HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Family Money

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Recipes from Rattana

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

Family Money: Trading on Logic - or Instinct?

By Leslie Wright,
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 ฃ1,500.

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 as happy.

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 mentally banked.

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 them up.

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 that”?

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 there.

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 right away.

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 “positive feedback”.

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 positive feedback.

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 purpose.

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 and 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 do it.

My belief with regard to “staff development” is, in a nutshell, this:

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% will recover.

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.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,

Hello Hillary, whoever you are. This is a sketch for a painting I am doing of my imaginary you!

Dickens 44

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.

Dear Hillary,

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 you.

Caring Chris

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

by Snapshot

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 to click.

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 activities.

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 speeds.

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 appreciative.

Ingredients Serves 4

Squids 5

Ground pork 1 cup

Cucumbers 2

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

Cooking Method

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 Flaw.

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

Nong Koi

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 - damage.

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 your knowledge.

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.

Dr Byte

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.

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 short.

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 emails.

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.