Computer & Internet

I am on the computer a lot, so am always on the lookout for ways to improve my daily experience, and to make more bearable the many small frustrations of working and surfing. What I've found I've listed here. I research and compare before downloading anything into my computer, or before using an online service.

Anti-Spam Email  Security Surfing Miscellaneous Other Links Top 10 Virus Hoaxes

Anti-Spam Email

SpamPal and K9  These free spam fighters are two of many which use a Bayesian filter, which is proving to be the most effective against unwanted emails. You tell it which emails are spam and which are ok and it will eventually block virtually all unwanted mail. Be sure to follow the set-up instructions carefully.

Spam Gourmet "Self-destructing, disposable email addresses". You create a temporary email address and indicate the number of responses you'll accept to that address. Great idea!

Fight Spam This site has comprehensive links and information. A good place to start.

SpamCop  Free service lets you report most spam to the "authorities", and, with luck, get the spammer bounced off his ISP, or at least temporarily shut down. Take a few minutes to go through the steps--it's worth it!

Anti-Spam Link This link on your webpage will supposedly foil spammers by allowing them to "harvest" thousands of bogus email addresses, thereby mucking up their spammy systems. Sounds good to me.

buy products from spam.





Foxmail Email A great substitute for Outlook Express, Foxmail is more fun to use, has a better filter (or rule) system, and is more secure. I think it's by far the best free email client out there. Get rid of your Outlook! (Note: a window will appear when you download, asking you to install Chinese characters. Just cancel and proceed to the English download.)

Thunderbird is another excellent OE replacement. Secure, with some great features.

The Bat! This is the program I use. It's not free, but it is very stable and customizable; and while simple to use has many features for advanced users. If you try this program, be sure to join the mailing list too for the best support.

Webmail Account 
Yahoo! mail has greatly improved over the past year, with spam filters and a less cluttered interface. It can be busy and a little slow sometimes, however. CentralPets.com provides a  good webmail account free of charge and without asking nosy questions. 

Other Free Webmail Accounts:
try Free Email Providers Guide or emailaddresses.com for comprehensive listings.

Mail2Web  A free online service that lets you check your mail wherever you are. As long as you have access to an Internet connection, Mail2Web will plug into your regular email account-- you can reply to and/or forward mail too. Can be busy during peak periods... be patient.


Security   Surfing
Zone Alarm Firewall  If you haven't installed this free firewall, why not? Broadband users particularly are at risk. There is a Pro version available too.

Sygate Personal Firewall is also an excellent free program.

Spyware & Adware  There several good programs that will scan and remove these unwanted intruders from your registry and hard drive. Two free downloads are AdAware and Spybot
Microsoft has released a free beta anti-spyware program which is proving to be very effective.
Everyone should be scanning regularly with one or more of these products. Don't forget to get regular updates.

AVG AntiVirus (free) This antivirus program works a lot like Norton, including email protection and regular update option. I have this installed and so far it works like a charm, though again, current updates are crucial.

WinPatrol  This free program detects, disables unwanted programs, cookies and tasks; also monitors changes to your system without slowing down other applications. Give "Scotty" a try.

Symantec Anti-Virus Center Keeps a current list of security advisories and of viruses with information on removal.

Symantec Search  When you receive a suspicious email and want to check it out, or would like to do your friends and family a HUGE favor before forwarding an email offer or threat, run the subject line or first line of text through this search engine.


Nutshell Search Box This puts an easy-to-use search box on your browser that will check out Google, Amazon, Dictionary.com and IMDB (Internet Movie DataBase).

Popup Blocker is a free software program I am currently using to block annoying popup ads. It is easy to use, runs quietly without hogging resources... and is very strict.

Popup Panic?  This is not a link, just a reminder that if you go to a site that suddenly pops windows in your face and all over your desktop, press Alt-F4 to close all the active popups. This works! Another reminder: if you ever follow a link that appears in a popup, you are telling advertisers that this is a viable means of promoting their product.

Powermarks Bookmark Manager  OK, it costs $25, but I find IE Favorites a fat pain to organize, especially since I am always adding new sites. With Powermarks you provide one or more keywords and it searches all your favorites (or bookmarks) in a flash. And it will search your existing big mess of bookmarks without you having to do anything.

Webwasher Ad Blocker  There's not an XP version yet, but this utility keeps  Windows 98 surfing ad- and popup-free.


Miscellaneous Tools
and Utilities

GoBack All I can say is this has been a life-saver for me (I like to download and try new programs... not always a good thing). When new software (or software uninstall) somehow mucks up my PC's performance, I can go back an hour, a day or more to when my computer was still pristine. Wonderful! If only life was like this. [Note: GoBack is now a Symantec product. To get the best price on this and other software, try PriceGrabber.com -- see Favourite Links.]

Disk Cleanup  Housekeeping made easy, this wee utility is already in Windows XP and only needs a shortcut created to remind you to clear out unnecessary temp files and other computer cloggers. Right click on your desktop, select "New" -- "Shortcut" and type this in the location box (without line break):
Maybe call it Disk Cleanup?

Weather Watcher Finally a reliable, informative, flexible, free little weather program that sits happily in your tool tray. Nice interface that provides as much or as little weather info as you want. Local or international weather, satellite maps and other goodies if you are so inclined.

WinDrivers Backup This free program automatically identifies all your Windows driver files and saves them to a secure location. Trust me, you'll be glad of this backup if you need to restore your system. It's also handy just for showing you installed hardware and their associated drivers, and for reinstalling specific drivers.

Belarc Advisor Lists all the hardware and software installed in your computer. You may be surprised at what's taking up space. Print it off and show your friends. Aida is another free utility that neatly lists all the components of your PC.

Kana Reminder can help you remember hourly, daily, monthly, yearly... whatever events you may otherwise forget. Can alert you to upcoming birthdays for example, or just remind you you've been surfing too long. :-)  Free, too.

Shutdown Shortcut  It's just a little timesaver, but the following simple process will stop you having to use the Start button routine to shutdown Windows 98
First, right click on your desktop and select New...Shortcut. Type in this line exactly without the quotation marks): "C:\windows\rundll.exe user.exe,exitwindows"
Click Next and type in a name for the shortcut ("Shutdown" sounds logical) and hit Enter. You can drag this new shortcut to the quick start bar.
For Windows XP it's even simpler: type this when the shortcut window comes up:
"shutdown.exe -s -t 00"
(again, no quotation marks).

  Other Links

Email Hoaxes  Symantec also keeps a list of hoaxes. As they say, "whenever you receive what appears to be a bogus message regarding a new virus, or promotion that sounds too good to be true" ...check it out here. Save yourself the embarrassment of alarming and annoying friends and family with hoax emails.

Internet Fraud Information Center

SnapFiles (once called WebAttack) is one of my my favourite download sites; an always updated and reliable source for shareware and freeware info and downloads. A search tool, ratings, reviews and screenshots all help us decide if a program is the right one.

Internet Tips and Secrets

Karen's PowerTools  Lots of nifty, reliable, free utilities to download.

Scumware.com  Provides current information on a sleazy practice that creates false links on the websites you view and bilks legitimate companies.

Windows Annoyances  This site is full of tips, tutorials and information for users of Microsoft Windows.

The Elder Geek is a great source of information, tips and advice about Windows XP, including a step-by-step installation guide. "Elder" and "geek" all in one person... how irresistible! 




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