Call on Ken

As Ken goes round fixing problems, some of them crop up again and again. Possibly if you know what the fault is then you can fix it yourself. This page describes a few problems which you may come across.

You may find it useful to use your browser's search facility (look on the Edit menu) to try to locate a particular problem.

The Problems

Big Telephone Bill

There has been a surge in rogue premium rate diallers, also called modem hijackers.

These are nasty pieces of software that wait till you're not looking and phone a premium rate number (090....). Typically these cost £1.50 per minute and it may stay connected for 10 minutes or more. In order to work their nastiness they need the modem to be connected to a phone line and of course, they need the computer to be on so if you leave your computer running, unplug the phone line.

Computer going slowly

The two most common causes of this are a computer which is suffering memory overload and one which is infested by some unwanted software.

In the case of memory overload, this means that you've got so much running that the memory you've got installed can't cope! It may be enough to clean out what programs get started up when you turn on the computer or it may be that you need more memory fitted. In some cases, fitting more memory can make it seem like a new machine!

Slow when on the Internet

Usually when this occurs it is indicative that your computer has been infested by some malware. The most likely culprit is CoolWebSearch and there is an application available called CWShredder which can be downloaded for free and it will get rid of it. Be aware, however, that being infected by this particular piece of malware suggests that you are probably infected by others.

Can't receive email

A situation has been identified where the combination of ZoneAlarm firewall and AVG anti-virus prevent emails from being received, although sending still works.

A symptom of this may be that the ZoneAlarm icon no longer shows in the bottom right, though this is not always the case. What is happening in these cases is that AVG has been updated and so ZoneAlarm needs permission to let the new version out, but ZoneAlarm, for some reason, is not asking the quesion and so AVG is getting blocked

Since AVG is monitoring your email as it comes in, no email can be received!

The solution is to go into ZoneAlarm (you may need to restart it if the icon is missing, or even reinstall it if that doesn't work) and find the AVG entries then set them to be allowed (click on the items (probably questionmarks) and select the tick). Do this for both the AVG Update function and for the AVG email scanner

Some Definitions

Adware This type of software sits on your computer and causes you to view adverts while browsing the internet. It may simply pop up an advert or it may link automatically to another site altogether.
Dialler A piece of software which dials from the computer to an external number. Some are OK, for example you may have one which connects you to the internet but be aware of premium rate diallers which call high cost numbers.
Hijack Referred to browser and is when software takes over control of your browser. For example, you may find yourself suddenly looking at a site that you didn't ask for (often with pornographic content).
infection When some undesirable piece of software gets onto your computer it is said to be infected. Viruses are an obvious example but there are many other types as well such as trojan horses, adware, spyware and so forth.
malware Software which is considered disreputable
memory This is the actual memory that your computer uses to do all its work. It is NOT the disk drive where you store all those photos, music and programs!
scumware Software which is considered very disreputable because it does particularly nasty things like hijacking your browser.
spyware Software which sits on your computer and keeps track of your activity. It may record which interent sites you go to or what you type on your computer (including passwords). It potentially could then relay this information to the provider of the software!

I've got a problem!