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Issue #232: January 1, 2012

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Happy New Year, Geeks!!! Here’s to another year of bringing you the tech answers to your questions, concerns, computer problems. You keep asking questions, and I’ll keep researching and responding. Please remember that the criteria that will help get your question get published are: 1) The answer would be of interest to a lot of people, 2) Your question includes a complete description of your issue, including error message text, and all applicable system configuration information (such computer model, Operating System version, amount of RAM, size of hard drive, etc).

Q: Just a simple question, when I go on line and try to download a program (Photo shop or Gimp from CNET) before I install it I get a warning message from AVG that says something like “THIS PROGRAM MAY HARM YOUR COMPUTER”. Are these warnings for real? The reviews I read are always very positive. Should I install any way???? My OS is “Windows 7”

P.S. Very nice lights!!! My grand kids can’t get enough of them.

– Armando O.
Niceville, Florida

A: First of all, Armando thanks for the compliment on the lights. There are still a couple of days left to see the lights, so bring those grandkids back out, and experience the magic one more time. We here at Geek Central have had a great time during this 4th season of the Geek Lights on the Corner, and as always, I’ve enjoyed meeting so many people, and seeing the reactions of children and adults alike as they experience the show. God willing, we will be back next year with even more eye candy to surprise and delight. Now, on to your question. The scary warning message that AVG is presenting to you is not referring to the specific program that you are downloading. In fact, except for Internet marketers tracking your online activity for the purposes of targeting advertising to your interests, most software pays little attention to what you are looking at or downloading. The message would be much more meaningful if it said something like “Any program downloaded from the Internet has the potential to harm your computer.”
That’s no joke – downloading ANY software from the internet is risky – particularly if you don’t know and trust the source of the download. Don’t look at it as a judgment on one particular download, but rather as a caution to double-check your source, and know what you’re downloading. If you’re sticking with well-known sources like CNet, and downloading well-established and known programs like GIMP, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just remember that any time you are installing new software you are changing your computer’s configuration, and that is something that should never be done in haste.

Q: I have a Gateway with 4 GB’s of hard drive and 500 GB’s of memory, since the laptop has been set up with information transferred from my 5 year old Toshiba, the laptop freezes on me, my mouse and keyboard stop working until whatever function is happening that I don’t always see, is done I could be reading an Internet article, or receiving an email. It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 or more minutes. I contacted Gateway, I was told to remove the battery and re-install, I did remove the battery as instructed by Gateway, but this had no effect on my freezing problem, do you know what is causing this and how can I get it resolved.

– Sharyn R.
Destin, Florida

A: There is no way for me to know exactly what is running on your computer that might be causing this problem, Sharyn, but Gateway’s battery solution sounds like a lot of nonsense to me. This problem could be symptomatic of a malware infection, so you could start by doing a thorough scan of your system. I’ve seen such behavior when an installed peripheral such as a printer is unavailable – particularly over the network. The system has to wait for a network timeout to occur before continuing, and that is generally around 30 seconds. The same might happen if you have network drive letters assigned, and the network device is unavailable. If there are multiple unavailable resources, you will be waiting for the timeouts to occur one after another, which can easily add up to a few minutes, as you are describing. Just for the record, you probably have 500 GB of hard drive space, and 4 GB of memory, not the other way around.

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