A Reader Speaks Out!
Information Avenue & InfoAve Premium Edition
-August 13, 2004
Submitted by Cloudeight
Dear Readers of Cloudeight
In the August 9 issue there was a reference made to a reader who wrote in and stated,
So, who cares if someone tracks my browsing habits and sells this information to
advertisers. I get a cool little smiley program free
Well, I care. Why? Because I get paid to fix computers for these people. That cool little
smiley program isnt free. It comes with a price. Ive been on computers since
1963 and will not label myself as an expert, because I dont know it all and never
will. And, I too, still screw up on occasion. This is what happened to me recently because
I wasnt paying attention to what I was doing.
I hit the yes, button instead of saying, no, to installing a
program that came onto my screen while surfing. That little sucker installed so fast, it
made my head spin. Fortunately, I have enough experience to know what to do when one
suddenly goes brain dead and puts their computer in jeopardy.
The first thing that happened was Zone Alarm alerted me to the fact that a program that
Id never heard of was trying to access the Internet. I denied the access. Then
another program tried and another. In all, about four different spyware programs had found
a home. It took me half a day to evict them. Forget the uninstall programs that came with
them. They didnt work. These programs were imbedded deep within my system. They all
wanted to hijack my homepage, which they couldnt do thanks to Spybot. I wont
even go into the amount of popups being killed. It was non-stop.
After doing some research into the nature of the beast, I went to work getting rid of them
piece by piece. Both Spybot and AdAware were helpful in deleting a large part of what had
been installed, but they werent capable of doing it all. The coup de gras was having
to go where even wise men fear to tread
.the registry. A place not for the faint of
heart. My beloved computer is once again a happy little camper and my head is finally
healing from the injuries I inflicted upon it when I smacked it numerous times in
retaliation for being so stupid.
Now, what would this have cost someone who doesnt have the knowledge that I do. It
cost me six hours of my valuable time. Since I run my business out of my home, I do not
have the over-head most computer repair shops have. I charge $25 an hour. Had this been
someone elses computer, I would have had a nice profit of $150. However, the going
price in my area at the shops is $60 an hour and up. Youre looking at a minimum of
Unfortunately, most places dont want to get involved with this type of work. Their
fix is those dreaded words, formatting the hard drive. I charge a
flat fee of $100 to format, and for another $50 will get all your programs reinstalled and
things as back to normal as possible. Computer shops wont do that. Its just a
formatting and heres your computer, you do the rest of the job. Minimum fees
Ive seen are $160.
Now you know what a cool little smiley program free costs. Of course the other
cost, which cant be measured in dollars, is your lost data.
There are tons of reputable sites out there with free programs to download. If you see one
you like and it isnt free, then buy it. Its cheaper than repairing your
No one has an excuse for going out there unprotected. Zone Alarm, Spybot, AdAware, Avast
Virus Protector, Spyware Blaster, and countless others are all free. Cloudeight has
written wonderful programs and offer them to you at a very affordable price (unsolicited
plug). The Web sites they recommend are trustworthy. For those of you who are newbies, you
wont go wrong following the advice on their site.
My last words of advice
.backup, backup, backup. If something horrible should befall
your computer (Ive had a hard drive go within six months of buying a new computer),
nothing will be lost. I have years and years of work, files, programs, pictures, you name
it; all backed up onto zippies, CDs, an external hard drive, and yes, even floppies.
Everyday I back up my work. When you lose your data, its gone
of course, you want to pay one of those companies who specialize in this field over $500
to retrieve your vacation photos and anything else you had stored.
Computers were not invented for the purpose of playing Sims (love that game), doing your
Christmas shopping in your pajamas, and thanking Aunt Emma for the yellow, polka-dot tie
she sent you. They were invented to process information, to do mathematical computations,
store valuable information, and hopefully make our lives easier.
I hate it when someone invites me over to see his or her new toy. It is not a
toy. Its a sophisticated, valuable piece of machinery. Treat it with TLC and
If you dont, or are tempted to download one of those cute, free, little smiley
programs, think of me
laughing all the way to the bank.
Comments by Eightball & Thundercloud
We'd like to thank Dee for her
contribution. In her well written, open-letter to all of our subscribers Dee points out
one simple, easy-to-remember, fact "There's no such thing as free lunch". Our
stationery is free and we've tried hard to keep it free by offering Cloudeight
CD-ROMs, Cloudeight Software, Cloudeight Endorsed Software (which is always
extensively tested and programs we really do use on our own computers), Google Search
Boxes, Google Contextual Advertising, a few pop-under banners (that we at one time had
removed from our site and recently, due to a revenue drop had to, reluctantly, add back)
and a ongoing partnership with Free CD Software (a
very reputable and reliable associate). We have refused over $100,000.00 in potential
revenue by turning down numerous offers to include spyware/adware in our products.
We will never do that. We'll close up shop before we'll sell our souls to the devil.
We created Smileycons
to offer everyone another choice after seeing how many people were getting conned into
installing spyware and search engine hijackers like the two most popular "FREE"
smiley programs (and most of you know who they are). Spyware and its cousin adware, at the
worst can and will ruin your computer and at the least use up your valuable resources,
invade your privacy, track your surfing habits, and display endless popups on your browser
and desktop that make your computer no fun to use. Smileycons
has been successful for us to an extent, but nowhere near as successful as the two major
"Free" ones that you'll end up paying dearly for in the long run. We're
going to keep making Smileycons
better; Soon, we will be adding 2 original expansion packs for the Winter holidays. We
want to make it the best. And, we will. Smileycons
and our Email
Backup Guardian are not free, but they allow us to offer you more than 5000 truly free
downloads. Free for you and free from spyware. It's not a free lunch. Less than 5% of our
site visitors support the free downloads for the other 95%. The advertising on our site
and our software programs and endorsed software programs support our Cloudeight Internet
Web site and our Funletters Web site. They also help pay for our Web forum, which over
3000 people enjoy every day.
Do you have something
on your mind? Would you like the chance to share it with over 340,000 readers? . Please make sure it's your own, original work. If
we like what you've written we'll feature it in one or more of our newsletters!
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©2004 Cloudeight Internet LLC (all rights reserved) Dee
Warner's letter used with permission.