ABC Tower   Nightlife, 6 January 2006

Tips & Hints

The first computer spot of the year with Lisa Forrest saw the Windows Metafile flaw was the main focus of the show. We also looked at computer new year resolutions. We had a lot of questions and some very helpful comments about Spyware Doctor, there were a few things we couldn’t answer on air and we’ve posted the following answers.

Spy Doctor
You need to be careful about anti-spyware programs. Many packages claim to remove spyware but are actually worse than the spyware itself, many of the less reputable ones will put even more spyware on your system. Lois called in asking whether Spyware Doctor was legitimate and we didn’t know.

A number of callers said it is a good programs was and we received a number of follow up emails giving links to informative sites: We’d like to thank everyone for their help. Spyware Doctor is a legitimate program and Australian developed as well. Their website has the details as well as an online scanning tool to check your system for spyware.

The bad guys try to use names very similar to the known names, so you need to be very careful when installing a spyware detector. Before downloading, we’d suggest visiting Spyware Warrior’s rouge software page to see if the program is listed. The Spyware Warrior site has a lot of useful links to spyware prevention sources.

Removing Norton AntiVirus

The latest versions of Norton AntiVirus have been disappointing to say the least. To rub insult into injury, removing it can be difficult. Because Norton digs itself so deep into the system it’s important to remove it correctly.

1.       Visit the Symantec web page and download the Norton removal tools, there is one tool for versions before 2004 and one for later versions, there are other tools for removing earlier versions of other Symantec products that might be causing problems. You should download or get hold of the replacement firewall and antivirus programs you intend to replace Norton with. We’d also suggest running Windows Update to make sure your system is up to date.

2.       Disconnect from the Internet.

3.       Open your Control Panel and go to Add/Remove programs. Remove all Norton and Symantec products and restart everytime you are prompted. You may find some will not uninstall (which is part of the problem.)

4.      Run the Norton removal tools you downloaded earlier then reboot the system. Reinstall any Symantec products you wish to continue using. Reboot when told.

5.       Install your new anti virus or firewall before reconnecting to the Internet.

6.       Some of our techs have reported these tools damage the Microsoft Scripting Host. As well as not allowing you to uninstall Symantec products, it will mess up features like System Restore and Windows Update. If this does happen, download the Scripting Host Update.

Item six is one of our big criticisms of all current Symantec products: The Windows Scripting Host. Symantec’s reliance on the same technology many spyware writers use makes their products more prone to being damaged by spyware and increases the damage done to systems. This is the main reason why we do not currently recommend Symantec products.

Clearing the AVG virus vault
Doug found he couldn’t clear viruses which AVG had moved to the virus vault. We commonly find this is a result of the various Java scripting spyware exploits we see and the Trojans have firmly wedged themselves in the cache file. Clearing the Java cache is easy, Sun Java instructions are here and Microsoft Java users should follow these instructions.

Detecting unidentified hardware

We strongly recommend all XP users should update to Service Pack 2. Tony had a problem after the update where his screen is now stuck on 16 boring colours. This is usually because a device driver has failed and needs to be reinstalled.

The problem for Tony is identifying what model the video adapter is so he can install the right software. We know of a wonderful tool imaginatively called the The Unknown Device Identifier. This nifty little program identifies the devices on your system and tries to find updated drivers on the net for you and while it’s not a tool for inexperienced users if you’re familiar with installing drivers and using the System Manager, it’s quite easy.

As usual our apologies to the many callers who couldn’t get through. The next Nightlife computer spot will be at 10pm February 3, please feel free to email any suggestions you might have for the show. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date with our schedule then subscribe to our newsletter.
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ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2007