Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Is Free really secure?

Spyware...viruses. Two words that make pc users cringe often. Yep, getting a spyware object or a virus on your pc can often times be as painful as getting a tooth removed. The whole process of getting one's system back to norm can be a gigantic headache. I do PC Repair and Maintainence as a service for our company (The Brico Group, Inc. visit us at and I tell you well over 75% of my service calls come from folks whose pc has been infected. Here's a quick note - if you have a dsl or cable modem connection get a router if you do not already have one. It is a true firewall and will prevent alot of the spyware/virus headaches.

Anyway, I digress back to the main subject at hand. So the fact is that spyware objects and viruses are not going away anytime soon. People pay alot of money to subscribe to virus protection/spyware protection services or software. Take note however - there are quality spyware/virus protection programs available FOR FREE.

One of the main spyware programs I use is MS Anti-Spyware from Microsoft. It's a free download available on their site (under the download area). It takes roughly 5 minutes to download and install. Microsoft updates the software periodically and it automatically updates the spyware definitions whenever there are updates available and you are connected to the internet. That is a key point. New spyware programs are often created so fast that it is imperative to have an auto update feature that will keep the spyware defense programs current. Only complaint you may have about MS AntiSpyware is that the Alert Notification feature often comes up at inopportune times and may startle some of you. The good thing is that the Alert Notification popup clearly defines what program is trying to gain access to your system and allows you to either allow or block access from that program. This could be aggravating to some but my motto is better safe than sorry.

Now for virus protection - I use AVG Free from Grisoft. The free download is available at Look for the Free Edition (you have to look on the main page closely or you will not see it). They offer other versions but the free one works well. It works the same as the MS Anit-Spyware in that it has an auto update feature. This is especially imperative for anti-virus programs since virues have potential to do more damage to your system. It also allows you to scheudle scans and updates. I usually let my scans take place weekly at 2am...a time I am not usually on my pc. Since I have a cable modem, the scan runs with no problem and does not need to be monitored. For those of you who have dial-up connection, if you schedule a scan/updates and the pc cannot access the server to check for updates, it will do so as soon as you connect to the internet so do not be alarmed.

Well folks that's about all from Brico Daily centeral today. Give those downloads a try if you have not already. Let us know what you think, what you like, what you dislike, etc by posting to the Blog. Bear in mind - your system will be in good hands with these to protection programs.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Back from an extended...

Hey folks B Winston back here in TBG Blogland. It has been AWHILE since I lasted posted - no excuses just been busy but I am back and here to stay.

Alot of developments in the tech world have transpired since my last post. One of the things that has truly caught my eye is the extremely affordable prices of small business/home office computers and laptops. I just saw a commericial for a Gateway laptop for $599. Fry's (a local electronics superstore) had a desktop pc this past weekend for $189. That's right folks prices for computer equipment are on the way down. That leads me to my next train of thought - you just don't know how many times I get emails from folks asking what kind of pc should they get, or they will find a pc they may like on the internet, print out the specs, and the plop the piece of paper in front of me awaiting a "ye" or "ne" response. The interesting thing is that most of the computers being sold today are well equipped for normal, everyday, business scenairio (those of you into gaming will have to pay a little more to get the particular type of pc and components you are looking for). So today I figured I would list out some key specs any potential pc you are planning to buy MUST have:

1. At least 256MB of RAM - 512 is ideal however.
2. 1.4 Mhz processor (minimum)
3. 60GB Hard Drive (if you plan on downloading alot of pictures, music, etc. a larger hard drive is essential).
4. CD-RW/DVD combo
5. Wireless capabilities (processor that supports wireless) *laptops only
6. 3 USB ports minimum (most printers, cameras, external hard drives, etc. all use a USB connection to connect to your pc) - 4 USB ports would be ideal.

That's really it folks. Now keep in mind you will see some computers or laptops with extra bells and whistles. But are they really neccesary? For example, say you see a laptop online for $599. But then you look and see that the laptop does not have built-in wireless. However, for an extra $200 dollars you can get a model with built-in wireless. Is that all necessary? Not in my book folks. All the major stores selling USB wireless adapters for under $50!! Believe me when I say they work like a charm - if you don't loose them (some folks in my office do that on a regular basis). So the point is bells and whistles cost more than they usually are - extra components can be added and end up being a WHOLE lot cheaper than having them installed when your machine is built.

Well I have kept you long enough folks. Go out there and capitlialize on all the great pc and laptop deals that are out there. Funny thing is that gas prices keep rising but pc equipment keeps going down...I hope it stays that least the pc equipment anyway.

Till next time.

Brian J. Winston
Consultants - CTS
The Brico Group, Inc.