Tuesday, April 8, 2014 is the day the last security patches will be available for Windows XP and MS-Office 2003. Microsoft will maintain MS Security Essentials until July, 2014, but Microsoft warns that just an up-to-date anti-virus program is not enough to guarantee you computer is secure.
Once you apply the March 11, 2014 update, you will get a nag screen like the following until you mark the box to stop showing it.
You will also get a warning from MS Security Essentials that you are no longer protected.
If you click the link for End-of-support guidance, you will get a page where Microsoft is urging you to buy a NEW COMPUTER with Windows 8.
If you have a computer that meets your needs, but has Windows XP, that same computer can continue to meet your needs.
The simplest way to enable your WinXP computer to meet your needs and keep your data secure is to disconnect from the internet. This option is not practical for the majority of computer users.
Another option would be to use a secure and up-to-date and maintained operating system, such a Linux. There are various flavors of Linux and they are free. There are some limitations to how well Linux can keep your computer going. You will find that your computer is MUCH faster to get going and do your work than with WinXP.
The biggest limitation is that some games cannot be made to run on Linux.
If you need to be able to browse the web, like check your Facebook, and view YouTube videos and work with documents and spreadsheets, you can do it all with Linux.
The simplest way to use Linux is to copy all your data. You are already backing up all your data regularly, right?
Install Linux over the current install. This overwrites Windows and all your data, so if you don’t have a backup, all your data is lost.
The other method requires enough hard disk space. You can install Linux with a dual-boot option that lets you choose whether to run Windows or Linux when you start your computer. This option is best if you have some program that can’t be made to work in Linux, or for which there is no viable free alternative.
If you are interested in avoiding buying a new computer and keeping more of your hard earned money, contact me for assistance in making the switch to Linux.
For $50.00, I can get you step-by-step instructions to do it yourself.
For remote support for me to help verify the information you will need to do your own Linux installation, $75.
If you want phone support or remote support for me to help verify the information you will need to do your own Linux installation, contact me for pricing.
For those who are local, contact me for arrangements to drop off your computer.
$100 to install Linux. *
$50 to backup your data to CD/DVD if you don’t have a backup.
$50 to get your existing internet working with your “NEW” computer. (High Speed Internet Only.)
$25 to pick up and deliver your PC (25 mile radius).
If you want to pay to ship your computer to me, plus return shipping, prices as above.
This is best done with a backup of your data first and insuring your computer for shipping.
Contact me first to coordinate shipping. I suggest the remote option to make sure it is worth the expense. (This requires that you have a high speed internet connection.)
* (This includes verifying that installing Linux will work well your computer. If your computer is old enough, it would be better to get a new one.)
Your computer appears to not start with the cryptic message:
Diskette drive 0 seek failure
Strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility
Diskette is the key term to catch here. Relax, your hard drive is fine. If your PC has a floppy drive, it has either failed or had a cable come loose inside. If you have a newer computer that does not have a floppy drive, it means that somehow your BIOS has gotten changed to expect one.
In either case, a quick fix is to press F2 for the setup utility, look for the floppy drive and set Floppy A to none. Save the settings and now it will work.
This is evidently an issue on some newer Dells. I had to charge a client to fix a Dell that is still under warranty. Dell tech support said pop the case and check connections. Of course, the client was not comfortable with this. After checking cables and trying several other options, I googled the message. One would think that Dell has a knowledge base with this message that should remind the support tech to ask if there is a floppy drive. If no, then no need to crack the case. Instead they tick of one of their customers.
I have had a few questions lately about Satellite Internet service for areas that do not have access to Cable or DSL.
I do not have details about specific satellite providers. My advice is to comparison shop and look for the best price.
Before signing on the dotted line, I recommend that you ask for references from clients in your area that you can question to make sure that they are satisfied with the service. If the service does not work well for a neighbor, it probably will not be any better for you.
The website High-Speed Internet Access provides a guide for various types of high-speed internet service, including Cable, DSL, Wireless, and Satellite. This is one source to help you determine if Satellite Internet is right for you. There is a partial listing of some Satellite providers.
If you use a dial-up service, such as, AOL or Juno to access the internet, and things are slow or not working, there are several possible explanations.
The modem is mis-configured.
The modem is worn out.
The software for the dial-up service needs to be reinstalled.
A mis-configured modem can be identified in the device manager. It may require using add/remove hardware to tell Windows it has been removed. When the computer is re-booted, it should find the modem and offer to “re-install” it.
If a modem is worn out or failing, it may not operate at full speed. This is most noticeable if you have more than one PC with its own modem and one computer is faster online than the other.
To re-install the dial-up software, the best procedure is to uninstall it, reboot the computer and reinstall it. Make sure you have the user name and password before attempting this. The installation program will have an option to install for an existing account.
If your computer has spyware, it can be addressed with the free program Spybot Search and Destroy. If the infection is particularly bad, it may take several scans to remove all of the spyware. This software is updated every Wednesday, it is wise to keep this updated and scan your computer once a month to insure it is free of spyware.
When there is a virus infection, it can be tricky to resolve without internet access. It is often easier to download utilities to help remove a particular virus using a computer that is not infected. Virus software is only useful if it is kept up-to-date. Most anti-virus vendors have daily or weekly updates. A good free program is Grisoft Anti-Virus (AVG).
Other factors that may come into play are mis-configured firewalls, Windows has not been updated with the latest security fixes, or firmware updates have not been applied.
Del.icio.us Social Bookmarking is a great way to find information that other internet users find helpful.
The basic idea is to use “tags” to label each link saved to your Del.icio.us folder. One can then see other links with similar tags. Each link can have multiple tags. By using tags, one does not need to keep a huge list of hierarchical bookmarks/favorites, but rely on the tags to find helpful sites. The biggest benefit is access to one’s Del.icio.us bookmarks from any computer on the internet.
It is easy to see what other Del.icio.us users find important on a day-to-day basis, and one can often find new web sites that if you knew it existed, you would have already tagged it.
By submitting your own favorite websites, you help shape the views of all the other Del.icio.us users. This is truly a melting pot of ideas.
In addition to my favorite software, here are the tools I use to help others with their Windows computer problems.
For Anti-Virus, I use a combination of Trend Micro’s Sysclean, Grisoft AVG, and ClamWin. I also use McAfee’s Stinger for quick scans for the most common issues.
For SpyWare, I use a combination of SpyBot Search and Destroy and WinPatrol.
For Optimizing, I use CCleaner, NTRegOpt, and PageDefrag, and JKDefrag..
For Backups, I use SyncBak.
For computers that have so much spyware/viruses that they do not start, I use a Linux Boot CD. This allows me to get the data copied to a USB stick, so that I can wipe the drive and start fresh.
Where the user is open to it, I move them to Linux.
If Linux is not an option, I try to get them to use FireFox and Thunderbird, and educate them about how to avoid viruses and spyware. I also point out all of the free and open source software that is available.
I found a good black and white laser printer for under $80 this fall. It is a Brother HL-2040. It installed easily in Slackware Linux 10.2. The print is great. It works just as well as it does on Windows XP SP2. On my dual-boot PC, there is no trouble using the printer from either Operating System.
It came with half the amount of ink as a new cartridge, but I have printed about two reams of paper, and still going strong. I would have spent nearly $200 on ink for my Lexmark injet printer.
I think it is wrong for ink to cost more than my printer, unless there is value in it. With the Brother I will spend about $150 for a new ink cartridge, but it will be able to do several reams of paper. With my Lexmark, I was lucky to print about 100 pages, using the ink save setting. When the new cartridges cost $30, it costs about $150 to print a ream of paper. I could print about 6 reams of paper for the same cost of ink on the Brother.
Now, the only reason I use the Lexmark, is if I need something printed in color, which is not very often. I will not buy another ink jet printer! Lexmark has enough of my money.