Contact Us
Mental Health
Financial advice
Youth Matters
Techno Corner

Arun Marballi

Last month, I had committed to reviewing some of the features present in the new Operating System released by Microsoft named Vista with a view to providing some guidance to people who are considering an upgrade or are in the market for a new computer.

Since Vista is still new, I will focus only on the different versions of this operating system and which (if any) may be appropriate for the typical home user. Vista comes in five flavors – Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise Edition and Ultimate.

Most Home users could probably get away with Home Basic although I would prefer the Home Premium version mainly because it additionally includes the Windows DVD Maker, an automated backup capability including the ability to backup to a folder or device on the network, the Windows Media Center, a capability for creating themed slide shows, support for wireless connections to a networked projector and the new display scheme called Windows Aero that provides a floating display of multiple active windows much like the picture-in-picture feature on a TV.

All these features are not available in the Home Basic version and, I believe, contribute to the richness of the operating system experience. There are other features offered in the Business and Enterprise Edition version that are geared more towards business users. The Ultimate version, as the name indicates is the big enchilada that has everything in it but costs a whole lot more as well.

My recommendation on upgrading an existing computer is limited to a computer that may have been purchased within the last year. For any computer older than that, the benefit gained is simply not worth the cost and effort of upgrading. New computers purchased should be obtained with the Vista operating system version that you desire. Among the virtues of Vista are the improved security features built into the operating system to thwart the ever-increasing threats faced by the Internet-connected computer user.

Speaking of threats, the one danger that appears to be making headlines these days is identity theft. What makes this threat ubiquitous is the fact that our identities could be lifted or leaked from a myriad of places – some that are obvious and some not so apparent. One that recently came to light is perhaps season specific. We are now in the initial phases of the annual tax season and all the accountants are busy with filing tax returns.

Many use computers to speed up the process and many more are using electronic filing. Keeping in mind that the tax return provides a rich source for potential identity theft (no pun intended), the tax preparer’s computer becomes a gold mine, indeed. This vulnerability came to light recently when a tax preparer in the mid-west had a computer stolen from the office and all records on the computer were lost – hundreds of Social Security numbers and bank account numbers – a rich lode of information indeed! It may be worth asking our tax preparers regarding the security of their computer network and use of encrypted data storage.

These days, as part of pursuing career growth, it is considered normal to circulate a resume. However, criminals and identity thieves are all too interested in finding and using resumes for their benefit. I bet none of us have considered the fact that perhaps our resumes have a “street value” derived from our name, home address, telephone number, detailed work history and even our e-mail address.

These items of information can be valuable to identity thieves and fraudsters. The good news is that you can minimize this risk by taking some safety measures. Most job sites offer you the ability to post your resume anonymously. This shields your contact information and e-mail address and lets you decide who can and cannot see this information. Many job seekers do not avail of this option because they feel that doing so would hurt their chances with legitimate employers.

However, it is a caution that is worthwhile using. It also is important to bear in mind that some job offers you receive as a result of posting your resume may be phishing scams and, before you respond to any, your guard should go up immediately if the offer requires you to scan or otherwise provide your ID or drivers’ license; or if it requires you to send in an application fee or transfer money as part of your duties; or if the job description mentions e-Bay, PayPal or Western Union; or if the potential employer asks for your bank account number or Social Security Number.

It is important to recognize that once you post your resume online, you lose complete control over who uses it and how it is used. And it is imperative that the Social Security number should never be included in a resume unless you are applying to the federal or state Government – and those applications are rarely managed online. If a job site does not provide options to mask contact information, consider using a disposable e-mail address and a P.O. Box instead of your street address.

Many resumes include the name and time frame of the school you attended. Have you considered the fact that anyone can call up the school you attended and obtain what is called “directory information” without your consent? This can include your name, date of birth, home address, and certain other vital information. If you are a current college student, you can sign what is called a FERPA form to stop your school from giving this information out to just anyone that calls. (FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

If you have a FERPA on file, only legitimate employers and law enforcement professionals may access this information. If you attended college many years ago, you can merely list the degrees and let the employer ask for the name of the college in the interview. FERPA applies to high school students as well, but for students under the age of 18, parents must sign the FERPA forms. It is crucial for parents to protect their high school going children’s home address and directory information especially during job searches for summer or part-time work.

And as a final point, remember to upgrade your computers’ operating system this month. There have been releases of numerous patches, including one that addresses the change in the start of the Daylight Savings Time effective this year. Older operating systems, including Windows XP Service Pack 1 will not have this change applied to them and so should be dealt with manually. For those who are not aware, Daylight Savings Time is scheduled to kick in on March 11 this year instead of the customary first weekend of April.

Arun Marballi has worked in the Information Technology arena for more than 20 years with extensive experience in software development, process design and network/workstation management. For comments, questions, tips or suggestions, e-mail


Contact Information
The Editor:
Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © 2004 Khaas Baat.

Anything that appears in Khaas Baat cannot be reproduced, whether wholly or in part, without permission. Opinions expressed by Khaas Baat contributors are their own and do not reflect the publisher's opinion.

Khaas Baat reserves the right to edit and/or reject any advertising. Khaas Baat is not responsible for errors in advertising or for the validity of any claims made by its advertisers. Khaas Baat is published by Khaas Baat Communications.