Our computer was hijacked once by a hacker, and stupid messages were sent to some of the names in our address book. Many others were hijacked by the same hacker at that time. It could have been worse. If you don’t have protection against this sort of intrusion, you can get it free for six months from McAfee. (By the way, our computer was hijacked during a brief period when we turned off our shield because it interfered with a program we were testing.)

Go to and click the “like” button. Then go to the “McAfee 4 Free” section. This is all-around protection against viruses, spyware and other online threats. McAfee is offering it to Facebook’s 500 million users (a lot of people), so if you’re not a member, you’ll have to join (it’s free). You don’t have to give Facebook any information beyond your name.

McAfee currently has 466,000 Facebook fans, most of whom probably signed up the last time they offered the free trial deal. Some of the interactive videos on their Facebook page are amusing.

NOTE: This brings up a subject that has burned our cork for many years: It’s the issue of providing a credit card number up front to obtain trial services. This is not the case with the McAfee service mentioned above; they do not ask for a credit card. But many companies do ask for your credit card number first. After the free period is over, they don’t notify you, they just start charging. The gimmick, of course, is that a lot of people forget to sign off when the free period is over. Then bingo! they’re making regular payments until they fight it. Magazines do this a lot for trail subscriptions. We have been burned twice this way and now will never sign up for any trial service that requires a credit card number.

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