Not all spam comes via e-mail. Some just shows up on your screen as a pop-up advertisement.
There are really two types of pop-ups that plague Windows users. One type are ads that appear in Internet Explorer or whatever web browser you're using. The other simply appears on the Windows desktop as if they have a mind of their own.
Fortunately there is a way to get rid of both types. The browser pop-ups (which also sometimes pop-under a browser window only to reveal themselves when you close that window) can be avoided by using programs like Pop-Up Stopper from Panicware (www.panicware.com) and AdSubtract from Intermute (www.adsubtract.com). Internet Explorer users can rid themselves of these pop-ups for free by installing the Google toolbar (http://toolbar.google.com/) which also has some nice extra features for those who frequently use Google to search the Internet
It is also possible to rid yourself of those ads that pop-up on the Window desktop. These ads, which are called "Messenger Service Ads," are able to sneak into your computer because of a "feature" that Microsoft deliberately built into Windows. The feature was designed to enable system administrators to send notices to users within their organizations but clever but unscrupulous programmers have figured out a way to use it to sneak in advertisements.
You can block these ads with a firewall, which is software designed to keep intruders out of your system. Windows XT comes with a built-in firewall but by default, it is switched off. To turn it on, go to the Windows help system from the Start menu and enter the word "firewall." It will bring up an article called "Enable or disable Internet connection firewall."
Recipe to Stop Those Ads
It is also possible to disable the mechanism in Windows that allows messenger ads. To do this:
Click on the Start menu and select Control Panel
Click on Performance and Maintenance (or double click "Administrative tool")
If they're not already showing, Click on Administrative Tools
Double Click on Services
Locate the line for Messenger and double click
Look for a box that says "Startup type" and select "disabled."
A syndicated technology columnist for nearly two decades, Larry Magid serves as on air Technology Analyst for CBS Radio News. His technology reports can be heard several times a week on the CBS Radio Network. Magid is the author of several books including "The Little PC Book."
By Larry Magid
Copyright 2003 CBS. All rights reserved.