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PC Rescue Newsletter May 2008

Wow! May has been busy month with major upgrades to AVG and Windows, new product releases from Telstra, the Federal budget and a full diary of ABC spots.

We're firmly into the new product season with a lot interesting new devices and services entering the market. One that caught our eye is the Telstra "free" laptop bundled with their data plans. While we like the idea and are surprised other providers haven't offered this before, there are downsides which we discuss below.

One product we're all waiting for is the launch of the Sydney Apple Store. Apple stores overseas have changed the way the technology is sold to the public and if similar innovations are bought in here we'll see some big changes for the better at your local computer and mobile phone store.

It appears last month's newsletter dropped into the ether for many subscribers. If you think you've missed an edition, we keep the last six month's newsletters on the subscription page and are going to add all the older newsletters to our archive.

Probably the biggest question we've been getting this month has been the new Grisoft AVG release. It isn't easy to find the updated free version so we kick the newsletter off with how to find it.

AVG upgrade

If you're an AVG Free user you'll be used to the nag screen that's been warning the 7.5 version is about to expire. The box that pops up offers to take you to their latest deals.

If you click on the links provided, you'll find it's almost impassable to get to the updated free version and the screens push you towards the paid products.

While we don't begrudge Grisoft trying to entice users of their free software to buy something, we understand many users don't want to pay so we've put instructions on finding the new free version on our IT Queries website.

To date we've had no problem with the new editions of the paid or free versions. The paid version has some extra features and has technical support. The free version has no support, if something goes wrong you're on your own.

If you've any experiences, good or bad, with the new version of AVG let us know.

XP Service pack released

An update that isn't doing so well is the long overdue Windows XP Service Pack 3. It's been re-released after initially being pulled due to problems with Microsoft's Point of Sale product.

Our experience with the service pack has been so far positive, although there are reports of serious problems for Hewlett Packard computers equipped with AMD chips.

We recommend all Windows XP users install it. But things can go wrong with such a major update so make sure you have a backup of your important data before going ahead.

Computer books

Who says you can't get a good computer manual? Our Dummies books are available online. If you want to learn more about your computer, we have the answers.

The current version of PCs for Dummies covers Vista computers and the earlier version covers Windows XP. So we can help you get the most from both versions of Windows.

Budget IT changes

The Federal Budget was largely harmless to the technology industries but it does have some measures that affect business, home and rural computer users.

Australian Broadband Guarantee

The Australian Broadband guarantee will continue for the next three years. This scheme subsidises broadband access in areas deemed to be under serviced. You can search their website to see if your area is covered.

Net filter scheme to finish

As predicted in our February newsletter, the former government's National Filter Scheme which made home-based Internet filters available via download or from a CD-ROM will be closed to new users from 31 December 2008.

You can download or order the programs for free until the end of the year and support will continue until 30 June 2010.

Software depreciation

Computer software will now be treated the same as hardware which means programs will now be depreciated over four years.

Given the life of a typical computer is five years and many small business hold onto a version of their office software for ten years, this probably isn't too much of a difference but will affect some business purchasing decisions.

Salary sacrifice changes

The eligibility and depreciation rules for laptop computers has been tightened but PDAs and other portable devices can now be salary sacrificed.

The changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax rules mean it's even more important to talk to an accountant before entering a salary sacrifice arrangement. In our experience too many people are blinded by tax savings and actually end up losing money.

Ask a question

Our sister website, IT Queries answers common computer problems.

If your computer has a frustrating problem, have a look for an answer at IT Queries. If you don't find one, just ask on the IT Queries site and we'll get a solution for you.

Be careful with online comments

Staying on politics, some Victorian politicians have found themselves in trouble with their online activities. This is a lesson to all of us.

One of the things we'll see in the next twenty years are the number of business, political and entertainment figures who bring themselves unstuck with their online activities over the previous few decades.

You should never post anything online; an email, a blog entry or a forum comment, that you aren't prepared to see next to your name on the six o'clock news. Think before pressing the send, submit or publish buttons.

Computer services

Need a computer tech? We can get technicians to help you with your home and office computer problems anywhere in Australia.

If you need a new computer set up, a virus removed or would just like to make sure your computer is running as it should be, we can help you.

Call 1300 798 957 and our call centre can arrange a visit or online service.

Bigpond Security

Bigpond is offering an integrated security package which includes anti-virus, privacy protection and spam filters which they are actively pushing to their customers.

We won't object to any security package as many Internet users don't take enough precautions on the the net. But in this case we think $9.99 a month or 99.95 a year is a bit expensive for what's on offer.

Our protection kit page describes the tools and techniques you can use to protect yourself more effectively for a lot less. If you want to buy a commercial all in one package, most retail stores will have cheaper and more effective products.

Business tech talk column

This month, Paul's weekly Tuesday blog on the Smart Company website looked at registering .com versus names, keeping your keyboard clean and why his next computer will be an Apple Mac.

Smart Company is a free news, information and resource site for Australia's entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises. You can subscribe to Paul's, and other articles, for free by registering on the website.

Free laptops

Telstra's new laptop deal received a lot of coverage last week. If you sign up for their $99 per month data plan for 36 months, you'll get a $700 laptop included in the plan.

This is the same "free hardware with a service plan" that's worked so well in the mobile phone industry. The surprising thing with the scheme is that no-one's tried it in the computer industry before.

While the "free laptop" headline grabs your attention, the plan itself doesn't really stand up for most users for three reasons.

First, a $700 laptop isn't a going to be a great unit. In fact, we steer customers away from these systems as we find they are underpowered and have fairly ordinary warranties.

Second, 36 months is a long time in the Internet market. At present most wireless broadband plans are overpriced. The next two years will see prices fall.

Finally, Telstra is not always the best deal. If you work in areas where Vodafone and Three have their high speed coverage, you'll find their services are far better priced than Telstra.

All of this said, if Telstra's mobile broadband services meet your needs and you do need a cheap laptop, then the deal is fine. We suspect this is the first of many such deals and there will be some better bargains to be had.

Speaking Services

PC Rescue's Managing director, Paul Wallbank, is available for speaking to business functions, IT organisations and community groups.

If you want help understanding the IT industry as a consumer, business or service provider, Paul is your speaker. Contact us for more details

Next presentation

Thursday 26 June. Forest Computer Pals for Seniors. Bookings can be made through their website.

Suggested topics

The elder guru; exploding the myths of the digital divide.
Ten ways to revolutionise your business IT

What does it all mean? cutting through computer jargon.
Selling to the little guy; capturing the home and SOHO markets.

So you want to own a tech business; the truths about IT service industry.

Software of the month: Celestia

This month we look at the Celestia program. This nifty little program lets you explore the galaxy from your desktop computer. It's a free download that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

There's been a rush of space exploration programs. Microsoft recently launched their Worldwide Telescope project and Google have Google Sky. All of these programs are great if you have budding astronomers or frustrated astronauts in your house.

ABC Radio Spots

We've a quiet month for ABC Radio spots with the next Sydney 702 Weekend spot is 10am Sunday, June 29 and no Nightlife June spot at all with the next computer segment on Friday, July 18 at 10.15pm.

If you'd like to offer any suggestions about topics or improvements to the shows please contact us.

Jargon of the month: VoIP

Our topic for the May Weekend spot was Voice over Internet Protocol. Done correctly, VoIP can save you big money but there are downsides. We look at VoIP on the website and bust some of the Voice over IP jargon on our Jargon Buster page.

Next month on the website

In June, we'll be looking closer at online office applications and seeing if it's possible to do all your work using free tools on the Internet.

If you have a topic you'd like us to discuss on the websites, Smart Company blog or the radio spots please contact us.

If you wish to unsubscribe, please send a message to

PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
©Technology Publishing Australia, 2008