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Computer Users Group

February 15, 2006


The cover on PC Magazine for February 21, 2006 says “STAMP OUT SPYWARE & VIRUSES ONCE AND FOR ALL.” Then the article heading reads “You absolutely need one of these suites but even the best won’t keep you totally safe”. Which is it?

So you do need a spam filter, virus protection and a spyware blocker and remover. They found Zone Labs at $69.95 to be the best. But they don’t even touch on safe practices and settings for your existing software and so we will.

Web Beacons: Yahoo stirred up a controversy when it started using web beacons to track users. A beacon is a 1x1 pixel transparent image whose source may be other than the original web source. Placing such a beacon allows the source to know your URL, time of viewing, length of viewing and gives him access to the cookie placed by the original web source. Beacons can only be placed if images are allowed. Some of the tips below will help defeat their purpose and provide other safety measures.

Email: OE is Outlook Express; IE is Internet Explorer.

Read and write in “Text Only”. (OE: TOOLS/OPTIONS/READ/Check plain Text Box). Thunderbird: VIEW/MESSAGE BODY AS/Plain Text

Don’t click on unknown links.

Be careful with attachments.

Download headers only. (Thunderbird: TOOLS/ACCOUNT SETTINGS/SERVER SETTINGS)

The Web

Don’t show pictures. IE: TOOLS/INTERNET OPTIONS/ADVANCED/ Uncheck Show Pictures

Choose the highest security setting you can tolerate. If too high, it may get annoying.

Duplicate Files


Duplicates have a way of popping up and some are even created intentionally. My laptop has 640 MB of duplicate files. A program called “Find Duplicates.exe” can find and allow you to delete ones that you don’t want. Go here:

Since it’s hard to know what can safely be removed, you should run the program and save the resulting file and research what types can be removed on a case by case basis. Note that the program determines duplicates solely by file size so be careful that the names on the two or more files match as well. There are many other programs to do the same thing; just search Google for “duplicate files”. Some are more thorough in determining true duplicates and others may offer guidance on what can safely be deleted. Here are some guidelines:

Files in the Windows/system32/dllcache folder are there purposely to allow you to replace a corrupted dll file with a replacement. If you need the space, it can be deleted but it is not recommended.

Files and images that you’ve created should not be a problem for you to determine whether you want them in more than one location. Select the ones you don’t want for deletion.

FamilyTreeMaker creates a backup file for every file you create and it’s the same size. The file has an extension of FTW and the backup is FBK. Don’t delete them.

Some dll files may reside in the program folder for the program that uses it as well as in the Windows/system32 folder. You can often delete the one in the program folder but don’t bypass the Recycle bin; you may need to recover it. Recovering it will place it back where it came from.


Creating a Family Map

There is a web site that you can use as a family reunion type site where family members join and upload their location, pictures and comments. It’s . Each member must register. Since I didn’t register it wasn’t clear whether you also have to register with Google to place information on the Google map. They wanted me to register in order to save the map for offline viewing. An example of a family site is . One drawback with this type of site is that you have to undo most of the security steps we outlined above. You have to allow images and also allow them from sites other than the one you are viewing. (Just like beacons). It is, however, a way to visualize your extended family to the extent that you can get them interested. Creating a family blog can accomplish the same goal and allows for continual input from family members as new events occur. Go here for more on blogging: . However, it doesn’t come with a map.

Review of Last Month

We’ll demonstrate some of the graphics programs and show what you can do to clean up photographs and scanned images. And while we won’t get into a great deal of detail, we will highlight some information on resolution and image size. The program details can be found at .

Some guidelines:

Before doing any work on an image on your graphics program, save it with a new name and make all corrections to that. Work in TIFF or other uncompressed format until done and then convert to JPG if you want.

Image resolution should be 150 to 300 dots (pixels) per inch for printing (DPI or PPI). The printer resolution should be at least the image resolution and will usually be much higher.

Divide the image width in pixels by the image width in inches to get the pixels per inch. If you double the width in inches, you cut the PPI in half.

Some images cannot be printed full size without cropping. 4x6 just doesn’t go into 8x10.

Adjust the scanner to produce the best image possible and then correct further in your graphics program. If the scanner doesn’t include it, you can’t add it later.

Picassa will find all images on your hard drive and show you thumbnails of them. You can remove from Picassa any that you don’t want to show. You can back them all up or create a CD of your images with comments on each image. And you can do limited image corrections.