I thought this had died down, but I have started seeing it more and more again. And yes, this is for my Windows using friends. Please, please, please do not install Hotbar. If you have it now, please uninstall it and run something like Spybot Search & Destroy or go to http://housecall.antivirus.com and run their free scan.
Hotbar is a known carrier of spyware. Yes, it will help you put cute little smiley faces in your email. Yes, it adds a neat little toolbar to your browser. But it has been proven to slow down machines, cause pop-up windows, and allow in all kinds of other unfriendly beasties. Baseline is that you do not want it on your machine.
You also really do need a full suite of protection protects on your Windows machine. For the home user I recommend AVG’s free anti-virus for Grisoft. You can also either use their spyware tool or the one I mentioned above. Or, if using Vista, just use Microsoft Defender which came with Windows to protect your machine from spyware. But please, use something.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback please let me know!