June 9, 2006
Dear CNET members,
Each week, I receive hundreds of questions from readers, and some of you who e-mail us sound like you are in immediate and desperate need of computer advice. This newsletter limits us to one question per week, but remember, you can find the help you need in our community forums, where hundreds of wonderful members and moderators are always willing to give great advice. So give the forums a try and post your questions there. And as a friendly reminder, when posting your questions in the forums, always explain your problem to the fullest extent so that the best and speediest solution can be given to you. Now let's hit upon John's concerns about ActiveX controls.
Well, John, I'm glad that you presented this question to us, as I'm sure many of us would like to know what ActiveX controls are all about and what potential harm this technology could do to our machines. So to better explain it all, I give you this week's winning answer by Miguel K., who has been continuously participating in our newsletter, providing incredible advice over the years for all of our members to absorb. And as always, we have other great answers in our honorable mentions and other advice from our members, so read through them all. Thank you, everyone for your continuous participation in this newsletter, it's always a pleasure hearing from you all. Take care and have a great weekend!
Member Question of the Week
Every once in a while a Web site asks me if I want to load an ActiveX control. I usually click the X button to close the window instead of the OK button, but sometimes I have to allow it, such as when I use Symantec's free online virus scan. The thing is, I am worried that having these on the computer could leave me vulnerable for attack later, so how do I get rid of them? Clearing cookies, history, and cache doesn't do it, and Ad-aware doesn't do it. Can someone please explain to me what exactly ActiveX controls are and what they do? Are there any security risks about them that I should be aware of, and when is it OK to allow ActiveX controls on my PC? Thank you.
Jon of San Francisco, California
Jon, CNET's Glossary defines ActiveX controls as "software components typically used to enrich Web pages by calling on the functionality of locally installed Microsoft applications."
In essence, these controls act as sets of rules that can be downloaded and executed by Internet Explorer (IE). In the example used by CNET, an ActiveX control can confer spreadsheet functionality to your browser, allowing you to view an Excel document within IE rather than requiring you to open Microsoft Excel.
As you can see from the preceding example, this sharing of information among applications is not inherently bad. But to do their job, ActiveX controls require full access to the Windows operating system, and this represents a significant security risk. Just as an ActiveX control on Symantec's Web site allows you to run the company's online virus scanner, a similar control on a malicious Web site can direct your browser to download a keylogger, a Trojan, or other files that could allow someone to take control of your PC...
Miguel K. of Columbus, Ohio
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If my PC gets any slower, it'll be going backwards
Best regards and enjoy!
CNET member wallace1969 is suddenly experiencing a noticeable slowdown on his machine--pages taking ages to load whereas before they loaded right away. He is at a loss as to what may be causing it and is seeking some advice. Our members have come through already in a big way, shooting advice from all over the map. See what the causes may be, and if you have some advice that's not mentioned in the thread already, help him out.
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Check out next week's question:
I have a question about using two monitors at the same time. Recently we bought a 19-inch flat monitor, but we still like our bulky Dell Trinitron 19-incher, and it still works great. A friend of us said he saw on TV that people had set up their PC using two monitors at the same time and, for example, are able to drag an Excel spreadsheet to display along with another PowerPoint slide from each monitor. Can you tell us, is it possible for newbies like us to do this and how and what type of wire do we need to link these two monitors together, plus how do we set XP's OS to do it? Thanks.
Steve N. of Fairfax, Virginia
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December 30, 2005
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