computer virusA reader wrote to tell us he loves Microsoft’s free anti-virus software, “Microsoft Security Essentials,” and has been using it for years. But it doesn’t come on his daughter-in-law’s Windows 8 machine; Windows 8 comes with “Microsoft Defender,” which is only part of Security Essentials. So we recommended switching to Avast, which is free from Avast.com.

Some things to look out for in getting Avast for free: During set-up, you should click “register” and then choose the free version. At another point during registration, you should click on “basic” as your choice, in order to avoid getting simply a free trial of the paid version. Also: under “settings,” uncheck the boxes that allow the program to bombard you with messages; also change the default setting (which provides no updates) so that you get automatic updates. (Who would want to do them manually: only the programmer who wrote the code.)

By the way, we use Avast Mobile Security for Android phones, to stop malware, spyware and viruses. They say it also stops the prying eyes of a suspicious partner.



10 YEAR JOURNAL-Back in the days when the world was young and computers were new, we had an editor who claimed he had developed an alternative technology that was both cheaper and had storage that lasted longer than disks.

He said it was a word processor that cost about a nickel. The words came out one end and the other end had an undo tip. Sometimes the word processing end needed sharpening but that took little effort. It was unaffected by power outages or software crashes, he said. Unless you had a dog, he added.

The real clincher, he said, was the storage medium. He called it “paper,” and anything you wrote on it could be saved and stored for centuries – as long as it didn’t get wet. This was a proven technology, he maintained, tested by writers living and dead. And the medium even came in a number of colors.

This seemed to us more of a fantasy than a technology that could actually be perfected and come into daily use, but we pass it along to you who might want to work on it. If you do, we recently came across an excellent “app” for this technology; it’s called a “journal.” It’s expensive though — $40, from a Japanese company that designed it to store information in decades.

For any given day in the “Ten Year Journal,” you’ll see the years 2015 to 2025 running down the right column, with four lines of space for each year. Put down today’s entry and next year, you can see what you wrote the previous year on the same day. You can get it at journal10.com. Remember to think long term. And be concise.



Athos pants“Athos,” is a $99 pair of pants coming out in November that will analyze athletic performance.

The pants can tell whether your squats are using your left leg more than your right and also take your blood pressure. They can even tell you whether you’re using your muscles correctly on a stationary bike. The smart phone app glows green when you’re at your maximum.

There are a couple of negatives here: one user said it feels like a wetsuit, and you can’t wear men’s underwear (interferes with the sensors). The maker claims they’re machine washable. (No bleach, no starch.) More info at LiveAthos.com.



HUFPOAn incensed reader wrote to complain about The Huffington Post’s requirement that you have a Facebook account before you can comment on their news articles. Well, it’s their business and no one has to use their site. But if you want to comment and you don’t do Facebook, here’s a workaround:

What probably bothers people most about Facebook is the loss of privacy. But you can sign up without ever posting a thing or filling out a profile. And despite their requirement that you use your real name, we know someone who uses only his first name and last initial. He uses that combo for first and last name, writing it twice, as in “Joe D Joe D.”



build your own websiteYou don’t need to learn HTML coding to build a website if you use templates provided by Yola.com, Weebly and others. But to create an original, it helps to be a coder.

In the past we’ve praised the “Head First” books for their mix of learning and whimsy. But now we’ve read something better. “Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS and WordPress” by Nate Cooper and Kim Gee is the most readable, entertaining and helpful guide of all.

You won’t need anything but a computer to follow along in the book and create your own site, and they don’t assume you know anything to start with. Other books make you master HTML before turning to CSS, but this book simplifies both. The drawings help nail down the major points. The book is $20 from NoStarch.com.




indiana jonesSlashFilm.com has movie news. We learned about plans for “Indiana Jones 5″ and “Twilight” as a series of short films for Facebook.



newsletterVeryQuiet.com is a simple text only site with links to the top news headlines from dozens of sources, including BBC, NBC, ABC, Voice of America, NPR, Yahoo, Google, The Guardian, and more.



Greatest Movie Theme Songs: Get just about any movie theme song on YouTube. Joy typed “Casablanca theme song” and listened to “As Time Goes By,” while clips from the movie rolled by. Bob searched for “The Mission.”



FFSherylSandbergFemale Force: Sheryl Sandberg” is a digital comic book available on iTunes, the Kindle store and other e-book sources, or as a print version at ComicFleaMarket.com. It tells the story of Facebook’s chief operating officer, who recently wrote the best-seller “Lean In.” It’s a fun read, and has candid lines like, “Just try negotiating when you’re pregnant.” The company also sells comic book life stories of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Arianna Huffington and many others.



arthurArthur’s Big App” is based on the PBS kids TV show and has four games, such as a music game for pounding out a tune, create-your-own smoothie, library book shelving and freeze tag. It’s $3 for the iPhone/iPad.