Column: Stop spammers from getting your friends' e-mail addresses
By PRESCOTT COMPUTER SOCIETY
Originally Published: September 5, 2009 10 p.m.
Q: A friend has told me that I should remove all those previous names and addresses on any e-mails before I forward them. Why is this necessary? A: Well, you're really doing all your friends and friends-of-friends a great favor by doing so. Some of those jokes and other e-mails, especially the ones that say "Send this to everyone you know," may actually have been started by spammers. They do this to get numerous e-mails circulating around the Internet. Eventually, some of those e-mails get forwarded back to them. At this point, they now contain hundreds of known valid e-mail addresses, which are worth money to other spammers. Those names and addresses are sold to others over and over again. If you don't take a small amount of time to delete those prior addresses, you are helping to perpetuate the huge mass of spam that infests the Internet. It has been estimated that as much as 95 percent of all email traffic is spam! We should all do our part to help reduce this waste of Internet resources and keep our inboxes free of spam. While e-mail programs may differ, generally all you have to do after you hit the "forward" button is highlight that long list of prior recipients and click "delete" or "cut." Immediately, those addresses will vanish and you will have done your small part to reduce spam in the universe.Q: I need to see what hardware and software is on my computer and whether my Windows updates are current. Is there an easy way to do that? A: There are a couple of good ways to do that. Two free utilities are available and each gives you a slew of details about your computer. Note: both programs are free for personal - not business - use.First there is SIW - System Info for Windows (www.gtopala.com). When you run this, it brings up a report on your screen that gives you detailed information about your hardware and software, including CPU, memory, disks, PCI devices and network adapters, plus all your installed applications and system files including Windows and MS Office keys and versions. And if you download the "standalone version," you don't even need to install it.The second program is Belarc Advisor. Belarc can be found at www.belarc.com/free_download.html. Each time you run it, it will ask if you want to update the Belarc database; say yes. When you run Belarc, it creates an HTML file, which then shows up in your browser. Much of what Belarc Advisor shows you is the same as what you get in SIW, though in a different format. Belarc more clearly shows you whether Windows and MS Office are up to date and whether your virus protection is current, whereas SIW shows much more hardware detail. My advice: Use them both when you need answers about your system.The Prescott Computer Society (PCS) is a PC-based users group located in Prescott. We have several entertaining and educational meetings each month to show you how to get the most out of your computer. For further information, visit www.PCS4me.com. E-mail questions for future columns to PCSquestions@gmail.com.