Cyberville mailbox opens the New Year
Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 10:14 p.m.
The holidays have been a busy one for the Cyberville Inbox, here's a sample of what readers and radio listeners have been asking about.
I recently heard you on the "Conner Calling" program on WUFT-FM and had the following question. I am in the market for a new laptop and am considering purchasing an Apple for the first time, as I have heard they are extremely reliable. I use multiple programs at the same time, including some heavy-duty calculation and drawing programs, along with e-mail, Internet and other applications. Is Apple a good choice, or are there reliable PC options?
Although Apple certainly makes a good product, it is by no means break-proof. I know plenty of Apple users with technical issues, despite their clever advertising. Unless you are using a lot of Mac-friendly programs, with Adobe products being one example, the learning curve can also be fairly steep. Many applications are also not available for the Mac.
It's likely that a new dual core PC will handle all of your multitasking needs for less than an Apple would. And you can convert, if you wish, to Windows Vista at some point going forward in the next year or so if and when you need to as the software becomes available.
Expect to spend $1500 or so (maybe less) to get what you need in a PC, based on your description, but it should handle your needs well. Top-rated PC laptop brands for reliability and support include Lenovo (formerly IBM) and Fujitsu. If you decide to go Mac, there is a very good Gainesville User support group in MacPeople. You can check them out at www.macpeoplemug.org.
I read your recent article on free anti-spyware and anti-virus programs. I currently have the following spyware detection programs in my Windows XP system: Spyware Detector (6 MB), Spy Sweeper (7 MB) Spyware Blaster (2 MB) and Microsoft Anti-spyware. Could this be too much and do they interfere with each other? I also have Ad Aware SE Personal, 3B Ad Blocker.pro, McAfee Virus Scan and Microsoft Anti-virus. My computer runs very slowly. Are there too many programs and is there a duplication of function?
The key thing slowing PC performance in most cases is the number of programs loading at startup and actively running on your computer. Although anti-spyware programs rarely conflict with one another like anti-virus programs can, if several are loading and running in the background they can slow PC performance.
One anti-virus program is usually sufficient for any PC, the key thing is to be certain it's updated and run regularly. My own preference is to load a program such as Windows Defender, which is the current version of Microsoft Anti-Spyware, and have that running at start-up, and then manually update and run programs such as Ad Aware and Spybot manually on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, there is not one program I've found, paid or free, that cleans all adware and spyware well enough to stand on its own. Webroot's Spy Sweeper (www.webroot.com) is often regarded as the best of the lot offered by subscription.
I also note you listed the size of the program. It's a common misconception that programs or items such as music or games slow down a computer, when in most cases they do not. What does slow down a system are the number of applications running at startup, and how much memory is available to handle them.
Tom Meek is a computer and media consultant working with businesses and individuals on computer and Web issues. Reach Tom at ADayInCyberville@Gmail.com, or via www.tvccs.com, where a column archive is maintained.
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