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  Welcome to the Autumn 2006 1ComputerCare Newsletter  
     

Please forward me to a friend  

This is being produced rather sooner after the last edition than normal and is therefore a little shorter; perhaps that is a good thing.  The early publication is because I wanted to announce that I am increasing my hourly rate before it happens on 5th October.  For invoices raised after that date the fee will be £30 an hour for work done in the workshop and £40 if the work has to be done away from my base.  These amounts are after standard discounts - principally the 7 day prompt payment reduction, and no VAT is added.

 

The reasons for the increase are that

  1. it has been three years since the last change, and in that time petrol prices (my main expense) have increased by 30%.

  2. I am no longer able to offer the level of service I would like; particularly turn-around times which used to be 24 hours are now often a week, and that is despite my not accepting new clients other than those coming by dint of a personal recommendation from an existing client.  I could just increase the amount of time it takes to complete jobs, but that is not a self-adjusting mechanism I want to use. 

Readers may be interested to know that I commissioned a small survey of similar businesses operating in the Kent and East Sussex area.  Even after the fee increase, I will be cheaper than all others who would quote a figure. 

 

The latest virus vulnerability can be exploited by your merely visiting the wrong website. A Microsoft Security Advisory has been published which explains that a patch will not be available until 10th October.  As I say at the bottom of every Invoice: Maintain up-to-date backup, anti-virus, firewall & surge protection. Remember to follow my housekeeping guide.

 

Reuse & recycle is all the rage these days, but how to match donors to donees ?  Freecycle have electronic distribution lists for Uckfield, Tunbridge Wells and Lewes in which anyone can offer anything to anyone not too proud to accept.  I have Freepost bags into which you can put used HP, Dell, Lexmark or Canon inkjet cartridges and send them off for the benefit of a bowel cancer charity. Let me know if you would like some.

 

Spam control is getting more aggressive it seems.  I receive about 2500 such mails a month, but it really doesn't trouble me as I use an efficient and (maybe 99%) accurate filter.  I have heard that some AOL clients have not received legitimate mail from me due to spam filtering.  For AOL users, if the mail has gone into the spam folder you would need to visit keyword spam folder.  The email will be in there you can then click on "this is not spam".  If you put the sender's address in your address book then their email should not go into the spam folder.  There are four main ways to protect oneself:

  • ISP provided - or more accurately, 'e-mail server space supplier provided'.  This is sometimes included in the monthly subscription and traps suspect mail before it reaches you.  It is necessary to log on to the supplier's website to confirm that the filter is 100% accurate. If your ISP does not have this service then 3rd party suppliers like Spamcop do.

  • E-mail client  - This is not available to Outlook Express or some other free mail client users, but in Outlook, Eudora and the like suspect mail is either filtered to a junk mailbox, or the subject has a keyword prepended.

  • Specific tool - Shareware tools such as MailWasher abound, and for a price they will detect and remove those pharmaceutical advertisements and offers to enhance your manhood.

  • Internet Security package - Although mainly bought for the anti-virus component, these often strip out unwanted mails and leave them segregated from genuine messages for your later review.

If you are interested in knowing more about spam prevention and removal, I can provide a more comprehensive narrative or just set it up for you.

As most students head back to school, many will be packing laptop computers in addition to the usual school supplies.  Itís clear that laptop computers are quickly becoming a vital part of the scholastic experience.  However, with more laptops in use comes more danger of data loss.  Ontrack have produced a useful sheet: Hints to help students protect against laptop data loss.

 

Who do you go to complain to ?  How to become politically involved in the community ?  You can identify your local District or County Councillor, MP and MEP at WriteToThem and then send them a message from that site.  To make it easy for people to keep tabs on their elected and unelected representatives in Parliament TheyWorkForYou will let you search in very imaginative ways.  For a more passive way to keep informed HearFromYourMP will allow you to receive what they want you to receive.

 

Anyone who read the article 'The Truth About British Broadband - Deflating the Myth of FREE Broadband' published in The Sunday Times on 27th August, may be concerned that the minefield of selecting the most appropriate broadband package is now about as complex as the mobile phone market.  The only reliable way to select an ISP is to go by word of mouth and actual experiences rather than marketing hype written by clever script writers.  A key test though, is the duration of the minimum contract period: any supplier who insists on greater than a month must have a reason for doing so, and retaining disenchanted customers may be one.  Anyone paying more than £14.99 for an uncapped up to 8Mbps service should consider PlusNet, or contact me for some thoughts.

 

All of a sudden I seem to have aged.  Perhaps it is my impending birthday (19th October) making me think that way; being a multiple of 10 it is more of an event than usual.  Anyway, I have been putting off a move to reading glasses for this long with help in no small measure from knowing that by holding the control button down on the keyboard, I can use the mouse wheel to easily magnify the text in most Windows windows.

 

Kiva loans allow people to give micro-loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world for the sake of alleviating global poverty.  As reported in Businessweek, these loans (as little as £20 perhaps) make a real difference and are, arguably, more helpful than government aid.  Occasional e-mails and photos on how the money is being spent allow a fascinating glimpse into the recipient's life. 

Regular topics

Requests, suggestions and comments are appreciated here

Free Downloads

Interesting Websites

Dear Eugene - Agony Uncle Extraordinaire

Q. Why can't I read the attached newsletter in Outlook Express ?
A. Potentially harmful attachments may be restricted.  If you trust the sender, this may be relaxed by clicking Tools, Options..., Security, Virus Protection --> Internet Zone
 
Q. How can I be notified when a website changes - perhaps indicating a new software release, new Terms, status changes etc.
A. Register at http://www.changedetection.com/monitor.html and an e-mail will be automatically sent when the page your watching gets updated.
 
Q. How did you take the 360 degree photograph of Ashdown Forest which adorns the wall of your workshop ?
A. I used the software which came with my camera to stich a couple of dozen individual shots together.  Similar software and an in-depth discussion of how to do it are available at
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/takeit/panorama.mspx
Similarly, Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-dimensional space.

And that's it - I hope you found this interesting.  Just for fun, to see if anyone actually reads this far, I am offering six free eggs to anyone who mentions the phrase 'lay six on me' when paying an invoice, for the rest of the year.  My girls produce 4 or 5 a day currently, and I believe the taste of fresh eggs from free range chickens fed on natural products only, is noticeably different from the supermarket's battery suppliers.

This newsletter is just my thoughts and so you should check all items carefully before acting on any advice as I accept no responsibility for unfortunate events resultant on heeding the ideas here.  Most links are to websites I have no control over and should not be construed as an endorsement of any products or services for sale there.

Eugene.

In memory of Anne Gardner.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the Information Superhighway?

 

A: To get to the other site.

Table of Contents

 

Virus vulnerability

Reuse & Recycle

Spam control

Laptop data loss

How to complain

FREE broadband

Magnify Windows text

Philanthropic micro-loans

Free downloads

Interesting websites

Dear Eugene - agony uncle

Your advertisement or message could appear in this space.

No charge for existing clients.

 Please note that my working hours are 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.  If you call 0845 108 0254 between these times I will be very helpful and friendly.

If you have appreciated receiving this, the way I would most value your thanks is for you to make a small note on my testimonials page.

If you have a question or interesting website to share for the next newsletter, please let me have it.

Lucy

Fed up with advice to backup your files ?  Here's a related tip: only store your files in standard places (e.g. My Documents).  When data recovery is needed it will save you big bucks.

Recently added to my website:

How to Be a Good Client

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