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Be thankful for what you know

By Mariah Smith
Extension Center for Technology Outreach

Smith click to enlarge

The season of Thanksgiving is upon us and I am reminded that I need to take time out to count my blessings and give thanks for the small things in life. For starters, I am very thankful for computer users who take the time to learn how to maintain and safeguard their computers. They make life much less complicated.

Great computer users avoid being the victims of identity theft; they don’t respond to phishing attempts and never click on bogus links in emails and Facebook. They pay attention when shopping online to make sure they are on a secure site and their credit card information is being transmitted securely. Great users absolutely, positively never click on pop-up windows that appear out of nowhere on their computer screens, and they always keep their anti-virus software up to date.

A phishing attempt is when an email is sent to you that appears to be from a legitimate source but is, in fact, not genuine. More often than not, the email requests that you click on an email link or respond with personal information. Under no circumstances should you respond to these types of requests. Many users have also succumbed to Facebook attacks where a “friend” wants to share a funny video. As soon as you click on the video link, you have downloaded a virus to your computer.

Great users avoid saving unnecessary files to the desktop and always back up their important documents and photos. Saving a ton of files to the desktop just slows down the computer as it boots up. Backing up files to external hard drives or offline storage is critical. For more long-term storage, a simple way to preserve very important files and pictures is to archive them on DVD-ROMS.

Great computer users take immediate action when their computers start acting sluggish. They start by deleting temporary Internet files and cookies, removing malware, adware and spyware, and running disk defragmentation to help speed the computer along.

Deleting temporary files and cookies is easy to do: simply open Internet Explorer and left-click Tools, then Internet Options. Check the “delete cookies; delete files” box and left-click OK. Free programs such as Spybot Search and Destroy can help locate and remove malicious software. Disk defragmentation can be found on all computers and, if run once a month, can help speed the computer’s response time.

Super computer users carefully consider their next technology purchases. They make lists of their needs, name a price they are willing to pay and evaluate their options accordingly. They would never buy an iPad for their child when a Kindle Fire would suffice, and they wouldn’t purchase a tablet or e-book and then wonder why it needs wireless.

The truly great computer users investigate first, seek advice and then make the purchase. They understand the limits of technology and use it as an aid for daily living, not a one-size-fits-all solution to life’s problems.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks, and this year I am thankful for you—thankful that you persist in learning new things and new ways of doing things, even if you get irritated at times. Learning together is fun, and for that I am thankful.

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Released: November 20, 2012
Contact: Mariah Smith, (662) 325-3226

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