Click above for the top 50 tips of the week

home.gif (2447 bytes)


 SOFTWARE SECRET
---------------

PROBLEM: You've been using Windows 98 for quite a while now.
Is there anything you should do to remove the excess files that
have accumulated?

SOLUTION: Unfortunately, it's very hard to delete most useless
files. You can use Add/Remove Programs to clean up the most
obvious ones (Start, Settings, Control Panel, double-click on
Add/Remove Programs), but most of the orphaned files that have
piled up will doubtless escape detection. One easy sprucing-up,
though, comes from the Windows 98 Disk Cleanup routine. Click
on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup,
and follow the instructions.
 
Some handy keyboard shortcuts

CTRL-O - brings up URL ADDRESS entry screen which stands alone,
so you cannot make an accidental error and clock on some of the
menu items, or make an error entering the URL

CTRL-C, CTRL-V The first copiesa selection, the second pastes
the selection. Use for all pick up entries, i.e., from email
messages, and/or URLs, in assorted Web pages

RIGHT-CLICK - on any URL you want to open in a new browser
window. Or you can RIGHT-CLICK to copy a URL from a link on any page.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
TIP OF THE WEEK: MODEM SPEEDS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Even though its famous brand name has become a synonym for something unpleasant,
Hormel has managed to keep its sense of humor. See here:

http://www.spam.com/

"Tasteless and of little or no value," however, is definitely how most people
would describe junk e-mail. "SPAM," the luncheon meat, became a name for junk e-
mail through an evolutionary process in the history of techno-geek-speak that
you can explore on Hormel's own "SPAM" site here:

http://www.spam.com/ci/ci_in.htm

Or, by scrolling down to paragraph 2.4 on this page:

http://www.cybernothing.org/faqs/net-abuse-faq.html#2.1

Spam exists because it is cheap and (unfortunately) it works. A spammer can buy
a program for a few hundred dollars to harvest thousands upon thousands of e-
mail addresses and send out a like number of messages. With a clever message, he
can make money by persuading only .5 percent of the recipients to go to this-or-
that Web site, or, better yet, give a credit card number to his "fool-proof,
once-in-a-lifetime, get-rich-quick-now" scheme.

Spam proliferates because it costs only slightly more to send out a million e-
mails than it does a thousand. If the cost is about the same, why not send out
a million messages and increase the number of positive responses?

No other form of advertising is as cheap, because some of the cost is passed on
to you, the user. You pay for your Internet access, and it is your time that is
wasted in dealing with spam. Across the Internet, spam pushes up costs by
increasing the need for bandwidth, disk storage space, and processor time.

Professional spammers sometimes use free trial-period accounts with Internet
Service Providers to spew out thousands of messages, then walk away from any
responsibility.

How it works.

Spammers harvest e-mail addresses in several ways. There are programs that
crawl among newsgroups and webpages and look for all instances of text in the
format <somebody>@<someplace.com>. Text in this format is then saved to a
database. So if you are posting under your real e-mail address to a newsgroup,
or submitting it to a website that asks for it, you can expect that eventually
your name will wind up in some spammer's database.

In other cases, spammers build databases out of real names and common words. For
example, if your e-mail address is as common as <joesmith@someplace.com>, you
can be sure you will be spammed almost immediately.

Other methods of obtaining e-mail addresses include Web-based surveys, Web-based
order forms, and buying commercial mailing lists (not derived from the Internet)
and sifting through them.

In some cases, legitimate companies assume that if you give them your e-mail
address for a valid reason, such as ordering a product on line, you are giving
them permission to send your advertisements.

Still other companies and organizations may promise not to sell your e-mail
address but do it anyway.

Lately, spammers have resorted to what are called "phone book" attacks. That
means sending e-mails like this:

smith@somewhere.com
smitha@somewhere.com
smithb@somehwere.com

We begin this week with a bit of history. Alexander Graham Bell, born
a Scotsman, invented the telephone in 1876 in Boston. His first words
over the new device were to his assistant, "Mr. Watson, come here; I
want you."

The Bell System, or Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), has been with
us since the 1880's, more than 100 years!

[Editor's note: We try to avoid causing "MEGO," My Eyes Glaze Over.
What follows is for plain-vanilla users, not engineers.]

1) POTS = teeny-weeny little copper wires.
2) What modems do: digital to analog and back.
3) The 53 Kilo bits per second (Kbps) "limit"
4) Digital switches and other "limits."
5) How modems talk to each other.
6) 56K modem standards: X2 vs. K56flex vs. V.90
7) Firmware and patches.
8) Modem strings: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
 

1) POTS, Plain Old Telephone Service. Look at that plastic gizmo (the
RJ-11 jack) that connects your phone to the wall. See how tiny the
wires are?

When Alexander Graham Bell came along, wires were already carrying
information: long and short bursts of electricity. The telegraph used
the Morse Code (dashes and dots), a sort of precursor to the digital
age.

Bell's brilliant idea was to make rising and falling levels of voltage
correspond to the rising and falling tones of our voices.

Our voices are "analog" signals. So is music. We humans experience
the world in analog. Vision, for example, is analog because we see
infinitely smooth gradations of shapes and colors. Sound is analog
tones, like "waves" rising and falling in the ocean, or bars of music
dancing across a score.

Mr. Bell's wires were designed to carry voices, not digital computer
data. If you are in an old building in a big city on the East Coast,
at some point, even if only for the last few feet, those wires may be
50, 60, or more years old.

It took many decades and billions upon billions of dollars to build
the Bell copper wire system. Can it be replaced overnight? Obviously
not.

Although phone companies have spent more billions on fiber-optic
cables and digital switches, the problem is that --even today-- the
last few hundred feet of the connection to you may be those little
copper wires.

This poses a problem: digital to analog switching.

2) What modems do. Picture a wavy bar gliding across this page from
left to right. That's an analog signal. Now picture a tiny pair of
magical scissors sweeping in and snipping a tiny "bit" of that wave,
"capturing" it, if you like.

That "bit" is represented symbolically by digits, like this: 10 01 00 11.

Your computer processes images and sound into digital data.

As digital data leaves your computer to zip through those little old
copper wires, it has to be converted to analog "waves" of
voltage. That is what a modem

(MOdulator-DEModulator) does. At our end (the Internet Service
Provider), similar modems turn the waves back into digits to travel
the Web.

3) The 53 Kbps limit. Frustrated customers with brand-new "56K"
modems often ask why they are connecting at "only" 40,000, or 46,000,
or even 50,000 bits per second. Actually, those speeds are pretty
good. In a new house, with new wires, living next door to the
telephone company, the best connection you could hope to achieve is
between 53 and 54 thousand bits per second. Why?

More than 20 years ago, with computers on the horizon, the Bell System
and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) got together to come
up with a standard for sending digital data over those old voice phone
lines.

Engineers faced a problem. You could only put a certain amount of
electrical power into those teeny copper wires. If you went over a
limit, the lines would "bleed;" there would be cross talk in the
network. You might damage equipment.

Remember the tiny pair of magical scissors that snip a "bit" from the
analog wave and "capture" it. These are busy little scissors.

Faced with the power limit and other considerations, the Bell/FCC
standard- makers decided the little scissors would snip 8,000 times
per second in little chunks of eight bits. Eight times 8,000 equals
64,000 and that is the theoretical limit that was adopted.

For reasons too complex to explain here, 8,000 bits must be subtracted
for control purposes, so the real theoretical limit is 56,000, the
famous "56K."

Modems convert waves to digits and back with a technique called pulse
code modulation (PCM). Even though the FCC relaxed the power limits a
year ago, so far no one has figured out how to make a PCM modem go
faster than 53 to 54 Kbps.

[Just to confuse you further, there IS a way to send ten times as much
data (1.5 mega bits per second over those same teeny wires without
burning them up. It's called "DSL" and phone companies are moving
toward it, albeit reluctantly, because it requires new, expensive
equipment on their end. We will discuss other connection technologies
in the future.)

4) Digital switches and other limits. Your nice, new 56K modem has
just converted your computer's digital data into analog (waveform) and
it's zipping along happily. Suddenly it runs into an obstacle: an
analog to digital switch.

Although such switches are supposed to speed phone traffic by making
it all- digital, they also add "quantization noise," which knocks down
the speed. In short, if there is more than one analog-to-digital
switch between you and us (your ISP) you can't use 56K, and your
connection will be limited to 28.8 to 33.6 kilobits per second. This
happens often in places like New York City, where there are multiple
paths and switches in the phone network. It happens less in (newer)
suburbs.

Other forms of line noise also cut down connection speeds.

On a CLEAN line, a normal distance between you and the phone company
(and us) should have little effect.

(Distance WILL play a role in some newer technologies, like DSL, which
is limited to no more than 18,000 feet between you and the phone
company.)

However, the more distance the higher chance line noise (from outside
sources) will affect your connection.

How long is the cord between your computer and the wall? Keep it
short. A long cord bundled into a loop will act as an antenna and pick
up interference from faulty household appliances.

Loose connections cause line noise. The little plastic gizmos (RJ-11
jacks) at both ends of your modem cable should fit snugly. High winds
shaking loose telephone lines can cause line noise. Not much you can
do about that.

Faulty or damp wiring in your house (or on the street) can cause line
noise.

If you have a persistent problem, you can ask your phone company (for
a fee, of course) to check your internal wiring, and also to test for
line noise on their own connection to you.

Lightning or high-power cables running alongside phone lines cause
line noise.

5) How modems talk to each other. Unless you have your modem turned
off, you are probably familiar with that SCREECH-SCREECH! BOING-BOING!
sound that modems make when they talk to each other. (At your next
cocktail party you can wow everyone by casually referring to this as
the "handshake.")

Let's say your modem is named Alice, and ours is Sam. Alice sends out
a high- pitched screech saying, in effect, "Sam, Sam! I'm a 56K
modem! Can you hear me?" Sam listens and if he agrees that Alice is
sending a 56K tone, he says, "Okay, Alice, let's connect at 56K."
They "shake hands." Silence. The authentication and password
verification process begins.

However, if Sam and Alice cannot agree at 56K, they will screech and
counter- screech at each other at progressively lower tones (33.6,
28.8, 14.4) until they can agree. Or perhaps not.

6) 56K modem standards: X2 vs. K56flex vs. V.90 This is a story about
modem manufacturers, and how Sam and Alice should talk to one another.

When 56K modems were coming online three years ago, one dominant
manufacturer (US Robotics, since taken over by 3Com) put forward a
proprietary standard for "handshakes" called "X2." Other
manufacturers (led by Rockwell and Lucent Technology, owner of Bell
Labs) proposed another. It was called "K56flex."

X2 modems could not talk to K56flex modems, and vice-versa. Internet
Service Providers (like us) were briefly caught in the middle. If we
installed one technology our modems might not be able to listen to the
other.

Fortunately, negotiations began. The International Telecommunications
Union mediated, and in 1998 a new standard was adopted--a bridge
between the other two. It is called "V.90." Now modems are
manufactured to the V90 standard, and virtually all ISP's (including
this one) are V.90-compliant.

If your modem is new, you have no problem. If your modem is older,
especially if it is a US Robotics X2, it will not connect to us at
56Kbps (although it might do okay at lower speeds).

If your modem is old, and you do not plan to move up to faster cable
or DSL technology any time soon, 56K connections will be the
lowest-cost option for years to come. In that case, you might want to
consider investing in a new, high-quality 56K V.90 modem. (See our
Site of the Week below.)

7) Firmware and patches. Chips inside modems have instructions burned
into their guts. These "firmware" instructions work with your
software. Although "firmware" seems to imply forever, the instructions
in some chips can be upgraded. They can be reburned, if you like, with
new software downloaded from the manufacturer. Such chips are called
"PROMS," (Programmable Read-only Memory) or "EEPROMS," (Electronically
Erasable Programmable Read-only Memory).

The software that does this is called a "patch." Patches come in
handy if your manufacturer discovers that your modem will work better
with a new set of instructions. Sometimes our technicians will check
your firmware, and suggest that you download a patch.

8) Modem strings: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. As we know, modems
exchange tones (screech) to arrive at a connection speed. Modems also
share a universal language. It uses what are called "AT Commands" and
"S-Registers." These internal commands can have a big impact on
connection speeds.

The language is simple, and all but two commands begin with the
letters "AT," for Attention, "hey modem, listen to this." For
example, "ATDP" means "Attention Dial Pulse," and "ATDT" means
"Attention, Dial Tone." "ATL1" will lower the volume of your modem to
Level 1.

Modems come with "default initialization strings," specified by the
manufacturer. It is best not to tamper with these settings, because a
single wrong letter or digit out of place can also shut down your
modem.

Modem strings can be used to override factory settings, for example to
"force" the modem to connect at a certain speed, or to compensate for
line noise.

Our technicians can tell you how to change modem strings inside the
Windows and Mac operating systems if necessary. But we STRONGLY
ADVISE unless you have a specific problem and know what you are doing,
don't mess with modem strings.

Have you ever been viewing a Web page and thought to yourself, "I have to make
sure that John or Jane sees this?"

Assuming that John or Jane has Internet access and e-mail, there are several
ways to transmit all or parts of what you see on a web page.

Some browsers permit you to send the entire page, pictures and all, in an e-
mail, or you can send the "link," and John or Jane can open the page the next
time they surf the Web.

In the latest versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (4.0 and 5.0), you can
send an entire Web page, as is, by clicking on "File" menu in the upper left
corner. Scroll down to the "Send" option, about two-thirds of the way down the
menu, and then on the right arrow.

Both IE4.0 and IE5.0 offer three "Send" options, with slight differences:

--Page by e-mail
--Link by e-mail
--Shortcut to Desktop.

In IE4.0, if you select "Page by e-mail," an e-mail screen will automatically
pop up (in Outlook Express, the built-in mail program). In the top half of the
screen, IE4.0 will put the "link" (more about this in a moment), and in the
bottom part it will insert an Internet Explorer icon signifying the saved page,
with its name. You need add only John or Jane's e-mail address at the top of
the screen, next to "To:" and then click "Send" to transmit the Web page. To
see the page, Jane or John must click on the link to go on line and get it, or
they can click on the icon, and open the saved page in a browser without going
on line.

In IE5.0, if you do the same thing it will send the whole page as is pictures
and all, right in the body of the e-mail. There is no need to open anything.

Now, about "links." This refers simply to that often complicated combination of
letters, colons (:) and slashes (//) at the top of the page that are the
"address" (in Microsoft-speak) and "location" (in Netscape-speak). This
gibberish is also known as a "URL" (Uniform Resource Locator).

For example, http://www.msnbc.com/ is a link, an address, a location, and a URL.
("Address" is simple, isn't it? Plain. Comfortable, like an old shoe.)

If you select "Send | Link by e-mail," both IE 4.0 and IE 5.0 will send the
address and an icon representing the saved web page, as described above.

If you select "Shortcut to Desktop," both IE4.0 and IE5.0 will put an icon
representing that page right on your desktop. You can click on it to launch
your browser and go directly to that spot on the Web. This is good if you use
the Internet principally for one thing, such as checking your stocks. If you
"shortcut" your broker's Web page to your desktop, it will take you there
directly.

Things are slightly more complicated with Netscape browsers.

To send a Web page in Netscape Communicator, click on the "File" menu in the
upper left corner. Scroll down to "Send Page" and click.

Like Explorer, Communicator will automatically pop up an e-mail screen (in
Messenger, its built-in mail program). In contrast to IE5.0, though,
Communicator will send only the link in the body of the message, not the entire
page, as is. John or Jane will have to click on the link to open it, as
discussed above, although this extra step is hardly a big deal.

(Incidentally, whether you are using Explorer or Communicator, if you are
sending the link only, that's all that will appear in your message, so you might
want to add a line or two of explanation, like "Hey, Jane, here's that cool link
to (whatever) that I told you about.")

In older versions of Netscape, such as 3.01, it is not possible to send pages
directly. In the "File" menu, you first have to go to "Save as," and save the
web page as an HTML file (Hypertext Markup Language) to, let's say, your
desktop. You can then "attach" the file to an e-mail message and send it that
way. The recipient will need to use a browser to open it.

Suppose you just want to sent part of a Web page, text or pictures, what then?

No problem. To send text, just highlight the portion you want. Click the RIGHT
mouse button, and then "copy." Open a new e-mail message, again use the right
mouse button, and use the "paste" command to put into the body of your message.

Sending pictures involves an extra step or two. Whether you are in Internet
Explorer or a Netscape browser, if you right click on any image of a Web page,
you will get a little menu that, among other things, offers "Save Picture as."
(IE) or "Save Image as." (Netscape).

When you select the "Save as" option, a window will pop up with a file name and
a file type, usually either .JPEG (if it is a photo), or .GIF (if it is a
graphics image). Save the file someplace you can find it easily, such as the
desktop. You can then open an e-mail window and "attach" the file or "insert"
it into the message.

In either case, you will be prompted for the file location. If you "attach" the
image (use the paper clip symbol), it will not be visible in your outgoing
message, nor will it be immediately visible to the recipient. John or Jane will
have to open it on the other end. If you use the "insert" command (on the top
line of your mail program), the image will appear in your outgoing message, and
will be visible right away at the other end.

Finally, a few more words about links. Suppose you want to send many. Imagine
you are e-mailing someone, and you want to say "go here," and then "go there" to
see this or that. In the address (or location) bar of your browser, highlight
and then right-click on the URL. A little menu offers the options to "Cut,"
"Copy," "Paste," and "Delete." By selecting "Copy" you can then "paste" that
URL anyplace in your e-mail.

NOTE: All this works basically the same way whether in Windows or Mac versions
of the browsers.

Back in the Stone Age, Ancient Man used to send documents or pictures of
his family through a primitive system called "snail mail." To open these
documents, you ripped open an envelope, and there they were.Now, however,
Modern Man sends the same documents or pictures through e-mail, by means of
something called "attachments." The problem is, sometimes the darn things
don't "open."

What is an attachment? Put simply, an attachment is any computer file that
is "transported" through the Internet within (that is, "attached") to an e-
mail.

Attachments usually show up in your e-mail with a paper clip symbol and
icon describing the type of program used to create the file that is
attached. More about this in paragraph two below.

Problems arise mainly for four reasons:
 

1) Attachments are too "big." Back in the Bronze Age, when software
designers were creating today's dominant E-mail programs, few people
foresaw that e-mail would be so popular, nor that it would be common to use
attachments. As a result, large attachments coming down a 56K connection
tend to "choke" your modem or E-mail software before the download can be
completed. The result is a "stuck" e-mail. Generally speaking it is unwise
to send an attachment much over one megabyte (MB).

If an E-mail refuses to download over and over again, it may be "stuck"
because of a large attachment. If you suspect this is happening, call up
our Tech Support Department at 1 888 376 5638, and we will delete it from
our servers. Deleting stuck e-mails is usually the only way to resolve the
problem.

(There are ways to send big files across the Internet, using such programs
as FTP, File Transfer Protocol, but that is another subject.)

2) The file may be incompatible with the software on your computer.

If someone sends you a document created with Microsoft Word (regardless of
whether you are using a Windows or Mac machine) but you don't have Word on
your computer, the file may show up as a page of computer code, or not open
at all.

If the attached file is a sound or moving picture, you may need what is
called a "plug-in" to open it. A "plug-in" is a mini-program that often is
built into your browser to "play" sound and picture files. These mini-
programs "plug-in" to your existing browser, but may be absent from older
versions.

Among the most common plug-ins are the Microsoft Windows Media Player
(which comes with Windows 95, 98, and NT) and Real Player, available at
http://www.realplayer.com/

As we mentioned above, attached files show up as icons in the body of
your e-mail. Often the program is identified by name, but sometimes
not. The identification may be limited to the "extension," those three
letters after the dot (.) in file names (such as .xxx). Here are some
common file extensions and the programs required to open them:

.exe This extension identifies an "executable" file. This means
a program that will run on your machine if you click on it.
Be careful with these files. They sometimes can be used to install
viruses on your computer. Know who is the sender or what the
program is about.

.txt This identifies a simple text document file. The simplest
word processor will open these.

.doc A document created by Microsoft Word. If you don't have
"Word" on your machine, it may not open.

.xls A spreadsheet created by Microsoft Excel. You will need Excel
to open it.

.wpd A document created by Corel Word Perfect. You will need WP
to open it.

.wav A audio file format created by Microsoft. If you have a sound card
and speakers on your machine, Windows will open these.

.mp3 The latest compression format for sending digital audio files across
the Internet. You may need the latest versions of the Windows Media
Player, Real Player, or a similar program to open these.

.jpg The recommended file format for photographs. Windows and Macs will
open these.

.gif The recommended file format for graphics and icons, opened by
Windows and Mac machines.
 

These are the most common file extensions you might encounter in an e-mail
attachment, but there are many, many others.

To avoid incompatibility problems altogether, you might want to invest $59
in either of two programs: Keyview (available at http://www.keyview.com) or
Quick View Plus (at http://www.jasc.com). Both of these programs will open
hundreds of different types of file formats, although they will not allow
you to edit or change them.
 

3) A third problem with attachments is encoding in the E-mail. Encoding
means repackaging a file as simple text so that it can travel easily across
the Internet.

Most E-mail programs now are smart enough to recognize encoding so that you
don't have to worry about it. Attachments are usually encoded in one of
three standards: MIME, BinHex, or Uuencode. Rarely you might get a file in
the MIME format that turns up as gibberish. It must then be decoded. If
you have the option, and don't want to learn about decoding and don't want
to bother with downloading decoding software, the most practical advice is
to ask the sender to fax you the document.
 

4) The fourth common problem with attachments is compression. For a
lengthy explanation of compression, please see our Tip last week at
http://www.erols.com/erols/news/0799/07-23-99.html Basically, it means
squeezing the extra data out of a file, like water out of a sponge, so that
it becomes smaller, easier to transmit, and faster to download.

If an attachment contains a compressed file created by a Windows program,
it will be decompressed automatically if you have already have installed a
program like "WinZip" (see below) and your e-mail program is set "not to
prompt" when it sees a .zip file. The icon signifying the attachment icon
may show the extension .zip (for "zipped"). On Macintosh machines, the .sit
extension indicates a compressed file.

If attachments are not automatically decompressing, you may need special
software. For Windows programs, try "PKZip" (available at
http://www.pkware.com) or the Winzip program (available at
http://tucows.erols.com/). For Macintosh machines, try "Stuffit Expander"
(available at http://www.aladdinsys.com/expander).

Finally, some things to remember about attachments:

-- Know the Sender Rarely an .exe file in an attachment will contain a
virus, so before opening it, make sure you recognize the sender.

-- Don't send big attachments or multiple copies of attachments. As noted
above, attachments above 1 MB in size may clog the server or E-mail program
of a person using a 56K dial-up connection. Also, if you send a large
attachment to 250 people simultaneously, that might clog mail servers and
could also be considered spam.

-- Let people know what's coming. In the text part of your E-mail, tell
the recipient:

a) what you are sending, pictures or whatever;
b) what program might be needed to open the attachment;
c) the size of the file in case they don't want to be stuck with a long
download.


E-mail addresses are another item you may want to back up in the case of
a
hard drive crash or software glitch.

The critical files involved are easy to save onto a removable diskette
that
would be unaffected by such problems.

The procedures are essentially the same for Netscape and Internet
Explorer.

To back up your Address Book in Netscape 2.01 and 3.01, follow these
steps:

1. Put a formatted blank diskette in your a:\ drive (or Zip drive).
2. Open the Netscape browser
3. In the top menu (File, Edit, etc.) left-click on Window | Address
Book
4. In the window that opens, left-click on File | Save As
5. In the "Save In" box, enter the a:\ drive (or Zip drive) and click
"Save."

To back up your Address Book in Netscape Communicator 4.0 (and up, to
4.08)

1. Put a formatted blank diskette in your a:\ drive (or Zip drive).
2. Open the Netscape Communicator browser.
3. In the top menu (File, Edit, etc.) left-click on Communicator |
Address
Book
4. In the window that opens, left-click on File | Save As
5. In the "Save In" box, enter the a:\ drive (or Zip drive) and click
"Save."

To back up your Address Book in Netscape Communicator 4.5 (and up):

1. Put a formatted blank diskette in your a:\ drive (or Zip drive).
2. Open the Netscape Communicator browser.
3. In the top menu (File, Edit, etc.) left-click on Communicator |
Address
Book
4. The Address Book opens. Highlight the directory "Personal Address
Book."
5. In the top menu, left-click on File | Export
6. In the "Export as" window that opens, give the file a name.
7. In the "Save In" box, enter the a:\ drive (or Zip drive) and click
"Save."

To reverse the process, to recover a saved address book, in each
instance
instead of left clicking on File | Save as, make it a left click on File
|
Import. Find the saved file on your a:\ drive (or Zip drive) and click
"Open" to bring it back.

To back up your Address Book in the Outlook Express mail program built
into
Internet Explorer 4.0 and 5.0, follow these steps:

1. Put a formatted blank diskette in your a:\ drive (or Zip drive).
2. Open up Outlook Express.
3. In the top menu (File, Edit, etc.) left-click on File | Export |
Address
Book
4. In the Address Book Export Tool window that opens up, highlight
(select)
Text File (Comma Separated Values) then click "Export"
5. In the window that opens up, under "Save exported file as:" put in
the
drive address, A:\ (or Zip drive) and a name for the file you wish to
save.

To reverse the process, to recover a saved address book, in each
instance
instead of left clicking on File | Export | Address Book make it a left
click on File | Import | Address Book. Find the saved file on your a:\
drive (or Zip drive) and click "Import" to bring it back.

------------------------------
 
 
 

TIP OF THE WEEK: CLEARING THE CACHE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

What is a cache? (Pronounced "cash.")

Hunters and campers will know that a cache is a hole in the ground (or some
place) where you store food and supplies for emergencies.

In the computer age, the term "cache" is used in several different ways,
but they all boil down to the same thing: a temporary storage place.

A helpful web site--http://www.pcwebopedia.com/--defines "cache" this way:

"A special high-speed storage mechanism. It can be either a reserved
section of main memory or an independent high-speed storage device. Two
types of caching are commonly used in personal computers: memory caching
and disk caching."

Yeah, well, not exactly what we had in mind for the purposes of this week's
Tip.

The cache we are talking about is the space set aside on your hard drive to
store the graphics (images) and text that your browser (either Netscape or
Internet Explorer) downloads whenever it visits a web site.

Browsers do this to save you time when you are surfing the Internet.

Let's say you visit www.cnn.com to get the latest news.  If it is your
first visit, it will download (into your cache) the images and text that
always form part of the site, such as the logo on the left side, "CNN
Interactive," and headers such as, "Video," "Audio," "Customize" and so on.

Once these images are stored in your cache, the browser will not have to
download them the next time you visit the site.  They will already be on
your hard drive.  The browser will say to itself, "CNN? Hmmm. I've been
there before! I have stored images of that place."  It will search the
cache and pop them up on your screen from the hard drive faster than if
they had to be downloaded. So what actually downloads on your succeeding
visits to CNN is just the latest news.  Saves time.

Problems arise, however, when the cache gets full, or the image and text
files it has stored get corrupted.  So, we recommend "clearing the cache"
every now and then, especially if you are a frequent surfer.

Here are the main reasons to clear the cache:

1) Reclaim disk space.  Browsers set aside a fixed amount or percentage of
   the space on your hard drive to store stuff from Web sites.  In Netscape
   Communicator 4.5, for example, the default value is 7680 kilobytes.   If
   you are short of disk space, clearing the cache will give some back.

2) Solve (some) browsing problems.  If you are having trouble visiting
   certain sites, or your browser is working slowly and nothing else has
   helped, it could be that files in your disk cache are corrupted.  In
   other words, when your browser visits a site, the files it has stored
   for it no longer match that particular place. The browser gets confused,
   shall we say, and slows down.  Clearing the cache should clear this up.

3) Make sure you are getting the latest stuff.  When you clear the cache,
   the next time you visit your favorite site it will not find the old
   files, so it will automatically download fresh, new ones.  The site will
   take a bit longer to load on the first visit, but you will have the
   latest images and text.

Now, how to clear the cache.  The procedures are slightly different for
each type and version of browser you are using.  As you clear the disk
cache, you may also want to clear the memory cache if you happen to be
on-line.  (Although this is not as important, because the memory cache - of
images and text - empties automatically every time you shut down the
browser or computer.)

To clear the cache in Netscape Navigator 2.01 or 3.01:

   1. In Netscape, click Options | Network Preferences.
   2. Click the Cache tab.
   3. Click Clear Memory Cache Now, then click OK.
   4. Click Clear Disk Cache Now, then click OK.
   5. Click OK.

To clear the cache in Netscape Communicator (4.0 and above series):

   1. In Communicator, click Edit | Preferences.
   2. Under Category, click on the plus (+) sign next to Advanced.
   3. Under Advanced, click on Cache.
   4. Click Clear Memory Cache Now, then click OK.
   5. Click Clear Disk Cache Now, then click OK.
   6. Click OK.

To clear the cache in Netscape Communicator (4.5 and above series):

   Essentially the same as above, except you will see more options under
   categories.

   1. In Communicator, click Edit | Preferences.
   2. Under Category, click on the plus (+) sign next to Advanced.
   3. Under Advanced, click on Cache.
   4. Click Clear Memory Cache Now, and then click OK.
   5. Click Clear Disk Cache Now, and then click OK.
   6. Click OK.

To clear the cache in Internet Explorer 3.02:

   1. In Internet Explorer, click Options | View.
   2. Click the Advanced tab, then click Settings.
   3. Click Empty Folder, then click Yes.
   4. Click on the Navigation tab
   5. Click on Clear History, then click Yes.
   6. Click OK.

To clear the cache in Internet Explorer 4.0:

   1. In Internet Explorer, click View | Internet Options.
   2. Click the General tab.
   3. Click Delete Files in the Temporary Internet Files area.
   4. Click on Clear History, then click Yes.
   5. Click OK.

To clear the cache in Internet Explorer 5.0:

   1. In Internet Explorer, click Tools | Internet Options.
   2. Click the General tab.
   3. Click Delete Files in the Temporary Internet Files area.
   4. Click on Clear History, then click Yes.
   5. Click OK.
 
 

Cookie preferences

Cookies are bits of code that Webmasters use to store data about
a user so they can retrieve it later, either within the same session
or during a later one. With a cookie a Webmaster can determine
information about your computer or browser, or they can keep some
information about you (such as a user id and password, or
preferences for sites like My Yahoo!). Cookies can save time and
help present Web pages more effectively, but some people find them
intrusive, so Navigator provides several options that let you
control cookies on your browser. To access Navigator's cookie
options, go to the Edit menu and select Preferences.... In the
Preferences dialog box, click on the work Advanced in the Category:
list box. Navigator will display an Advanced panel with a section
called cookies on the bottom half. You can use the three radio
buttons to: Accept all cookies or Disable cookies. You can also
choose to Accept only cookies that get sent back to the originating
server (that is, cookies that are meant to enhance your browser's
ability to display the Web page or help you login to a site that
you're revisiting).

In this Advanced section on cookies you can also use a check box to
"Warn me before accepting a cookie." Although this may sound like
a comforting option, you will probably soon find that the number
of warnings you receive will make this option quite irritating.
If nothing else, choosing this option for a limited period of
time may educate you on the shier number of cookies used on the Web.

Filing email messages

Email is, almost undoubtedly, the Internet's most important contribution
to modern business communications. Keeping track of your email messages
can mean the difference between effective communications and non-
communications. Netscape Messenger includes a filing option that can
help tremendously. To access this option, just go to Messenger's Inbox
and right click on an email message subject, then select File Message
from the resulting pop-up menu. The File Message menu lets you move
email messages around to different folders in the Message center. You
can move a message to trash, or to the Draft folder (for messages
that you want to work with later). Note: to save an original draft,
start a message, then go to the File menu and select Save Draft.

You can also move messages, with the File Message function, into new
folders you've created for organizing your messages. To create a new
folder in the Message Center just right click on the Local Mail icon
and select New Folder.... Messenger will display a dialog box where
you can name the folder and determine where you want it to be located.
With new folders you can categorize your email by subjects that make
it easier to track filed messages.

Some time ago when we were all happy discussing Melissa someone said
that the
guy who caught the virus creator used some special tool to find out the
guys
computer info so he could track him down.
Well no special tool required. Just open a MS-DOS prompt and open any
filed
with the command "edit x.doc". I found the name I used to register MS
Office on
my PC to be written almost 10 all over the documents info! It also had
the name
of the PC, folder of were the file was currently in, etc.!
Hope this helps.

Each time you paste data to the Windows Clipboard, its old
     contents are removed. However, Windows has a ClipBook that can
     be used to save and reuse clippings. To install it, 1) Put the
     Windows 95 CD-ROM in your CD drive, 2) Select Add/Remove
     Software, 3) Go to the Windows Setup tab, 4) Click Have Disk >
     Browse > d:\Other\Clipbook (d:=CD-ROM), 5) Double click
     CLIPBOOK.INF, 6) Check ClipBook Viewer and then install. You
     will now be able to open ClipBook through your Start menu
     under the Accessories heading.

 Avoiding AutoPlay CD-ROMs

     You can avoid automatically playing CD-ROMs in Windows 95. To
     do so, either 1) Hold down the shift key when inserting a
     CD-ROM, or 2) Open any folder; select View > Options > File
     Types. Select AudioCD and click Edit. Select Play from the
     Action listbox, and choose Set Default (this toggles the
     default). If Play is bold, the CD-ROM will play when inserted.
     If Play is not bold, the disk will not play.

 Hiding Directories in DOS and Explorer

     PC users have the ability to hide a directory in DOS and
     Windows Explorer. To create a hidden directory, head to the
     DOS Prompt and use the following method: 1) Type "mkdir" and
     hit the space bar.  2) Hold down the ALT key and on the
     numeric keypad type "0255".  3) Release the ALT key and type
     the new directory name.  Explorer will not display this new
     directory or any of its contents.
An alternative method to change case (95, 97)

You can quickly cycle through three case options by pressing [Shift]+[F3].
Here's how it works. Select the text you wish to modify and press
[Shift]+[F3]. If the text is all lower case, it changes to title case. If
you want to make it all caps, all you have to do is press [Shift]+[F3]
again. To return the text to its original state, press [Shift]+[F3] a
third time. If the text is already title case, [Shift]+[F3] changes it to
all caps the first time you press the keys and to lowercase the second
time you press them.
 
 

Type "ipconfig /all" (without the quotes) and you'll get info about all
your
tcp/ip settings, as well as you computer name and info on any network
cards you

have installed.
You can also type "tracert" followed by (a space) an IP address
(***.***.***.***) or name (yourisp.com) and you will see how you
actually
arrive there.
 

 some handy time savers for often-used
                   functions in Communicator. They'll keep you from
                   having to use the mouse and menus time and again.
                   Your wrists will thank us later.
                    Ctrl-B: Bold Text
                    Ctrl-K: Remove All Styles (and HTML links)
                    Ctrl-T: Fixed-Width Character
                    Ctrl-End: Skip to End of Document
                    Ctrl-Home: Jump to Beginning of Document
                    Shift-Enter: Insert Paragraph
                    Ctrl-I: Italic Text
                    Ctrl-Shift-L: Edit Character Properties
                    Ctrl-U: Underline Text
                    Ctrl-M: Create new mail message

To quickly select the entire contents of a Web
                   document, press Ctrl-A. From there, you can press
                   Ctrl-C to copy it to the clipboard. Keep in mind,
                   however, that many Web pages contain a lot of text
                   and graphics.
Forget to bookmark that cool site and now you can't
                remember the URL? You can go back again. Open
                Communicator and press Ctrl-H to open the History list.
                Now select Edit, Search History List, which opens the
                Search History List dialog box. Select the search
criteria
                and enter the search terms (for example, the "Title"
                "Contains" "tipworld"), then click Search. Communicator
                soon returns any sites that match the search criteria
 

Modem initialization strings

A modem initialization string is a series of commands that instruct a
modem to perform certain tasks, for example dial or hang up.
Initialization strings help configure modems for optimum performance.
Here is an example of a Hayes compatible modem string.

AT&F&D2&C1&K3\N3%C0B0

If your modem's initialization string is incorrect or incompatible with
the modem you are calling, you may experience problems like dropped
connections or even an inability to connect. To check your modem's
initialization string, you'll need to determine your modem type. To do
this, go to the Start menu on your desktop, select Settings|Control Panel,
and then double-click the modems icon. Windows should display a Modems
Properties dialog box with your modem listed. If the modem doesn't appear
in this dialog box, your computer doesn't recognize it yet. You'll need to
go back to the Control Panel, double-click on the Add New Hardware icon,
and go through the Add New Hardware Wizard.

Your next step is to look up your modem's initialization string. We've
listed two good sources for finding initialization strings below.

http://www.accessone.com/support/modems/modem_init.html

http://www.indyguide.com/tech/modem_init.html

Once you have the initialization string, go to the My Computer icon on
your desktop and double-click to open the directory. Open the Dial-Up
Networking directory, right click on your dial-up connection or ISP icon,
and choose properties--Windows will display a dialog box for that
connection. Click the Configure button and you'll get the properties
dialog box for your modem. Finally click the Connection tab and then the
Advanced button. In the Advanced Connection Settings dialog box you can
enter the modem initialization string in the Extra Settings dialog box.
Don't forget to click the OK button to record your changes.
 
 

 Resize Images

                   Images for Web pages or e-mail messages can be
                   resized without an external image editor. Once you've
                   dragged an image from Navigator into the Composer
                   Window, click its border and drag to resize.

 If you want search spiders like Hotbot and Infoseek to

                   notice your Web page, use Composer to set META
                   tags. Select Format, Page Properties. Click the
                   Advanced tab, then the User variables box. In the
                   Name field, type contents. In the Variable field,
type
                   keywords that people might use to find your site,
                   separated by commas. Then click the Set button.

ICQ "Spoof"

 Operating System: Tested on Windows95

 Problem: On first version of ICQ and ICQ 98 it is possible to "spoof"
 your IP when someone
 performs a get info on you.

 Example:
 Step 1: Click the ICQ Button.
 Step 2: Click Preferences.
 Step 3: Click the connection tab.
 Step 4: Click the circle "I am using a permanent internet connection
 (LAN).
 Step 5: Click the circle "I am behind a firewall".
 Step 6: Click the firewall settings button.
 Step 7: Click the circle "I am using a socks4 proxy".
 Step 8: Click the next button.
 Step 9: Enter a fake IP address into the "SOCK4 Host:" box.
 Step 10: Click the next button.
 Step 11: Click the done button.
 Now all that you have to do is reconnect to ICQ. Now when someone
 right clicks your name and
 does info, it will return the false IP address. This was more worth
 while in pervious versions of
 ICQ where you didn't have the option to hide your IP address.
 Note: If another user tries to ICQ chat you etc... they might get an
 error, "Cannot establish a
 direct connection". What this means is ICQ is trying to connect to
 your "spoofed" IP address and
 there is no ICQ client on that "spoofed" IP address. Wonder what would
 happen if you put
 another users IP address as your "spoofed" IP? Make them connect to
 them selves?

When you want to know what's going on while a page is
                 loading, press Ctrl-Alt-T (while it loads). A status
dialog
                 opens, giving you information about the connection.
 
 

"How many KB in an MB? How many
                MB in a GB? It's hard to keep track of which byte is
better
                (more capacity) or worse (less capacity)."

                For all intents and purposes (in other words, if you
don't
                want to think about it too much), there are 1000 bytes
in a
                kilobyte, 1000 kilobytes in a megabyte, and 1000
                megabytes in a gigabyte. So the numbers look like this:

                Kilobyte = a thousand (1000) bytes Megabyte = a million
                (1,000,000) bytes Gigabyte = a billion (1,000,000,000)
                bytes

                TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, however, there are 1024 (2 to
                the 10th power) bytes in a kilobyte, 1024 kilobytes in a
                megabyte, and 1024 megabytes in a gigabyte. So the real
                numbers look like this:

                Kilobyte = 1024 bytes Megabyte = 1,048,576 bytes
                Gigabyte = 1,073,741,824 bytes
 

To quickly select the entire contents of a Web
                   document, press Ctrl-A. From there, you can press
                   Ctrl-C to copy it to the clipboard. Keep in mind,
                   however, that many Web pages contain a lot of text
                   and graphics.

CLEANING UP THE REGISTRY
Every time you install, uninstall or reinstall software on a Windows NT
computer, changes are
made to the registry keys. After time, this leaves the Registry in a
less than perfect state
and you may run into problems. To clean up the Registry, use
RegClean.exe (version 4.1a),
available for download at
http://support.microsoft.com/support/downloads/dp3049.asp. When you
run RegClean.exe, the utility automatically scans the Registry and you
will see a progress
window. Wait until scanning is finished, which can take up to 30
minutes. If no errors were
found, you are prompted to exit the utility. If errors are found, you
can still choose to exit
RegClean without fixing errors, or you can choose Fix Errors to clean up
the Registry. RegClean
creates a file called UNDO xxx.REG (XXX contains the computer name, date
and time). Run this
file if you want to undo the changes RegClean made.
 

WHAT IS A HEADER?
-----------------
Most of the time, you won't see the headers that accompany every e-mail
that you send and receive.  They are confusing even to the "trained
eye."

A header basically shows the entire history of one e-mail - who sent
it, who was the message sent to, what time was it sent, etc.  They are
critical when tracking down spammers and when your mail doesn't get
delivered.

----------------------
BREAKING DOWN A HEADER
----------------------
When you read an e-mail header, you are actually reading its history
from newest to oldest. The top of the header is the most
recent event in the life of this message.

Now, in the header example below, we will show you the entire header,
but we are only going to explain parts that are relevant to most users.
Our explanations will be below each header section.

SECTION I - FINAL DESTINATION

Received: from mx-int.erols.com ([207.172.3.249]) by
mta2.mail.erols.net(InterMail v03.02.07.03 118-128) with ESMTP id
<19990308181649.MNBV12324@mx-int.erols.com> for
<support@mta.mail.erols.net>; Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:16:49 -0500

Looks like quite a mess, huh?  Now, what you are looking at above is
the final destination of an e-mail that was sent from a customer to our
technical support staff.  The text above shows that one of our servers
(called an MX or Mail Exchange machine) delivered the mail to our e-
mail account called support.  The most relevant part of this text is
here:

<support@mta.mail.erols.net>; Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:16:49 -0500

This shows that support is final recipient of this e-mail and that it
was delivered on Monday, March 8, 1999 at 1:16 p.m. Eastern Standard
Time. This is important because it shows exactly what time the mail was
available for you to retrieve it.

If you look at the header of a message sent to your e-mail address, you
would see your user id instead of support.

SECTION II - THE DELIVERY PROCESS
Received: from smtp4.erols.com (smtp4.erols.com [207.172.3.237])
by mx-int.erols.com (8.8.8-970530-INT/8.8.5/MX-980323-gjp) with ESMTP
id NAA58165 for <support@erols.com>; Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:16:48 -0500
(EST)

This section is probably the least important of all of our sections.
This shows that one of our mail servers (smtp4.erols.com) is in the
process of delivering the mail to the support account.

Let's take a step back for a second.

Delivering e-mail is a three-step process.
1. Mail is sent from your home computer to one of our SMTP servers.
This is why you must enter SMTP.EROLS.COM, for example, in your e-
mail program.
2. That SMTP server hands the message off to the MX server. Basically,
the MX server "figures out" where the message needs to go.  Does the
message go to an Erols customer or does it need to go on to Hotmail,
for example?
3. After the MX server figures out where to put the e-mail, it sticks
it into your "Inbox" here, where the e-mail waits for you to
retrieve it.

SECTION III - WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
Received: from mycomputer (207-172-129-
197.s197.tnt2.col.md.dialup.rcn.com [207.172.129.197])
By smtp4.erols.com (8.8.8/smtp-v1) with ESMTP id NAA12736 for
<support@erols.com>; Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:16:45 -0500 (EST)

Now, this section has a lot of important information and we'll take it
one piece at a time.

PART A.
Received: from mycomputer

All Windows 95/98/NT computers have a name assigned to them, usually by
the computer manufacturer.  You may see oemcomputer, default, gateway,
etc.  If you open your Control Panel, double click on the Network icon
and then click on the Identification tab, you will see this name under
Computer Name.

PART B.
(207-172-129-197.s197.tnt2.col.md.dialup.rcn.com [207.172.129.197])

This shows the IP address (207.172.129.197) your computer was assigned
when it was connected to us, and exactly what piece of equipment you
were connected to on our end (s197.tnt2.col.md.dialup.rcn.com)  so this
sender was connected to a machine in Columbia, MD.

PART C.
By smtp4.erols.com (8.8.8/smtp-v1) with ESMTP id NAA12736 for
<support@erols.com>; Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:16:45 -0500 (EST)

The most important information from this part is the date and time.
This shows that after you clicked on Send in your e-mail program, our
servers received the e-mail on Monday, March 8, 1999 at 1:16 EST.

SECTION IV - MORE ABOUT WHO SENT THIS E-MAIL
Message-ID: <36E41348.AE8F37B3@erols.com>
Date: Mon, 08 Mar 1999 13:13:28 -0500
From: Ima Customer <example@erols.com>
Reply-To: example@erols.com
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.06 [en] (Win95; I)
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: support@erols.com
Subject: Can't send mail
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

This is by far the longest section of the e-mail header, but it is also
the easiest to understand.  We're going to assume you already
understand the To:, From:, Reply To: and Subject: lines, so we'll skip
over those and explain the rest.

PART A.
Message-ID: <36E41348.AE8F37B3@erols.com>
The Message ID is intended to be machine readable and not necessarily
meaningful to humans.  It is a way for our mail serves to keep track of
one particular message. A message id is unique for each e-mail.

PART B.
Date: Mon, 08 Mar 1999 13:13:28 -0500

This is the actual date, time and time zone on the computer that sent
this e-mail.  Many times people ask us why the time on their incoming
or outgoing mail is wrong and 99 percent of the time, the time zone is
set incorrectly.  Until we set our clocks ahead, this should read: -
0500.

PART C.
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.06 [en] (Win95; I)

This line shows us that the sender was using the English version [en]
of Netscape Communicator 4.06 (Mozilla equals Netscape), on a Windows
95 computer (Win95).  If this person was using Outlook Express or
another e-mail program, the name of the program would be here instead.

SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
By correctly interpreting an e-mail header you can determine:
1. The e-mail program the person used to send it.
2. The operating system the sender uses.
3. The time, date and time zone the message was sent.
4. The IP address and machine the sender was connected to.
5. How the mail was routed through our system.
6. When the mail was available for you to receive it.

As you can see, e-mail headers can tell you a lot about the person who
sent you an e-mail.

Next week we'll show you how e-mail headers can help you determine why
your e-mail may have "bounced."
 
 

UPDATED WEEKLY

Do you have a computer tip ???
Let me know !!!
  Mail the webmaster

home.gif (2447 bytes)

 

..m