Questions and answers to fill your computer Christmas list

Lots of people are talking about the best of the holiday season already and with Christmas edging closer here we are talking about lots of computer goodies under the tree.

Lots of people are talking about the best of the holiday season already and with Christmas edging closer here we are talking about lots of computer goodies under the tree.

For many people that will mean a Windows 7 computer, which will mean a run to the bookstore for the next series of “Dummies” books on how to actually use the thing.

But this week’s reader mail will answer some new questions of a consumer-y nature.

Q. You have mentioned in the past that Microsoft Office may not be the best buy for an office suite.

However I use Office at work and I am not sure I want to really re-learn anything else.

However, I am not down for the huge retail price tag. Can I use the free downloaded version on the Microsoft website?

A. That is a beta of Office 2010, which you are welcome to use, of course, but do know it will expire at the end of the beta period.

(Also know that being beta software, you will run into unfinished things, some bugs and you are not entitled to any support.)

You probably know about OpenOffice.org, the free office suite that you can download and use for nothing.

The most cost-effective way of getting the real Microsoft Office is to (legally) obtain the academic version, which you are allowed to do if you have a student in your home. This version is readily available at college bookstores, some retail outlets and on eBay.

Q. You mentioned a free anti-virus product from Microsoft in a previous column but I am having a hard time finding it. Is it just as good as the commercial products? Why is it free?

A. If you go to the Microsoft website and look for Microsoft Security Essentials you will find the new free anti-virus and anti-spyware suite. It is free for non-commercial users and yes, I would say as an anti-virus product it is just as effective as most commercial products. (Testing labs will show variations in all products, of course.)

Microsoft is giving it away for a couple of reasons; one, to increase the security of Windows, which has been taking a beating lately in comparison to Apple’s OS X, and two, because few users signed up for its paid OneCare product and it had the thing sitting there anyway.

Q. If I live in a rural area (on a farm) and I don’t have neighbors anywhere near me do I need to turn on wireless security on my router?

I thought not but my son said I should anyway but I thought it would slow everything down.

A. You don’t have to if security is not a concern for you.

If you notice a bunch of farmers in combines parked on your land using laptops, you might.

Q. What anti-virus product works with Windows 7? Is there one built in?

A. There is not one built-in because of anti-trust concerns from the various governments of the developed countries of the world but I would download and use Microsoft Security Essentials (mentioned above.)

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is jim@cyberdads.com

Just Posted

UPDATED: Officials tour Hwy 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman and local MLAs visit construction site

Bike thefts becoming ‘significant problem’ in Red Deer

Residents are sounding the alarm on the growing problem of bike theft… Continue reading

Red Deer approves 10 cannabis retail stores

Locations approved around the city

One trillion litres of sewage leaked into lakes and rivers over last five years

OTTAWA — Last Wednesday, a team of people from the Lake Ontario… Continue reading

Woman bitten at Red Deer dog park

Dog owners reminded to control their pets

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Fallen officers’ families gather with Justin Trudeau after tragedy

The prime minister laid flowers at the growing memorial to the four victims of Friday’s violence

Fallen officers’ families gather with prime minister after tragedy

FREDERICTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with families of fallen Fredericton… Continue reading

Liberals showcase benefits of billions spent on infrastructure projects

OTTAWA — Little more than a year before the next federal election,… Continue reading

Fredericton parade ‘a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief’: mayor

FREDERICTON — Two days after four people were gunned down in a… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month