Posting Public and Private Replies on Twitter
Q. Why do some tweets in my Twitter feed have a period in front of the user's name?
A. Twitter allows its members to easily respond or address each other by placing the "@" symbol in front of the person's handle (user name), as in @yournamehere in posts. When a post begins with a person's handle, however, Twitter treats it as a semi-private reply to that person. This means only the sender, the recipient and anybody who happens to follow both people can see the message in their personal Twitter feeds, although the message can also be seen by visiting the sender or recipient's timeline page.
To convert the message into a form that Twitter will not treat as a personal reply, many users just type a period in front of the handle, as in ".@yournamehere." If the user name is not at the very beginning of the message, the tweet shows up in the feeds of all the person's followers because Twitter does not consider it to be an official reply.
Moving the person's handle even further into the body of the message, as after a salutation ("Hey there, @yournamehere, how do you like those New York Jets now?") also makes it visible to your followers. Twitter refers to these types of tweets as "mentions" and also lists them on its Connect page for each person noted in the message.
Protecting Windows 8 From Malware
Q. Why isn't the free Microsoft Security Essentials software available for Windows 8?
A. Microsoft's own antivirus, spyware and malware-protection software is still available to download for computers running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, but the company has gone another route for Windows 8 and its Windows RT mobile operating system. For these newer versions of Windows, Microsoft has built security software right into the operating system.
Both Windows 8 and Windows RT include the Windows Defender program for scanning, detecting and removing known malware. These systems also come with Windows SmartScreen, a program that can block unrecognized -- and potentially malicious -- programs downloaded from the Internet. (The similar SmartScreen filter has also been included with Microsoft's Internet Explorer brows for the past several years as well.)
Although Microsoft has stepped up security for Windows 8, plenty of third-party antivirus programs are available if you want to try something else. Free basic security programs for Windows 8 include Avira, AVG Free and Avast, as are the more full-featured paid editions of each company's product. Other protective software for Windows 8 include BitDefender, Norton AntiVirus and Kaspersky Anti-Virus. As with any purchase, you may want to read reviews of each product to make an informed decision on which one might work best for you.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.