Monday, June 15, 2009

Repeat Customers

By now, everyone who is smart enough to own a computer or unlucky enough to stumble upon my articles knows that they must keep current and updated antivirus software installed on their computer. Here in the shop, we install the stuff for you if you don’t have any. Many of you follow our advice and still (sometimes just a day or two later) bring the system back in with a different virus infection because you did something silly.

My technicians love their jobs. Your problems are our livelihood. We get a perverse thrill in attacking a problem and finding a solution for you. But, honestly, fixing the same problem twice is just not fun. We would much rather deal with you once then move on to the next challenge. Virus protection is generally pretty good but nothing is 100% foolproof. It seems that all the virus protection in the world can’t overcome our collective ability to do dumb stuff.

So how do avoid doing dumb stuff on a computer? A heavy dose of computer skepticism would certainly help. Some of you are so paralyzed with computing paranoia – so afraid of screwing something up – that you hardly turn the computer on. No, what I’m wishing for is for everyone to look at their computer with a raised skeptical eyebrow and ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if I do NOT open that email offering to increase my body part?” “What would happen if I didn’t download music from illegal sources?”

Here are some other basic bits of advice that will stop you from becoming a repeat customer. Fist, simply ignore email from strangers. Don’t worry about deleting it. Simply receiving an email cannot infect your computer with anything. You have to actually open the attachment or click on a link within that email before it can do anything bad.

Secondly, keep your skeptical eyebrow raised every time you sit in front of the computer. Many of us (including yours truly) have been “taken” enough times that we have learned to be skeptical but being victimized is probably not the most efficient way to learn to be skeptical. But, seriously, if someone promises you a share of millions of dollars in inheritance money, ask yourself, “Could I really be that lucky?” The answer is always going to be, “NO!.” So ignore the offer and go about your own business.

Thirdly, I’ve tried to come up with a delicate way to say this in a family-friendly newspaper but perhaps a blunt force statement is best: Don’t visit porn sites.

Lastly, remove the file sharing software from your computer and purchase your music from legal sources such as iTunes, Rhapsody or Napster. I know how enticing it is to be able to get all the free music you want. I’ve done it, too. But not only is it illegal to share music, but those “free” songs can come embedded with all sort of expensive nastiness.

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