Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Tech Advice - Malware/Spyware prevention

The AVRL Systems Support Team is back, as promised, with the final step in protecting your computer. 

Step 4: Malware/Spyware prevention
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  With malware (aka spyware) this is especially true because there are programs out there that are so difficult to get rid of and get so deep into your operating system, you are actually better off wiping out the computer and starting fresh. 
There are many programs that can help secure your computer against potentially unwanted software.  They prevent the installation of spyware and help guard against security exploits.  While you can safely run more than one program to defend against malware, running too many could drag your system down to a crawl.  We have a few favorites that we run regularly that work well together and do not cause the computer to lag. 

Spywareblaster is a passive protection; it works by blocking the installation of certain kinds of malware.  You run the program, update it and apply protection.  That’s it, close the program and you are good to go. You do have to remember to check for and apply any updates once a week, if you would like to have this done automatically; you can purchase a key from the developers that add this function. You can watch a tutorial here

Spybot Search and Destroy is one of the oldest and most popular antispyware programs. It offers both passive protection through an “immunization” function and a scanner that will scan your hard drive and try to fix any problems it detects. Updates are released regularly and you should try to check for updates about once a week and remember to apply the immunization. 
*** When installing, make sure you read through all of the install screens and uncheck “Use system settings protection (TeaTimer)”.  TeaTimer is a good theory, but it seems to slow down the computer and you get way too many pop-ups asking about changes to really be effective.

Malwarebytes is what we reach for when nothing else works.  The free version is an on demand scanner which means that you have to manually update and scan your computer.  You can also subscribe to the paid version that provides real time protection and the ability to perform scheduled scans. Its’ scanning engine, though a bit slow, can detect and repair almost any threat it encounters. Here's your video tutorial.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Salute to AVRL’s Weight Lifter!

Through wind, rain, sleet, snow, and muggy summer days, Kurt is the courier who delivers your requested books to your home branch library for pick-up.    All up and down the valley, library staff are pulling items from shelves and rerouting them to other destinations.   They are packed in boxes, awaiting Kurt’s dissemination of them to the people who are planning their vacations, remodeling their kitchens, installing a solar panel, sharing good times with their children, or just waiting to read the latest book by their favourite author.    

Kurt departs from the Administration Office in Bridgetown and delivers and picks up 4 days a week at our 11 locations from Windsor to Annapolis Royal.    One of those days is dedicated to what we call ‘collection exchange’.  Those are items that are being traded among the locations, not to fill specific requests, but to refresh the collections, so that everyone sees a good variety of what the library has to offer.   It’s a 7 hour mission each day, with approximately 70 boxes both going and coming.   By our calculations, that’s an average of 1270 kilograms or 2800 pounds lifted at least once on each delivery day!  Much more than that if you consider how many times each box is moved (loading the van, stacking them on the dolly for unloading, and depositing them inside each of the libraries)!

Consequently, Kurt is quite a trim fellow who doesn’t require a gym membership.  (It helps that, being on the road, he misses the office potlucks and the many birthday cakes.)  

Kurt’s 12 years of adventures with AVRL have included flat tires, assisting at accident scenes, a minor fender bender or two, unintended security alarm breeches, and a variety of other experiences, both good and bad.   Aside from travelling with the usual books and DVDs, he’s also been accompanied by some odd storytime props and, recently, Harry Potter characters Dumbledore and Ron Weasley (stand-up cut-outs).  Kurt has worked as a clerk and substitute behind the library circulation desk, so has had the privilege of seeing the other side of the workload and knows how appreciative the public can be at receiving their much-sought-after reading material.  

When Kurt takes his vacation, do other staff scramble to fill his shoes?  Well sometimes, yes, actually, but the novelty wears off pretty fast due to the aforementioned 1270 kg per day and a couple of days of teeming-down rain.   On the plus side, by the end of his vacation, he may well be considered the most valued employee on staff. 

So, if you see a white library van with the words Driven to Read on the side, please give a nod to Kurt, AVRL’s much-appreciated weight lifter and courier of precious cargo.

Wendy Trimper
Head of Branch Services

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tech Advice - Web Browsers

Our own AVRL Systems Support Team (we call them our computer gurus) has some advice to share:

Step 3:  Web Browsers
One of the most important ways to keep you computer free of spyware is to be careful what you click on.  Almost every webpage has some kind of advertising on it and not all of it is innocent.  You can actually block a lot of the advertising simply by using a different web browser and using an “add-on” that prevents the ads from being displayed.

Firefox  is an open source web browser that has been developed and refined over the last 10 years and has slowly been taking some of the market share away from Internet Explorer (big blue E on your desktop) All you need to do is download it and install the Adblock Plus add-on and you can say good bye to many of the ads you see while surfing. 

Chrome  is the new kid on the block. It was introduced by Google in 2008 and has become very popular because of its speed and minimalist look.  It has also introduced the Chrome web store where you can download “apps for the web” that will work inside the Chrome browser.

AdBlock Plus is a small program that can be integrated into the Firefox and Chrome web browsers.  It works by blocking advertisements at their source; preventing them from appearing on the page you are viewing. 

Come back next Wednesday for the final installment on how to protect  your computer!