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PC Rescue Newsletter June 2008

iPhones, AVG and online protection

Is the age of the computer coming to an end?

With the rise of smartphones, including the new iPhone, increasing availability of broadband Internet and the rise of online services like, Google Apps and Zoho, do we really need big, clunky and unreliable computers?

This is one of the the things we'll be looking at over the next few months. It's also the topic of this Friday's ABC Nightlife computer spot.

The release of the iPhone and Apple's new retail store is going to change things on a number of levels in the Australian tech sector. The pricing of the iPhone will shake up the mobile phone industry, particularly at the business level. While Apple's store model is going to set a higher standard than we've been used to from our retail computer outlets.

The iPhone isn't for everyone but, for the reasons we explain below, it's going to trigger some competitive deals in the mobile phone market. If you're considering a mobile phone, it's a good idea to hold off for a few months as we can expect more features at cheaper prices.

On a more immediate front, our ABC spots have changed and this month we have a Nightlife spot at 10pm on Friday the 13th of June. The July Nightlife remains but the June Weekend spot is now on July 6. More details below.

AVG deadline extended

The life of AVG Free 7.5 has been extended to the end of this month. If you haven't yet installed the new AVG 8 Free version we have the instructions on where to find it.

If you don't install it by the end of the month, you'll find AVG 7.5 will still work but the virus definitions won't update. So it's a good idea to get the new version on your system as soon as possible.

When you install, we'd recommend you don't choose to install the Yahoo! Toolbar. There's too many toolbars being bundled into software at the moment and we find they tend to interfere with each other.

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.

Norton and Windows service packs

We said in last month's newsletter that we hadn't seen many problems with the XP Service Pack. No sooner had we sent that when we started hearing about an incredibly irritating bug caused by the self protection mechanisms in Norton.

If you are running Norton products then you should read their instructions before installing any Windows service packs.

Generally the advice to disable all antivirus and security products before installing any important upgrade is very good advice.

Jargon of the month: FTTN and FTTH

Fibre To The Node (FTTN) is a way of getting high speed communications to a local community. It involves running optical fibre cables to the local telephone exchange or junction box and from their it can be sent out over the local telephone lines.

FTTH, or Fibre To The Home, takes the fibre one step further and gets the optic fibre cables to your house. This means even faster telecommunications but it costs substantially more than the FTTN option as it involves running vastly more cable in difficult locations.

You'll be hearing a lot more of these two terms as the Federal government works towards announcing it's National Broadband Network. Treat anything you read or hear on this topic with a grain of salt as most sides have big vested interested.

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.

A flood of cheap laptops

The wave of budget laptops continues; Asus have announced the successor to the original EeePC, HP and Acer have come up with their cheap units and Dell are promising to have one real soon now.

These cheap laptops are one of the reasons the age of the PC isn't over yet. The bottom end laptops are now cheaper than the mobile phones many people think will replace them.

If you are looking for a cheap system, have a look at our recommended specifications before buying. While the cheap units will do for many users, the extra memory and extended warranty are money well spent in getting a more useful, longer lasting system.

More "free" laptops

Last month we looked at Telstra's $0 laptop deal and came to the conclusion that you could probably do better elsewhere. Since then Dodo Internet has started a similar offer and it's been bought to our attention that Optus have had a laptop deal running for the last two years (shame they didn't tell anyone about it).

Our advice with all of these packages is to cost them out carefully. There's no such thing as a free lunch or a free laptop. Before committing to a long term plan, check out the prices and the conditions carefully.

In our view, with the changes currently happening in both the computer hardware and mobile Internet markets, you'd have rocks in your head to sign up to a long term plan.

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.


Stay smart online

This week is the National E-security Awareness Week and the Federal government has launched their new Stay Smart Online initiative. Their website has tips for businesses and families on how to use computers safely. The Net Alert site is still operating and the free webfilters are still available until the end of the year.

The importance of secure computing

The last two weeks has seen dozens of people arrested in a world wide police operation. It's interesting to note that the whole exercise started after a hacker broke into a legitimate website and used it host his illegal pictures.

Using other people's computers for this sort of thing is the main reason for hacking systems. Once the bad guys have control of your computer or network they can do anything they like from hosting pornography to sending masses of spam and attacking other computers.

If they do this from your computer or wireless network you will be held responsible. The first door the police will knock on is yours. So it's important to make sure your computer and wireless network are fully secure.

We have tips for both wireless network security and protecting your computer on the website. Take them seriously, particularly the tips on wireless networking.

Speaking Services

PC Rescue's Managing director, Paul Wallbank, can help your business or community group get more from their technology. Contact us for more details

Next presentation

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

Topics include

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 tech; capturing the home and SOHO markets.

iPhone announced for Australia

This week saw the new 3G iPhone announced and a date for its Australian release. The interesting thing about the release is Optus and Vodafone will be carrying it, but not Telstra.

This is going to set off a battle in the Australian mobile phone market as Telstra has the best network but the iPhone's pricing is less than half that of the equivalent competing phones and Vodafone's plans, where you can receive them, are substantially cheaper than Telstra.

All of this means that if you are in the market for a mobile then you should hold off buying a mobile for the moment. We are going to see some very competitive deals as the rest of the market responds to the market.

Apple's iTunes U

Another announcement this week from Apple was the addition of a number of Australian universities to the their iTunes U program which offers free lectures, guest speeches and videos from various institutions. If you are studying, or interested in the courses, it's worthwhile checking out their website.

Powerhouse Museum on Flickr

Universities aren't the only institutions making material available for free on the web. Sydney's Powerhouse Museum have teamed up with Flickr, the photo sharing service, to share their photo collection.

The Commons on Flickr is a project to share some the world's biggest photographic collections. The Powerhouse is the third institution to join up after the US Library of Congress and the Brooklyn.

ABC Radio Spots

We've had a late change to our ABC radio spots with the next Nightlife segment on Friday, June 13 at 10.15pm. Our next Sydney 702 Weekend spot will be at 10am on July 6.

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

Software of the month: Synchtoy

One of the problems with Windows is the lack of an easy to use backup program. While Synchtoy was really designed to help users synchronise data between their home computer and laptop it works perfectly well as a backup tool. It's a free download from Microsoft.

For Mac users an free backup program is the excellent Silverkeeper from LaCie. Note Silverkeeper isn't compatible with Mac OS 10.5, but if you're using Leopard you have the time machine function available anyway.

Next month on the website

In July, 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. We were hoping to look at that this month but were swept up by the iPhone hysteria.

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

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©Technology Publishing Australia, 2008