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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, February 24, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Spyware and Malware 101
Question: Backup and Save Files to a CD or DVD
Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: 3D in the Browser
This Week's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Defrag
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Introduction to Apps
Websites of Interest: Purim; Sprout Robot; Go Green with Your Computer; Restoring Old Furniture


Special Feature: Spyware and Malware 101: Understanding the Secret Digital War of the Internet
How Spyware Software Hurts Us All

The following article is by Paul Gil of About.com

1) What is spyware?

Forget viruses, spam and hacker attacks..."spyware" is now the single largest problem facing internet users today. These nasty little rogue programs have become so widespread and so infectious, their volume far outstrips spam and regular viruses. The spyware problem has grown to such an immense breadth and depth, we cannot even agree on what to call it.

2) Spyware = "malware"

Most people historically call these rogue programs "spyware". That name comes from the 1990's where nasty little programs secretly observed and logged your web surfing habits. The spyware problem, however, has now grown into dozens of other malicious formats, including sneakware, adware, keyloggers, browser hijackers, porn servers, trojans and worms

Because the spyware problem has mutated so much, we now describe spyware as part of a much larger category of rogue software called "malware" (malicious software programs)

At its most basic definition, malware is when insidious little software programs covertly install themselves on your computer, and then perform secret operations without your permission. Once in place, malware programs may do hundreds of nasty things to your computer. Malware will log your keystrokes, steal your passwords, observe your browsing choices, spawn pop-up windows, send you targeted email, redirect your web browser to phishing pages, report your personal information to distant servers, and serve up pornography. This malware will operate invisibly, often without displaying itself in your Task Manager. To top it off, malware usually refuses to be uninstalled through your control panel, and requires special tools to delete them from your drive. Yes, this is a direct cousin to viruses, but with a broader portfolio of wicked intentions.

3) What does spyware/malware specifically do to my computer?

Malware will perform a variety of nasty activities, ranging from simple email advertising all the way to complex identity-theft and password-stealing. New nasty functions are created every week by malware programmers, but the most common malware functions are:

1. Malware steals your personal information and address book (identity theft and keystroke-logging).
2. Malware floods your browser with pop-up advertising.
3. Malware spams your inbox with advertising email.
4. Malware slows down your connection.
5. Malware hijacks your browser and redirects you to an advertising or a phishing-con web page.
6. Malware uses your computer as a secret server to broadcast pornography files.
7. Malware slows down or crashes your computer.

4) Where does spyware/malware come from?

Spyware/malware programs are authored by clever programmers, and then delivered to your computer through covert Internet installs. Usually, malware will piggyback on innocent-looking web page components and otherwise-benign software such as game demos, MP3 players, search toolbars, software, free subscriptions, and other things you download from the web. Subscribing to online services is especially bad for getting malware. In particular, whenever you sign up for a so-called "free" service or install new software, you must accept an "end user license agreement" (EULA). The fine print of the EULA will often include the phrase "the vendor is allowed to install third-party software on your computer". Since most users don't bother to read this EULA fine print, they naively click "accept", and install malware out of sheer ignorance.

5) What kind of personal information does spyware/malware steal?

This varies from the non-confidential to the extremely-personal. The malware may simply steal a listing of your MP3s or recent website visits. Malware may also harvest your email address book. At its very worst, malware will steal your banking PIN, your eBay login, and your Paypal information (aka "keystroke logging" identity theft). Yes, spyware/malware is a very serious Internet problem that threatens everyone's personal privacy, and network administrators everywhere are deeply concerned.


In our next edition: How to Detect and Destroy Spyware and Malware on Your Computer.


Question: Backup and Save Files to a CD or DVD

I have two related questions: 1 - How could you take a CD, download it on your computer and then burn it to a CD so you could have a backup copy for your personal use in case your favorite CD gets damaged? 2 - How can I put files that are on my computer onto a DVD? I have a DVD burner but zero to no experience with it. Thanks for any help you can give.

If your computer came with a CD/DVD burner, then you should have some CD/DVD creation software on your computer. Look through your Start button menu for programs like Record Now, Ahead Nero or Roxio EasyCD Creator.

This software will be used to copy CD/DVD s and put your files onto a CD/DVD.

Every piece of CD/DVD creation software has a CD/DVD copy function that will copy your audio CD/DVD regardless of whether you have two CD/DVD drives or just the one CD/DVD burner drive. All you need to do is put the audio CD/DVD you want to backup in your CD/DVD burner and click copy in the CD/DVD creation software you are using. If you only have one drive, then the software will copy the audio tracks to your hard drive and then prompt you for a blank CD/DVD when appropriate.

If you have a CD/DVD drive and a CD/DVD burner drive, then you put the audio CD in your CD/DVD drive and a blank CD in your CD/DVD burner drive. Now you can click copy in your CD/DVD creation software because it is smart enough to detect the data on the audio CD and copy that data to the blank CD.

If you want to copy your files to a CD/DVD, you’ll need to find the feature on your CD/DVD burning software that allows you to make a backup files. This is called a data disk and there will be a command in your CD/DVD creation software that will allow you to create a data disk.

Put the blank CD/DVD in the drive, open the CD/DVD creation software and manuever to the command to create a data disk. This may take you through several steps, depending on the program you’re using but will eventually lead you to the file structure where you will have to pick out the files that you want to put on the disk. Here’s where you have to know what folder you have the files in; once there, it’s usually a matter of clicking on the file and then clicking on an Add button. You’ll see your files displayed in some sort of window. When all the files that you want to copy are there, look for a Record button or command.

Since recording is a sensitive process, it’s usually a good idea to refrain from opening and closing programs while the computer is copying a disk or recording files to the CD/DVD.


Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: 3D in the Browser

Many of us these days depend on the World Wide Web to bring the world’s information to our fingertips, and put us in touch with people and events across the globe instantaneously.

These powerful online experiences are possible thanks to an open web that can be accessed by anyone through a web browser, on any Internet-connected device in the world.

But how do our browsers and the web actually work? How has the World Wide Web evolved into what we know and love today? And what do we need to know to navigate the web safely and efficiently?

“20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web” is a short guide for anyone who’s curious about the basics of browsers and the web. Here’s what you’ll find here:

First we’ll look at the Internet, the very backbone that allows the web to exist. We’ll also take a look at how the web is used today, through cloud computing and web apps.

Then, we’ll introduce the building blocks of web pages like HTML and JavaScript, and review how their invention and evolution have changed the websites you visit every day. We’ll also take a look at the modern browser and how it helps users browse the web more safely and securely.

Finally, we’ll look ahead to the exciting innovations in browsers and web technologies that we believe will give us all even faster and more immersive online experiences in the future.

Life as citizens of the web can be liberating and empowering, but also deserves some self-education. Just as we’d want to know various basic facts as citizens of our physical neighborhoods -- water safety, key services, local businesses -- it’s increasingly important to understand a similar set of information about our online lives. That’s the spirit in which we wrote this guide. Many of the examples used to illustrate the features and functionality of the browser often refer back to Chrome, the open-source browser that we know well. We hope you find this guide as enjoyable to read as we did to create.
Happy browsing!
The Google Chrome Team

3D in the Browser

3D graphics and animation can be truly captivating with all the right details in place: details like lighting and shadows, reflections, and realistic textures. But until now, it has been hard to deliver a compelling 3D experience, particularly over the Internet.

Why? Mostly because creating a 3D experience in games and other applications requires data — lots and lots of data — to display intricate textures and shapes. In the past, these large amounts of data demanded more Internet bandwidth and more computing power than most common systems could handle. All that has changed very recently, and all for the better: browser-based 3D has arrived.

Modern broadband helped solve bandwidth needs. Many homes and offices now have broadband speeds that dwarf the connections of even ten years ago. As a result, it’s possible to send large amounts of data over the Internet — data that is needed to display realistic 3D experiences in the browser. In addition, the computers we use today are so much more powerful than what we had in the past: processors and memory have improved such that even a standard laptop or desktop today can handle the complexity of 3D graphics.

Neither broadband nor raw computing power would matter without substantial advancements in the web browser’s capabilities. Many modern browsers have adopted open web technologies like WebGL and 3D CSS. With these technologies, web developers can create cool 3D effects for their web applications, and we can experience them without needing additional plug-ins. On top of that, many modern browsers now take advantage of a technique known as hardware-acceleration. This means that the browser can use the Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU, to speed up the computations needed to display both 3D and everyday 2D web content.

So why is 3D in the browser a big deal? Because now it joins HTML5, JavaScript and other nifty new technologies in the toolkit that web developers can use to create a powerful new generation of web applications. For users, this means great new ways to visualize the information we find useful, and more fun online with engaging 3D environments and games.

Most importantly, 3D in the browser comes with all the goodness of web apps: you can share, collaborate, and personalize the latest apps with friends all over the world. Definitely more data and fun that everyone can use.

In our next edition: A Browser Madrigal


Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Defrag

As your Windows computer ages, its speed can decrease. You will notice an increase in response time when you give commands to open programs, files or folders, use the Internet and other tasks. There are several things you can do to speed up your computer.

In our ongoing series, Speed Up a Slow Computer, we will present articles discussing some of the steps you can take to speed up your slow computer.

Important: Before making any changes to your system, always create a Restore Point. If anything goes wrong with the changes you make, this will allow you to revert back to a point when the computer was operating correctly. Please visit our Newsletter Archives to read our article, All About Restore Points:

Speed Up a Slow Computer – Defrag

When a file is stored on your hard disk, it's often split into separate fragments. Fragmentation occurs naturally when you use a disk frequently: creating, deleting, and modifying files. At some point, the operating system needs to store parts of a file in noncontiguous places on the disk. You can't see the fragments, and you can't stop this fragmenting from occurring, but it can slow down the speed at which data is accessed because the disk drive must search through different parts of the disk to put together a single file.

However, you can defrag your system. This is the term used for reorganizing the data on your Hard Disk into a more logical sequence, which means taking all those scattered fragments of files and piecing them back together where they belong. This helps free more hard drive space and makes the accessing of files a speedier process; your Hard Disk will work quicker and more efficiently.

To defrag the drive, open My Computer, right-click the drive icon, and choose Properties. Click the Tools tab, and click Defragment Now.

This will probably be a lengthy process, depending on the size of your hard drive and number of files.

Question: Defrag Does Not Work

I am trying to defragment my computer. When I open Disk Defragmenter and do an analysis, it tells me I should defrag but every time I try, it stops on 2%. What am I doing wrong?

You are not doing anything wrong. It is possible that some program is running in the background which is causing defrag to terminate. Try this:

Turn your computer off and back on again. Before the computer completely restarts, right after the first beep, press the F8 key (on the top row of the keyboard). You should then see a list of startup options.

If the computer goes to the desktop without showing the startup option, you did not press the F8 key at the right time. This is a tricky process; the key has to be pressed at exactly the right time. Turn the computer off and then restart. As soon as the computer begins to start, keep tapping the f8 key until the Startup Options appear.

Select Safe Mode.

Start Disk Defragmenter again. It should run all the way through this time. After it is complete, shut the computer down and start it again. It will come back in normal mode.

When Windows starts in safe mode, it opens a minimum of auto start programs and drivers. Any programs that are causing your defrag to cease working may not be running in safe mode.

In our next edition, Disable Indexing Services.


Special Feature: iPad Basics - Introduction to Apps

From gcflearnfree.org

Even if you're new to the iPad, you've probably heard of apps before. The concept is simple: apps are programs that are designed to run on your device. What makes them so much fun is the fact that they can be almost anything. They can be fun or serious. They can be a game, or something more essential (like email).

The iPad comes with 19 built-in apps that you can access immediately from the Home screen. They're a great place to start for new users because there's nothing to download or install. Many of these apps are ready to use right out of the box (like the Camera app), while others require a little more setup (like Mail and Contacts).

Once you've explored the apps that came with your device, you might want to try downloading some more from the App Store. We'll take a look at some of the most popular apps.

Using the App Store

The App Store gives you access to over 250,000 apps aside from the ones you already have. You'll find everything from games, to entertainment, to productivity tools—even apps that can help you with common tasks like studying for an exam, cooking dinner, or keeping track of travel details. In short, if you have something in mind, there's a good chance you'll find an app for it in the App Store.

A lot of the content in the App Store costs money; however, you'll still find thousands of apps and other resources that you can download for free, or for as little as $0.99. If you're not sure which apps to try first, the App Store can help by giving you recommendations, or showing you what's popular with other iPad users.

The App Store

How do you pay for content in the App Store? Using your Apple ID, of course. When you created your account, Apple should have asked you for a credit card number to keep on file. This is what allows you to purchase things quickly and easily. (Review Creating an Apple ID for more information. http://computerkindergarten.com/020313.html)

Apps Starter Kit

Still not sure where to begin? The Apps Starter Kit from Apple might be able to help. This resource is designed to show you some of the most "essential apps" for new iPad users. To access it, open the App Store. Then scroll down to Quick Links, and tap Apps Starter Kit. (You might want to check out some of the other links too.)

Quick Links in the App Store

Inside, you'll find a list of apps. Some are free; some are paid. To learn more, tap an app that you're interested in. You can download them all, or just a few. To see more apps, swipe left or right to navigate the rest of the list.


In our next edition:
Productivity Apps for the iPad


Websites of Interest:

Purim 2013 begins at sunset on Saturday, February 23, and ends on Sunday, February 24. Read the story of Purim here.

Sprout Robot
Enter your zip code and this calendar will tell you what to plant and when to plant it, week-by-week.

Go Green with Your Computer
Easy ways to do your part for the environment and save money, too.

Restoring Old Furniture
How to refinish furniture, from the Family Handyman.