Born again, not porn again
by George Skarbek - August 16th 2005

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Computer Guide Q: I have a laptop at home and every time I connect to the net and open a link that I intend to visit, a separate window opens with a porn link. I have Norton anti-virus and have tried running it but it won't take it off. Is there any quick solution of deleting this from the computer?

A: This type of hijack can be hard to remove manually and the general solution is to use software to remove these intruders. Some good free software to consider is Ad-Aware and Spybot from and respectively.

Q: If the computer starts with the modem or router on, is there any vulnerability in the short period before the anti-virus program loads? If the Windows firewall is disabled, is there a similar vulnerability before the commercial firewall loads?

A: No, you are not exposed before the anti-virus program loads because you are not receiving any mail with attachments during the startup process.

As for the firewall, there may be a theoretical opportunity of a few seconds at most, but during that time no hacker would even have time do obtain a directory listing of your drive. The probability of a hacker locating your computer in this time is virtually zero.


Q: What is the different between USB and Ethernet connections?

A: I will start with the similarities first as there are very many differences. Both USB and Ethernet can be viewed as fast ports on a computer that will allow you to connect external hardware devices, such as an ADSL modem. But this is about all they have in common as they work in different ways and use different protocols, or means of communication.
USB connections allow you to connect many different devices such as scanners, printers, cameras, MP3 players, external DVDs and others, and, for this reason, computers have multiple USB ports.

Very few computers have more than one Ethernet card installed as the Ethernet card is generally used to connect to other computers in a local area network (LAN) via some hub and then to the internet.

Although it is possible to connect two computers via a special USB cable, this is not common. USB is limited to a distance of a few metres while Ethernet cables can be up to 100 metres. The maximum speed for USB 2 is 480 Mbps while Ethernet usually runs at 100 Mbps and new networking cards can go to 1 Gbps, or 1000 Mbps.

Q: I read your weekly column with interest although being of advanced years, I am not computer literate. My problem is this: I wish to create my own letterhead, preferably using a colour other than black. Everyone I have spoken to says "what a good idea" but cannot offer any suggestions as to how I might achieve this. My PC has recently been upgraded with Windows XP (I imagine it is the "Home" version). Can you help?

A: There are several ways to achieve this. Before going into details, some basic clarification may be required. Your Windows XP is the operating system but letters are created in a word processor program, and there are many word processors than can run on Windows. Word is by far the most common but it is not included in Windows and must be purchased separately.

Probably the best way to create your letterhead is to use a template but this may a bit advanced if you are just starting and I will give another method that will work in all word processors, including WordPad, which comes free with all versions of Windows.

Start by making a usual document and create your letterhead with your name, address, phone number, email, etc, using appropriate fonts and colours. If you insert a graphic, make sure this is a small file as it does need to have high resolution. Having laid it out, save your file with a special name such as AA-Head so it will appear at the top of the list of files. Then open Windows Explorer, find and select the AA-Head file, right click the mouse, select Properties, then change the file attribute to Read Only. Once this is done, whenever the file is opened and saved again, the "Save As" window automatically comes up, plus the file cannot be overwritten.

Now whenever you wish to send a letter using your letterhead open AA-Head and immediately save it with a meaningful name and only then start typing your letter.

If you are using Word, you could consider inserting the date into your letterhead document and tick Update automatically. This means than whenever you open your letterhead it will have that day's date. The only disadvantage is that when you open an old document, it will have the current date and the only way to find out when it was created is to use Windows Explorer.

To look at the book, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here