Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Mailbag: reader questions answered, Apple Edition

Today I am going to answer a few questions submitted by readers, in the Q’s and their A’s format.

Q: Will the programs I have on my old Mac run on a new “Leopard” system?
A: There are enough differences in the new OS X 10.5 that some programs may need to be replaced with the latest versions that are “Leopard-compatible” (Norton AV often needs this, for example) to run at their best. The keyword is “may”: most programs will work just fine once you visit Apple Update.
Please note— if you intend to migrate your programs and data from an old machine to the new Leopard machine, make sure you have updated all the software (programs) on the old machine before initiating the migration. Leopard will/can refuse to accept programs that aren’t current.

Q: I am thinking about buying a new iMac and I was told Apple runs on Intel circuits now. Does this mean I would be vulnerable to viruses, worms and spyware like Windows? What security programs would I need?
A: While it is true that Apple runs on the same type of “circuits” as Windows PC’s now, it is not your hardware that is vulnerable to malware and hackers, but the lines of software “code” (programming) that make up your applications/programs.
Now to the second part of your question… The lines of code that make up the Mac operating system (the most recent being OSX 10.5 “Leopard”) are not currently being targeted by the bad guys.. simply because there’s too few machines running it (and the ones that are do not contain credit card number databases). However, some of the programs you would have on your Mac are being targeted for exploits– QuickTime (a media format/player) and the Safari browser, notably. (Neither of which you need, btw.)
And now the last part: as things stand, today, if you are running a fully updated Leopard machine, and the firewall is on, you really don’t need a “protection program”. That statement may not be true this afternoon, or next week, or next month (for future readers, this was written 05/19/08 ) and so you may, for peace of mind, want to install the Norton Internet Security 2008 package*.

Today’s free link: I’m keeping with a Macintosh theme today, and so today’s app is for Apple users. I don’t want it said that I never think of you guys! Watch TV on your iMac with Miro, a C/Net Editor’s Choice. Description: “Democracy Player is a free and open source internet TV/video podcast application, with a beautiful, easy to use interface. You can subscribe to any Internet TV channel, including video podcasts, video RSS feeds, bittorrent feeds, and video blogs. A built-in Channel Guide lists hundreds of channels of all types, all free to subscribe to. Browse videos, download, and watch fullscreen– all in the same application.

* Folks, please don’t write to tell me “Norton is evil”. Read the reviews for NIS 2008. It may open your eyes.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 19, 2008 Posted by | advice, antivirus, Apple, computers, hardware, how to, security, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Upgrading to Windows Vista

Thanks to an extensive advertising campaign, the majority of you have heard of the relatively new Microsoft Windows operating system named “Vista”©. Some of you may already be using Vista, particularly those of you who have purchased a computer recently. There has been much hype surrounding Vista, and one is sometimes induced into feeling that Vista will ‘revolutionize’ my computing experience…

I have been using Vista since a relatively early beta (as one of Microsoft’s volunteer guinea pigs/”testers”), and am writing this post on a machine running a retail version of Vista Home Premium. I like Vista…though I expect I will receive comments from some who will think I am nuts for running a first-release OS. I like its look and feel (quite similar to Mac OS X). As a computing consultant, I like the improvements in security ([advisory: Vista frequently stops you in what you’re doing with a pop-up warning dialogue that asks you, “are you sure you want to continue?” This is because you are essentially running as a “user” and not an “Administrator”, which greatly increases your security. If this is the kind of “feature” that will irritate and annoy you to the point of great distress…stick with XP]). I admit it is an individual preference/”taste” kind of thing…but I do like, and recommend, Vista. Should you decide to climb aboard the Vista bandwagon, the question becomes: upgrading your existing OS, or formatting the hard drive and installing ‘clean’?

Tip of the day: There is a real advantage in doing an “in place upgrade”: namely, you will not have to locate the CDs and re-install all of your programs and applications and games; and, your preferences and settings, files, music, and photos folders will still be there–without copying them back to your machine from a backup [you do make regular backups of your system…don’t you???]. Before you consider an inplace upgrade please, please, please run the Vista Upgrade Advisor tool (click here to get the tool) and carefully heed what it says. It will scan your system and check your hardware (devices and memory) and your programs for “compatibility”. Consider carefully the results.
[update 09/08/07: Due to the fact that nobody’s used this tool, and upgraded heedless of all the advice in this column (and elsewhere), my article on “can I undo my upgrade?” is my most Google’d and my most read posting.]

Those of you considering Vista should also be aware that it has rather stringent hardware requirements (for a listing, please click here) and realize that if your machine is getting along in years you will be better served by buying a new machine–with Vista pre-installed–and using the Easy Data Migration tool to copy over your files and settings.

If your machine is of a fairly recent vintage, has plenty of memory and a decent graphics adapter, and passes the Upgrade Advisor tool’s scan, then go ahead and upgrade. If you barely meet the minimum requirements, and there are several compatibility issues noted by the Advisor’s scan, please don’t cause yourself any grief–skip Vista for now. Start saving your pennies for a brand-new, loaded with the latest technology, machine. That’s my advice.

Today’s free link: Speakeasy’s Internet speed test. Find out what your Internet connection’s speed really is–both downloading and uploading–and see how it compares with other people’s. Are you getting what your ISP says you’re getting? (what you’re paying for!) Find out with this fast, easy to use test.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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June 8, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, shopping for, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment