Category Archives: Older Adult Computer Users

The latest and greatest technology gift ideas for Father’s Day

Thinking about that special gift for Father’s Day? Guest writer David Samuel offers some suggestions; a few you might consider – well,  just a little “strange” (maybe that should read – “bleeding edge”).

imageWith Father’s day just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to get your loved one. It’s very easy to settle for the usual gifts such as his favorite beverage or a new sweater but he deserves better than that. Instead of the usual anticipated tiresome gift why not surprise your old man with some tech wizardry, below are some of latest and greatest technology gift ideas to suit all tastes and budgets.

Before you dismiss the notion on the grounds that your father simply does not get along with technology consider this “technology works best when it is seamlessly integrated into everyday life”, which brings me on nicely to my first suggestion.

The universal remote controller with integrated bottle opener, no, I’m not making that up. Some genius has actually combined the two objects no man can live without and it can be yours from as little as £23.50. If your Dad loves beer and TV this gift is pretty much the Holy Grail.

For those of you with fathers who like to showcase their masculinity then the talking digital grill thermometer will give him the perfect platform to exhibit his awesome caveman like cooking skills. Now all the family can relax without the worry of food poisoning.

For those of you with cash to splash, why not spoil your father with a tablet PC. The Apple iPad is the most popular tablet right now but android tablets are making a surge in popularity and leading the way is the Asus Transformer TF101.

Next up is a gift suited for the intellectual Dad’s out there. A touch screen hand-held Soduku device, with multiple levels of difficulty and an array features this will have your Dad banging his head against a wall in frustration.

As promised five great technology related gift ideas to suit all tastes and budgets, you’ve now got no excuse to settle for the ordinary. The above ideas will have hopefully give you some food for thought but don’t hang around, Father’s Day is fast approaching.

Got a gift idea of your own? Please feel free to share your ideas below in the comments section. Silly, peculiar and great technology gift ideas are all welcome.

Bio:

David Samuel is an electronic media consultant, with over 13 years’ involvement with some of the world’s leading electronic retailers. David’s awareness and market intelligence make him one of the best equipped experts around. While specializing in laptops David’s knowledge covers a wider spectrum of consumer electronics.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, iPad, Older Adult Computer Users, Point of View

Pointing Magnifier and Angle Mouse – Mouse Apps For Older Computer Users

imageAn exploding aging population is a reality previous generations had little or no experience with – but not so now.

Those of us who “fit” into the aging population paradigm, are increasingly aware that motor skills may not be quite as sharp as they once were. For some, this can be quite noticeable when manipulating a computer pointing device – accuracy may be an issue.

Regular reader Michael F., has passed on his recommendations for two free Mouse applications – one of which (Angle Mouse) has been expressly designed to assist with movement accuracy. The other (Pointing Magnifier), is an assistive application which can be used selectively, to enlarge screen content.

Pointing Magnifier – from the site:

The Pointing Magnifier is a two-stage pointing technique. During the first stage the user controls an area cursor of arbitrary size depending on the pointing accuracy of the user. To interact with a target, the user places the area cursor over that target and activates it by clicking any mouse button. This causes everything under the circular cursor to be magnified, and the cursor is pinned in place.

While magnified, the user controls a standard mouse pointer inside the magnified area. Upon performing an action (e.g., clicking, dragging) in magnified space, the pointer’s location is transposed so that the interaction occurs at the correct position in unmagnified space. After the user performs an action, the Pointing Magnifier returns to its original size and the user resumes control of the area cursor.

Setup is uncomplicated, but I suggest that you consider the available options carefully. You may need to experiment to find your optimal settings.

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An awareness of the keyboard shortcuts is important, otherwise you run the risk of a frustrating experience.

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Two times magnification illustrated – I found the default (4 x magnification),  too large for my needs.

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If you, or someone you know, find reading enlarged screen content more comfortable, then this application is worth considering.

Download at: University of Washington

Angle Mouse – from the site:

The Angle Mouse is a pointing facilitation technique that runs quietly in the background and improves the efficiency and ease of mouse pointing, especially for people with motor impairments.

The Angle Mouse is a target-agnostic pointing facilitation technique that works by continually adjusting the control-display (C-D) gain based on how coherent (straight) or divergent (angular) the mouse movement is.

When the mouse moves straight, the gain is kept high, but when the mouse corrects abruptly, often near targets, the gain is dropped, making targets bigger in motor-space.

The application is highly configurable, as the following screen capture illustrates.

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Download at: University of Washington

As always Michael, I very much appreciate your contribution.

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Filed under Adaptive Technologies, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Older Adult Computer Users, Productivity Software, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Why It’s Important For Adults To Become Educated In The IT Field

Guest writer Lisa Darning takes a look at the need for the older workforce to stay current, in an ever changing technology landscape.

imageEvery day we are more and more submerged in the technological world. It is ever growing and changing, and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. The more that technology becomes an everyday staple of life, the more important it is for us to be knowledgeable in the field.

Communication is done through email, text, social networks and IM. Some offices are based entirely on the Internet, and this makes for a new breed of employees and employers.

The older you are, the more foreign this new wave of knowledge may seem, and getting in the job market may seem frightening and overwhelming. The good news is, there is no reason to feel alarmed; you, just as the younger generation, are more than capable of handling technology and using it to your advantage.

There are hundreds of online, and brick and mortar schools, that offer programs in IT education. The availability of information and training programs make jumping on board this technological train increasingly easy.

The importance of being educated in technology is growing right alongside the industry. As an older individual having some knowledge puts you in the same running for jobs as those who grew up with a technological force field.

Earning an education in IT may be for your own general knowledge; may be to climb the corporate ladder, or even to get started at a new career. Whatever your reasons, there are tons of advantages to taking steps toward a continued IT education.

Advantages of Having Knowledge in the IT Field

The biggest advantage, in my eyes, is having the same skills as younger individuals. To be competitive when entering into a new job market, or climbing the ladder at your current employer, having IT experience makes it so much easier.

When it is time for promotion or hiring, there are plenty of people who are passed over because of out-dated skills, This can be avoided with a little extra focus on the technological aspects of your job.

Taking a little extra time to teach yourself  new programs for work, new ways to market your company and yourself, taking a general computer course, or even learning the ways of social interaction through the Internet, can give you a leg up on the competition.

Equipping yourself with knowledge is so important. Not only for the growing world of technology, but for our growing world in general. The saying “knowledge is power” holds so much truth, and this is another advantage to furthering your education, in any field.

The mind is an amazing thing and can take you many places in life, exercising this great human tool is not only rewarding but can produce many successes. A curiosity can turn into a career with the right education. Employers today, technology aside, are looking for credentials. There aren’t many companies who will hire someone without an education, making it so much more important for adults to take steps in furthering their educations.

The more the technological world grows and changes, the more the need for technology minded individuals. There are no boundaries to learning and furthering you education, and it can earn you many different successes, whether they be business or personal. People have the option of getting a degree at an online university.

The world of technology is showing no signs of slowing and we are responsible for keeping up – look at it as a challenge, and keep it interesting.

Lisa Darning is a twenty something Internet consultant, and freelance writer. She has two degrees – marketing and creative writing. She loves traveling the world, watching sports, golfing and supporting the arts. In her free time, she designs jewelry.

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Filed under Education, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Older Adult Computer Users, Point of View

How To Be A Tech Hero Using Teach Parents Tech.org

imageMany of the regular readers of this site are very sophisticated computer users, and I’m sure, this sophistication can be something of a two edged sword. High level users are often seen as built in tech support by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers; the good looking chick you’re chatting up at a party – the list goes on.

Personally, I have no problem with the quick answer solution, and I do mean quick – but troubleshooting a system –  forget about it. When asked to jump in to save a system, I make it clear that I’m not the designated go-to guy, and that the Geek Squad, or the like, would be happy to help.

I do however, make an exception for one specific group; older adults – the so called “silver generation”. I have a soft spot for older people who are willing to take a bite out of the technology apple, and it’s a small way that I can contribute to my community.

It’s been my experience, that an older computer user is generally not too much different from any new user – it’s the simply things (simple to you and me, that is), that often trip them up.

Recently, I came across a a terrific free resource (which I’m now using as an assist with the “silver generation”),  “TeachParentsTech.org”; a site developed by a group of Google employees which is, as they put it “ designed to help “kids” teach their parents about computer basics.”

The group has developed a series of 50 plus instructional videos, dealing with computer basics – the type of basic issues that often confuse new users.

The following screen captures will give you some idea of what’s available on the site, and just how easy it is to link up with the correct instructional video. Click on a graphic to expand it to its original size.

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This graphic illustrates how easy it is to select a video, choose the email message and get it ready to go.

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If you sometimes think that you have a sign painted on your back, that calls out to the world – “I’m the go-to guy for all your computer woes”, you might just find this site invaluable.

Check it out here: Teach Parents Tech.

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Filed under Google, Instructional Videos, Interconnectivity, Older Adult Computer Users, Recommended Web Sites, Tech Net News

Using the Internet with Confidence: Tips for Seniors

Guest writer Maria Rainier has some super tips to for that newly liberated group of computer users – Seniors.

imageLike many young people, I have to say that there are many benefits to using the Internet. However, I’m not under the impression that a quick e-mail can replace a handwritten note or card that can be received in the mail.

Sometimes, the tangible is still better. But in terms of finding information, communicating quickly, and enjoying the benefits of networking and online communities, the Internet has a lot to offer. And it’s not difficult to navigate.

Don’t let the apparent complexity and ambiguous nature of the Web intimidate you or cause you to write it off as the next trend headed straight for anonymity. It’s here to stay, and it’s a valuable tool for anyone who knows how to use it efficiently.

For some tips on conquering this new frontier, read on, but first – give yourself a pat on the back for finding this blog online. You could probably give your friends some pointers already.

Deciding to Master Internet Use

If you’re going to learn more about using the Web efficiently and successfully, it will help to commit yourself to the cause. Learning to use the Internet will take some time and energy, so be prepared to invest these resources in exchange for the valuable skills you can obtain.

Even if you get frustrated, decide now that you’ll keep asking questions, continuing to learn how best to use the comprehensive resource that is the Internet.

Getting General Instruction from a Credible Source

First, ask a family member to help you. It will enable you to spend time together and let a younger member of the family know that he or she is needed. One of the best advantages to this method is, you’ll be able to ask questions as they arise without worrying about interrupting a class or flipping through a book’s index to try to locate the answer. It won’t take much time to learn the basics, and from there, you’ll be able to pick up some books at your local library that will cover more in-depth subjects. A working knowledge of the Internet can open up other resources for you, so take advantage of your family members’ knowledge if you can.

Another option is – sign up for a free class at your library or senior center. Simply check the scheduled events next time you go to these places or, if you’re feeling frisky, look them up online and try to find the schedules there. You can always go the route of calling to ask about these classes if there’s no schedule posted online. The advantage to this method is that the instructors are often experienced and won’t steer you in the wrong direction, and you can always ask questions once the class is over.

Protecting Your Computer and Yourself

Before you start experimenting with the Internet, try to learn about installing a good firewall. You might choose to purchase protection or try free versions, but it’s important to make sure that your information is safe and that you’ll be notified if you land on dangerous Web pages so that you can navigate away quickly.

You can also help protect your Internet experience by being aware of phishing scams such as false “official” e-mails that demand immediate attention. Anything with links or demands for personal information that comes from someone you don’t know should be deleted. By paying close attention to instruction on Internet safety and asking questions on this topic, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your new surfing skills.

Taking Advantage of Online Resources

The following websites contain more information that can help you if you’re interested in learning more.

Washington State Office of the Attorney General’s Internet Safety for Seniors

Australia’s Seniors.gov Internet Tools and Tips

Microsoft’s Your Digital Life for Seniors

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, performing research surrounding online universities and their various program offerings. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Seniors, Older Adult Computer Users, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools

Free and Easy Anti-Malware Solutions for Senior Computer Users

image According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40% of of people 65 and older, have a computer at home. Of this total, approximately  25% of these individuals are connected to the Internet.

I’m sure these numbers are now even higher, since these statistics were taken from the census of 2005. In Canada, where I live, recent statistics indicate older adults are the fastest growing group of computer buyers and internet users. Who knew!

It seems obvious that older adults are now realizing that they don’t have to understand computer technology to send email-mail to friends and family, for example, or shop online, play games, make greeting cards, read book and film reviews, look into family genealogy, or find valuable health information on the Internet.

Here’s a great example of how older adults have jumped on the Internet bandwagon, and use it to great advantage.

imageI just ran into some older friends (in their 70s), who had recently gotten home after wintering in Florida – in Canada, we call these people Snowbirds.

Throughout their time away (5 months, or so), they stayed in touch with their children, and grandchildren, virtually on a daily basis, using the free audio/video communication application, Skype. What a great use of technology!

Just like the rest of us though, Senior users are susceptible to cybercrime, and like the rest of us, need to protect their computers against the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Viruses, Phishing Scams, and Identity Theft, while connected to the Internet.

For those that are members of this newly liberated group of Senior computer users, (who are not aggressive surfers), I’ve compiled a list of free anti-malware applications with simplicity of operation in mind – no manuals to digest, no tricky configuration to undertake; just install, and the applications will essentially do the rest.

Recommended Security Solutions:

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2010

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– The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users particularly. This application is as close to “plug and play”, as it gets, and will not get in your face as some other Firewalls tend to do .

Microsoft Security Essentials

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– Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users. The interface is positively simple – offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan. Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Firefox

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– While Firefox is not technically an anti-malware application per se, with the most effective security add-ons, including NoScript, KeyScrambler, Adblock Plus and BetterPrivacy installed, it effectively acts as one.

WOT

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– Web of Trust, a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites.

Winpatrol

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– This program uses a simple yet effective method of fighting all kinds of malicious programs.

ThreatFire

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ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my own front line defenses.

Keep in mind, malware itself is only part of the problem. The method used to deliver the malware – social engineering – is the most significant problem currently, for an average user. Social engineering, is a sure winner for the bad guys.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly relying on social engineering to create an opportunity designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots on our computers.

Overcoming the instinctive human response to social engineering (and we all have it), to just “click” while surfing the Internet, will prove to be challenging . This instinctive response, will pose one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.

Well known software developer Comodo Group, has developed a new Internet video series, Really Simple Security, published on a dedicated YouTube channel, that makes it easier than ever for an average user to become much more proactive in their own protection. You’ll find this Internet video series enormously helpful.

Safe surfing!

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Comodo, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety for Seniors, Microsoft, Older Adult Computer Users, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Internet Security Tips for Seniors

image According to the U.S. Census Bureau 40% of of people 65 and older have a computer at home. Of this total, approximately  25% of these individuals are connected to the Internet.

If anything, I’m sure these numbers are now even higher, since these numbers were taken from the census of 2005. In Canada, where I live, recent statistics indicate older adults are the fastest growing group of computer buyers and internet users.

Many of the older people that I have met feel, to some extent, that they have been left behind by technology and the computer age, or as I like to term it “the age of the interconnectedness of all things electronic”.

Part of this disconnection, in my view, is caused by the mistaken notion that the “younger” generation is tech savvy in the extreme. While it may be true, that in developed countries, those in their teens to 40’s are comfortable texting via cell phones, using social apps like FaceBook, Twitter and so on, its sheer media generated hype to extrapolate this level of skill into “a tech savvy” generation.

My personal experience with older adults has shown me that the perception, sometimes held by older adults themselves,  that the older generation has a  limited interest ,or limited skills in using computers, does a disservice to this varied group.

Many older adults are now realizing they don’t have to understand computer technology to send e-mail to friends and family, shop online, play games, make greeting cards, read book and film reviews, look into family genealogy or find valuable health information on the Internet.

So, if you fall into this newly liberated group and have recently acquired a computer, or you just need a refresher course on the fundamental precautions you need to take to secure your computer against the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Viruses, Phishing Scams, and Identity Theft, while connected to the Internet, this article is for you.

Fundamental security precautions:

Patch your operating system. Download and install all available patches and service packs by connecting to Windows Update. It is now beyond dispute that 50% of unpatched and unprotected systems will be infected with malicious code within 12 minutes of being connected to the Internet.

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Install a firewall. Windows XP comes with a basic firewall, and if you are running Windows Vista, it comes with a more robust firewall (Windows Firewall) than XP, as well as anti-spyware utilities (Windows Defender). However, the consensus is; third party applications are usually more effective. Keep in mind that the XP firewall offers only minimal protection.

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Choosing a firewall. There are a number of free firewalls that are worth considering. The following are two that do the job particularly well.

Comodo Firewall Pro:

The definitive free firewall, Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet. I have been using this application for 14 months and I continue to feel very secure. It resists being forcibly terminated and it works as well, or better, than any firewall I’ve paid for. This is one I highly recommend. Amazing that it’s free!

PC Tools Firewall:

I’ve been running with PC Tools Firewall for a few months, first on Win 7 Beta, and now on Windows 7 RC, and in this short time period I have been impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts with my machine despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements.

The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users – and despite the hype put out by the IT industry, most computer user can be classified as having limited system experience.

Install anti-virus software: There is no doubt that an unprotected computer will become infected by viruses and malware within minutes of first being connected to the Internet. There are many free versions of anti-virus software available and the programs that have a well justified reputation are listed below.

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Avira AntiVir Personal:

This anti-virus program offers comprehensive protection with an easy to use interface. In the time that I have been testing Avira I have been impressed with its performance, and I have come to rely on it as my primary anti-virus program on an XP Pro system. I highly recommend this one.

PC Tools Free Antivirus:

Having tested virtually all of the major antivirus applications, and updates, over the last several years, I’m comfortable recommending the free version of this application as a front line antivirus defender. In the time I have been testing PC Tools Free AntiVirus on my Windows 7 systems, I have been more than satisfied with its performance.

This free antivirus program offers it’s comprehensive protection within an easy to use interface, and it should meet all of your requirements.

Install Anti-spyware and Adware Software: It’s not only a virus that can put your computer down for the count, but a multitude of nasties freely floating on the Internet. Listed below are a number of free programs that offer very good protection against malware.

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Spyware Terminator:

Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats.

Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats. If anything, I find it perhaps a little overly aggressive. On the other hand, better this than the alternative.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

I’ve been running Security Essentials as a tester for months on my Win 7 machine, backed up by my usual, on demand, security applications and I’ll state, without any hesitation, I’m impressed. I highly recommend this free application.

Ad-Aware:

Many software reviewers consider Ad-Aware Free as the best free adware remover available. It does a relatively good job of protecting against known data-mining, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components.

The only downside with the free version is real-time protection is not included.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior. I highly recommend this one!

Internet Browser Protection:

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Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

SpywareBlaster:

SpywareBlaster prevents ActiveX-based spyware, adware, dialers, and browser hijackers from installing on your system by disabling the CLSIDs (a system used by software applications to identify a file or other item), of spyware ActiveX controls.

A secondary but equally important function offered by SpywareBlaster, is its ability to block spyware/tracking cookies and restrict the actions of spyware/adware/tracking sites in Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, Netscape, Seamonkey, Flock and other browsers.

If you have not yet taking the precautions as outlined above, you are extremely vulnerable and it is critical that you take the following precautions:

Stop surfing the Web and patch your operating system. Only then download your choice of the protective software as noted above, or software that you are familiar with that will do an appropriate job of protecting your computer.

Do not visit any other websites until you have done this!

Additional security precautions:

Establish a password for the administrator account. Only you should have access to the administrator settings on your PC. Unfortunately, XP installs with open access to the administrator’s account. Be sure to change this.

Create a new password protected user account. Using this account for your general day-to-day activities adds another layer of protection to your computer. A user account does not have the same all-access permissions as your administrator account, and in many cases this extra layer of protection will restrict malware from gaining a foothold on your PC.

My apologies for using the word”Senior” in the title of this article – it is not a word I’m personally comfortable with.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Internet Safety for Seniors, New Computer User Software Tools, Older Adult Computer Users, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP, WOT (Web of Trust)