Bits & P.C.s: Whew!

There has been a lot going on over the past three to four weeks, and most of it has not been good.

A recent study has shown that the CDs that you have been making may have a lifespan of only a few months instead of the 10 or more years that was originally stated when the recorders were introduced a few years ago. This means that you may want to make a copy of that disc with the kids’ pictures on it before it doesn’t work.

The motion picture industry is keeping up its attack against 321 Studios, the maker of the DVD X Copy programs that enable you to make copies of the DVDs that you legally own. Their latest attack has been launched in Great Britain.

An 18-year-old has been arrested for creating the worm that has infected hundreds of thousands of computers throughout the world. He is not the originator of the MS.Blast worm, but he is alleged to have created one of the mutants that led to computer crashes and lockups. The dollar loss to businesses affected by the virus attacks is reported to be in the millions of dollars.

When I walked through the aisle of one of the local retailers, I noticed that the shelves had been picked clean of anti-virus software. It is important to remember that even if you just purchased the product, it is outdated. Since new viruses and Trojans are created daily, you should go online and download the latest program and anti-virus updates daily. Even then, you are still at risk, as it takes a day or two after a new virus is released before you are protected with a new update.

The worm that infected so many computers was only a problem with the newer or business-oriented operating systems; Windows 95 and 98 users could not get the worm. Microsoft was made aware of the security problem before Windows XP was released two years ago, but they did not believe that it was anything to worry about.

They did not release an official patch to correct the problem until the middle of July this year. Steve Gibson of Gibson Research has documented the security problem and has many free security patches available for download at

I’ve mentioned a few times a program named Mail Washer. This program is a “must have” if you use Outlook Express for your e-mail. The program is available for free from This program will connect to your e-mail provider and display the sender’s name and the subject line. You can then determine whether the sender is a “friend” or an “enemy” and whether or not you want to bounce the e-mail back. When it is bounced, it appears like your e-mail address is no longer valid, and they take you off the list. Since these lists are traded, the amount of spam begins to decline.

Finally, good news. The record companies have announced plans to cut the prices of CDs by 30 percent to encourage purchase instead of downloads.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times, e-mail, or call 243-1162.

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