Helping others helps you and other parting words of advice

It has been six years since I began writing this column. During that time, I have had the pleasure of interacting with many of you outside the confines of this page. In fact, there were times when so many of you responded, I had a very difficult time keeping up! I have to say I loved every minute of it.

You see, in helping others I was able to better myself. I think that is universally true. No one can know everything, and that’s especially true in the technological world. In answering your questions, I was able to stretch my own abilities and expand upon my knowledge base. I’ve always been a bit of a technophile—I expect that will always remain true.

But now the time has come to move on to other endeavors. Right around two years ago, I accepted a job as the General Manager of Clay Electric Co-operative, Inc. in Flora. You may have noticed the update in the little picture at the bottom of the page. Prior to that change, I worked directly for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives that publishes Illinois Country Living magazine. It’s a hard thing to give up this column, and the interaction that goes along with it.

For the sake of my new cooperative family, I must do so.

Don’t worry though! There is a replacement in mind for you. I believe he will be introducing himself next month, and I have every confidence in his ability to answer your questions while providing good insights into upcoming technology issues and trends.

If you would indulge me though, I would like to leave you with a few parting words of advice:

Most of the time, the operating system you choose has very little impact upon your home use of your computer. I’m sorry to say it, but for those who self-describe themselves as “Apple people” or “Microsoft people,” the gap has pretty much closed. Of course, there are some minor exceptions, and the business world is an altogether different beast, but for home users just choose whichever one you feel most comfortable using. You’ll find these days you can pretty much get what you want done with either platform. So remember, it’s about you the user. The rest will fall in line.

While anti-virus software is important will not keep your computer completely safe. That’s a terrible thing to write isn’t it? Probably one of the biggest misconceptions out there is that having an anti-virus suite installed on your computer will prevent you from getting infected, and even take care of any infection you happen to get. The fact is, these programs only prevent against “known threats.” That means there is an inherent lag in protection against new viruses and malware. And, even worse, if you don’t keep updated, that lag gets larger and larger. So, for the most part keeping your computer safe is going to require a bit of savvy on your part. That brings me to my last point.

Don’t click random things! When you receive an e-mail, instead of clicking the link sent to you, just do a quick search online for some of the keywords in the link. More often than not, you’re going to see others have already posted something about the site in question. If you receive something from your bank, don’t use the link provided! Just go to your bank’s website like you normally would. Be smart about how and what you are doing online. The basis of almost every scam out there lies in the burgeoning ease with which we have come to expect to use technology. Take a moment and go about things just a little differently. You will not regret it. I assure you!

There are so many more words of advice I could offer, but I am going to leave those for the next guy. It has been a pleasure helping you all of these years.

Sincerely – Ed