March 31, 2004
Looking a Gift Computer in the Mouth

Budgets are tight. We're all looking for ways to provide our offices with the things we need to do our jobs. So, when someone comes along and offers us computers for our office--a little used, but still works fine, they say--it's pretty tempting to accept them. Often, though, it's a gift with a steep price tag.

As tempting as 'free' computers might be, here are some critical things to think about when someone offers them to you:

1. Why are they getting rid of these computers?
Companies, non-profits, and other organizations, just like Extension offices, use computers every day for every staff person that they have. They, like Extension, are trying to stretch their budgets, make things last, use their resources as efficiently as possible. Like Extension, most organizations buy new computers for those staff who use computers most heavily and pass the replaced computers along to someone else who may not need a machine that's as fast or may not need it as often. When they give computers away, it means they no longer meet the needs of even their most minimum computer user. Extension offices use computers at as high a level as any other organization. If the computers won't work for the organization that's giving them away, they almost certainly won't work for Extension offices either.

2. Do they meet university support standards?
Computers must meet university support standards to be setup or repaired by the Extension Information Technology service. This means not only do they need to meet support standards when they're initially setup, they must continue to meet the support standards at the time they need the repair or troubleshooting assistance.

ISU Support Standards as of September 1, 2004 will be:

  • Pentium III
  • 256 MB of memory (and more memory is strongly recommended)
  • Windows 2000 or Windows XP Pro operation system

Sometimes older computers can be upgraded to meet the university support standards, however, this will be an additional investment in an older computer, which (since it's already been heavily used for several years) may not be a performing computer for very long.

3. Have you considered the cost of ownership?
Older computers are no longer under warranty so any hardware repairs will cost you money. In addition, repairs to older computers--hard drives, memory, CD drives, etc. will be more expensive than the same repair to a newer computer. Old parts that fewer people want cost more. Older computers will be more likely to need repair so at some point you will either be spending more money on that computer or it will no longer be repairable--and often this moment will come without warning and when you're least prepared to handle it.

In addition, old machines:

  • may not be repairable,
  • may not be able to use supported applications,
  • may not have adequate security and other protections
  • may not be able to run collaborative network applications which will be increasingly important for all aspects of work

It's daunting sometimes to consider the cost of replacing the computers in your office, but as computers continue to be critical to day-to-day operations, it remains important to budget for and obtain machines that can be a help and not a hindrance to your office and your productivity.

Posted by dcoates at 03:13 PM
March 23, 2004
Office 2003 and Windows 2000

If you're going to install Office 2003 on a Windows 2000 computer, you will need to install Windows Service Pack 4 before upgrading. This Service pack is available on the latest Scout CD (with the date March, 2004 on the CD; sent in the March 5, 2004 transmittal packet).

To access the service pack, insert the CD (do not run Scout); open the folder labeled 'Other'; open the folder labeled 'Win2000 SP4.' Double-click on the file, W2KSP4_EN.EXE

You must be logged in as Administrator to do this.

To tell if you need to upgrade to Service Pack 4, on a Windows 2000 machine:

  • Right-click on the 'My Computer' icon on the desktop.
  • Select Properties.
  • Under the General tab, it should tell you the operating system and the latest service pack installed (if it doesn't list any service packs, you have none installed).

Once you've installed Service Pack 4, you can upgrade to Office 2003.

Any time you are upgrading or installing programs, it's a good idea to have an up-to-date backup of all your important files.

Posted by dcoates at 08:46 AM
March 10, 2004
Don't get hijacked!

Over the past few months we've noticed an increase in calls to the Computer Support Hotline about spyware unknowingly installed on computers and about unwelcome popups when using a web browser.

If you notice that your homepage has changed and that you are now receiving massive amounts of popups, you may have been hijacked.

Browser hijacking can occur when you visit a web site and it resets your homepage to one other than the one you specified originally. Sometimes the Windows registry is also changed so that you can't change your homepage back.

To reclaim your computer and browser, we recommend using Ad-Aware. The program searches your computer for spyware and any other malware that could potentially hijack your internet browser.

Make sure that the first time you run the program that you update it. Click on the globe icon, then click on 'Connect'. This will ensure that Ad-Aware can detect all the latest spyware programs out there.

If you have questions about spyware or how and when to use Ad-Aware, call the Computer Support Hotline at (515) 294-1725.

Links in this article:
Spyware:
http://www.ait.iastate.edu/showitem.php?id=123

Ad-Aware Download: http://download.com.com/3000-2144-10045910.html?part=69274&subj=dlpage&tag=button

Posted by at 10:44 AM
March 08, 2004
Yet another virus update

Over the last hour or so, many of you have probably been receiving messages that resemble this:

Here is the file

[icon] yourdocuments.pif

These are virus-laden attachments, do not open them.

I would expect that shortly the E500 virus detectors on the mail server on campus will start detecting these viruses and you'll receive some email messages with a subject that starts with 'Virus detected and cleaned' Following that VirusScan Enterprise 7 will be updated and you can right-click on the V-Shield, select 'Update Now' and then select 'On-Demand Scan' to be sure all the virus attachments have been deleted.

A couple of things to remember:

In most cases, you won't become infected if you haven't clicked on the attachment in the email. Only that attachment will contain the virus and once you've deleted that, you're finished.

There are a huge number of virus variation being produced and sent out 'into the wild' these days. The high volume means that we're even more likely to see viruses temporarily getting through the E-500 email virus protection and VirusScan.

Posted by dcoates at 03:53 PM
All Viruses, All the Time...W32.Sober.D@mm

W32/Sober.d@MM is yet another mass-mailing virus. It comes as an email attachment with either a .EXE or .ZIP extension. The email message itself (in either English or German) resembles the following:

(English version)
New MyDoom Virus Variant Detected!
A new variant of the W32.Mydoom (W32.Novarg) worm spread rapidly through the Internet. Anti-virus vendor Central Command claims that 1 in 45 e-mails contains the MyDoom virus. The worm also has a backdoor Trojan capability. By default, the Trojan component listens on port 13468.

Protection:<

Please download this digitally signed attachment.

This Update includes the functionality of previously released patches.

+++

+++ One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052

+++ Restricted Rights at 48 CFR 52.227-19 com

As always, don't open attachments you're not expecting. Microsoft has issued a statement that they will never ship patches in email; there will always be a link to any patch, and that link will point to an explanatory Web page rather than the patch itself.

Posted by dcoates at 01:50 PM