Computer Guide

Best value-for-money Internet security

by George Skarbek - 21 November 2006

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Q: What would you recommend as the best value-for-money internet security suite for a home computer using broadband that includes antivirus, anti-spyware, firewall, phishing fraud, spam filter etc.

In my opinion the best value-for-money software for personal home use is free software. For anti-virus I recommend the free AVG from Grisoft at:, and for anti-spyware some good free software to consider is Ad-Aware and Spybot from  and  respectively. Also for XP users Microsoft's Defender should be considered. Good free home use firewall software is Zone Alarm from A free spam filter is SpamBayes from

Finally for phishing fraud I strongly recommend that you keep your brain in gear as banks or other similar institutions never ask you to click on some site and “verify” your account details. Banks NEVER do this, so every such request, no matter how real the site looks is a fraud.  I am not aware of any software that can stop human gullibility when users click without thinking.


A question about bits and bytes

Q: I have an ADSL internet connection at 512 Kbps speed; my ISP advised me that that is not the real speed, that I have to divide that by 8! Which is 64 Kbps. Is this correct? If it is, why do they say is 512 Kbps speed on the ad?

Both numbers are correct, depending on what units that you use. Historically, transmission speeds were given in bits per second (bps) or in kilo bits per second (Kbps), while disk storage is expressed in bytes. For example, modem speed is given as 56 Kbps, and a file size is quoted in bytes.

There are 8 bits in one byte. The letter B will use one byte of disk space but it is made up of 8 bits, and to transmit it the following sequence of zeros and ones is sent as: 1000010.  If it is would take one second to transmit the letter B then the speed would be 1 bps or 1 byte per second.

Coming to your specific example, the maximum Internet download speed is 512 Kbps and this is correctly advertised. However if you achieve this speed for one second you will download one 64 kilobyte file and not a 512 kilobyte file as you may have expected. 


Customising Outlook

Q: I have recently upgraded from Outlook Express to Outlook mainly for the calendar function, but have come across one annoying feature in the mail layout. If shows the prior mail in the mailboxes in date groups and puts in headings such as Today, Yesterday, Last Week etc. This takes up valuable space and more scrolling to locate an item. I just want the plain listing by date but cannot find how to set it.

I agree with you that having these headings does not add any value as you can tell by the date if the mail is from last week or last month.  Assuming that you have Outlook 2003, when you have your mail open in Outlook with the annoying headings visible click on View, Arrange By and remove the tick from the Show in Groups box to alter that setting.


Opening Windows Explorer

Q: I want to be able to see the complete directory tree easily. I seem to get parts of it but I don’t think that I have ever seen the complete tree. Windows explorer used to help, but that seems to have disappeared now. Is there a program that sets out the whole lot?  It seems as though XP is written for zombies to use, if one tries to do something out of the ordinary it seems as though it is always trying to get one back on the original path , like it or not. I am beginning to think I was better off with ME!

I don't know how to make it open displaying the full tree, but just pressing the * on the numeric keyboard when you are on the root directory will expand all folders.

The main reason why Microsoft have not implemented this as a default is because on a large hard drive you may have to wait a few minutes for Windows Explorer to read down the multiple levels of all folders before you can use it.


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  • Tips on digital imaging and scanning
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To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here