A Review of Active ScreenLock
by David A (Kerr) Burke

Microsoft has taken a lot of heat recently for their lack of security, "deservedly so". I guess it never occurred to them that your computer information is yours and yours alone. Well aside from the virus attacks, phishing and identity theft, there is just plain ole snooping, and spying to consider.

I have several clients; when wearing my business hat www.CCATech.com, who MUST keep what is on their PC's secret for various reasons, and you know (if you read my reviews in CAUG's outstanding Coastal Computer News on a regular basis); I like small and simple programs. Well ActiveScreenLock, does that and offers all of the features mentioned below plus a few more. ActiveScreenLock is intentionally easy to use, you activate PC lock with just one click, or if you choose it will activate its self after how every minutes you tell it to. Once this is done, no one except you can access the system itself or data stored on computer.

* ability to activate PC lock with just a mouse click; Someone looking over your shoulder?
* highest level of security available; A MUST HAVE for Win95/98/ME
* activate PC lock after given time elapses; For when you answer the phone, restroom, etc.
* display clock and custom backgrounds on a lock screen; Use your own photos to customize;
* disables Windows hotkeys (Alt+F4, Ctrl+Alt+Del, WinKey, etc.) once the PC lock is activated;
* provide PC lock usage statistics; so you will know if someone is trying to get your info;
* best feature, ActiveScreenLock is free to try and only costs $25 to buy.

You can download the program here: http://www.dmvsoft.com/ActiveScreenLock.zip  or I will have a copy to distribute at the next CAUG meeting, August 12th. BYOD (Bring your own 3.5" floppy disk)

Chief Nerd, (I hear you asking) How hard is it to install or configure??

Copy the program zip file into a working directory, unpack it using WinZip and run activescreenlock155.exe. After installation is complete, run by clicking on the Start button / Programs / ActiveScreenLock.

When ActiveScreenLock starts the first time, you will have to input your password... (it will be used to lock and unlock windows) in the password dialog. Please be careful about caps lock, the password is case sensitive, in other words CAUG, CaUg and cauG; would be three totally different passwords. This is the hardest part DO NOT LOCK YOURSELF OUT!!! Also do not use your name, password or other simple to guess words, it defeats the whole idea.

Now you will see ActiveScreenLock settings window. Click on the tabs and check the features you would like; such as "Windows startup" tab. If you choose the first option, ActiveScreenLock will lock windows background every time Windows is loaded. Or you can choose the second option - ActiveScreenLock will lock windows background only if your computer has been reset.

After customizing ActiveScreenLock you are ready to lock windows background. Press the "Lock" button. Your screen will be locked with a special screen. Enter your password to unlock the screen. If "Show tray icon" option is checked, you can lock windows background again by clicking ActiveScreenLock icon in the tray near the system clock, otherwise you can lock windows background by launching ActiveScreenLock from the Program Files menu.

Believe it or not this is almost, a complete manual on how to operate ActiveScreenLock, I did say simple yet it really does do the job. ActiveScreenLock also has a built in help section with step by step on how to do everything.

I will display ActiveScreenLock at the next CAUG meeting, since this whole process takes minutes, I will walk through installing it for those interested, on the projector. I am pushing computer security in a big way, even in the classes I teach at Del Mar, in order to better serve CAUG members and the Coastal Bend public as well. This is just one tool but one I recommend if you do not want others to have easy access to your system.

Also note the November CAUG presentation (program) will be on security, which I am working on developing not just for CAUG but to be used for business, college's and government; it will include what upgrades to make, what works, what does not, and how to compute responsibly, I compare using the PC to the responsibility one should use in driving a car.

The next class at Del Mar will be Starting before you read this review (in the wonderful Coastal Computer News) Tuesday August 3rd... SE 102: Windows I (24 hours); MSC 131; 1-5 pm Tues and Thurs. Lead Instructor: The Chief Nerd; Floor Instructors/Angels: Clara Wilson, Dick Derr. I am giving up sleep August 4th and 5th, check with me via email to see if we have any empty seats if you would like to audit the class. Also please watch KIII TV local channel 3 at 6am on August 5th and let me know how I do, this will be a weekly "live" segment on the morning news sponsored by CAUG so tune in!

As always feel free to email me at caug@ccatech.com or better yet just stop and chat with me at the next meeting.

David A (Kerr) Burke
The Chief Nerd, (President)
Coastal Area Users Group, Inc. www.caug.org
a 501(c)(3) non-profit Community Education Organization
Corpus Christi Advanced Technologies www.CCATech.com
Small Office, Business/Home Office, Business - Solutions VAR