Computers and Getting to Grips With Basics by Derek Howden

On the 25th of April, the first IT and Biscuits event happened at the Central Library in Edinburgh.  Ten people came along with their computers, and we collectively worked through a number of issues which were raised.  Derek Howden wrote the following article to summarize some of the information on some of the issues which were raised.
Computers have a very “unknown” quality and we are naturally scared of the unknown. Security was a definite topic of today and when you mix that with the unknown it becomes a volatile emotional experience and that’s not the real reality, especially if you cover the basics which we tried to do today.


Free Anti Virus

These are free and the paid versions generally do things your computer does already (such as firewalls) and tend towards helping to configure things that are not virus related so paying for the extras is not necessary. AVG in particular was started from a community inspired that protection should be the default setup with no agenda. They have developed tools beyond this and for this they ask for payment. It’s the model that most anti virus try to emulate which is a good thing 🙂 You should not need to pay for protection unless it’s the Mafia 🙂

Windows also comes with protection so if you don’t have anti virus the essential tools of windows will try and guide you towards being safe so follow the prompts.

My experience is that most anti virus software including AVG, Avast, Norton etc miss malware attacks from the Internet because the people developing this nasty kind of software try to avoid anti virus by making the user give consent which is often disguised in “installer Software” because they know how anti virus work and use other creative stealth attacks.

If the software you want to install requires a “pre installer” avoid it like the plague. If the company that developed the software cared they will make it available without anyone’s help. With free software comes the ability to give free software with your own extras


Again a community that wants to stand up to the infiltrating bullies of sales and commerce. I always include malwarebytes in addition to antivirus or microsoft essential tools. Again you only need the free version because they believe protection should be the default setup and like the others they have developed some tools that you may like to pay for.

Fear of Computers: IT’S NOT TRUE

You will not bring down a satellite and be the cause of an apocalyptic event.

You can not break your computer unless you throw it at a wall and your computer really does try to fix things. Sometimes you have to be extra patient and just let it be and it will usually configure itself. Most problems occur when you think the computer is stuck or is doing nothing so you reboot. Try making a coffee and sit in the garden and just let it finish working it out.
A computer is a tool that some people want to exploit for money and other people want to help and make it accessible and they generally go by the “Open …” community so it could be Open Office, a free and just as powerful version of Microsoft Office. So if you are looking for a graphics package you would probably search in Google “Graphics Software” so search “Open Graphics Software” instead and you will find brilliant communities that make free software.
All of Google’s software is free because they are an Open Software company. In fact try googling “open software” “open research” “open medicine” you will find huge communities of people who work for free and donate their time to making amazing software.

Remember: whatever you search put the word “Open” before it

Remember the Digital is like the real world, you jostle gossip and fact from the people you know and you are probably quite good at it so you are probably quite good at doing it on the web so let your confidence take over, cover the basics and enjoy the Internet. If something seems dodgy….. tell me you never met someone who seemed dodgy?


As for Browsers?

Well Internet Explorer is widely exploited because it was programmed in as an integral part of the Windows Operating System so I avoid it. I use Chrome because it’s developed by Google and it pre sniff’s websites you have clicked on and if there is something dodgy Chrome will inform you and ask you to confirm you still want to go to the site.
This is something that the anti virus companies add as an extra but is there in Chrome as standard. I’m sure it’s in other browsers do the same so I am talking from a comfort zone that has never let me down.
Again avoid porn sites, downloading sites, hack sites and anything that wants to consume your desires. Your desires are human and so they are precious, if you protect them you will protect yourself online as well as in the real world.



So do not be scared of your computer

Cover the basics

Avoid Dodgy Websites


Also do not be disheartened when you get ripped off or a website never delivered. Keep pushing forward because the odds are on your side 🙂 and everything will teach you for the net time.