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.A Reader Asks...
.10 Steps to Secure
.Printer Sharing
.Spyware Removal
.FTP Server
.WinXP Backup
.Assemble a PC
.Ergonomics and PCs
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10 Steps to Secure Your PC

The focus of this issue of the PCstats Newsletter is 10 Steps to Securing your PC. That's really just the first guide in our issue, but it serves as a fitting focus for the rest of what we have in store for you... After following those 10 Steps, we move right into Printer Networking on the cheap - no routers, or print servers necessary here. Once you have those two guides under your belt, the focus shifts to Spyware removal.

For the readers who wrote in last week asking about FTPs, and how to set one up at home, you're in luck; Setting up an FTP Server in WinXP is next, closely followed by a guide to backing up your data and restoring it. Easy stuff you say? Well then, how about some tips to assembling your very own PC? Or, advice from us keyboard-jockies on how important ergonomics and computers can really be? It's all here, in Issue 138 of the PCstats Newsletter. :)

Chris, our Industry Insights columnist, talks about GDDR3 memory while Mike tackles a reader question about how safe it is to leave a computer on 24/7. Good advice, especially for those of you 'downloading.' Colin busts out another of his Weekly Tech Tips. Next week he'll be tackling a slightly more advanced topic, so stay tuned!

Last but not least, I'm pleased to announce that the PCstats Forums have just re-opened today! We've upgraded our server, cleaned out the dust bunnies, and moved from our forums from FuseTalk to vBulletin 3.0.1 by popular demand. So, there it is - go and sign up if you aren't already member, and if you are, go and chat! :-)

Beginners Guides: Ten Steps to a Secure PC
Read it Now! The Internet can hold a host of dangers for the unwary computer user. Without proper precautions, your data is at risk every minute your system is connected to the web.
With this guide, PCstats has set out to inform you clearly and concisely of the dangers you face, and the steps you can take to avoid them. Once you look through, I think you'll be struck by how little effort is required to make your PC more secure. Even performing the first five steps of this guide will make your system better protected than the vast majority of Internet connected PCs. It is not wise to rely on the comparative anonymity of the Internet to keep you safe. If you do, you will be burned eventually and inevitably. Secure your PC now to avoid future regrets. The next five procedures can be considered essential for any computer user that values the sanctity of his or her data. By following these five easy steps, you can avoid 99% of the potential trouble lying in wait for you on the Internet. Continue Here>>
Beginners Guides: Printer Sharing on a Home Network
Read it Now!

A quick and easy guide to networking your printer at home without having to buy any extra hardware for the job.
Printers are essential modern conveniences, connecting with your computer to offer you the power of a small copy shop in your living room. However, printers can rapidly become inconvenient if the other members of your household have to transport the files they want to print to a certain computer in order to print them. Wouldn't it be much better if every computer in the house or office could print directly? In this short but sweet guide, PCstats will look at how to make a printer available over your home network using Windows XP's built-in sharing abilities. Since most of us use USB or parallel connected printers, we are going to assume that this is the same for you. This article assumes that you have a printer correctly installed on a Windows XP computer and a working network connection to at least one other computer. If you need help in setting up your home network, be sure to read PCstats in depth guide to Home Networking and Wireless Networking before getting started here. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Spyware Protection and Removal
Read it Now!Fresh from penning our Firewall and Virus Alert article, PCStats would like to present the second part of our beginners guide to the less savoury aspects of the internet experience; dealing with the subject of "Spyware." If you've installed a peer-to-peer sharing program such as 'Kazaa Media Desktop' or 'Morpheus', or accidentally said yes to a 'Gator' pop-up, or gone on an excursion to some of the darker corners of the Internet, chances are your PC has developed an internet life of its own through one or more spyware applications. Once installed, spyware software can easily send any required information out to the Internet using the system's current connection. Such transactions occur in the background and are difficult to notice or trace, since most firewall hardware and software, including Windows XP's built in firewall, does not interfere with information going out of the protected computer or network. Continue -- Click Here>>

Beginners Guides: Setting up an FTP Server in WinXP
Read it Now!

FTP is an easy way to transfer files over the Internet and in this guide we'll explain the basics of using it, and how to set up a home FTP server in WindowsXP
If you've ever tried to share a large number of files over the Internet, you've no doubt noticed that it is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Sure you can use MSN messenger to send one file at a time. You could email, but that's slow and limited by the size of your mailbox. What if you want to make several directory's worth of your files available to yourself over the Internet while you are traveling? What's the solution? Why FTP of course! FTP simply stands for File Transfer Protocol, and as you might guess, it's a method of transferring data over a network or the Internet. The main advantage of FTP is the ease with which it can transfer files over the Internet or your network. Individual files or whole directories can be made available, allowing clients to choose what they wish to access. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Back up and Restore Data in WinXP
Read it Now! Tired of reinstalling WinXP after a nasty virus strikes? Create a drive image and save your data, and your time.
Sure, if you've read our article on hard drive restoration you know that there are ways to recover lost data cheaply and easily, but this can lead to a false sense of security. What happens when a hard drive dies completely? It will die eventually... make no mistake. I've seen hard drives dropped, catch fire, make excruciating noises and simply stop for no apparent reason. You have got to back up your essential data. Catastrophic hard drive failures happen, and when they do, even if you still have warranty support for the drive you're out of luck; no disk manufacturer warranties the data on the drive. Your only recourse is data recovery services, and they can charge enormous amounts for their services, though often only if they are able to recover the data. In the face of all this potential trouble, $100 for a new drive doesn't seem so bad, does it? Continue -- Click Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: I download a lot of large files... so I tend to leave my computer on all the time. Is it safe to do this, or will it overheat? Also, what is the average life expectancy for computer parts?

A: : If your system does not overheat during normal use, I would not worry about leaving it on for extended periods. Computers do not gain heat incrementally through time of use, but rather based on the amount of work they are doing and the ambient temperature around them.

As for life expectancy, the hard disk is really the only part that can 'wear out' as it is mechanical. Hard drives do have a life expectancy, but since the computer is useless without them, I'd use them as intensively as you like and just be sure to make backups of your vital data. Check out our article on backing up and restoring data in Windows XP for more details.

Generally speaking, the life expectancy of other (purely electronic) computer parts is indefinite. Barring power surges and environmental damage, your equipment should last the same period of time whether it is on or off. A few years ago there was an issue with blown and leaking motherboard capacitors, so even under the best operating conditions there is always room for an unknown factor to cause issues. If it makes you feel better, I can't remember the last time I turned my system off, barring restarts.

There are several things you can do regularly to keep your PCs hardware and software as healthy as possible. See our 'Annual PC checkup' guide for more. Next week: Another question on FTP sites and home routers. To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.

-Join us - Beginners Q and A in the PCstats Forums

Beginners Guides: Assembling Your Own PC

Read it Now! An illustrated guide to cheating the pro's out of their service fees.
Assembling your own PC is not hard. I just want to clear that up from the start, since I'm often surprised when somebody praises me for my computer 'expertise' because I can install memory in their systems. Installing memory is an exercise roughly comparable in difficulty to cleaning the lint out of a dryer and putting the filter back in the right way. Modern computer systems are designed to be easy to fit together, and they are. The majority of components are keyed so they will only fit a certain way, for one thing, and everything is standardized. This is not to say that it is foolproof, but perhaps foolresistant would be true. The thing is, the majority of non-techie people that I know have this almost superstitious awe of computers which requires them to make pilgrimages to the local computer store every time they want something added, upgraded, or replaced in their machine. I have to admit that charging $65 for the 10 minutes of labour required is somewhat thrilling.... Continue -- Click Here>>

Beginners Guides: Ergonomics and Computers
Read it Now! Having fun with Carpal Tunnel? Our drug-free guide just might make you feel a little better.
If you are a long time computer user like me, you might have noticed the occasional hurts and discomforts that go hand in hand with spending long periods of time in front of the PC. Stare at a monitor for hours on end, year after year and most likely you'll eventually start to notice the pains magnify in frequency and severity. Do this long enough, and the discomfort could become part of the daily routine when you sit down to work or game at a computer. Computer Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), including conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendinitis, are the most common occupational injuries in North America. Many of these cases would be easily preventable, but still occur due to ignorance of the symptoms or the severity of the injury.Continue -- Click Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Welcome to Windows
Search Dealtime
Super Micro

While the WindowsXP welcome screen looks a lot prettier and more user friendly than previous log in screens, you can't select the administrator user right from the very beginning. Of course you can edit the registry to allow that option. =)

First load up regedit (Start, Run and type regedit then press the ok button) and follow this path. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows NT -> CurrentVersion -> Winlogon -> Special Accounts -> UserList. From there create a new DWORD value, name it Administrator and give it the value 1. After that's done save, reboot and you're done. >From now on the login screen will display the administrator user as an option. =)

Make sure you're folding for team PCStats with your spare CPU cycles. It only uses the idle CPU resources and stops once your PC is under load. You'll be helping us out as well as Humanity.

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Industry Insights

The latest graphics hardware, armed with GDDR-3 memory, hasn't even made it store shelves yet and already Joe Macri, the engineer responsible for guiding the development of GDDR-3, is talking about GDDR-4. According to Mr. Macri, the next generation of memory technology is highly dependant on the infrastructure in place today. Of course, GDDR-3 is the current standard for enabling never-before seen bandwidth possibilities, tailored explicitly for graphics applications. By making certain modifications to the data strobe (clocking interface) and I/O, GDDR-3 is estimated to reach speeds of up to 800MHz (effectively 1.6GHz). Further, by integrating on-die termination, graphics board design is simplified. And because the memory circuits consume less power, consequentially generating less heat, Mr. Macri sees GDDR-3 as ideal for overclocking (a trend likely to continue in GDDR-4). GDDR-4 will build on GDDR-3, relying on evolutionary development for higher operating frequencies. The standard will emerge from within JEDEC, meaning graphics processor designers and memory manufacturers alike will participate in the open standard. The standard is still early in development, but the process should be completed before the end of 2004. And when GDDR-4 finally emerges, it should scale up to 1.4GHz, or effectively 2.8GHz.

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