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Free Bee When it comes to putting new software on you computer it pays to be conservative.

Obviously you will need to put some kind of new software on your computer or you'd only have the default software which was included in your original purchase.

Let's look at some of the things that can go wrong. And then look at what you can do to minimize your risk.

Virus These are program which are attached to other programs. They are specifically designed to sneak into your computer and "do stuff" behind your back -- bad stuff. That's right there are people out there who take pleasure or pride in creating these sneaky little snips of violence. You don't want viruses on your computer.
  • Install a virus protection program
  • Be careful about where you download programs from. When in doubt don't.
  • Never run a program sent to you from anyone.
  • Never run a program sent to you from a friend. (in case the above rule didn't seem to apply)
  • Be careful about letting your children have free run on your computer. They are less conservative about where they get software. Remember they thought eating worms (and that other stuff they found on the ground) was okay.
Trojans These are program which have one name but do something else. Back in the day on main frames there was a program which would erase everything on your drive being passed around. Now since only a true idiot would run a program called "" the program was name Everyone wanted to play StarTrek. It was a cool game and everyone wanted to check it out. So folks would run a program called StarTrek. Your hungers will be worked against you.
  • Install a virus protection program
    This will help a little. But it can't help alot. Let's face it is a legitimate program. The fact that someone renames it as "" is hard for a virus protection program to detect.
  • Be careful about where you download programs from. When in doubt don't.
  • Never run a program sent to you from anyone.
  • Be careful about letting your children have free run on your computer.
DLL mess-up Windows is kind of a weird and wonderful design. Parts of it are wonderful and parts of it are totally weird.Part of the design of windows involves breaking the operating system into smaller pieces. Some of these pieces are called DLL files. I believe that is Dynamically Loaded Libraries or Dynamic Loading Libraries or some such thing. Point is these are libraries which contain program code that are loaded dynamically as needed. Many programs share these libraries. That's the point. If lots of programs are going to be sharing the same functions then why not put these functions into a separate file that everyone can share?

Sounds good and it is good -- for the most part. Problem is. A program writtent to use a 1998 DLL file might fail when you install a 1999 DLL. Now they should be totally upward compatible. That would make sense. Well, Microsoft has a policy of hiding information. Or at least they used to. Writing a program is like learning a foreign language in which half the dictionary is kept secret. Only certain people get to see that part of the dictionary. This means that programmers not on Microsoft staff had to deduce and reverse engine a bunch of stuff. Well, some of this was done wrong. So there are lots of programs out there that work using the DLL libraries which were available at the time. But since the programs couldn't anticipate what they couldn't see the programs start to fail when some of the DLL programs are changed. This means that you the user have to buy upgrades every friggin year. Now if you think this is some kind of secret plan for forced obsolescence you might be right. I think it's just a by-product of Microsoft trying to give themselves an advantage by not putting the time into effectively communicating to programmers what to do and how t do it.

One of the worst aspects of this is the fact that a program you install today might install a DLL file which is out of date. This will only happen if the programmer writes a bad installation program.

Given that your computer, your whole computer is vulnerable to bad installation programs you'd think it would be in the global interest to have a free or cheap easy to use installation making program that will prevent such bad installation programs from being written. Think again.

Tell me, oh tell me where is the Good House Keeping company that will test an installation program and verify that it doesn't overwrite newer DLL files and the such? There is none that I know of.

  • Be careful where you get programs.
  • Try to not be the first on your block to use a program.
  • See about getting one of those registry-watch programs.
  • See about getting one of those installation monitoring programs.
  • Be prepared to re-install from scratch if you need to.
  • Go to bed and hide under the covers, it all sounds way to complex to me anyway.
Driver mess-up Drivers are like DLL files. But here there are more players in the game. Drivers are written by hardware manufactures. I had a friend install a new scanner on her system. I told her buy only HP. Because I'm used to HP and they haven't let me down --- yet. She installed an off-brand. The off-brand installed some drivers that messed up the communication not only between the scanner and her computer but also messed up the communication between her printer and computer and the video and the keyboard and even her kitchen appliances. Everything was messed up. That was the bad part. The worse part was it took 3 months to find out it was the drivers doing the badness and she had to basically install everything on her computer to fix it.
  • Do some background research before buying hardware.
  • Look in trouble shooting guides.
  • Go to Help groups.
  • Do a search of the internet for things like "Brand X won't install." etc.
  • See if you can find out what kinds of problems other folks are running into. There are things like video cards which are known to cause problems with certain SCSI cards.
  • Call your mother board manufacture and ask if they are aware of any known problems with Brand X video or SCSI or .... card.
AOL Version 5.0 is the poster child for this problem. When they install their program into your computer they seem to think it is necessary to move hundreds of files around and substitute dozens of their files for files on your computer which were working perfectly well. The lesson here is: Choosing to go with big companies doesn't necessarily protect you. In fact some of the biggest companies are the worst.

Microsoft made a great and glorious move when they started to create a platform for development by a bunch of different programmers. They made a huge mistake when they didn't incorporate more checks and balances so that a program like AOL Version 5 couldn't slip in and mess with your whole computer.

  • Use all precautions mentioned above.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Be prepared to reinstall from scratch if necessary.

If this all sound like a huge bother and is totally overwhelming, join the crew.

Having a computer is not an invitiation to a worry free life. That's the way it is at the moment. I've been waiting for years for the next big operating system to make it easier. FORGET THAT. Micosoft is now trying to pass Windows2000 off as an upgrade path from Windows 95 ->Windows 98 -> Windows 2000. IT IS NOT AN UPGRADE PATH from Windows 98. It is an upgrade from Windows NT. You know that big, complex, very fancy, very schmancy operating system that all the big corporations have to send people to school to learn about.

Buyer beware.