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:
- Poor performance because emails are never deleted
- Poor junk mail filtering
- Confusion because anti-virus programs are picking up virii in the Deleted Mail folder
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.
RSS feeds are like cookies (that are good enough for me). Best of Feeds is a weekly collection of the best stuff I saw on the Internet this week. They’re saved on delicious and stumbleupon and cross-posted to Twitter and Tumblr as they happen and then collected together on Saturdays. I don’t blog on the weekend so read these links instead.Subscribe to //engtech to see this every week (or get it by email).
- [MUSIC] David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars
- The history and future of the recording industry
- (wired.com 489 32 17)
- [GMAIL] Creating a Backup for Your Google Account
- How to create a second gmail account with full access to all your Google services
- (googlesystem.blogspot.com 298 8 6)
- [GMAIL] WARNING: Google’s GMail security failure leaves my business sabotaged
- Hacker found a backdoor and used it to take over David Airey’s website.
- (davidairey.co.uk 120 9 3917)
- [BUSINESS] Joel Spolsky’s Travel Survival Guide – Business Travel – Software Demo’ing
- How to give good demo
- (inc.com 116 2)
- [SPAM] Blacklists Don’t Work
- It’s guerrilla warfare and the spammers have more troops
- (codinghorror.com 39 92)
- [CODE] 8-year-olds should test my code
- (cs.nyu.edu 31 3)
- [MEME] Chuck Norris sues, says his tears no cancer cure
- Possibly the best headline of 2007
- (news.yahoo.com 25 2179)
- [SOCIAL] 51 Favorite StumbleUpon, Sphinn, Twitter & Facebook Posts of 2007
- Top posts of 2007 on social media
- (socialdesire.com 20 2 2)
- [SOCIAL] Social Networks: Stop Designing Out The Fun
- (mechanicalrobotfish.com 19 2)
- [LIBRARY] Threatened by the Internet? Music Biz Should Rock Like Librarians
- So true, I use the library at least twice a month.
- (readwriteweb.com 12 14)
- [GAMERS] Portal… in lego
- (brickshelf.com 8 2)
- [GMAIL] Collective effort restores David Airey.com
- More of David Airey’s loss of control over his domain name.
- (davidairey.co.uk 4)
- [PIRACY] Disasters of Commerce: HDCP
- The HD-DVD / Blu-ray copyright protection schemes can break your hardware permanently
- (fishsupreme.livejournal.com 3)
- [LEARNING] Get Educated.
- links to several online learning resources
- (web1979.com 2 2)
This Week at Internet Duct Tape
- 7 Tips to Optimize Windows XP for Gaming — Playing The Witcher on Minimum System Requirements
- One of the lures of the holiday season is to be able to hopefully squeeze in some time between eggnog, family and friends to exercise your vices. No, not heroin, but that other life consuming addiction: gaming. PC gaming is quickly going the way of the dodo, with console gaming taking over because…
- Windows XP – Disable dumpprep when programs crash
- One tip for improve Windows XP that I absolutely love is turning off that annoying “do you want to send an error report” message when programs crash. The sad truth is that those error reports rarely reach anyone who could fix the problem, so it’s a colossal waste of time — especially…
Microsoft’s live.com is offering email addresses, and the usual land grab rush is on to “secure” your identity on the service. What most people don’t realize is that securing a “prime real estate” email address is probably the LAST thing you want to do.
An obvious email address suffers from an insidious kind of spam you’ll never be able to properly filter or get rid of: I’m talking about wrongly addressed email.
(photo by planeta)
As a gmail beta tester I was lucky enough to grab several email@example.com accounts and a couple of firstname.lastname@example.org accounts. It was fine for the first year, but it has rapidly gone downhill as Gmail has risen in popularity. Now when I check my primary email account I’m lucky if one in four emails were intended for me.
I’ll get university class mailing lists, church lists, hotel bookings, and account signups by the handful.  It’s the digital equivalent to rifling through the magazine rack for subscription cards to sign up your ex. Except there’s no malice behind it; only ignorance and carelessness.
Possible email address for John Q Public
What makes it doubly-worse is that with many email programs automatically collecting any correspondence to your address book means that telling someone they have the wrong address might be enough to get you added to their address book forever. If you choose an email address with your last name, chances are that the people emailing you might have the same last name — automatic address collection means that you’ll be on the receiving end of each other’s Christmas newsletters for who knows how long.
I know I sound ridiculous, but you really can’t appreciate the number of similar email accounts on services like @gmail, @hotmail, @yahoo and now @live until you get a popular email address and start seeing the effect of several people who give out the wrong account name — yours.
- Password Recovery — The Achilles Heel of Your Online Security
- Why Posting Your Email Address in Plain Text is Never a Good Idea
- How to access Gmail when it is blocked at work or school
 And out of all those wrongly addressed emails there was only one mis-sent dirty letter.
I had a fun surprise when I woke up this morning: I was locked out of my Gmail account. I sometimes play in bad neighbourhoods on the internet, and this immediately brought up worries of that I might have a keylogger Trojan, but a system scan revealed nothing. The actual truth of what happened was much stranger…
Like most people who grew up in the last quarter of the 20th century I have been inundated with information technology since a very young age. I had one email address in high school, two others during university, and new email addresses with each job and change of internet service providers. For the last few years I’ve been stabilized on Gmail, but I still switch between four different accounts (real name, nickname, gaming, blog). Schizophrenic? Yes.
Email aside, I use around twelve different online user accounts over the course of a week, and many more irregularly. When it comes to those dusty accounts I often have to use the password recovery feature to retrieve my login information over email. Despite my distaste for OpenID, I have to admit that I see the appeal. Password recovery works fine only if you can remember which email account you used to sign up with and you still have access to it. Jobs change, ISPs’ switch, and that free web-based email account you got in 1999 eventually goes down.
It was that last scenario that blindsided me. Like any other web account, Gmail’s recover password feature will send a verification message to your secondary email address on file. In my case that secondary email address was a free account I used infrequently in the hazy years following the turn of the century. Because I used it so infrequently I had no idea that it had been sold and was under new ownership. And I would have remained ignorant for much longer if I hadn’t been using a common name for my gmail account.
Being a Gmail beta tester had it’s perks, one of which was being able to grab the good names before anyone else could. But as Gmail became more popular, that perk changed into a disadvantage: the world is full of idiots who don’t know what their email address is and put down your email address instead. The amount of spam I receive is almost equal to the amount of misdirected email I get because Erica T. put down the wrong email address when the professor was handing the sheet around the classroom. Often these savants trigger the Gmail password recovery cycle as they try to log in to “their” account.
I ignore these password recovery emails the same way as I ignore the misdirected emails. Unfortunately, the good Samaritan who bought the domain my password recovery email was pointing to wasn’t as laissé-faire. Things were eventually sorted out, but not before I had a heart palpitation when he tried to do me a favour by changing my Gmail password and trying to find an alternate means of contacting me. Don’t let this happen to you, and make sure you know what email address the password recovery feature is going to use for your most important accounts.
How to Change Your Secondary Email Address and Your Security Question With Gmail
Click on the Google Accounts Settings link. (It’s hidden in Gmail under Settings >> Accounts).
Click on the Change Security Question link.
Change your security question or your secondary email.
The Moral of the Story Is…
Well, I’m not quite sure what the moral of the story is, to be honest. Obviously, there is something to be said for having one email address and keeping it for as long as you can. There is something else to be said for using an email provider who requires voice confirmation with personal identifying information before changing your password. Don’t get me started on the benefits of having an account name that other people are unlikely to use.
I know that I’ve got a long boring task ahead of me over the upcoming weeks. I have to assume that any other accounts that were linked to that email address could have been compromised in the 12 hours I lost control of my account. Searches of the trash and sent folders showed no tampering, but that means nothing since a smart person would have just downloaded all of the mail and started data mining with a copy. Can I safely assume because the guy went out of his way to contact me to restore access to my account that nothing bad happened to it? Would you?