Category: Computers & the Internet

You already know what spam is but watch the video anyway and you’ll learn even more.

So what about spam of the Internet kind? Is it as dangerous as the suppliers of junk mail filters would have us believe?

I have 2 email servers in operation for my clients- one gives me good  statistics about incoming email. To my horror I find that 80-90% of all our incoming email is junk mail from known providers of junk mail who have already been blacklisted. (These guys never give up) That’s nothing though; some servers identify as much as  99% of  incoming mail as  junk. The agreed on figure for most servers is something around 95% though.

Think about this from the point of view of someone sending out junk mail. It means that nearly all their attempts at sending it are stopped. Yet they still consider their efforts to be cost effective mainly because once you have an email list it costs so little to send an email to everyone on that list.

Ok so you wanna advertise to people but why not offer them a wide range of products if you must send junk email? What is it about Viagra that excites spammers so much anyway? Is there a high risk of impotence among spammers I often wonder.

New Zealand has legislation pretty much making junk email an offence.  They call it “unsolicited electronic communication”. Why doesn’t this also apply to television advertising? Why didn’t they broaden the law to make the junk mail that arrives in your letter box outside also an offense.

If you think about it – its even more important to stop dead tree junk mail because its environmentally wasteful and helps destroy our forests as well as adding to the piles of waste paper we find it so difficult to dispose of.

As for me I want to see our laws cover junk mail of all kinds and regard junk email as the least offensive. After all its so easy to press the delete key in your email programme but a lot harder to avoid other types of junk advertising.

I finally got a replacement media disk from Microsoft and eventually did a clean install – it worked perfectly.

I should have kept updating this journey – but you know how it goes – things get away from you and before long a couple of months have passed.

So what happened? After a few more emails back and forwards Microsoft finally realised I was being naughty by ordering replacement media from the US & told me I could order it from Australia. Interestingly Microsoft no longer have support based in New Zealand & are unable to supply media from here.

After placing an order and waiting about a month I got a replacement disk for Vista SP1 which installed flawlessly last week – Problem solved!!! I also purchased a new hard drive to do the installation on. As my PC is a business machine it just wasn’t worth the risk that I would loose something important when I did the re-install.

The question has to be asked tho – Why do Microsoft supply replacement media to US residents free and charge the rest of us? The disk cost me $56. So after also purchasing the SP 1 update on disk as well  for $19 when they sent me the wrong re-order link the whole exercise has proved reasonably costly and for what? My original install of Vista worked well, never crashed and was quite quick.

Are we subsidising Americans?  Is this just a little bit of US parochialism?

Bottom line for me is that as usual its never a good idea to buy a Microsoft operating system on its first release. Always wait until its been released with its first upgrade. In the past I’ve always done this. It means I can’t be referred to as “an early adopter” by marketing experts but it also means you get better software and a system that has been well tested before you buy.

Anti Virus Software

I’ve often wondered about the usefulness of anti virus software & whether we really need it. Yes I have collected a few viruses over the years (starting in 1984 with the famous Stoned virus) but except for Stoned none of them has done any damage and all (except stoned) were caught by me and not my anti virus software.

For me the biggest source of viruses has always been email BUT all the viruses I have received in an email are so obvious that my virus scanner hasn’t even had a chance to look at them before I’ve had them deleted.

I don’t advocate not using security software on your computer. There are definite threats to your security involving identity theft etc. The issue for me is how much time does an average user spend maintaining their computer and preventing threats? And does the danger of virus attack justify all the time spent updating, installing and fixing your anti-virus software.

In my opinion hacking and destroying someone else’s operating system on their personal computer achieves very little. There is probably a lot more to be gained by keeping the PC intact and either stealing something from the victim or trying to get them to part with their money somehow.

And now after moving me to a new technical expert – Guess what? We go back over the same old ground we’;e already covered. I can sympathise with their point of view. The probably feel that anyone contacting them because SP1 wont install probably knows very little about computers. 

Now it gets interesting tho. The last guy decided my case was too hard when I suggested their best option was just to supply me with a new install disk of Vista SP1. pounds simple – right? Well nothing is that easy. They only like to supply new disks to North American Windows users. So now we wait. I haven’t mentioned that I live on a pacific island way down at the bottom of the world. I just put in my correct address details and let them work it out.

At least they do agree that the best option is just to start again with a fresh install. For me probably a Christmas project that I can do when business is quiet.

After being asked too many questions about how Vista works from numerous people I decided to take the plunge & buy a copy a few months ago. Personally I like XP and understand how it works but it seems that its become inevitable that sooner or later we’ll all be using Vista whether we want to or not. If I had my way I’d use Linux but that’s another story.

I had XP Pro installed which isn’t regarded as the correct upgrade path to Vista Premium. This means you need to go through with the upgrade process then have the software tell you that its unable to upgrade and that it will now do a clean install which then works fine. A shame you can’t just do the clean install but no you need to have the installer tell you it wont work first.

Surprisingly I found that all my old applications worked fine. Some required a bit of tweaking but nothing major usually just running the programme as administrator solved any problems. My accounting application came out in 2000 and even that working with no problems.

The only thing that wont run in Vista is Vista’s own Service Pack 1. This is totally bizarre. You would think the one thing that would be guaranteed to work flawlessly would be something produced by Microsoft. Lucily Microsoft know of problems so have offered support to help get the service Pack installed.

To date – I have been communicating back and forwards with the MS  support people & its looking like the problem might just be too hard for them. We started back on the 12.September. The first person has given up (the problem was obviously too hard to solve) & now my case has been handed onto an “Escalation Engineer”. Why use an engineer when there are no engines involved?  beats me!

Vista is actually working well without the service pack upgrade so I have nothing to complain about – its now become a challenge just to see if we can do it.

As of today (8th November) their latest recommendation is to do an in-place upgrade. This basically returns your system back to when it was first installed. For me it means going through the hassle of re-installing all my applications and of course setting my whole system up from scratch. Something I don’t want to do. I think if I have to do  a re-install I might as well just do it using a complete version of Vista SP1. That way I avoid even having to do the installation of SP1. I have requested a new version of Vista from Microsoft – it will be interesting to see how that goes.

Where to from here you might ask – stay posted.

I suddenly discovered yesterday that Nero 6 which I’ve used for years doesn’t work with Vista. What to do? The obvious option was to upgrade. Although like most things if you need something new its an opportunity to re-think the whole thing. A quick google search & I found InfraRecorder.

Apparently this application is still being developed & improved but so far it does everything  I want. Its simple and obvious to use & just works.

There are 2 parts. InfraExpress (sort of like Nero StartSmart) which gives you quick access to all the basic disk burning functions. When you download InfraRecorder you get InfraExpress as well.

Infras Express Screenshot

and InfraRecorder which generally opens when you click an option in InfraExpress. InfraREcorder gives you access to the files you want to burn to disk and all the other advanced options you might want to burn a disk.

InfraRecorder - Screenshot

InfraRecorder – Screenshot

From what I can see so far the only thing it wont do is burn a blue ray disk – I don’t have one anyway so who cares.

Try it – its free & it works. You can download InfraRecorder & InfraRecorder here.

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