(January 1st, 1999)
After taking a close look at the services we delivered in 1998, here is a list of suggestions to help make 1999 a hassle-free computer year: Inevitably, the Y2K issue has to be taken into consideration this year. While I am not convinced that the Year 2000 bug is more than a minor inconvenience to the average user, the rabid media attention forces me to include my own somber viewpoint on this terribly serious and potentially cataclysmic portent of the impending end times.
#1 BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!Let’s face it, nowadays computers are cheap. If your computer blew up tomorrow (a result of the Y2K demon, of course) you could afford to replace the darned thing. But what about your information? How much would it cost to replace your accounting, client database or investment records?
A good tape backup is still under $150. The Iomega “Zip” drives can put all of your valuable data onto an oversized floppy disk in a matter of minutes. It is an excellent alternative to tape backups for individual or small business users, and an internal Zip drive is under $100.
Frankly, if you don’t have a working backup system and use it regularly, you are flying without a net. And when the Y2K evils cause every known computer to burst into spontaneous combustion, you’ll be glad the important stuff is on tape and stored safely next to your stash of gold coins.
#2 AWAY, FOUL VIRUS!Scanning for viruses is a must. But for your virus scanner to work, you must:
1 Scan often (at least weekly)
2 Update the virus list
Virus scanning is an inexpensive and absolutely essential aspect of computer use. Companies such as Network Associates (McAfee) and Symantec (Norton) have superior virus scanners for under $100. The latest versions have automatic updating over the internet, which is a Godsend.
Every month, over 100 new viruses are created and sent out all over the world. Your virus scanner is only as useful as it is up-to-date. If you are on the internet, or use floppy disks, you must scan your computer regularly. It really can happen to you, and (unlike the Apocalyptic Horseman of Y2K) you can easily protect yourself. Don’t skimp on virus scanning!
#3 RESCUE ME!The truth about computer hardware is that it’s not a matter of “if” components will need to be replaced - it’s a matter of “when”. With today's computers, “obsolescence” is almost as inevitable as death, taxes and Y2K over-hype.
Would you like to know how to reduce the time (and cost) of hardware work on your computer by about 50%? Mark “RESCUE” on a medium-sized box and store all of your hardware manuals, disks and CDs in it. Put this “Rescue Kit” in a safe place, near your computer and put new information into it every time you change a piece of hardware. The time and energy saved by having all of your information and hardware drivers readily available is remarkable. At least once this year, you’ll thank me for this one.
It’s a good idea to put a recent backup tape into your Rescue Kit as well. Food rations for the Y2K disaster should be kept in a separate box.
#4 OK, OK, Y2KDid I mention that there is a little problem with computers and the turn of the millennium? You might have heard about it. War, Death, Famine, Pestilence and Y2K. Kindred Souls, one and all.
All kidding aside, I am advising you to have your computers checked out to ensure that there are no surprises as this year progresses. Most common Y2K flaws can be resolved quickly, and painlessly. Total economic collapse, mass hysteria and social de-evolution may take a little longer to fix.
Happy New Year!!
(January 1, 1999)
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