// Internet Duct Tape

Geek Sanity Tip: Make Everyone Run the Same Software

Posted in Microsoft Windows XP and Vista, Technology by engtech on September 01, 2008

Working With Windows

Much like how doctor’s get bombarded with medical questions, being the alpha geek in any family or group of friends means you’ll get asked questions about computers. There’s only one way to stay sane: get everyone you know to run the same software.

Outlook vs Gmail

Case in point, I’ve had to support Microsoft Outlook for over a decade now even though the last time I used it was in 1997. Even though I switched from Outlook to Thunderbird, and then Gmail I’ve had this albatross of questions hanging around my neck. If I could convince everyone I know to switch to gmail I wouldn’t have to worry about problems like:

For me the main advantages to using gmail instead of a desktop based client are:

  • Access email from any computer
  • No “downloading email” wait time
  • NO VIRUSES! Everything is virus scanned any nothing is downloaded on to your computer without your express interaction
  • The best junk mail filtering available
  • Incredibly fast search that works so much better than manually organizing emails
  • You can keep your old email address and still use gmail as your mail program
  • Offline support with Google Gears
  • Automatically signs into other Google services like Blogger and Reader

There are many instructions on switching from Outlook to Gmail using special software like Gmail Loader (or gExodus), by temporarily setting up a mail server to importing into Gmail using IMAP, or using POP. With that last method, you can transparently use gmail while keeping your old email address.

Internet Explorer vs Mozilla Firefox

I love Firefox because of all the ways I can extend it with Greasemonkey and because of ad-block plus. Internet Explorer isn’t as bad as it used to be, but you’ll still run into strange headaches like how much more difficult it is to subscribe to an RSS feed using Google Reader in Internet Explorer than in Firefox.


I was a long time Azeurus bittorrent user, but I’ve found it hard to explaining to anyone else how to use the program, not to mention how poorly it performs. uTorrent is so much simplier to use, and it is so much easier to explain to other people how to use it. These are the uTorrent settings I use to work well with Rogers Canada.

uTorrent seems to work better than Azureus or the original Bit Torrent client, and I really like how it defaults to selecting individual files in a torrent to download. It also seems to have much less virii than the older quality P2P applications like Limewire and Soulseek.

There are quite a few legitimate uses of bittorrent. A lot of excellent free software is distributed using bittorrent, and as older movies, books and music comes into the public domain it is being hosted on bittorrent networks. People are sharing their public domain podcasts and video casts using bittorrent as well.

Norton Antivirus vs Anything Else

The other big problem I run into as the computer tech person is “my computer is slow”. The culprit is an easy find: Norton Antivirus. Norton Antivirus is a virus because it is more detrimental to your computer performance than actually having a virus. Nobody likes Norton Antivirus.

We’ve been trying out AVG Free as an alternative, but ran into issues with how user unfriendly it is (finding virii in the Recycling Bin, finding virii in the Outlook Deleted Trash and the difficulty in deleting the virii). Leave a comment if you have any suggestions of which antivirus to use for casual home users who aren’t tech saavy.

I keep hearing about NOD32, Kapersky, or Clamwin.

29 Responses

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  1. Adrian said, on September 01, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I use Doctor Web for virus removal because it is great for checking in-process virii, very straightforward and seems to be built by excellent software engineers!

  2. mpb said, on September 01, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I use Avast. I hate its popup that says it updated but that does go away.

    Also, your feed shows up in my feed demon with a leading
    ` `

  3. mpb said, on September 01, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    <!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–> <!–[endif]–>

    backticks don’t work to show code

  4. Julia said, on September 01, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I’ve even gone so far as to switch my completely non-technical husband (who was still using AOL for email/browsing until a year ago) and my history professor closest friend over to Ubuntu Linux. I still have headaches with their computers, but they are *reasonable* headaches now.

    Now, if I could just convince the college where I teach to switch to Ubuntu…

  5. T.S.Ackerman said, on September 01, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Just went through this last weekend with a friend. Her machine got infected, and I insisted she not use Norton but try McAfee (a mild improvement). I run ClamXav (Leopard) with no probs, and never had virus problems with McAfee (properly configured) under Windows. Easy solution: don’t use the web, or don’t use Windows.

  6. Lord Byron said, on September 01, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Ah,you continue to push the switch to Gmail but what if we don’t wish to be slaves to the Great Master Google (much as I appreciate and use their search engine)???

  7. Tony said, on September 02, 2008 at 3:38 am

    NOD32 is great.

    I used to use NAV simply because it came along with my laptop purchase. By the time that I realised it was causing most of the performance problems, I decided to make a change.

    I researched around a couple of softwares, used Kaspersky, which I found to be a lot more light-weighted. Seriously, it’s like a load off your CPU and mind.

    By the time the Kaspersky trial ran out, I then had a go at NOD32, and that’s when I realised it wasn’t Kaspersky that was so great, it was how crappy NAV actually was.

    So yes, NOD32. The only bad-talking has been about its complex UI. It would be fine for most users. For users with less knowledge, there’s also ESET Smart Security (by the same company). When you’re running NOD32, you don’t feel it running at the background at all. And when you plug-in an USB drive that has a minor virus, it’s picked up straight away.

    All and all, it’s a AV software worth purchasing.

  8. David Bradley said, on September 02, 2008 at 3:59 am

    I’ve dropped AVG. Avira Antivir Personal (the one with the little red umbrella) seems to be a powerful option.

  9. katm said, on September 02, 2008 at 4:15 am

    I used Kaspersky for quite a while. I changed over to Avast, and still have that on my Windows partitions. Happily, I’m a Fedora user and not wanting to change back :-)

  10. Andy Davies said, on September 02, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I use NOD32 and can highly recommend it. I did use AVG until it failed to pick up a trojan I caught.

    In addition to NOD32, I use online scanners (TrendMicro & Kapersky) as a safety check now and then.

    McAfee’s on my work machine but I wouldn’t recommend it as I’ve had a couple of nasties lately and it’s not the best at spotting them

  11. Ben Moreno said, on September 04, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Well, as a veteran of PC repair I must put in my two cents.

    I used to run my own PC repair business out of a garage with a pal of mine. We tested and researched so many different antivirus/spyware programs.

    My conclusion is that out of the paid antivirus programs, Norton’s was one of the best as far as finding the most infections. However, it became slow and a resource hog over the years.

    Recently NAV 2009 has come out in beta and it’s focus is speed and light on resources. I have been running some preliminary tests recently and must say I am slightly impressed.

    Keep in mind also that Symantec’s website has always been a great source for virus information. They have the first mover advantage.

    I currently use Windows Vista 64bit and have found Avast a compatible, trouble free, and solid program for this platform. What I hate about AVG. is that it forces a scan on startup a lot of times.

    Well, that is all I will say about this for now.

    But remember, using multiple programs for scanning spyware and viruses is always the way to go. Researching and manually removing viruses is also a good tactic.

  12. twoluvcats said, on September 04, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve been using TrendMicro for about 10 years and like it a lot better than Norton. It can be a resource hog during scanning, but I’ve found it to be the best tool for stopping not-so-tech-savy users from getting viruses/spyware in the first place.

  13. Don Jones said, on September 05, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Have to say by far my favorite is Kapersky. I used AVG for years and raved about it but the minute I tried Kapersky I was hooked. For me and my clients it is the only way to go. Oh, and one more thing. There is no other program for email than Gmail. The end.

  14. cultavix said, on September 06, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    haha the alpha geek! wow, how would you say that in spanish ?

  15. Mike Shields said, on September 09, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Of course, you could use a Mac, and then there’s no viri software needed :)

  16. Art Weeks said, on September 16, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Running a Mac does not make you immune to viruses. It’s just that fewer viruses are written for Macs. As the Mac user base increases, the probability of infection increases.

  17. Dr.Doug said, on September 30, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I use Norton’s AV and love it, but if you buy a suite and blindly install everything, well you get what you asked for. And I use Outlook 2007 and all of my computers are sync’d, I do have about 5 g-mail accounts, but they all dump to one, then dump to Outlook, works great. Personally I can’t stand web based e-mail. But I totally agree with you on all other points.

  18. Micah Peterson said, on October 03, 2008 at 10:36 am

    I don’t use an Antivirus program, I use firefox. To the best of my knowledge most spyware adware virus garbage comes through internet explorer 6. Don’t use IE. I ran only Firefox for about 2 years straight, downloaded AVG, checked my computer and had no problems whatsoever.

  19. Domek said, on October 12, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I also don’t use firewall. I have even turned off my anti virus software. I depend on Firefox and anti-malware scans since time to time. So far, so good ! No problems. The common sense in browsing is the key. Do not click on weird stuff. Do not follow “interesting” links.


  20. Nick said, on October 21, 2008 at 4:32 am

    Ooh, I use Norton Antivirus, BUT

    I’ve been using the 2003 edition, but then one day I installed the 2008 edition. After two weeks of pain, I reverted back to the 2003 edition, and have been happy ever since. Well, that was until I got a Mac..

  21. Sumesh said, on December 10, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I recommend Avast or Antivir.

    Of course, one more tip would be to set up a dual boot Ubuntu (Wubi) for the more dangerous tasks – *cough*torrent/warez/p2p*cough*. ;)

    I’ve been doing that, and I have had no virus for over 2 years.5

  22. jammer said, on March 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    thank you

  23. Glenn said, on April 12, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I ran AVG for a few years but got fed up the user interface – took ages to complete the simplest of tasks and found some crap was getting through its net. Switched to Avast and have never had a problem since.
    I gace up on Norton years ago. The cost was never justified – I believe they create most of the viruses themselves to bring in the business.

  24. Neil Patmore said, on September 17, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    ESET Nod32 is my personal favourite these days

  25. FitnessGuy1981 said, on December 15, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you! I have been looking for this information all day now. My pc is not running like it should and I need to figure out how to fix it soon. I have bookmarked your post so others can find it too on digg.

  26. Chantal Render said, on February 27, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Halfway through the page everything seems to cut off! It’s a shame I really wanted to read the rest of the content!

  27. holy joe said, on July 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    For set it and forget it, i would go with Avast or MSE, for those wanting a bit more extra security and options, i might suggest Comodo, its interesting in that it comes with a firewall too, cool bit of software, though can be a bit awkward to configure sometimes.

  28. Jake said, on August 01, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I like the comparison you’ve made. For my online work, I always use gmail because of the built in messenger, online documents and no need to download features. As for the browser, I still go for FF because of so many plugins that can use for work.

  29. Regnad Kcin said, on September 09, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    This is all fine and dandy. You can choose your friends. But in the professional world you will be forced to support intransigent and retarded users who insist that Outlook 97, ftp, etc are the only clients they can possibly deal with. All their archives are in PST format, and when you are called on to restore the email that “you lost” they will deny having checked the little box in the POP configuration that deletes their email off the server when it is downloaded.

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