I should "fall off the face of the earth,"
your warranty will revert to the manufacturer's warranty for each individual
You're a local guy. You can't buy components in the volume
that D*LL can, so if your prices are similar to D*LL's, you must be using
inferior components, right?
Wrong. My first argument against that assertion is my answer
to the above question. If the manufacturers stand behind their products so can
It is true that I don't buy components by the pallet, let
alone the truckload, and I don't get the same kind of price breaks that the Tier
One manufacturers do. That means I have to make up the difference in service.
Since warranty service is time I have to foot the bill for myself, it makes
sense that I'd instead choose quality parts to minimize the amount of time I
have to spend repairing PCs for free.
So, what brands of components do you use?
Unless you have a preference for another brand, we use the
If one of these brands is not your favorite, then I'll be
happy to use whatever brand of component you specify. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to email us or
call (903) 586-4082; we'll be happy to build your next PC.
David Anderson Consulting Offers a Wide Range of Services
If you need broadband or wireless services and can't
find them, we can help. We can set you up on the following Internet
- DirecWay satellite service
- DSL, T1, T3 leased line service for business
- Cox High-Speed Internet service if you're a Cox Cable
- Cingular® Wireless voice and
Edge data service
- Sprint PCS Data/Voice service (Nextel soon)
David Anderson Consulting Now Offers Dial-Up Internet Service
In the wake of Risecom's decision to close after
several years, we have decided to offer Dial-Up Internet Access. You can
connect to our service using either a 56K modem (Modem On Hold is
supported!) or via 64K ISDN. Not all features are available with all access
numbers. The "On Our Site" navigation bar at the left has a link near the
bottom for checking the current access number list, or you can
You might also notice the
DAConsultNet Web E-Mail link. Our subscribers can use this to access
their E-Mail from anywhere in the world the web is available.
Our Dial-Up Accounts feature:
- Nationwide Local Access Numbers
- 1 E-Mail Address Included (Additional mailboxes
- Usenet Newsgroup Access
- Free Software to Configure Access to Your Account, or
we'll send a technician to set it up for you-Free! (geographic
restrictions apply to this service)
- 100MB Personal Web Space
The following optional account add-ons are not currently
available but should be shortly.
- SPAM filtering - Since this is a new domain, we
probably will not be getting much if any SPAM for a while.
- Web Accelerator - Speed up your surfing up to 6x
faster than standard dial-up.
This for only $14.95 per month.
Free Applications to Enhance Your SharePoint® Server
Microsoft has added several new applications for its
SharePoint Services. SharePoint is included in Windows Server 2003 and Small
Business Server 2003. The new applications are designed to streamline
several common business processes and tasks.
Currently the site lists 30 applications including Employee
Timesheet & Scheduling, Employee Training, Event Coordination, Performance
Review, Public Relations Work Site, Room & Equipment Reservation, and Travel
Request. If your company uses Windows Server's SharePoint Services, these may be
worth a look.
You can find the new applications
Venerable Dial-Up ISP Hurt By Broadband
This afternoon, Rise Communications sent an e-mail to
its subscribers informing them that effective August 15, 2005 they would be
"suspending" operations. In the message they cited the arrival of broadband
as the main reason for their decision.
I have been a monthly subscriber to their Internet Access
Services since they opened (My account number is 26). My billing for this
month was only $10 instead of the normal $19.95. This represents a
half-month billing for their remaining time.
Risecom Subscribers: Keep watching this space for the
possible announcement of a new replacement service.
Now expires at end of year.
Many of us, myself included, have been watching as the July 31 deadline approaches
for the expiration of our Microsoft AntiSpyware. Well, worry no more. An
update is available, which you will receive through the normal automatic
update process, that will change the expiration date to December 31, 2005. I
don't know yet if any other changes were made to the product. I just
downloaded it. But I wanted to let you know in the event that you connect to
the Internet through a dial-up connection.
What's more, they're FREE!
David Anderson Consulting in partnership with the
Jacksonville Public Library has
begun another series of classes. The classes are held from 8:30-11:30
on Monday and Thursday mornings. Course topics and schedule can be found on
the Library's web site
How does this new threat work?
We and others have reported on phishing scams that
attempt to steal your identity by enticing you to visit a fake website.
Usually you can spot those by links within the phishing e-mail message that
don't go where they say they do.
Several methods are being used to get around that
limitation. One is called DNS poisoning. DNS poisoning uses
compromised DNS servers, or entries in your HOSTS file to force you to the
pharmer's website, even if you type the proper address into your address bar
or use the same Favorites link you've always used.
Aside from placing entries in your HOSTS file, spyware
can also be used to watch your browser. When you access certain sites where you
are likely to enter personal information like usernames and passwords, they
intercept and record this information and relay it to identity thieves. One
example of a Trojan Horse that did just that is the
Now, more than ever, it's important to have good, up-to-date
antispyware software actively running on your computer at all times.
Firewall software may help if your computer is already infected because it may
be able to stop spyware that may be trying to "phone home". That way, if your
personal information gets stolen, the thief won't be able to get it out of your
When you peel one layer off an onion, there's another
underneath. Your security should be the same.
What should I know first?
I've seen it over and over again. Someone buys a
computer at a garage sale, or thrift shop, or gets a hand-me-down from a
friend. Then something goes wrong that requires the Windows setup disc...
"Do you have your original Windows disc?", I ask.
"Well, I got this computer from [insert your favorite
whomever] and he didn't give me the discs," is the all-too-common reply. I
hope the remainder of this article will help you avoid this kind of exchange,
regardless of whether you are the buyer or the seller.
The first thing you should be aware of is that Windows 95,
Windows 98, Windows Millennium, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 are no longer available for purchase. This
means that earlier versions of Windows like 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, and
MS-DOS are also no longer available, either. "So what," you ask? Because when this
situation arises, the first thing I advise is obtaining a set of replacement
discs, typically from Microsoft Sales at 1-800-426-9400 or the manufacturer if
the computer is a name-brand system (hp, Dell, Gateway, etc.). If your computer
is running a version of Windows that is unavailable from Microsoft, the recovery
discs will also be unavailable from the name-brand manufacturer due to their
redistribution agreement with Microsoft.
The moral of this part of the story: Make sure you get (and
then don't lose) the discs when you buy a computer, whether new or used. I
include new computers here because most software that is classified as OEM (Original
Equipment Manufacturer) and comes preinstalled on your computer
includes language in its End-User License Agreement
(EULA) to the effect that you cannot put that software on a new computer, even
if you go so far as to destroy the computer it was originally installed on. The
license "lives and dies" with the computer, and must be transferred if the
computer is ever resold.
Next, ask to see the system turned on and working before
purchase. Find out why the computer is being sold. Ask what the computer's
configuration is. Specifically, ask what Processor it has (and the speed of that
processor). What size hard drive? How much RAM? Is there a modem? Is there a
network connection? What version of Windows is on it? Are the original CDs
available? We'll show you how to find these things in an upcoming article. For
now, know that some manufacturers (like hp) place a sticker on the computer
somewhere detailing the computer's configuration.
One of the reasons people frequently give for buying a used
computer is to give it to their kids to play games on. Please be aware that
games often require more computing horsepower than business software. Check the
system requirements of the games your kids are interested in if this is a factor
in your purchase and then use them as a guide when looking.
We hope this brief look into used systems has helped shed some
light on the kinds of things you should look for when shopping for a used
computer or preparing to sell yours.
Why don't you ask it?
Since sometime in 1996, hard drives from IBM, Seagate,
Maxtor, Western Digital, and Quantum have incorporated a technology called
SMART (Self Monitoring, Analysis
and Reporting Technology) to provide a mechanism
for predicting when a hard drive is getting close to dying. The trouble is,
most computers only check that information at boot time. So, if your
computer is on all the time, like mine, you'll only be able to take
advantage of that information when your computer crashes. By then it might
be too late.
We have become aware of a program called S. M. A. R. T.
Explorer from Adenix Technologies, Inc. It monitors the SMART information and
consolidates it into a simple bar graph. When your bars get low, hard drive
death is imminent. To use it, you first download the program
here. Install it, then choose File | Add Drives and add your hard drive to
the list of drives monitored by the program. Click the drive, then choose Check
| Check selected drives. The program will check the health of your drive and
report to you.
Use this program from time to time to check your drive(s).
This way, you can replace your hard drive (hopefully) before mechanical failure
leads to data corruption.
Not bad - especially for a Beta version.
As we reported yesterday, Microsoft is in the process
of preparing a new anti-spyware product. We downloaded it yesterday, and
installed it today on a couple of computers and gave it a try. So this is
exactly what the headline says it is: "at first blush" - my own
- not at all a formal review.
First, note the
system requirements (popup). This software absolutely requires Windows
2000, Windows XP, or Windows Server 2003. So, if you have Windows NT,
Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98se, or Windows Millennium, and don't want
to upgrade, don't even bother. Those operating systems are past their
availability. See Microsoft's
Windows Life-Cycle Policy (popup) page for more details. If you have one
of these versions of Windows, you may wish to consider upgrading
if your computer can support it (popup).
The program installs easily enough - just "Next" your way
through it. Functions include a system settings monitor, similar to Spybot
S&D's TeaTimer. This runs all the time, popping up "toast" messages when
important things happen like your start page changes, or something new is
set to automatically run at system start. It updates automatically and can
be set to scan your system automatically. It expires on July 31, 2005. But
by then, either Beta 2 or the Final version should be out. I have no
information regarding pricing at this time.
Upon setup, the software offers to run a scan. When I ran
it, several items were found that had previously escaped detection. A total
of 16 spyware threats were found. Two of those turned out to be false
positives; more on that below. I was pleasantly surprised that those items
had finally been caught. On the minus side, it failed to detect WildTangent
or CoolGenie.Downloadware, which Spybot Search & Destroy did. It also had a
couple of false positives, keying in on a couple of free Bible programs as
spyware. More than anything, this underscores the need for multiple
products. Fortunately, many of these can be freeware.
All in all, my initial impression is that this is a pretty
good package, even as a beta. Give it try and see if it works for you. Then
let me know what you think.
And chances are, you don't even know it!
Or do you? Has your computer been running slower than
normal lately? Especially after starting to surf the web? Hardware problems
(like not having enough memory) can be a factor here, but lately the
answer has been viruses, spyware, adware, and other types of malware.
Software is available from several sources, including
Microsoft, to combat this threat. Care must be exercised in selecting an
antispyware solution. Several of them actually install spyware. We use
frequently, and recommend a combination of both Spybot Search & Destroy and
AdAware to keep your computer running quickly.
We will be reviewing Microsoft's entry into this space as the
opportunity arises. You can find more information about Microsoft's solution,
and download the beta version at
You can't afford not to know about this!
We held the seminar that we first reported about
Be aware that phishing is still on the rise. Because of this, we want to try to
schedule another opportunity for you to attend this seminar. Keep checking our home page,
and when it is scheduled, you'll be among the first to know.
Malicious software, or "malware" is on the rise. We have
lately been much busier than normal dealing with issues of virus infections,
trojan horses, worms, spyware, adware, and homepage hijackers.
We recommend the following for our Windows XP clients.
- Enable the Automatic Updates function so that critical
Windows updates are applied automatically. You must have Windows XP Service
Pack 1 (or Service Pack 1a) installed in order to enable this feature. (Popup:
How do I tell which XP Service Pack I have?) (Popup:
OK, I have Service Pack 1, How do I enable the Automatic Update feature?)
- Install some form of Antivirus software and enable its
most frequent, most automatic update options. For home users, we recommend
AVG Antivirus Free
Version. Another possibility is
Avast! 4 Home. (Popup:
Set AVG Automatic Updates for Maximum Updating)
- Install Windows XP Service Pack 2.
The Automatic Updates feature works on Windows 2000, Service
Pack 4 also but is accessed through an "Automatic Updates" applet in Control
For our clients who don't have Windows 2000 or Windows XP,
visit Windows Update each Wednesday and install all "Critical" patches.
Wednesday is important because Microsoft releases most patches on Tuesday.
Computer technology is changing at a breakneck pace. A
large number of companies' core-competency is the production of
websites. Our core competencies are networking, computer system building,
and technical support. We have therefore made the strategic decision to
remove website design and maintenance from our product offerings in order to
concentrate on these core competencies.
FREE Security Seminar at the Jacksonville Public Library July
22, 2004 at 7:00pm
Many people who do business on the Internet are finding their
e-mail inboxes stuffed with spam. But lurking in the spam can be phish-bait that
can be used to entice even careful users into giving up usernames, passwords,
account numbers, and other personal information.
The real problems here are the increasing sophistication of
the bait, and the flood of phishing scams being tried. According to the
Antiphishing Working Group, March 2004 saw
679 cumulative phishing attacks. By the end of May 2004, that number was 3,319. At
some point, you should expect that you'll at least be fooled into responding to
a phishing attack. This problem even has homeland security implications,
depending on who the phishers have ties with.
In this seminar, we'll examine one particularly insidious
scheme in depth, plus we'll take a look at the ways you can spot phishing
schemes both before and after you take the bait. We'll also discuss what you can
do if you've given confidential information to a phisher. Legitimate online
business is safe and secure. We'll tell you how you can help keep it that way.
Standard PC's Just Won't Cut It
A real server is much more than a PC turned on its side. Even
the best PCs are just not designed with the expandability, dependability,
performance, or value of a Real Server. If that server... where your most
critical data is stored... crashes, your business at best will be crippled, and
at worst, won't be able to operate at all. Employees alone cost a business, on
average, $38/hour including taxes and incidentals. Considering only that factor,
an employee whose job is prevented for 2 days costs the business $608.00. But
the nature of servers is that when they go down, they almost always affect more
than one individual. Five employees, who can't work for two days will cost you
$3040.00 How often can you afford to shell out that kind of money?
Our InfraServer line of servers offers you the same quality
as name-brand servers, because we use as many Intel® Server components as
possible to assure compatibility and we exclusively use Seagate drives in our
servers due to that company's experience with building hard drives for servers.
To find out more about Real Servers, click this link Do you need a Real Server?
(It will open in a new window, so turn off popup blockers)
Here's something you probably didn't know. When you buy
a computer from David Anderson Consulting, you'll get quality that is the
same or better than Dell™ at a lower price when similarly
configured. We compared a Dell Dimension™ 2350, to our own BizPro GEBV system. Our price was nearly
$50 lower using the prices
in the Dell Home June 2003 catalog (not including any rebates). The
savings were even greater using their online configuration tool.
But even if they can give you a lower price, what
about support? With a computer purchased from David Anderson Consulting,
you can call us and speak directly to the technician who built your PC. If
you call them for technical support, you will have to pay much more than
$5 for Gold support, or as recent reports indicate, you are quite likely
to get someone with such a thick accent it will be difficult or impossible
to understand what they are telling you to do. Click here to see that
Version or Long
Click here to see the price
comparison we made.
In response to requests we've received from our clients,
we have created a page where anyone can see the current pricing of our
We'll be updating this information every day or two and
will be adding to this information and eventually develop into a
full-fledged online shopping site.
To see our price list, check out the Component Price
List link at the left, or just click here.
Due to the low volume of requests for programming services and
the high cost of providing such services, we are discontinuing this service
effective immediately. We can refer your new project to a third party, and
have referred any current projects to this same party.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
On Thursday 3/13/03, Saturday 3/15/03, and Friday
3/21/03 person(s) unknown used our bill payment page to charge $500 to
each of several credit cards. We have voided or refunded the charges
for all transactions which were not declined and have removed access to
that page from this site. The person(s) involved are being sought
and will, when found, be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
For now, if you have had such a charge placed on your credit card bill
that has not been refunded, give it 48 hours to process and then check
with your card issuer. If that charge has still not been refunded, then
contact me at the e-mail address listed above and I'll verify whether or
not the charge has been refunded.
When we bring the payment page back online, we will
require users to register/sign in before entering that page.
We also would like to stress to those individuals who
have seen charges on their bills that the perpetrators of this crime now
have valid credit card numbers/expiration dates with which to raid your
account on other sites. You may wish to cancel your card and have the
company issue you a new account number.
We regret any inconvenience this may cause you.
We now have routers and other
networking components in stock (or within a day's shipping) that will
allow all the computers in your home or office to connect to the Internet
simultaneously. And since each computer will be able to use the 'Net
independently of the others, you can check e-mail while the kids chat or
surf with parental or company controls over sites, keywords, and services.
Check out our Broadband Page (coming soon!) for more information.
We have a new page devoted to weather information here.
The data on this page is provided by The
Weather Channel and by default shows the current weather here in
Jacksonville. However, if you would like other locations shown, just put
the city name or ZIP code in the box and press Go.
The FBI is urging all users of Windows to turn off a
feature called Universal Plug and Play. This feature is not related to the
Plug and Play system of detecting new hardware devices within your
computer, but is rather a method for devices to announce their presence
over a network, such as the Internet. A malicious user could
masquerade as a device. This would allow the malicious user full,
unrestricted access to your computer. The FBI's
warning is available at http://www.nipc.gov/warnings/advisories/2001/01-030-2.htm.
For more information regarding this issue and a tiny (22kb) program that
can solve the problem for all versions of Windows, see the Gibson Research
site at http://www.grc.com/UnPnP/UnPnP.htm.
At David Anderson Consulting, we often are asked whether or
not to leave our computers on all the time. We typically recommend that unless
you have poor electric service, you should leave the computer on to minimize a
phenomenon known as chip creep. Tom's
Hardware Guide has identified a problem with AMD processors that could
potentially represent a fire hazard. Therefore we advise that if your computer
contains an AMD Athlon processor, turn it off when not in use.
For more information regarding this issue please see:
Hot Spot: How Modern
Processors Cope With Heat Emergencies at Tom's site, along with the
companion article: Cooling
Off: THG Visits AMD -- Tom's Hardware Visits AMD. Things have gotten better
for them since then.
If your company currently uses a version of QuickBooks
for Windows earlier than Windows 2000, (QuickBooks 5.0, 6.0, and 99) you
may want to consider upgrading to a later version. Intuit's support
for these products is being discontinued. More information is available
from Intuit here.
At David Anderson Consulting, we have always prided
ourselves on our flexibility of payment options. We already accept
Cash, Checks, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, but now for our
business clients, we offer leasing. For more information about
leasing and how it can benefit your business, see our Leasing
Since Internet E-Mail is now the primary means for
viruses to be spread, we have added a Current
Virus Information link. This link takes you to a page where you
may receive any new virus alerts, determine what the top viruses currently
are, see a map showing where in the world viruses are attacking,
access a FREE(!) online virus scanner and other valuable information
regarding this very important subject. Bookmark that page for sure!
For those who have purchased (or are thinking about
purchasing) a system from us, we have
added links to Intel's driver and BIOS update pages to our