Ten Commandments for your Personal computer

In This Chapter

Don’t fear your computer
Always save your work
Back up your stuff
Don’t open or delete unknown files
Don’t fall prey to online predators
Use antivirus and update software
Be smart about upgrades
Use the PC with proper posture
Keep windows up-to-date
Always properly quit Windows
Take it from me: I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’ve survived the worst of using a computer and have lived to write about it. Let me share my experiences with you by passing along a chunk of digital wisdom. I may not have descended from Mt. Sinai, and I certainly look nothing like Charlton Heston, but here are my Ten PC Commandments.

I. Don’t fear your computer

The computer isn’t out to get you. It won’t explode suddenly. It harbors no sinister intelligence. Honestly, it’s really rather dumb.
Knowledge is the key to overcoming fear.

II Always save your work

Whenever you’re creating something blazingly original, use the Save command at once! In fact, use the Save command even when you make something stupid that you don’t even want to save. You’re not going to run out of room on the PC’s storage system by saving stuff you don’t need, so why not save for the sake of it?
You never know when your computer will meander off to watch NASCAR or chat with the wireless router across the street while you’re hoping to finish the last few paragraphs of that report. Save your work as often as possible. Save when you get up from your computer. Save when you answer the phone. Save! Save! Save!

III.Back up your stuff

Nothing beats having that just-in-case copy of your stuff. The computer itself can run a backup program to make that safety copy, or you can duplicate your files yourself. Either way, that secondary, backup copy can save your skin someday.
See Chapter 22 for information on Backup.

IV. Don’t open or delete unknown files

Delete Things Unknownst
Here’s the rule, written in modern English: Delete only those files or folders you created yourself.
Unlike computer hardware, where sticky labels with red letters read Do Not Open, unknown computer files have no warning labels. There should be! Windows is brimming with unusual and unknown files. Don’t mess with ‘em. Don’t delete them. Don’t move them. Don’t rename them. And, especially, don’t open them to see what they are. Sometimes, opening an unknown icon can lead to trouble.

V. Don’t fall prey to online predators

The Bad Guys are successful in spreading their evil, malicious software on the Internet because people let down their guard. Don’t be a sucker for human engineering. Basically, here’s a list of don’ts for you to adhere to:
‘ Don’t reply to any spam e-mail. Doing so brings you even more spam. A popular trick is for spammers to include some text that says “Reply to this message if you do not want to receive any further messages.” Don’t! Replying to spam signals the spammers that they have a “live one” and you then receive even more spam. Never, ever, reply to spam!
‘ Don’t open unknown or unexpected e-mail attachments. Seriously, you’re not missing anything if you don’t open them. Yet that’s how human engineering works: The e-mail fools you into believing that opening the attachment is important. It’s not.
Never open any program file attachment. These attachments end with the filename extensions exe, com, or vbs. See Chapter 20 for more information on filename extensions and how to display them in Windows.

VI.Use antivirus and update software

I highly recommend that you use antivirus software on your PC. Keep that software up-to-date. See Chapter 19 for more computer security advice.

VII.Be smart about upgrades

New hardware and software come out all the time. The new stuff is generally better and faster, and it’s important to some people to be the First On The Block to have a new hardware gizmo or software upgrade. You don’t have to be that person.
Upgrade your software only if you truly need the new features it offers, if you need to have that version to be compatible with your coworkers, or if the new version fixes problems and bugs that you’re experiencing.
Buy hardware that’s compatible with your PC. Especially when you have an older computer, confirm that the new hardware will work with your system.

VIII. Use the PC with proper posture

Using a computer can be a pain. Literally. You must observe proper posture and sitting position while you operate a PC. By doing so, you can avoid back strain and the risk of repetitive stress injury (RSI). Here are some suggestions:
Get an ergonomic keyboard: Even if your wrists are as limber as a politician’s spine, you might consider an ergonomic keyboard. That type is specially designed at an angle to relieve the stress of typing for long — or short — periods.
Use a wrist pad: Wrist pads elevate your wrists so that you type in a proper position, with your palms above the keyboard, not resting below the spacebar.
Adjust your chair: Sit at the computer with your elbows level with your wrists.
Adjust your monitor: Your head should not tilt down or up when you view the computer screen. It should be straight ahead, which doesn’t help your wrists as much as it helps your neck.

IX.Keep windows up-to-date

Windows Up-to-Date
Microsoft keeps Windows continually fresh and updated. The updates fix problems, but they also address vulnerabilities that the Bad Guys exploit. In my topic (which you’re reading now), that’s a good thing, but it’s effective only when you use the Windows Update service on a regular basis. See Chapter 23.
There’s a difference between updating Windows, which I recommend, and upgrading Windows, which I don’t recommend.

X.Always properly quit Windows

When you’re done with Windows, shut it down. Choose the Shut Down command from the Start button menu. The PC automatically turns itself off.
Refer to Chapter 4 for detailed PC shutdown instructions.

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