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News Archive

Our oldest news stories are archived here. We haven't put these into the forums, but may do so soon.

What kind of Disc can I burn?

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 here.

Windows Defender and AVG Free 7.1 Have Expired

Have no fear, upgrades are available

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.

Windows Vista Has Arrived

Vista released, Upgrade vouchers with all new Windows XP-based computer systems

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 specifications:

  • 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 recommend high-speed.
  • 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!

Zakary David Anderson Has Arrived

Baby & Mom are doing fine

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 here 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.

About Our Ads

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.

You Tell 'Em, "Weird Al"!

Free parody of current copyright/DRM mess available

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 E-Card.

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 viewnothing!

Well, let me step down off my soapbox... for the moment.

Oh Boy! Now we've got Smishing!

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.

Happy 15th Birthday World Wide Web!

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.

First Phishing, Then Pharming, Now There's Vishing

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 credit rating.

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.

AOL's Free E-Mail

Now you can switch ISPs and still keep your AOL email address

AOL has 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).

Dell's Woes

Batteries that catch fire not their only problem

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 CRN (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.

Skype Calls Free to Landline and Cell Phones!

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 Skype-to-Skype call.

Training Service Offered

David Anderson Consulting Offers 1-on-1 Training

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.

Broadband Page Update!

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 DirecWay satellite 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.

Classes Offered at the Library Now Complete

Schedule for final round has been finished

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 at http://www.appliedmaterials.com/HTMAC/animated.html.

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.

Microsoft AntiSpyware Becomes Windows Defender

Beta 2 of Their AntiSpyware Solution Released

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.

Seagate Purchases Maxtor

$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 here.

Did you also know?

David Anderson Consulting Offers Quality Computer Systems?

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 dollars.

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 competition.
  • 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 Seagate
  • 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 component.

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 I.

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 following:

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.

Did you know?

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 services:

  • DirecWay satellite service
  • DSL, T1, T3 leased line service for business
  • Cox High-Speed Internet service if you're a Cox Cable subscriber
  • Cingular® Wireless voice and Edge data service
  • Sprint PCS Data/Voice service (Nextel soon)

Dial-Up Internet Service Available

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 click here.

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 $0.50/month)
  • 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.

Microsoft Posts New SharePoint® Applications

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 here.

Risecom Announces Closing

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.

Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta Extended

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.

More Training Classes Underway!

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 here.

You've heard of Phishing, well now there's Pharming!

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 Banker worm.

Now, more than ever, it's important to have good, up-to-date antivirus and 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 house.

When you peel one layer off an onion, there's another underneath. Your security should be the same.

Thinking of buying a computer at Joe's garage sale?

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.

Is Your Hard Drive Healthy?

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.

Microsoft AntiSpyware at First Blush

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 first impressions - 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.

You have spyware on your computer!

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  http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx?GT1=6065.

Phishing Update

You can't afford not to know about this!

We held the seminar that we first reported about here. 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.

Got Security? How do you 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.

  1. 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?)
  2. 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)
  3. 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 Panel.

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.

Website Design to be Phased Out

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.

Ever Heard of Phishing? Identity Thieves Have!

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.

What You Don't Know About Servers Could Cost Your Business Thousands, Maybe Even Millions

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)

Dude, you're gettin' a...

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 report (Short Version or Long Version).

Click here to see the price comparison we made.

Price List Now Available Online!

In response to requests we've received from our clients, we have created a page where anyone can see the current pricing of our components.

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.

Discontinuance of Programming Services

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.

Fraudulent Usage Notice

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.

Cable Internet Access Comes to Jacksonville

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.

Weather Information Now Available from The Weather Channel

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.

FBI Warns Against Windows' Universal Plug and Play

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.

AMD Athlon Poses Potential Fire Hazard

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.

Attention QuickBooks Users:

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.

Our Payment Options Just Got More Flexible!

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 Options page.

Virus Info Page Available

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!

Drivers Now Available

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 Download page.