Every other week or so, FOXNews.com tries to solve your most vexing technology-related problems. Send your questions to TechQuestions@foxnews.com and we'll reply to selected ones in our next installment.
Does Your Smartphone Need Antivirus Protection?
Q: I know my home PC needs antivirus and anti-spyware programs and a firewall to surf the Internet somewhat safely. I've just gotten my first smartphone, so I have to ask: How does one surf the Internet on this phone and not catch any viruses? Or are there programs out there to protect my phone?
A: Opinion is mixed among security experts — including the ones who, just a few short years ago, were predicting real problems for mobile devices. By and large, the threat has failed to materialize, as of yet.
Not that there aren't examples in the wild, including the recent WINCE_CRYPTIC.A worm, which targets Windows-based smartphones. But such viruses are currently as rare as malware for the Mac.
That may be changing, however, according to Denise Culver, a research analyst with Unstrung Insider.
She writes: "Mobile malware security vendors are preparing for wide-scale attacks by hackers — attacks that eventually will be as headline-grabbing as those that hit e-mail systems. Their hope is that smartphone manufacturers, carriers, and enterprises — not to mention smartphone users — will not wait until the threats have reached that level before securing their mobile systems."
Among my favorite boyhood memories are trips to the North Fork of the Snake River on the opening day of fishing season in Idaho.
In addition to the beautiful scenery and the exhilarating raft ride, there was the great fishing. The trout practically jumped into the boat!
In other words, they were plentiful and easy to catch.
The same concept applies to authors of malware: They prefer targets which are plentiful and easy to attack.
The Windows operating system (in its various versions) is certainly plentiful. It's also easy to attack, as proven by tens of thousands of malware examples.
In other words, Windows systems are "ubiquitous and attractive." To those who are not talented enough to be professional programmers and have to resort to writing malicious code to get their programming jollies, Windows is currently the target of choice.
When Windows Mobile — or Apple iPhone, or Google Android — devices become "ubiquitous and attractive," they, too, will become targets for malware. Be prepared.
A Troubled Outlook
Q: Help! I am having major problems with my Microsoft Outlook Inbox and was wondering if you can help!!!
When I try to delete or send messages, this is the error that comes up:
'Errors have been detected in the file C:Documents and SettingsState Your NameLocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.pst
Quit Outlook and all mail enabled applications and then use the Inbox repair tool (scanpst.exe) to diagnose and repair.'
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
A: There's a comprehensive Knowledge Base article on the Microsoft Web site. You can see it at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/287497.
Basically, the steps consist of (1) locating and running the program — its location varies according to which version of Office is installed, and (2) creating a new Personal Folders file using the output from the Inbox Repair Tool.
In some cases, you may need to (3) recover missing items from the backup file when the recovery tool doesn't work.
You do make regular backups, right?
Q: For about 1 month now, my Outlook software has not been able to store my password, and I have to manually click send/receive to get e-mails. Then I have to enter my password each time.
At the same time, I now have to enter all user names and passwords each time I get on the sites I use in everything! Up pops up a dialogue box asking if Windows should store my password, and I say 'Yes,' but to no avail.
Can you help me? I have tried everything! My IT department has no idea what to do.
A: To make sending and receiving of e-mails automatic again, go to the Menu Bar and click on "File."
Towards the bottom of the drop-down, you will see a check mark next to "Work Offline." Remove the check by clicking on it, and Outlook will begin automatic e-mail checking once again.
If "Work Offline" wasn't checked, the problem is probably in your Send/Receive Group. Click on "Tools," choose "Send/Receive," followed by "Send/Receive Settings" and then "Define Send/Receive Groups."
In Outlook 2007, Crtl+Alt+S will get you to the same place.
Highlight "All Accounts" and make sure "Schedule an automatic send/receive every ..." is checked. You can also control how often an automatic send/receive occurs with this setting. I believe the default is every 30 minutes.
With respect to the password problem, take at look at the Knowledge Base article at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290684.
I'd try "Method 3" first, since your problem doesn't seem to be limited to Outlook. If you're uncomfortable making registry changes (or your tech people have it locked down) have them come and make the change for you.
Remind them to back up the registry before they start hacking it.
Q: I was working on the Internet when all of a sudden my mouse stopped working correctly. When I move it up, the pointer goes down. When I move the mouse to the right, the pointer goes to the left, etc. It is a wireless mouse.
Is this the Conficker worm? An April Fools joke? I cannot seem to fix it through turning the computer on and off, or by going through the control panel.
A: An April Fool's joke, probably. Mouse control is not one of the characteristics of Conficker. There are several shareware/freeware programs on the Internet which make your mouse move in the opposite direction.
If it's still a problem, you can get rid of it through the Control Panel — just choose "Add/Remove Programs" instead of "Mouse," and uninstall the offending program.
Other practical jokes involving the mouse include covering the light on the bottom of an optical mouse with the sticky part of a Post-It® Note, so that it doesn't operate at all, and the ever-popular switch of left and right buttons via the Control Panel.
My favorite hardware guy in Los Angeles prefers trackballs to mice and has been trying to convert me for a long time. I tell him that trackballs are great — I just prefer the ones with the trackball on the bottom.
Speaking of Worms
Q: I am using Microsoft Word on a Macintosh and wonder whether the Conficker worm can infect my Microsoft Word application.
Today when I had several Word documents open on my desktop, they suddenly disappeared and a screen came up asking me if I wanted Word to recover them and whether I wanted to send information of the problem to Microsoft.
This has never happened to me before and I have been using Word for years. Could I have the worm?
A: No, for two reasons. First and foremost, Conficker does not attack Macs.
Second, the behavior you describe is a feature of Word. If the program shuts down unexpectedly — and it sounds like that's exactly what happened — it attempts to recover the most recent copy of the file(s) you were working on.
This process of making temporary copies every 5 to 10 minutes (or whatever you specified after you installed Word) is called autosaving, and has saved the sanity of many a writer.
State of the DTV Conversion Report
Q: I know that you have gone into the DTV transition in the past, but I have heard a rumor that the television stations' digital signal isn't at full power until the switch is over. Is this true, or just assumptions based on the poor reception that viewers have been experiencing?
A: I know it was true before the first conversion date; I assume that it is still in some cases. There is a cost factor involved in operating both the new and the old systems simultaneously, and in this economy I'm sure this is a consideration.
The best way to know for sure is to contact the stations in your area and ask them if they are transmitting at full power. If they are, then you need to look into a better antenna.
Speaking of the transition, the DTV Transition Coalition has a nifty countdown timer running on its Web site at http://www.dtvtransition.org/.
Fifty-nine days and counting.
David in Houston writes:
In reading your Tech Q & A, you mentioned using 'Cntl+O' in Internet Explorer to be able to type in a new (Web) address without having to use the mouse. The same keyboard shortcut (putting the cursor in the URL box) is available in Firefox — 'Ctrl-L.'
Pat from Texas said, essentially, the same thing:
The most recent version of Mozilla (5.0) does have this capability, but it is 'Ctrl-L' for open location. 'Ctrl-O' opens the open file dialogue. 'Ctrl-L' does not open a dialog box, but it does move the cursor to the address bar so you do not have to touch the mouse.
Yes, you're both right, and I should have been more clear. My problem is of the "old dog/new trick" variety. I never quite remember the Firefox shortcut until it's too late and I'm looking at the "Open File" dialog box. Then I have to escape out of that and go to "Ctrl-L."
On the same subject, Jonathan (from his BlackBerry) writes:
ALT-D ... works in most browsers — in fact, I can think of three: IE, Opera, and Firefox. It's a common practice to put a mnemonic short-cut to the letter "d" for the address bar in a Web browser.
So it does. But "Ctrl-O" doesn't leave any crumbs in the address bar drop-down. That's either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on whether you care if others can tell what sites you've recently visited.
I don't really care, but simply learned "Ctrl-O" first. Like I said, old dog/new trick.
Finally, and at the risk of beating a dead horse (Quick! Call the ASPCA!) Mark writes:
Read your recent column about the network administrator complaining about how complex his job is. I've done net admin for large organizations and the military, and the key is automation. We created accounts on demand with all rights, directories, e-mail, etc. all preset for the user. If he doesn't know how to automate account management, he doesn't know his job.
Got questions about computers and technology? Send them to TechQuestions@foxnews.com and we'll answer selected ones in our next installment.
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