Home/Things you should know
It is essentially a replacement for a floppy disk. It has several known aliases and through the joy we know as marketing (planned confusion) we are sure there will be more. Some of the more common AKA's are: pendrive (sometimes in the shape of a "pen" sometimes not), flash drive (not a flashlight), thumb drive (doesn't look like a thumb), jump drive (doesn't jump), and trademarked names like Cruzer, DataTraveler, Disgo, Micro Vault, ThumbDrive, and TravelDrive. Weirdly, while they have a good thing going, the industry wants to unify the name to "USB flash drive" or UFD. Right, one more acronym to remember and confuse the public further. The reason they use the word flash is because that's actually the type of memory used. However, some of them flash while accessed, some of them don't and who cares? Why not call them PUDS (portable USB devices)? See, we can play this game to. Tell your friends " hey, all my data is on my PUD"! We might trademark "digistick" and "memfinger" and "MyThumb" and finally "WhereMyData".
Seriously folks, these things are handy, hardy and convenient. They can store and launch programs, as well as store data (MP3's and resumes) and passwords and be password protected. If you want to print pictures of Aunt May and the cousins at the local Target, it's almost a must. Now remember, when using somebody elses PUD (USB flash drive) go to My Computer (not mine yours) and right click on the letter associated with that PUD (not a:, b:, c: or d:). Then click on "scan selected files with (your virus software)". This is a safe practice.
Service packs and updates are your first line of defense. Microsoft's Service pack 3 for Windows XP has been available for awhile now. The easiest way to get it is to click Start>All Programs>Windows Update which will open a new window. Then click the express button and just follow through. This download may take a while but I highly recommend it.
I started by opening my web browser and going to a search engine (Google, yahoo, msn) whatever and typed in "firefox" (this is the most common alternative for IE7). The link you are looking for is here off of www.mozilla.com, which is the organization that provides firefox. However you get there, simply click on "download firefox - free". Other browsers are: Opera, Chrome from Google and Safari from Apple. These are all free. After downloading your choice you go through an install process which asks you two questions: whether or not to import bookmarks (favorites) and to choose one browser over the other as your default vehicle to view the Internet. It's best to leave IE7 as your default and importing bookmarks does not change anything from one choice or the other. When you want to use your new browser of choice, it will ask you the question about being the default browser again. If you don't want to be bothered you can safely stop this behavior by checking the appropriate box. You can always change it later. There's more info at Browsing Browsers.
First, locate a program that you want. Let's use Spybot Search and Destroy from the Kiss List. Locate the file in question, which in this case is located on one of many mirrors. A mirror is merely an alternative site to download from. Next, click on the link and select save file. Note the location that you save the file to, such as my downloads, desktop, My documents or a lot of times wherever you saved the last file to. If you don't know what your doing and if your on this site you must not, then write down the file name. After it's done if you don't know where it is Click Start>Run and type the filename into the box. If you know where the file is, double click it and this starts the installation.
Short Answer: An alternative site to download files from the internet.
Long answer: Many programs that are offered for free are distributed using this method to spread the cost of hosting sites for downloading files. When clicking on a file hosted on a mirror you are re - directed to the mirror site. From this site, usually after another click your file starts downloading. This could be called bandwidth sharing. If the file is popular (say 100,000 downloads a day) this could be expensive and since it's free there's no way to recoup the costs. Shared among 10 mirrors the load is reduced and everybody's happy. Now, realize that the mirrored sites are not acting out of some type of altruism. While you search for your link they have your eyeballs (advertisements) and maybe you'll click on the wrong thing or something else. This is crucial. The internet is built on clicks, Google has made millions from them and you should know when you click, it counts. Any site, ours included, stands to make money if ads are clicked or even viewed. This is not on a level of a dollar or more but cents or tenths of cents. But it can add up, so remember, your click is like a vote, use it wisely.
I hear complaints about this all the time. "Jim, my computers to slow". Is the problem your computer slowing down as they do the longer you own them and install more things them. Or, since it seems that the biggest activity involving computers today is using the internet maybe it's your I.S.P. Click here to go to DSLReports and find out.
One thing to keep in mind. There's a difference between the cd/dvd that you buy in a store and the one you burned yourself or bought from some guy's trunk. Store bought cds/dvds are more durable to a point. They have a coating on the top that burnable cds/dvds don't. If you run your fingers across the top of them you can feel a difference. If you use cds/dvds to archive pictures or music or other data, don't use a rub a dub or other normal marker to make notes on them. The reason is, over time, the experts feel there could be a interaction between the marker and the coating on the surface of the cd/dvd. So, go to your local office supply store and buy markers that say "safe for optical media". One more thing. They make and sell shredders for cds/dvds. Hmmmmm. Why? Well, that one time you drop the new movie and it hits the coffee table, you're talking coaster. Us, we take it, rub out the scratch with toothpaste and play it. Simply using the bend and snap routine will not make a piece of optical media unreadable. Read This. Hence, the shredders. Be careful what you burn to disk. If you burn Uncle Guido's football receipts from a winning year, and the feds get them, he may want to rub you out with more than toothpaste. Kapisch?
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