591 Good Advice
Fall 2004, David Matuszek
This is just basic good advice that everyone who uses a computer should know.
Practice safe computing
Viruses and spyware are a real problem these days. Not only will they slow your computer down (and possibly damage your files), you risk infecting other people's computers. Your computer might be emailing viruses to other computers without your even knowing about it.
Sooner or later, all disks crash--floppies and hard drives alike. It's not a question of "if," it's a question of "when." Furthermore, a disk will always crash at an inconvenient time (because there is never a "convenient" time for it to happen).
Anything you work on that you don't want to lose, copy to some other disk somewhere--maybe a floppy, maybe on the Web--just not on the same disk. If it's really important, be sure to have an offsite (in another building, or maybe even another state) backup.
Making backups is something everybody knows, but nobody does--until they have been burned enough times. Sooner or later, everybody learns this the hard way.
A related suggestion: Any time you get a program partially working, make a copy of it somewhere. There is always the possibility that you will mess up the program so badly that you can't recover from it, and will need to go back to the last version that works.
Don't wait until the last minute
Disks crash. Computers go down. Another virus paralyzes the web. The day your program is due, you find that your compiler doesn't seem to be working any more.
These things happen all too often. Expect it, and allow for it. Except in very unusual circumstances, your assignments are due when they are due, and last-minute computer problems are no excuse.