Family Money: Trading on Logic - or Instinct?
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
Most investors tell themselves that their investment
decisions are based on sound logic and experience. According to
psychological profile testing, however, the reality is rather different.
For instance, imagine somebody gives you ฃ1,000
combined with the following bet: a 50/50 chance of getting a further
ฃ1,000 (option A) or the option to reject the gamble and be
guaranteed a further ฃ500 (option B).
Most people choose B - the guaranteed ฃ1,500.
But something odd happens when the same people are
offered a variant of the original. This time you’re given ฃ2,000.
However, you must choose between a 50/50 bet that takes away ฃ1,000
if you guess wrong but that leaves you with the ฃ2,000 if you guess
right (option C); or (D) a certain forfeit of ฃ500, leaving you with
This time most people choose C, the 50/50 bet.
In all cases, the probable outcomes are the same as the
guaranteed outcomes: the average person will end up with ฃ1,500, no
matter what he or she chooses. But when the choice is between a certain
versus a possible gain we tend to avoid risks, and then when the choice is
between a certain versus a possible loss, we switch to seeking risks.
To understand this reaction, imagine you have a simple
attitude towards money: more is better. If someone gives you ฃ100,
you’re ฃ100 happier. If they give you ฃ200, you’re twice
Except that real people aren’t like that. How they
react to the offer depends on how they perceive the default. In the first
example, the default thinking seems to be that you are lucky to have
ฃ1,000 and a guaranteed ฃ500 on top of that is no bad thing.
You are averse to risking more for a further gain.
In the second example, you have already mentally
pocketed the ฃ2,000 and must take on risk in order to avoid a loss.
Researchers into financial behaviour think this
explains why so many people sell their winning stocks and keep hold of
their losers even though share prices move up and down randomly. Investors
are happy to take on risk to avoid realising losses, but less keen to hold
on to shares that have risen, because that jeopardises gains already
The outcome is that they sell their winners and keep
their losers. But if share prices are unpredictable, then a greater
tendency to hold on to shares that have fallen while selling those that
have risen is arithmetically certain to lose you money in the long term.
Early humans had little to gain and plenty to lose from
taking risks, unless their backs were truly against the wall. Even in
today’s world, those two proverbial birds in the bush are only worth
more than one in the hand if the risk-adjusted returns are higher. For
early men and women, who relied on that single bird to nourish them until
the next unknown meal, taking needless risks would have been pure folly.
Our different attitudes to the prospect of further
losses, relative to further gains, ties in with a recurring theme of
evolutionary psychology. We are born bench-markers.
Try this simple test example: Is the percentage of the
Texas population that is of Latino origin higher or lower than 15%? Make a
note of your estimate. Now switch your demographic intuitions to
California. Is the percentage Latino population higher or lower than 40%?
Again make a note of your estimate.
Researchers have found that we sometimes use arbitrary
marks in the sand to get our bearings. Benchmarking would have made huge
sense for people foraging around landscapes and trying to find their way
back to base camp. But it’s no way to navigate modern stock markets.
Let’s return to our Latinos in Texas and California.
Did you make different estimates? The correct answer for both states is
32% (according to the 2000 US census.)
If you gave a lower estimate for Texas than California,
you might have been swayed by the 15% and 40% benchmarks. But I just made
Psychologists have tested this theory more rigorously
by asking different groups of people identical questions such as, what
proportion of the United Nations countries are African? When different
groups are first asked to compare their answer with different benchmarks
(50% or more? 30% or more?) their average answer also varies.
People assume that the benchmark contains useful
information or they are biased by first impressions. They then anchor
their replies to that implicit guidance.
Public relations firms know this all too well. That’s
why they encourage companies to report ‘headline earnings’ or
‘pre-exceptional’ profits, because these page 1 figures nudge the
brain to view more favourably the real figures hidden away in the depths
of the report.
Now ask yourself what real information there is in a
firm’s historical share price. Chartist superstitions apart, the
evidence is that the five-year high and low of a share can tell you
nothing about its likely course. Previous share price highs are arbitrary
benchmarks that will mislead unwary investors.
The next question is to think about personal wealth and
ask yourself: How much is enough?
It’s another ill-posed question which eludes a simple
answer. The most common approach defines “enough” as whatever other
people will settle for (plus a little bit more). The effect of this
attitude will be to ratchet up our material well-being and motivate us to
defend what we’ve got.
Keeping an eye on other people not only resolves
ill-posed problems, it also solves practical ones like “How do you do
Imitation and a concern not to be left behind can spark
off competitions that boost productivity and innovation for everyone. Yet
they can easily trigger irrational booms (and busts). You watch your
neighbour growing richer and your judgment about how much is enough begins
to change. The only way to keep up with the Joneses is to imitate them,
even if that means running the risks they run. The catch is that someone
else is using you as a benchmark, and the bubble begins to inflate.
Successful investors separate these two biases of
benchmarking from others and learn by imitation. But learning from others
is a double-edged sword: other people’s behaviour is often a good model
to follow, but occasionally disastrous.
One way to eliminate the risk of going over a cliff
with the Joneses is to decide for yourself how much is enough, and stop
Personal Directions: Positive feedback impacts our lives personally and professionally
By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates
I asked an audience recently, “When a speaker or
presenter (anyone in front of an audience large or small) has done his or her
job well, why do we applaud?” They thought it was a rather basic question
that was very easy to answer (and guess what - it is!). They offered answers
like, to show appreciation, to give thanks, to give encouragement, to give
warmth, to show acceptance, to show respect and so on. All of these are good
positive feelings and emotions.
I then asked them another question, “If we want to give
all of these positive feelings, why then do some of us clap our hands lightly
and sometimes so lightly there is no sound; why do we look disinterested and
have dull expressions on our faces; why do we appear negative and exhibit
negative behavior if we wish to give a positive message with all these
positive emotions to the speaker?” They couldn’t come up with any answers
Why do you think this is so? I have seen this happen with
audiences in all sorts of situations and in all sorts of places and countries.
And having spoken to many people to try to find out why we behave this way, I
have found that a lot of people in giving “feedback” to others, which is
what applause essentially is, don’t realize just how important it is to give
There are some of us who think that our half-hearted
efforts are good enough, but we probably wouldn’t feel very good being on
the receiving end of them would we? To my mind, in everything we do, we should
do it with one hundred percent effort or not do it at all. If a speaker has
presented well, then give them due regard and appreciation. None of this
finger tapping on the side of your glass, none of the glancing at your watch
and checking your next appointment, none of this carrying on a conversation
with the person next to you - get up there and use both hands and make a noise
with them! Spare a moment to give all those positive messages - give them
So often we forget that as humans we crave emotional
charges which help us to feel fulfilled and to live our lives with meaning and
We can give positive feedback in so many ways to the people
around us. Applauding with sincere effort is just one of numerous ways to show
all those positive feelings that really mean a lot to the person on the
receiving end. A firm handshake, a glowing smile, an enthusiastic wave, words
of encouragement, a phone call, a simple wink or nod of the head, sending a
note, saying you love someone, taking the time to listen. There are so many
ways that we can give - and receive - positive feedback or positive feelings.
The opposite of giving positive feedback is discounting and
of course there are severe forms of discounting like screaming and yelling at
somebody, and subtle ways such as being sarcastic, ignoring someone, not
giving your full attention to someone, laughing at people, being negative and
always putting someone down, having no time for anyone. And the list goes on
Think to yourself for a moment - how often do you give
positive feedback to those around you? How about your colleagues in the office
for starters? Do they receive your positive or negative feedback? What about
the boss or the tea lady? What about your friends who have probably given you
support over the years and have always been there to get you through the hard
times, the bad days when maybe you didn’t have a job or you were struggling
to make ends meet?
What about your family? All those people who gather around
you and live with you day in and day out. Mothers and fathers, husbands and
wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandparents and children!
People who care about you and what happens to you. People who have given so
much to you so that you can be where you are today because of their efforts.
What about them? Do you give them positive feedback or do you discount? What
impact do you have on them and their lives?
In one of our programs on self-awareness and personal
development, there are many such questions to think upon and to answer - to
oneself. In a weekend program I conducted recently, the participants found it
a great help in understanding more about themselves when they had to reflect
upon who they were and the way they either gave positive feedback or
discounted the people around them. Not a light-hearted activity at all, but
one that if given full attention and effort, will bring a sense of relief and
personal fulfillment. For many this is quite an emotional ordeal but once gone
through, the rewards are worth every moment of personal examination.
There are some professionals in the field of human
resources who believe - as I do - that the development of people (staff) can
only be effectively achieved through a combination of personal as well as
professional growth of those people. Development means moving ahead as a
person and a professional.
It is not enough these days to just improve upon
job-related skills to improve performance. The only truly good performance is
one that gives joy and self-fulfillment to the performer. Salary alone won’t
My belief with regard to “staff development” is, in a
Happy, satisfied, challenged and motivated staff will stay
with the company, provide their best efforts in support of delivering results
and inspire others to do the same!
It is in the best interests of companies to take on this
approach in order to move ahead and to achieve their planned objectives in
this changing world.
Should you wish to obtain more information about our
programs in personal growth and development, and to how they can be adapted to
suit your specific staff development needs, please contact me at
[email protected] and visit our website at www.
Have a wonderful week!
The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain
Corness: SARS - are you at risk?
by Dr. Iain Corness
A current topic of conversation is the world-wide SARS
epidemic. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and they had to
put the word “severe” in front of the title, or we would have ended up
with a most unsatisfactory acronym.
Are you likely to die from this new virus? Simple answer is
an emphatic no! At the time of writing this, there were just over 2,000 cases
reported throughout the world and the death rate was around 3%. This does not
mean that out of the next 100 people who walk past you, three of them are
going to die from SARS. It means that of the next 100 diagnosed cases of a
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, three are likely to succumb (if we
haven’t managed to get an efficient treatment by then). Put another way, 97%
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 10%
of SARS patients go into a decline, usually around day 7, and need mechanical
assistance to breathe. The care of these people is often complicated by the
presence of other diseases. In this group, mortality is high. This would
include patients with other chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney
problems, poor lungs (smokers!) or even AIDS.
Right now, one of the complicating factors is that we do
not have a 100% accurate diagnostic test for SARS. One reason for this is that
we have not (at the time of my writing this article at least) positively
identified the virus, but it appears to be a corona-virus.
So how do we diagnose this problem? The answer is a
combination of symptoms and circumstances. Firstly the patient has a high
fever, greater than 38 degrees Celsius, and has one or more respiratory
symptoms including cough, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. Now
I fully realise that is fairly typical of many respiratory conditions, but
don’t think you’ve got it yet! The diagnosis also requires close contact,
within 10 days of the onset of symptoms, with another person who has been
diagnosed with SARS and/or a history of travel, within 10 days of the onset of
symptoms, to an area in which there are a significant number of SARS patients.
By the way, by “close contact” means having cared for, having lived with,
or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of a
person infected with SARS.
So what can you do to make sure you don’t get it? Well,
unless it is absolutely necessary, take the WHO’s advice and postpone travel
to Hong Kong and Guangdong and other SARS affected areas - Shanxi, Taiwan,
Hanoi and Toronto.
There are also some simple precautions that you can take,
if you think you could be at risk. These minimise your exposure to potentially
infected persons and require personal hygiene measures and personal protective
measures. Obviously, avoid being close to people who are already sick, and
stand well clear of people that are coughing. Surgical masks may make you feel
“safe” but it is a false sense of security without taking additional
precautions. Basic hygiene is essential in reducing the risk of virus
transmission. Washing hands before eating is essential and avoid rubbing your
eyes. Smokers should wash their hands before smoking as contaminants on the
hands are easily transferred to the mouth whilst smoking. Do not touch
disposed tissues or handkerchiefs as these may carry secretions with infected
material. All fairly basic stuff.
However, right now, you should rest easy in your beds. As I
said at the beginning, your chances of getting SARS are not high and your
chances of dying from it even less.
Hello Hillary, whoever you are. This is a sketch for a
painting I am doing of my imaginary you!
Dear Dickens 44,
Hillary is so touched that I have managed to
stimulate someone out there to a higher plane, though I am a trifle
worried about the tassel on the beret and the hanging balls, my Petal. I
must also mention that it seems a fairly small bottle of Moet et Chandon,
and whilst it is a nice drop, which I have enjoyed many times, it should
have been Veuve Cliquot (vintage) to be more correct. I also prefer
champagne flutes, rather than the old fashioned champagne saucer. Petal, I
do presume that is me on the left, not the strange creature on the right
that has a more than passing resemblance to my friend Kevin. Whatever, I
am very thrilled and humbled by your sketch. Thank you so much.
I came to Thailand intending to stay three months, but
now I want to go home to Ireland as soon as possible. I am a little shy to
mention my age, but I was born between the wars. Dare I say it, I’m
blessed with exceedingly good looks, rather modest in an old-fashioned
way, great sense of humour, intelligent, highly educated, kind hearted and
a snappy dresser. On my first night out I was very lucky to meet an
attractive girl on her first night in the city. She came from Udon Thani
and her name was Noi. She fell for my looks and charm. She kept blowing
wind in my face and said many times, “I lub you too much.” She bowled
me over and within days we finished up in her Moo Bahn in Udon, where the
whole village came to ogle me. She then told me she wanted to marry me and
I told her I might consider it if she would agree to a few of my
suggestions. I dearly wanted her to stop picking her nose in public and
asked her if she would do the same in private. I then suggested we go
shopping. She blew on my cheeks, hugged me and said I had “jai dee too
much.” The shopping trip began with “Sister me boy friend hab Isuzu
pick-up” and I stood in amazement as the whole village and her 20
sisters had parked themselves on the truck, while some of the children had
lashed themselves to the bull bars. I said, “Where do I sit?” Noi said
that I should follow on “motorcy Papa.” I began to think that this
shopping safari could cause a slight hiccup with my bank manager. Just
then it happened. The truck hit a pot-hole and with all that weight on
board the result was the left axle broke into many little bits. Shopping
was put on hold and I could imagine my bank manager giving me a wry smile.
After a few days I began to get a little disappointed with the whole
affair and being woken in the middle of the night with the
cockle-doodle-do’s cockling, dogs barking, motorbikes revving up, sticky
rice and somtum daily, loud music, no hot water, creepie-crawlies and
Noi’s mobile phone constantly ringing. When I asked her who was calling,
day and night, she said it was her sister who worked in a bank in Bangkok.
(I still wonder why she always walked away somewhere quiet and only spoke
in English.) I then decided to call the whole thing off and went to
Pattaya. Noi said no matter what she still lubbed me too much and she
would follow me in a day or two. As I hadn’t heard from her after a week
and I still cared for her I decided to call her mobile. She said that her
Mama was “Mai sabai” and it may be a few more days before she would
come. It was just then that I got the shock of my life when this big
Harley Davidson whizzed by with my darling Noi astride the pillion with
her arms tightly clutched around the long haired driver. Needless to say,
I was devastated and hurt and for a while suffered from mild depression.
To this day I don’t know why she would associate with the looks of a man
like that and give up a man of my looks, charm and generosity. Over to
Dear Caring Chris,
As you can see, I did have to shorten your ten page letter and I
hope you have it in your “Jai dee” to forgive me. I have read your
letter many times, trying to find the turning point in this relationship,
and keep coming back to the nose picking. You may not have noticed, while
spending so much time looking at yourself in the mirror to ensure you are
snappily dressed, that nose picking is considered something of an art form
in Thailand. Many males will even keep one long fingernail for that
express purpose. I also note that you have not totally believed in your
Noi, and it is this mistrust that caused your relationship to fail. Simple
phone calls in English just showed that her sister was practising her
English too. Probably all for your benefit so she could chat to you as
well. Finally, the Harley rider - are you sure the long haired person was
a man? It was probably Noi’s sister and they were on their way to pick
up Mama’s medicine. You must learn to trust people.
Camera Class: Lights, Camera, Action - the great pioneer
Action photography is a specialized business, with today’s
action photographers bringing back graphic images of ski jumpers caught in mid
air, motorcyclists scraping the tarmac, and even speeding bullets. This requires
split second timing and shutter speeds measured in thousandths of a second.
Shutter speeds of this degree of extreme speed are fairly recent developments,
so it may come as a surprise that the ‘father’ of action photography was a
Frenchman who was born in 1894, who when 11 years old was taking action shots.
And these were not taken with split second shutter camera, but rather the old
black cloth over the head and focus on the ground glass screen jobs!
Jacques-Henri Lartigue is his name, but he has long departed
to visit the Great Darkroom in the Sky. This guy was a child prodigy. When other
six-year-old children were bouncing their balls in Paris, J-H Lartigue was
experimenting with photography.
Now there were others around the early 1900’s who were
taking photographs as well, but J-H Lartigue’s special gift was “action”
photography. He was a great individualist taking photographs of “everything
which pleases me, everything I am keen on, which delights or amazes me. The rest
I let pass.”
Fortunately for us, he took plenty of photographs, but the
enormity of his collection was not discovered till 1963, by which stage he had
over 200,000 photographs catalogued in albums! On his 90th birthday he was still
snapping away and had a major exhibition in London. What a wonderful tribute to
the man, to have an exhibition when 90 years old. Does photography extend
one’s life? For my sake, I hope so!
But back to J-H Lartigue. He had the uncanny ability to
anticipate the exact fraction of a second which would “freeze” a moment in
time, for ever. That moment was probably only 1/300th of a second, but he would
capture the subject, mid-frame, as if posed in mid air waiting for the shutter
These days, even compact cameras have shutter speeds faster
than poor old J-H’s first cameras, and the top of the line SLR’s have
shutter speeds as fast as 1/4000th of a second combined with motor drives
exposing multiple frames per second. This makes action photography today much
easier than at the turn of the century. However, there is still the need for
“anticipation”, and that was Lartigue’s great gift.
So let’s have a crack at some “action pix” this week.
The secret is to pick a subject where the shot shows that action is truly
occurring. This means you are going to record something that does not happen
when things are at a standstill. Now while this sounds obvious, if you take a
shot of a car going round a corner it will just look as if the car is stopped in
the middle of the road - no difference. But take a motorcycle - it leans into
the corner and you can see that it was in motion. Or even better, riding through
a puddle, with the spray coming up from the wheels. People jumping convey
movement too, or skipping rope, water skiing, running or other physical
Now what sort of shutter speed do you need to freeze this
type of action? Actually, not all that fast at all. Anything from 1/60th or
better is fine. In fact I’d choose 1/125th if you’ve got a choice of shutter
Select your subject and activity and start clicking. The
secret you’ll find when you review the results was not the shutter speed, but
anticipating the peak of the action! Finding the exact time to push the shutter
button takes practice because there is always a slight delay between your eye
seeing the moment, your finger pushing the button and the camera doing its
internal tricks to expose the film.
There’s only one way to find this out. Practice! Plus perhaps some help
from Jacques-Henri Lartigue!
Recipes from Rattana: Gaeng Jeud Pla Meuk (stuffed-squid soup)
This week it is a recipe that is actually very simple, once
you have mastered the gentle art of squid stuffing! It is also important not to
overcook squid, as it can become very tough. It is considered a Thai delicacy,
and if you serve this at a dinner for some Thai friends they will be most
Ingredients Serves 4
Ground pork 1 cup
Shallots (spring onions) 2
Coriander leaf 2 tspns
Fried garlic 1 tbspn
Fish sauce 2 tsp
Light soy sauce 1 tbspn
Ground pepper 1/4 tspn
Chicken stock 3 cups
Mix the ground pork with the pepper, 1 teaspoon chopped
coriander leaf and fish sauce. Wash the squid under running water and then
stuff the pork into the squid closing the opening with the tentacles.
Wash the cucumbers and slice into spears. Chop the shallots
in to short lengths.
In the pot, heat the chicken stock to boiling, then add the squid and
cucumber, and continue boiling until cooked, adding soy sauce to taste. Now add
the shallots and the remaining coriander leaf, sprinkle with the fried garlic
and place into a bowl and serve immediately.
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums
This issue I am going to concentrate on two security
issues and try to explain in simple terms a couple of things you should be
aware of about Trojans and Spyware, and also the latest Microsoft Security
Q.> Dear Dr Byte
I receive your Virus Warning Newsletters. Am I right in
thinking that you have sent out fewer warnings this year compared to last
year? Also, does this mean that Anti-Virus Software is beginning to have an
impact at last and we are now safer than before?
Anxious PC User
A:> Your e-mail made me sit down and think about this.
So far, 2003 is off to a slower start than 2002 in terms of the appearance
of new computer viruses. Many have tried to account for this decline by
saying that anti-virus protection has improved, that Microsoft has enhanced
the security in Outlook 2002, and that new legislation following the events
of Sept. 11 has deterred virus writers.
I don’t agree with any of these arguments. While
anti-virus protection has improved, there are still many unprotected PCs in
the world. Microsoft may have enhanced Outlook 2002’s security, but many
companies and individuals are still running earlier versions of the software
(and haven’t yet applied the appropriate security patches). I also don’t
think a virus writer in some distant country cares whether or not the U.S.
Congress has enacted laws that make virus creation a crime punishable by
life in prison.
I THINK the real reason for the decline in viruses this
year is that the serious virus writers have graduated to more sophisticated
attacks, such as Trojan horses and spyware. The occurrence of both of these
threats has increased in 2003. While it’s now less likely you’ll be
infected by another Loveletter or Melissa-type virus, it’s more likely
you’ll be hit by other maladies that could cause as much - if not more -
What do you need to know
Here’s what you need to know about how these pests work
- and how to protect your system from them.
Trojans, to refresh your memory, open ports on infected
machines and allow malicious users to remotely access data on that system. A
more mainstream use of this technology is called spyware, ad-serving
software that (in the best case) allows advertisers to update and target
advertising on your computer or (in the worst case) allows advertisers to
track your Web habits for sale to other advertisers.
In my opinion, Trojan horses and spyware are quite
similar: Both have the potential to obtain information about you without
Some think spyware is acceptable, because it’s what
allows the software you’re using to be free. And there are legitimate uses
for this technology. Personally I don’t think anyone has the right to have
access to my PC so I can use their software and so I vote with my feet and
look around for other applications.
Some software companies, such as academic developer
Mathsoft, have programmed their products to report back to the company’s
servers with your application’s version number and plug-in information, as
part of their copyright protection strategy. This is also a key issue with
Microsoft’s XP versions. But whatever the purpose, I think this activity
should be disclosed somewhere in the end user license agreement, so that you
know what your software is doing and can decide whether it’s OK with you.
But often it’s not.
It’s not just home users who are at risk from spyware.
Businesses could be hurt by it as well. Behind a corporate firewall,
individual desktops are pretty much immune to spyware. But an employee
working from home could compromise the security of the company’s Virtual
Private Network (VPN). How? Sophisticated spyware located on a home PC could
steal the employee’s password for the VPN - as well as sensitive documents
stored on the employee’s hard drive.
Does anti-virus software protect my PC from spy-ware?
Unfortunately, anti-virus software does little to stop
spyware. It will identify and remove some Trojan horses associated with
viruses, but it will not recognize those associated with free software. As I
discussed in previous issues, firewalls can be effective in blocking spyware
from communicating with other computers on the Internet. But anti-virus apps
and firewalls won’t protect against all Trojans, or against spyware
attacks on your system registry. For these more subtle threats, you’re
going to need a dedicated anti-spyware program.
What can I do?
Fortunately, there are several products on the market
designed to identify and remove such pests. Ad-Adware Standard Edition and
Spybot are both completely free. PestPatrol 4.0 and the recently announced
Spy Sweeper are paid services, require a subscription for updates. Any one
of these should be adequate to protect your system.
If you surf the Web and think your machine is free of
spyware, I suggest you try running Spybot or the free SpyAudit on your PC.
These apps check your system to see if it has any spyware on it. If your
machine is clean, congratulations! You’re one of the very lucky ones
indeed. The rest of us, I predict, will be surprised at what’s running
inside our machines without our knowledge. Luckily, there are apps out there
that can help.
Q.> Dear Dr Byte
I received an e-mail the other day which I thought was
from a friend. When I opened the e-mail, something immediately grabbed
control of my computer, changed and setup a new Explorer Search Bar on my
Internet Explorer with a few new tools including porn and sex sites. Changed
my home page to a sex site, installed a self executing command to start
running something each time I booted, and prevented my Firewall from
stopping it accessing the Internet.
I spent most of Songkran cleaning this out and let me
tell you, its taken me hours. I still have a something in my Internet
Explorer which I cannot remove. I have removed the .exe files from Windows,
Windows System, Windows Temp, and Windows Users Profiles. I changed my
Explorer home page back to my preferred default. Is there anything else I
can do to clean my PC? My Anti-Virus says I have no viruses but I still
think there’s something else I have missed.
A.> Your e-mail touches on a warning I issued last
year and a new warning I received a couple of weeks ago. In terms of
cleaning your PC you look like you have resolved most issues except the
embedded Title Bar and Explorer Bar changes which are well hidden in the
Windows Registry. Unless you are comfortable editing the Registry, leave
that for an expert.
On March 20th 2003, Washington: Microsoft warned about a
serious flaw in almost every version of its popular Windows software that
could allow hackers to seize control of a person’s computer when victims
read e-mails or visit websites.
Microsoft assessed the problem’s urgency as CRITICAL,
its highest level, and urged customers to download a free repairing patch
immediately from its website, www. microsoft.com/security.
The company said it was unaware of any reports that
hackers already had used the technique to break into computers, but the time
between disclosure of a new flaw and such break-ins has become increasingly
The problem involves tricking Windows into processing
unsafe code built into a webpage or email message. It was particularly
unusual because it affected so many different versions of Windows, from
Windows 98 to its latest Windows XP editions.
There was some good news. Microsoft said customers using
the newest versions of its email software, Outlook Express 6 and Outlook
2002, were protected from hackers trying to exploit the problem using
Older versions of Outlook would also be safe if customers
had manually applied another security patch, which Microsoft released in
2000 after the spread of the damaging “ILOVEYOU” virus. So it’s up to
you to patch or upgrade your Outlook Express or Outlook. This should stop
future attempts to take over your computer.
If you have any tips that you’d like to share, or any
questions about your internet or pc experience, contact me: Dr Byte,
Chiangmai Mail. Happy Songkran everyone.