Ira Wilsker's archive

I get a lot of requests from individuals on how to accomplish a myriad of tasks using popular software. I also get requests from individuals asking for help creating Web pages, or writing computer programs in a variety of computer languages. Now there is an unusual free resource that can give everyone detailed instructions on how to complete his selected tasks. While there are many free online help and tutorial services, what makes this one unusual is that it is mostly based on still images (screen captures), with only a small amount of text explaining each image.

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Just as the automakers announce their new offerings every fall, so do the major security software publishers. In recent days, I have seen announcements and promotions for the 2012 offerings from Kaspersky, AVG, Panda, and TrendMicro. 2012 editions from McAfee and Norton may be available by the time that you read this. With each new model year, just like the automakers, the computer security software companies typically offer more features and improved performance.

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In the 11 years that I have been writing this weekly column (more than 500 columns), I know that I have had some spelling and grammatical faux pas. I have used several versions of Word, Google Docs, Open Office and Libre Office as my word processor, and all have a reasonable spelling and grammar checker, which I have never failed to run, but still some errors slip through.

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Last week I wrote about the imperative to frequently and constantly back up our hard drives. I referenced the three most important words in computing: Backup, Backup and Backup! I warned about Murphy’s first law of computing: “A properly backed up hard drive will never fail, but the first time that you do not have a current backup, it will always fail at the most inopportune time.”

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We have all heard the common and trite clichés that the only things that are for sure are death and taxes. For computer users, regardless of operating system or brand of computer, there is a third “truth,” and that is that hard drives will eventually fail. Hard drives, regardless of brand and reputation, are electro-mechanical devices with a lot of very fast moving parts, motors and some type of electronic controller that makes it work.

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