Very few applications have released updates over the last 6 weeks. Microsoft always releases some updates for Windows and Office on the second Tuesday of the month (Patch Tuesday); if you have Automatic Updates on, you should get the Critical/High Priority updates automatically. iTunes and QuickTime did update last week; if you use either, you should have already been prompted to update.
Most manufacturers have stopped including software CDs or DVDs with their new computers. It saves a little money for the maker (probably not passed along to you), and many buyers immediately lose the discs and need to purchase them later, anyway. Manufacturers DO make money selling you a new set of discs, which ranges from about $15 - $30 -- unless you're ineligible - in which case, when your drive crashes, you'll need to buy a full-blown set of discs for Windows and all the applications for which you can't find the discs. A set of Microsoft Office Pro 2010 discs is $499, and there is no upgrade price from an earlier version.
If the computer didn't come with discs, there will be a way to create (burn) your own set. You will undoubtedly be nagged for a while to burn these discs. If you ignore this nag, you will pay for it later. Follow the prompts and make your own Recovery Disc Set. Or I'll do it when I set up your new computer. It doesn't matter who does it, only that it gets done and you then know where in hell the discs are when you need them.
INFECTED COMPUTERS AND YOUR NETWORK
Yes, it's still true. If a virus, trojan or other malware has infected your computer it can travel through your home or office network and infect everyone else's computer. If you suspect your computer is infected (you'll know), do the right thing and disconnect from the network to protect everybody else. Immediately. Not after you save a few more things to the shared drive or send a couple emails. You should always know how to use your email from another computer. If you don't know, ask.
If you suspect your computer is infected, it probably is. You're familiar with how your computer normally responds; if it's slower or does things you didn't ask or takes you to places you didn't intend to go, it's infected. Get it cleaned, as soon as possible. The longer it goes on, the smaller the chance of cleaning it without a complete rebuild. Rebuilding involves removing the hard drive and attaching it to another computer to clean, fix and wipe, then reinstalling back into your computer and reinstalling Windows, drivers, all the original software and add-on applications, printer, scanner, camera, iPod, etc. and all the updates. It takes hours... many hours.
If you suspect your computer is infected and want to clean it yourself, a great procedure is found on Nick Francesco's site, Security Tango.com. Why do I tell you this when I could just insist you pay me to clean it? Because I want you to do everything you can to help yourself, and the more you know about what it takes to clean, the better for all. Of course, if you check out the Tango and decide it's not for you, I'm here to help.
Can I talk about backups yet again? Yes, and I will. When your computer crashes from that trojan, it's not always possible to save everything you'd want to save. So do it beforehand. Early and often. If you don't know how to back up what you don't want to lose, ask somebody or Google it. If you still don't know how or want to, I'll show you several ways or do it for you. You're in control - take it!
There's one more topic I want to cover, but it does merit it's own post. I'll put it up shortly.