The mystery button
by George Skarbek - 10th May 2005

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

Computer Guide

Q: After many years of using my ancient computer, I have a new fast computer running Windows XP. What does the key next to the Ctrl key with a picture of a small rectangle with an arrow on it do?

A: This is the keyboard equivalent of a mouse right-click for most cases and opens a menu window. It works with many programs and most Microsoft products. However, my guess is that most users who have learnt to right-click are unlikely to start using this key.

Q: I am using Windows 2000, and have installed the free Grisoft antivirus recommended by you. Can you also advise on a firewall?

A: My recommendation is Zone Alarm. This does a very good job and most users will probably not need to upgrade to the Pro version. You can go to:


Q: How can you include special characters in a password, and does it defeat hackers' recovery programs?

A: You can enter these special characters by holding the Alt key and pressing numbers on the numeric keyboard, such as Alt + 231. Some brute-force cracking programs only use the keyboard characters and in such a case even a short password will defeat the hacker. However, the majority of cracking programs have the option to search all 256 characters. Don't assume that only limited cracking tools will be used. I suggest using a longer password. For example, cracking a basic WinZip password that is six characters long and containing only lower case letters, at 100,000 tries per second will take only minutes to crack. However, if you increase the password to nine characters without special characters, then this becomes nearly two years.

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