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"Wit and Wisdom from Windows for Dummies!"

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Andy Rathbone Photo
6/2/06 Interview with Andy Rathbone

San Diego, CA Biography

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Motivation for PCs the Missing Manual

  1. Rathbone wanted to write something comprehensive for people having problems with their computer or wanting to accomplish some task with it; most PC books are either too simple or too complicated-this book is in plain language.
  2. The book covers such topics as upgrading a hard drive, adding memory, plugging in peripherals, burning CDs and DVDs, etc.
  3. Organized into five sections, the book first looks at what is inside your PC, how to get at and how to replace it when something goes wrong; part two deals with multimedia (scanners, digital cameras, camcorders, etc.); part three focuses on information storage (hard drives, floppy drives, CDs, etc.); part four is about the Internet (email, going online, web surfing, networking); part five deals with maintenance, security and troubleshooting.
  4. Much of what Rathbone covers-such as media, security, the Internet-is of interest to real estate pros.
Tips for Laptops
  1. Rathbone includes sidebars in the book to explain differences between PCs and laptops and how to adjust the information for laptop application.
  2. Sometimes users will want to plug in a second monitor, and frequently they need to upgrade memory to accommodate running more programs.
  3. Upgrading memory in a PC or laptop is one of the easiest upgrades to do, and it makes a remarkable improvement in the computer's speed.
Digital Cameras
  1. A common question addressed is what kind of memory card to use for film; the book has a chart showing a picture of each kind of card with a description of its advantages.
  2. How to email photos is an important topic for agents; most digital cameras take photos that are too large for easy access on a monitor; the advice tells how to crop and resize.
  3. In addition to just describing features, Rathbone includes comments throughout the book on why someone would want to use those features.
  4. A favorite tip with cameras advises how to keep it steady for a zoom shot or low-light situation-hold the strap in your teeth and stretch the camera out to put tension on the strap and stabilize the camera.
Memory Upgrades
  1. Memory is easy to add to a PC or laptop, but the hard part is knowing what kind to use; memory vendors have programs on their web sites that can be downloaded and run on your computer to identify exactly what you need; then you can purchase online.
  2. The memory products come with an instruction manual; installation requires only a screwdriver to open the case-the memory just slides in.
Backup Strategy
  1. Rathbone outlines a complete backup strategy; he describes the simplest way to do it using examples for people with different needs.
  2. An external hard drive is good for backups and handy for offloading and storing a lot of information you aren't using immediately-a digital archive of photos and property records takes up much less space than hard copies.
  3. Running daily backups is a business lifesaver when your hard drive crashes, which is bound to happen; knowing that your information is protected gives you peace of mind.
  4. There is risk of losing data and hardware on your hard drive even for lesser problems than a crash-half the time when you take your computer into a repair shop, the techs will wipe the hard drive clean and reinstall Windows.
The Biggest Problem
  1. Rebooting is a quick fix for about half the problems that crop up with computer programs; rebooting is always the first thing to try.
  2. The biggest problem now is spyware, programs put on your computer by some web sites without your knowing it to spy on your activities; much of it is so annoying because incompatibilities between spyware programs can slow down your computer.
  3. The new version of Windows will help handle spyware, but there are programs available now to counteract it; Rathbone recommends running Ad-Aware every week or so; others include Spybot, CounterSpy and MS Windows Defender (free download).
  4. Whereas with antivirus and firewall programs, you should stick with one company's products; with anti-spyware, you should run different ones from different companies.
Top Tips for Using Technology
  1. Run a spyware checker every week or so because spyware is debilitating a lot of computers now.
  2. Make sure your hard drive is not overly crowded-offloading excess to an external hard drive is one solution; when a hard drive is about to die, it will slow down and start to make grinding noises; if you hear such noise, stop what you are doing and perform an immediate backup to a portable hard drive.
  3. If you have more than one computer (e.g., a PC and laptop), look into networking them for ease of sharing information; one computer can also serve as a temporary backup of the other.
Special Sites for Real Estate Pros
  1. is a resource for getting a quick, ballpark estimate of what a home is worth; although the site's accuracy is questionable, it may be motivating some people to contact agents.
  2. Google Maps is invaluable to acquaint consumers with new areas and particular properties without traveling to them.
Personal Favorites on the Web
  1. Google News, Rathbone's home page, gives him a good review of what is happening in his area an around the world; setting keywords prompts Google to send him an email link to any news item on that topic.
  2. PopURLS collects rating data from about six sites that compile opinions on web sites; it is a resource for determining where to find the latest buzz on the Internet.
Current Project

Rathbone is working on Windows Vista for Dummies based on the new version due out around the end of the year.

Contact Information for Andy Rathbone:

(v) 619-223-4387

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Rathbone's web site:
Anti-spyware: Ad-Aware; Windows Defender; Spybot; CounterSpy
Google Maps:
Google News: