I'd decided to write this because I have encountered too many people having too many preventable problems with their computers. I wouldn't say I'm a computer expert, but because I know more than the average person, I'm often approached when people are having problems with their computers, and it's usually caused by the same things: doing certain things you shouldn't be doing on the Internet. So here is my list of sound advice to people who may not otherwise know.
Where's your damned antivirus?
This is a question I often have to ask when trying to solve someone's computer problems. If you don't have an antivirus, you have no business connecting to the Internet. Going on the Internet without an antivirus is like putting your bare pee pee in a hole in the wall of some scummy alley and letting God-Knows-Who do whatever they want to it.
The best antivirus program is one that has an update subscription, like Norton. Keep that subscription paid. Sorry, but if you want protection, you need to fork over. I would not recommend "free" antivirus software.
It may be free, but there's still a price
There are some good free software on the Internet, such as Firefox, iTunes, etc. But a lot of times free really isn't. Be careful of free downloads. They can sometimes put spy ware on your system without you knowing it. Never download anything free that changes the appearance of your desktop, like themes or mouse pointers. And never download anything "free" from a porn website.
And no one is going to give you a free iPhone or anything like that. So stop clicking those ads and giving out all your friend's email addresses. It's not going to happen.
Watch your damned kids
Kids cause the most mayhem on computers. They tend to be less careful about what they click on when they go to the Internet. Kids are gullible. I know it's difficult, but I really don't think that most kids should be allowed to browse the web unsupervised. There's all kind of ads and stuff that can sucker them into things, especially on network sites like MySpace. If you can't be so direct, install an ad blocker like Ad Muncher.
File sharing software of DOOM
And probably one of the most important things is DON'T USE FILE SHARING SOFTWARE like KaZaa or Limewire. It's nothing but trouble. First of all, it borders on that gray area of legality. Second, eventually it will fuck everything up. I used to use it. I thought I was being careful. But always it ended up fucking up my system. Don't do it. Getting free music isn't worth it. You don't need it.
Not convinced? I'll tell you a story. A friend of a friend was using Limewire to download music. After a while, his computer was having problems until eventually it got to where he could not boot up his system. He brought his computer to get serviced. The service guy called and said that a lot of child pornography had been found on his system and that they are legally bound to report him. So now he is in a shitload of trouble.
What I think happened is that while he was downloading free music, he also downloaded a virus that allowed remote access to his computer through the Internet, afterwhich his computer was used as a server to store illegal child pornography. They may believe that he didn't download the porn and not charge him, but there's still the problem with him illegally downloading copyrwrited music files. So be warned. If you're on the Internet, tread lightly.
Also printed in Bakotopia magazine, issue 54, 5-14-09