As I get time I'll start adding "repair features" that I am commonly asked by friends and family. I'll try to get you links to responsible sites where you can get the software, cost free to add to your computers.
Lets start with removal of cooties. Adware, cookies and spyware will drag a system into a dead stop. The state of the art in this field is Ad-Aware, by Lavasoft. Once you install this little application on your computer, you can update the definition files as often as you want and can use it for free. Head here for Ad-Aware. For all of those that use Ad-Aware, there is a new 2007 version available. Very nice and cleaner to use! UPDATE: New 2008 version is great and now available, but they won't prompt you to go get it. Go to the main link site and look for the new download.
Next, some of you have older computers, some have ISP's that don't play nice with certain kinds of anti-virus software; especially McAfee. There is a very good, free anti-virus supplier online called AVG. Before installing this free anti-virus software, you need to make sure you delete any anti-virus software you still have. So the steps are:
1) Leave the one you have on your computer and download "AVG Free for Windows installation files" and save the file on your hard drive.
2) Then disconnect from the internet.
3) Then install the AVG software.
4) Connect to the internet and update the definitions and do a scan to clean your computer.
Even though I think Bill Gates is the computer god, and all must run by Windows, every once in a while they screw up their web browser so bad that you can't access web development or certain site cruising without something different. The leader of the pack is Firefox 3.1
Next, not all computers come loaded with a PDF reader. Lots of forms, applications and maps come in this format these days. Best and most reliable of them all is Adobe.
Hey for all you MSN DSL users, I bumped into a nice feature they don't advertise well enough. For those that want an alternative to Ad-Aware, MSN offers Webroot SpySweeper for free. I have been using it for a couple weeks now and it seems to work very well. I know Ad-Aware doesn't play nice with McAfee since last year so this might be a nice alternative. WebRoot is also available in your favorite "big box" stores.
Here is the simplest and most common fix for a slow computer. If you surf a lot, you collect cookies and temp pages. They stay on your computer. Think of it as going shopping. You go to the store, you buy, you put it in your trunk. Eventually you have to clean out the trunk. Open your browser; with Internet Explorer open the Internet Options and delete cookies, browsing history and temp files. On Firefox 2, there is one stop shopping.....go to Tools and click Clear Private Data.....this will clear everything out at once. Clear these files for every 7 days you browse the net.
This isn't really a fit, buy more of an online trick that I just taught Paula. It worked, much to her surprise, and I find it works on just about every item you purchase online from web based companies. Web coupons! Paula wanted a new "over the shoulder....". You know the rest of the phrase. She found the one she wanted, and before she bought it, I noticed the site had a place for promotions and coupons to be entered. I told her to go to Google and put in the name of the website and the word coupon. Much to her surprise there was an offer for 20% off her purchase. Others were for free shipping. She went back to her purchase site, put in the coupon phrase, and off came more than enough to cover the shipping plus some.