Have you cleaned your computer recently?
Cleaning your computer on a regular basis will improve the cooling and performance of the computer components, and save you money in maintenance and repair costs.  Dust is the main cause of computer damage, because it makes your system heat up and can ultimately lead to hardware failure.

To clean your computer, you will need a can of compressed air.  There are a number of products available that can be purchased from any computer store. Vacuum cleaners are not recommended, as they generate static electricity, which can affect your computer components.  To begin, unplug your computer from the electrical outlet.  Remove all cables and connectors from the backside of your computer.

Blow compressed air around all of the hardware components, keeping the blower nozzle 4 to 5 inches away from the main board components.  Never clean inside computer components or circuit boards with a damp or wet cloth.

Always be careful not to eat or drink around your computer. Never place your computer on the ground and always use a computer table or shelf for this purpose.

Advice for Kids
The Internet is full of interesting websites and is a great way to keep up with friends and family around the world. Unfortunately, not everyone you meet on the World Wide Web is friendly or truthful.

 To make sure you’re having a safe time while you’re surfing the web, remember these important tips:

- Never give your e-mail address to people you don't know
- Never give out your full name, telephone number, home address or the name of your school
- Don't open e-mails or attachments from people you don't know
- If you visit a web site or receive an e-mail that makes you feel uncomfortable, tell a parent or a close adult relative immediately
- Don't tell other people your Internet passwords
- Never agree to meet up with someone you have met on the Internet

Advice for Parents
While the internet is a great way for children to communicate with their friends and learn about interesting subjects, it can also be a dangerous place.  Here are a few tips that can help keep your children safe:

Talk to your children about the dangers of the internet, and let them know you are concerned about their safety.

Set up rules and guidelines for what is acceptable and what is not.  Explain that it is not a good idea to talk to people they don’t know, and impress upon them that personal information should not be shared.

Restrict Internet usage to a computer in the family room or other open living areas.  This will allow you to occasionally glance at your children’s activities without them feeling like you are watching their every move.
In addition to talking with your children and supervising their activities, there are also various software packages available that can help restrict your child's browsing abilities.
Google has a Safe Search Filtering option in the Preferences section located next to the search box which will block explicit images or text.
The Firefox web browser has a plug-in called Gubble, which allows you to give or withhold permission on any websites your children may visit.
The Windows program allows you to create “limited” accounts.   These accounts have restrictions which prevent the user from installing harmful software, removing crucial files or changing Windows settings.
You may also wish to put a password on your own Administrator account so that your child cannot use it to install or remove programs.
If your child regularly uses chat rooms, instant messaging or social networking sites, there is an electronic identity card service, Net-ID-me, that can be used to verify the person or people to whom they are talking.

Customizing your system web browser toolbar

Your system web browser toolbar has a standard format.  However, this probably doesn’t meet your needs.  You can customize your toolbar to add buttons you find useful or remove buttons you never use.  While your cursor is on the toolbar right click your mouse button.  (This will work even if the cursor is on an icon on the toolbar).  A menu will be displayed.  From this menu choose customize toolbar or customize command bar.  Another menu will drop down.  Choose add or remove commands.  A separate window will open with options to add or remove buttons.  The add buttons are usually on the left side while the current buttons are shown on the right side.  To add a button highlight that option and click on the add button.  To remove an option, highlight it in the current toolbar pane and click the remove button.  Have fun personalizing your computer.

How to enable or disable cookies

As tasty as these treats sound, cookies in computer lingo are nothing like the real thing.  Cookies are small bits of information sent by a web server to be stored on a web browser with the intention of the information being retrieved for later use.  This is useful when remembering passwords or preferences.  However, not all information needs to be or should be retained, in which case it would be beneficial to disable cookies.

To disable cookies (using Internet Explorer version 6.x or higher):
Open Internet Explorer, click on Tools then Internet Options.
Click on Privacy tab from the left top of the dialog box and click on the Advanced button.
To disable cookies check the Override Automatic Cookies Handling option, then click OK.
To enable cookies, repeat the above process, but select the Accept option and click OK. Restart the browser to execute changes.

How to disable or allow Pop-ups

Sometimes, while browsing the internet a window will suddenly pop up with a message.  Usually these windows contain advertisements, but sometimes they can contain viruses or other harmful content hidden in the message.  Responding to these harmful pop-ups may adversely affect your computers performance.  If you are considering responding to one of these pop-ups, you should always read the information carefully.

To disable all pop-ups:
Open Internet Explorer, click on Tools then Pop-up Blocker option Click Turn Off Pop-up Blocker.

To allow specific sites, follow the above steps but click on the Pop up blocker settings.  Another window will open allowing you to add sites.  Enter the information, click the Add button and OK.

Internet Error Codes

Have you ever encountered error code messages while trying to open a website, your e-mail or FTP sites? 

Here is what they mean:

400 is a bad request error.  The server may not understand your request.  Make sure the URL name is correct.
401 indicates that you are trying to open an unauthorized access site or web page.  Check your user name and password if applicable.
402 is a payment required error.  To remedy this error simply make a payment.
403 indicates that you are trying to open a blocked page either by your domain or your computer settings.  This may not be fixable as some pages are not accessible to all users.
404 signals a renamed or removed web page.  Check the URL name and spelling.
408 is a time out error. Your request must be sent in the time the server set.

How to restore windows XP to a previous working state

With new programs being installed, possible virus infections, adware or spyware problems, it is not unusual for your computer to suddenly operate differently. You can remedy this problem by using the Windows XP System Restore feature.
First click on the Start button then All programs.
Next click Accessories, System Tools and System Restore.
A "Welcome to System Restore" wizard will start. 
Read and follow the detailed instructions on the left side of the page.
This should return your computer to its previous operating state.                                                     

Using a personal photo as your User Account picture

Windows XP gives you a wide variety of options to personalize your computer.  Did you know that you can change your preset user account picture to a personal photo? Here’s how:

First you must have photos saved on your computer in .bmp, .gif or .jpg format.
Click Start button and go to Settings
Next click Control Panel then User Accounts option.
On the User Accounts page, click on your account name, then click the "Change my picture" option.
Next, click on "Browse for more pictures.”  Find the folder that contains the picture you would like to use.
Select the picture and click OK.  Your picture will come into view in place of the existing Picture.