Archive for March, 2006

Baseball Rules!

March 23, 2006

So, some of you probably already know this but if not, I just had to tell each and every one of you that the sport of baseball is the greatest thing on this here earth. It was the first sport I ever played. The first sport I ever watched as a youngster (remember them Hawaii Islanders at Aloha Stadium and Atlanta Braves on TBS?). The first sport I ever loved.

It’s a true team sport. There’s no one guy that can dominate a game. Anyone can make an individual impact in basketball, hockey and even football to a certain degree, but baseball calls for each player to trust and and have faith and depend on one another to have team success. The Yankees crack me up with their ridiculous payroll and lack of recent championships. I root against them every year just because of that. I just love it when a team with a smaller market wins because of the love of the game, not money.

It’s the only sport that I get really excited to watch, especially live. I have a few dreams/goals when it comes to baseball. I’d like to one day watch a Red Sox game from the bleachers in the Green Monster at Fenway Park. I’d also like to visit Cooperstown (Hall of Fame). Going to a game at the hallowed Yankee Stadium would be cool too, just because of the history of that joint (Babe Ruth played there for pete’s sake!). Playing for a professional team used to be a dream of mine too, but I’ve come to grips with that one already. I’m too old now. Hehe!

Recently, the motherland of Japan won the World Baseball Classic over Cuba (or as they like to say “Cuwa”… don’t ask me why). I was not only excited that Japan won, but in the fashion that they won. They fought and fought and fought and then made a statement and dominated. Nobody gave them any credit. They were too small, they were too weak, they can’t compete with the power of the US or Dominican Republic team. Pshaw! Baseball is HUGE in Japan! Hopefully the world will start to see just a glimpse of what kind of great athletes they (we?) have. Don’t make me mention sumo!

I called my dad after the game and asked him if he cried. He laughed and admitted that he did. I was laughing but touched at the same time. I hope I’ll be able to make him that proud one day…

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The Importance of Microsoft Update

March 1, 2006

[Editor’s note: The following column is meant for Windows users. Though written for newer computers, it can also apply for most older computers. Results may vary.]

In true geek fashion, I’m following up last month’s oh so chic computer firewall column with yet another nerdfest of a piece. I swear I’ll break out into a fun column one of these days, but right now, my spidey senses tell me that you and your computer still need me.

OK, so last month we laid the foundation of your computer’s security by installing the software firewall solution called ZoneAlarm. As I mentioned, this is just the first of many layers to protect your electronic beaut. We still need to get you hooked-up with anti-virus and anti-spyware protection and install all of the Microsoft Update patches.

Note: Road Runner customers who remain unprotected, can choose to use the EZ Armor Security Suite (FREE to RR customers), which includes anti-virus and anti-spyware components. I can’t emphasize how important Anti-Virus software is, so if you don’t have any virus protection software, I highly recommend loading this.

This month, we’re going to cover the importance of Microsoft Update and what it means to you Microsoft users. (Sorry Mac community. BTW, if you’re a expert in the world of Macs and want to be featured as a columnist, I’m listening).

So a lot of you are probably like what is this Microsoft Update you speak so highly of oh wise one right? Well, it’s pretty much what the name implies. It’s a web site that helps you update your Microsoft products, including Windows and Office products. There was once a time when this “service” was called WindowsUpdate, with a separate update site for Office products, but they have intelligently combined the two creating what we now know as Microsoft Update. Any patches, service packs, critical updates, etc. will all be found here for your viewing and loading pleasure, and, because of the propensity of Windows to hackers, loading anything you find here is a must.

So let’s get crackin’!

Perhaps you’ve already seen that little yellow shield (with the exclamation point) in your taskbar and wondered what it was? Well, that’s Microsoft Update trying to tell you that you’ve been slacking in the update department and to get on it. Thank goodness for Bruddah Ed to help you get out of that funk right? (! – New Windows XP systems comes with what’s known as Automatic Updates installed – more on that below – but since it’s been a while that your computer has been updated, let’s get movin’!)

The Importance of Microsoft Update

So here we go…

1) Open your Internet Explorer web browser

2) Click on the Tools menu and select Windows Update (Tools –> Windows Update) or go directly to update.microsoft.com.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

3) You will be redirected to the Microsoft Update site where your browser settings will be checked to see if you have the latest version of Windows updating software loaded to use the MU site. Yes, strange that you need to load software to load software, but that’s just the way it is… Stick with me…

The Importance of Microsoft Update

4) If you do not have the updating software loaded (which uses ActiveX), that familiar yellow info bar at the top of your browser will show up. Go ahead and click on it to load the software (! – Only do this with trusted programs/sites). If you are unfamiliar with what the info bar is, click here.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

5) At this point, you may be asked to load certain Windows components, which may include the Windows Validation Tool. This helps to validate your copy of Microsoft Windows before offering the updates, so as long as you are using a legal copy of Microsoft Windows, you’ll be fine. If not, you’ll only be able to update other Microsoft products.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

6) Once you’ve gone through all the preliminary updates and validation processes, you’ll come to a screen like the one below.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

Alas! You’ve made it… Well, not quite. All of the merriment above was there only because you’ve been a bad boy or girl and have probably never visited this site before. But now that you have, and you’ve gotten yourself to this point, you can join the rest of us bookworms and continue on below (the next time you visit Microsoft Update, you’ll shoot directly to the Welcome screen).

7) For simplicity’s sake, we’ll click on the Express button. This will search your Microsoft products to see if you need to load any of the critical/high-priority updates. Depending upon how long it’s been since your computer’s last update, this may take a few minutes.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

8) If it finds any high-priority or critical updates, it will display them in a list. You can click on the plus sign next to each one to get more details, but for our sake, we just want to hurry and click on the Install Updates button.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

9) Well, what are you waiting for? Did you click the Install Updates button yet? Once you stop dillydallying 😛 , you will see an Installing Updates window come up, giving you a status report on what’s going on. It will download any and all updates in steps and then install them in steps. The screens below (in my particular example) shows the downloading and installing of an important service pack for the Microsoft .NET Framework.

The Importance of Microsoft Update
The Importance of Microsoft Update

10) At some point through this process, you may be greeted by our friendly neighborhood ZoneAlarm Security Alert. Give yourself (and me!) two kudos if so because that means your ZoneAlarm installation from last month’s column is working like a charm. If you look up “msiexec.exe” in the site examples I gave you last month (processlibrary.com, liutilities.com or neuber.com), you’ll see that it’s safe to allow this program to access the Internet, so we’ll go ahead and do that. (! – Only do this with trusted programs).

The Importance of Microsoft Update

11) Depending on the type of update, you may be asked to restart your computer, so let’s do what the man says and I’ll see you when we get back. (! – Be sure to save all of your documents before pressing the Restart Now button)

The Importance of Microsoft Update

Upon your return from reboot, you may think that you are king of the world. Not so fast there Jack. We may not be completely pau with our updates from Microsoft. Oftentimes, updates require prior updates to be installed before loading another, so let’s revisit Microsoft Update this instant.

12) Well lookee here… In my example, there is, in fact an additional update to load after coming back from a reboot. Let’s go through this business again (see steps 7-11 for help) and see what happens.

The Importance of Microsoft Update
The Importance of Microsoft Update

13) You will continue this search–> download–> install–> reboot process until you return to Microsoft Update and don’t find any more updates to install.

Remember that welcome screen that had the Express and Custom buttons? Well, if you go the Custom route, you’ll be offered other non-critical updates and patches. You can load those at your leisure if you wish, but it’s not as important as the High-priority ones we successfully just went through.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

Note: In February, 2006, Microsoft released a downloadable Security and Critical Releases ISO Image (CD). Read the Knowledge Base article for more information and updated links.

And that’s it! You’re all patched up and good to go champ!… For now, that is! And, because you’re such a wise and diligent young Jedi, you will use the force and visit Microsoft Update regularly from now on yes? Microsoft adds updates as they make ’em so it behooves you to check back often to make sure your software is up to date. If, by chance, you suffer from fatal short term memory, you can have your computer automatically do it for you. Let’s look into how to make that magic happen for you.

1) Go to your desktop, right click on My Computer and select Properties.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

(Alternately, you can get to your Automatic Update settings from Security Center in your Control Panel)

The Importance of Microsoft Update

2) In the System Properties window, click on the Automatic Updates tab. In here, you can adjust the time and regularity that your computer will check for updates and install them. I recommend setting it to Automatic. You can adjust the regularity (Every day or given day of the week) and at what time (hour of the day). If you leave your computer on 24/7, I would suggest setting the time at an hour when you’re probably not going to be on the computer. (! – Be forewarned that if reboots are necessary to complete the process, Automatic Updates will automatically restart your computer for you. In other words, if you have any opened and/or unsaved documents that you don’t want to lose, save them before you leave). If you’re the type to turn your computer off and on, then you’ll want to set the time at an hour when your computer is actually on, though you’ll have to keep in mind that Automatic Updates may be doing its thang in the background as you’re doing your thang.

The Importance of Microsoft Update

3) Some of you are control freaks and prefer a little more command over your computer’s activities. In this case, you can select one of the other options. If you do, you’ll get the Windows Update icon in your taskbar from time to time to tell you that there are updates to either download or install (depending on your settings). (! – Be forewarned that if you don’t select Automatic, you may miss or be late on some updates that will compromise the security of your computer).

The Importance of Microsoft Update

And there you have it. Another successful session from sensei Ed on learning how to keep your computer safe and secure. Before long, you won’t need me. You’ll be treating me like you did your parents when you were in your teens. You’ll pout, throw a fit, want nothing to do with me and attempt to do everything yourself and I’ll be temporarily inconsolable. That’s good, but, like any other great parent, I’ll lovingly be here for you – with open arms – whenever you’re ready to come back. Cause we all know you’ll be back. 😉

All kidding aside, congratulate yourself. Your computer should now be protected with a firewall solution in ZoneAlarm and is all patched up thanks to Microsoft Update. As mentioned before, an anti-virus program is equally as important so load that up as soon as you can.

The next level of protection is anti-spyware programs, which I’ll eventually cover in the coming months. With all the nerdy computer talk however, I’ve been getting a heightened case of cabin fever, waking up in cold sweats and breaking out in hives… so I think I need to make like Swing Out Sister and break out. Look for a fun column from yours truly next month. Until then…

Happy Surfing!
-Ed.