Chasing Children

PC Pitstop has mentioned the problem with spyware and kids before, but last week’s CNet spyware conference showed it isn’t going to be easy getting quick and meaningful action on this issue. It’s too bad. While some adware makers like WhenU seemed to be genuinely interested in changing their ways, others like Claria seemed intentionally evasive and unwilling to change any of their practices.

Avoid Privacy Problems

By making some small changes in the way you use your PC, you can greatly increase the amount of privacy you enjoy and reduce the risk that personal information is stolen or exposed. Create Multiple User Accounts Often, a new PC comes set up for a single user. And that’s just the way people tend …

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Heat Is The Enemy

It crashes our computers. It corrupts our data. It even destroys our components. In the world of PCs, heat is the enemy. It can cause our computers to lock up or crash, create errors in our work, shorten the life of components, and in extreme cases heat can instantly destroy parts.

May 2005 Newsletter

Now Open: PC Pitstop Privacy Center
MAX PC: System Cooling
Notes from the CNet Antispyware Workshop
What’s Up with WhenU?
Performance Tip: Paging File Myths and Facts

Baseball Blues

2005 is shaping up to be a very interesting year. Major League Baseball is being turned upside down this year due to former player, Jose Canseco’s book, Juiced. Baseball will never be the same, and one day we will look back on this period in baseball with a form of amazement that it could have happened at all. As I think about it, I can not help but see the parallels between spyware and baseball’s steroid problem.

The Hard Disk Drive

Welcome to MaxPC! In this section we’ll look at the important subsystems in your PC, and show how to eke out that extra bit of performance. If you are like many of us, it just might become an obsession as well as a full time hobby. Our first installment focuses on hard drives.

April 2005 Newsletter

Top Dawg 2 Challenge Details
System Cleanup and the Anti-Spyware Blues
A Common Thread with Spyware and Steroids
RAID Juices Hard Drive Performance
Performance Tip: Eye Candy Causes Speed Decay

Safe Surfing

Your kids are being targeted by spyware and other Internet-based threats. What can you do to help them surf safely?

In the first installment of this series, we showed how various Web sites and software publishers target your children and teenagers with threats such as spyware and adware. Now let’s look at what you can teach your kids about how to surf more safely in spite of the dangers. We’ll highlight some of the danger signs that can provide a tip that something is amiss, and show how to respond in a way that can protect your kids and your computer.

March 2005 Newsletter

Happy Birthday PC Pitstop!
PC Pitstop’s Safe Surfing Video
Is Google Feeding Spyware Makers?
Coming in April: Top Dawg 2
Join PC Pitstop’s Folding Team!

Happy Birthday PC Pitstop!

March 9 cake

Five years have gone by since we opened up shop in March 2000 with a little web site called PC Pitstop. We certainly had our challenges during the first few years. The stock market bubble burst the same month we opened our doors, and September 11th dealt us another blow. We managed to get through those tough times, though, and things are looking up today.

Search Scout: No Merit Badge

Search Scout is one of the features of the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN). Gator has a partnership with Overture Services to display keyword-based text ads. The GAIN background software monitors the web pages you visit and the information you enter into search forms. If GAIN determines that you are doing a web search, or you are visiting sites that are associated with particular keywords, Search Scout kicks into action and displays Overture advertising or other results that match the keywords.

Open Letter to Thomas Cook and Oyster Partners

Today I read that Thomas Cook has begun an online ad campaign that includes advertising on Claria’s GAIN ad network. I wanted to make Oyster Partners and Thomas Cook aware that there may be negative aspects to associating their brands with Claria and its GAIN network. Although Claria claims that its users have opted into the GAIN network, our own research shows that most users do not even know the software is installed on their system. A survey of users commissioned by StaySafeOnline showed similar negative feelings about products such as Claria’s. Other researchers have found that Claria/GAIN uses
misleading installation and disclosure practices.

February 2005 Newsletter

It Pays To Read License Agreements
How Do You Make A Top Dawg Computer?
Spyware, Adware, and Others: What’s in a Name
Thomas Cook Books with Claria
PC Pitstop’s Folding Team: Almost Fifty

Inside the Top Dawg PCs

BFG

The recent Top Dawg Challenge has been over for a while; all the prizes donated by BFG have been delivered, and preparations for the next Challenge are already underway. So what did it take to come out on top? Let’s take a look inside the machines that won each of the three prize categories: Stock, Overclocked Intel, and Overclocked AMD. We’ll get a glimpse of the builders, as well, and see if they can give us some inside tips on how to build a Top Dawg. You can see a summary table of the winning entries below.

Google and Spyware

On February 1, 2005, Google announced record revenues of $1.032 billion and profits of $303 million. Just like everyone else in the world, I was blown away. What a great company! The stock market seemed to agree since Google’s stock price hit a record high after their earnings announcement.

But there’s something that has been bothering me and many others in the antispyware community about the search engine juggernaut. And that’s Google’s ties to spyware.

It Pays To Read License Agreements

I have a deal for you. In exchange for a free piece of software that helps you keep track of your passwords and other log on information, I’m going to install other programs on your PC that will track your web surfing and display advertising that pops-up on your screen. There will also be other types of ads on your computer based on information we collect.

The Spyware Name Game

There’s a lot of confusion about exactly what the term “spyware” means and it seems that everyone has an angle. For example, some shady software vendors prominently label their programs “spyware-free” even though in fact they may contain undesirable software hitchhikers that most of us would classify as spyware. The companies justify these claims by using an extremely narrow definition of the term “spyware” — but in our minds, these claims wouldn’t be much different than a soda manufacturer’s proclaiming that its product is “sugar-free” and justifying this statement by arguing that the corn syrup in the soda just doesn’t fall under its definition of “sugar”.