BenLo Park
Contact Peter J
In case you didn't know it, James Barrington is none other than our own Peter Smith.

Check out Peter's latest book:

Pandemic Pandemic.

This page was created around the turn of the century and updated for a few years to provide support to Andorra Computer Club members. It hasn't been updated in many years, but a surprising number of the links are still useful.

Andorra Computer Club

The Andorra Computer Club meets every two weeks at the Hotel Coma in Ordino.

The next meeting will be at Hotel Coma on Thursday, at 11:00 am. Join us at 10:30 for a coffee in the bar. Bring your questions and hot tips.

Page Contents

The web is constantly evolving and free services come and go. If you find any of these links broken, or would like to recommend other free services, please contact me.

Useful Links

Virus and trojan malware checkers:

All of these are good and any one will scan your hard drive. Because virus definitions change regularly it is not a bad idea to scan often. For extra protection use a different scanner each time. BitDefender does a particularly good job of scanning your email files.

If you are suspicious about a file you find on your computer, or receive in an email, send it to Virus Total to have it checked by all of the major virus testing programs simultaneously. You can even email the file to them and receive a report back. Sometimes it is not possible to email a virus because the smtp server blocks it.

McAfee Stinger quickly removes the 40 most common viruses. Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool quickly checks for the 8 most common viruses and trojans.

AVG Virus Checker is free and highly recommended for checking incoming emails as well as your system.

Microsoft Security Essentials is free and highly recommended for checking Windows systems.

Firewall Security Check:

Click on the link to ShieldsUp, then scroll down and click on ShieldsUp again.
Wait for page to load completely (watch bar at bottom of window) and you will find out if your computer is identifiable by reverse DNS. Then click Proceed. Click on the buttons: File Sharing and Common Ports to see whether your computer is accessible to evil netizens. If you do not have a firewall built in to your modem or router, you may want to use the free version of Zone Alarm.

Internet Connection Test:

This will test your DSL or dialup connection speed to see if you are getting what you pay for. PCPitStop also has many other tests and helpful utilities and information.

Down for everyone or just me?

Some problems can prevent you from accessing certain web sites even though you can browse the rest of the web.

Reading email using the web:

When you are in an Internet Cafe or using someone else's computer, you can use a web based email client to read your email without having to change the configuration of the other computer.

You will need to enter your email address and the password used to retrieve your POP3 mail. These services are also useful to delete huge messages that are blocking your access to the rest of the mail when you are on a slow connection.

Sending email when there is a problem with the STA server:

When the STA smtp server is not working, or if your email to a recipient is returned due to the STA server being blacklisted, there are two solutions:

You can send your message from the web using Mail2Web. You will have to register with the service in order to use it to send mail. The text from your failed email can be copied and pasted into the browser form. Files can also be attached. You can send yourself a copy for your records.

Another solution is to use an SMTP server which runs on your own computer. This requires changing the smtp server setup in your email program to "localhost" and running the server software before sending the email. Messages can then be sent directly to the recipient using Outlook Express (or your usual email program) without going through the STA.

For Outlook Express, select Tools | Accounts. Double click the desired account and select Servers. Change the Outgoing mail (SMTP) box to "localhost". When the STA server is running again, you can change the setting back to

Another approach is to set up a separate account in Outlook Express to use when the STA server is down or when travelling with a laptop.

Google's free email service is also very powerful and easy to use. I recommend creating an account as a backup email service or as an email address to use when you need one to sign up for a web site.

Spyware Removal

Spyware is installed on your computer when you visit certain web sites. It results in popup ads and targeted ads based on the web sites you visit. Spyware can also slow down your computer and your perceived internet connection speed. The following tools are recommended for discovering and removing spyware. They will also discover and identify some common viruses.

Beware of anti-spyware tools that contain their own nightmares, such as spyware, adware, and other ills. Check the SpywareWarrior List before trying any program not listed above.

Never use a tool that you found because a popup window opened in your browser with a terrifying warning. It is guaranteed to install malware, not remove it.

Two programs from are also useful to discover what is running on your computer without your knowledge. StartupList and HijackThis will give information about all programs and services that start with your boot. Some of these will slow down your computer, be spyware, or at the very least make your boot time longer. HijackThis will also create a log file which can be sent to helpful experts when you don't know what is normal and what is a problem.

  • HijackThis lists what is running on your computer. Useful for diagnosing problems. You can get help analysing this list from:
  • Tech Support Guy. The Security Forum has a wealth of information and recommendations with many helpful experts. Enter the name of your suspicious program in the search and you will likely find that someone has already answered your question.
  • Tasklist Guide. When you check what programs are running how do you find out what is legit and what is a waste of resources. This comprehensive list will explain what each program does.

If you are suspicious about a file you find on your computer, or receive in an email, send it to Virus Total to have it checked by all of the major virus testing programs simultaneously. You can even email the file to them and receive a report back. Sometimes it is not possible to email a virus because the smtp server blocks it.

Restoring Deleted Files and lost photos on memory cards:

What do you do if you accidentally delete a file from your system? First, look in the Recycle Bin. If you deleted it normally, and not too long ago, it is probably still there. If it is not in the recycle bin, there is a good chance that the data (or some of it) is still on your hard drive.

Refrain from using doing anything on the computer with that disk installed until you have recovered the lost files! If possible, remove the drive and only use it as a second drive in combination with one of the tools listed below.

Recuva is a free tool available from Piriform. It works with Windows 7 as well as earlier versions of Windows. It was fast and easy to use. Free unless you need extra support. I would recommend having this installed on your computer before you have a problem.

Pandora Recovery has been well reviewed and recommended but I have not used it personally.

Download to a second drive or floppy, unzip it and run the exe to find files that are deleted but still available for recovery to the second drive. The reason to use a second drive is to avoid writing over the deleted data which the drive thinks is available space. Even better, use another computer if one is available.

If you accidentally delete a photo or reformat the card in your camera, the photos may be recoverable. Download and install the program. It will show you what it can restore. Registration required for actual restoration. Macintosh users download PhotoRescue.sit.

PhotoRec is another free tool which has been shown to be very effective for restoring deleted files and photos in Windows, Macintosh and Linux environments.

Belarc Advisor

Belarc Advisor is a free program which inventories all of the programs and hardware on your computer. Serial numbers and version numbers of programs are all located and saved.

I highly recommend using this program to create a report on your currently healthy computer and both printing it out and saving a copy to the c:\ directory. When things go wrong, this report will help you or someone assisting you to identify what has changed from when the computer was working properly as well as providing answers to questions about what you have installed and other technical details about your system.

Finding files on your hard drive

One of the most useful utilities to install on your computer is the Everything Search Engine. It is a simple file indexer that runs in the background and instantly finds files by name, even if you only know part of the name. Compact and light on resource usage, yet powerful and extremely useful.

How to read documents you don't have the software for

Sometimes you receive documents that require Microsoft Office or other software that you don't have. Web based applications allow you to view or create Microsoft Office compatible documents without Word or Excel. ajaxWrite handles *.doc documents. ajaxXLS handles *.xls spreadsheets. They can also be used to convert documents into pdf files for distribution. Google offers a similar set of web based applications at Very handy for use in Cybercafes while travelling as your documents are stored on the Google server.

Language Help:

Translation between English and many other languages:

If you use the Chrome web browser, which I highly recommend, there is a language extension which will recognize web sites in 52 languages and offer to translate them automatically. Catalan sites translate very well.

Driving Directions:

If you know where you want to go, Michelin will tell you how to get there, how long it will take, and how much you will pay in tolls. If you want to skip the toll roads, you can view the cheapest route and see how much longer it will take.

Yahoo Group

The Andorra Yahoo Group has a searchable archive of all the messages sent to the email reflector since 2000. Only members with a Yahoo ID can access the archives.

Brian Keep has recorded some interesting Friday Meat lectures. If you missed the talk, you can download the recording by right-clicking the link and choosing Save Target As from the menu. Once you have downloaded the file, double-click it to listen to it.

For automatic notification by email when new information is added to this page, click here.