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This is a new series at radsoft.net. The purpose of this series is to teach adept and newbie alike how to take control of one's personal computer. Most of the information contained herein applies to Wintel machines, but some may be applicable to other platforms as well.

Central to this issue is the postulate that one does not really own one's own computer. While no one would have a doubt that one owns one's own dishwasher, one's own hairdryer, or one's own TV, VCR or refrigerator, things are radically different in the world of personal computing today, especially with the explosion of the world wide web.

A quick trip down to Newbies R US will get you your box. In the old days setting up this box would have been a prohibitive task; today it is relatively simple, almost as painless as setting up a Mac. In no time flat you have your Internet Connection Wizard out there, you have your credit card at the ready, and within half an hour you can be surfing big time.

The problem - the headache, the hangover - is that for all your hard earned money, that machine was never and will never be yours. Unless you fully understand what is going on inside it, what secret schemes and moronic ideas lurk within, unless you take charge and start practicing 'smart computing'.

Although the price of hardware is going down all the time, this alone does not justify the rapidly declining retail price tags you see. No, other forces are afoot. You must be aware of what these are and take measures to thwart them and gain control of your computer.

Using a personal computer online can and should be a rewarding experience, with little or no drawbacks or unpleasant experiences whatsoever. By practicing smart computing you can make this a reality.

Next: Who Owns My Machine?

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