Readers' Forum - April 2003

by Rob Zorn
from the April 2003 Newsletter

question.jpg (4013 bytes)Cath Salt asks: Is it possible to print off extracts from written material. For example, your newsletter? I am using Windows 98. Thanks for this opportunity.

Yes Cath, usually it is quite possible. If you want to print the whole page you can just click File and then Print. If you are at a web site that uses Frames, such as this one, right click in the frame you want to print and then select print from the grey menu that pops up. Many sites that offer written material also have links to a "printer friendly version" that you can more easily print via the File menu.

However, you've asked about printing extracts only. This can easily be done by using block, copy and paste.
1.Simply drag your mouse over the text you wish to print (start at the beginning of a paragraph and hold the left mouse key down as you move the mouse down over the text as far as required).
2. Right-click on the text that has been selected (now highlighted, usually in blue) and a grey menu will pop up.
3. On the new grey menu, left-click on Copy. This loads the text into your computer's memory or clipboard.
4. Next, start up a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, and open a blank document.
5. Right-click in the blank document and then left-click on Paste in the grey menu that pops up. You should see the selected text turn up there where it can now be printed.
Tip: Sometimes, when you're copying from a web page, it is hard to do so without also selecting a whole lot of other junk from the web page such as images or weird formatting. To get past this, first paste your selected text into Notepad. Notepad is a text only program that ignores images and other junk. You can then either print it from Notepad (using the File menu) or you can copy it from Notepad (using the method above) and paste it into Microsoft Word if you want to modify the font or do some of the things to your text that Notepad can't do.
Tip 2: Under Windows 98 you can find Notepad by clicking the Start button, then Programs, then Accessories, then Notepad.
Tip 3: You can usually copy and paste between any program that uses text. In other words, you could also paste your text from your clipboard into an e-mail using the method above.

Rosalind McKenzie writes: Hi Rob, Sometimes when I've found a website, a grey window comes up saying An error has occurred running scripts on this page... do you wish to continue running scripts? If I click Yes, the window keeps on popping up, and if I opt for No I can't access anything on the page. (The latest occurrence was a few minutes ago while I was trying to access the link in your latest newsletter Things to look out for when buying a cheap PC.) I'm not sure if the problem may be connected with my old computer, which is a '97 model (Windows 95B) - hence my interest in acquiring a new PC - or is it something I'm not doing right?

Hi Rosalind. These days a lot of web sites use JavaScript, a whole lot more than back in the days when Windows 95 was the latest and greatest. Sometimes there really are errors on the part of the JavaScript programmer, but the most likely candidate at fault here is your Windows 95 program. You probably need to upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer (Version 6) which will handle the JavaScript a whole lot better, but which probably won't run very well with Windows 95 on an older model computer, if at all. At the moment, it sounds like your current version of Explorer just can't handle the JavaScript and so it reports errors to you, but if you try and upgrade Explorer, you may find nothing runs at all.

The good news is that it probably isn't something you are doing wrong. The bad news is that Internet technology is progressing all the time and at some stage, everyone has to decide whether the best option for them is to spend money and upgrade their software and hardware, or to stay put with what they have and tolerate the fact that a few things won't work for them as well as it will for others. This point will be different for everybody.

Upgrading doesn't always mean you have to buy a new PC. Sometimes just more RAM (memory), or a faster CPU (central processing unit) can make the machine you have better able to handle more advanced programs; but only sometimes. Your best bet is probably to discuss what you currently have with a reputable computer retailer (preferably one that also does repairs so you're not just dealing with a salesman) and see what he or she recommends, and how much it will cost. 

Tip: JavaScript is code added to web pages, usually to make them more dynamic. They cause images to move around, or interesting things to happen when you "mouseover" things. They can add time clocks to pages and a whole lot more.

smallcookie.jpg (1684 bytes)Sue Smith writes: Please can you let me know if one should delete cookies and temporary internet files? I would also like an article on newsgroups and how to use them. Thanks.

Well, Sue, Cookies have their advantages and disadvantages. There's no harm in deleting them, but you may not always want to. A cookie is just a small piece of text that a some web sites write to your computer's hard drive. They're safe in that cookies cannot be code. They can't run a program or infect your computer with a virus or do anything malicious like that. They can only be written to your cookies folder, and the website can't see anything else on your computer.

Web sites use them to track their visitors, and this can be good or bad. The web site wants to know whether you've visited before, and if they look in your cookies folder and see a cookie from their site, they can usually tell when and how often you visit. This is good for their statistics, and their measure of their own success. It can also be a good thing for you. The cookie may let the web site know what they have already told you (so they don't display the same advertisement or announcement that they did last time you visited). This helps your experience at their site be a fresh and different one each time. Many shopping carts also use cookies to keep track of what you're purchasing until you get to the "checkout."

I wrote an article called Cookie Anyone? a couple of years back, and it's still pretty relevant. You can find the article at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/cookies.htm.

Temporary Internet Files are all the files (web pages, images etc) you have visited on the Internet. When you go and view a web site, it is actually downloaded onto your PC, and your browser will store it in your Temporary Internet Files folder. Normally a certain amount of space is set aside for this, and when that space is exceeded, older files are removed automatically to make way for the new.

There are some advantages to deleting these files. getting rid of them increases the space on your hard drive, of course, and for some older machines with less disk space, this may be a good thing. Perhaps the most important reason why you might want to delete these is for the sake of your own privacy. It is not hard to find temporary Internet files on a PC, and you may or may not want other users of your machine to know what sites you have visited.

Deleting cookies and Temporary Internet Files is quick and easy. With Internet Explorer open, click Tools and then Internet Options. This will bring up an Internet Properties box on which you can find buttons to click in order to delete either or both. Within this box (and it has lots of different sections) you can alter settings such as how much disk space to allocate to temporary files, how long you want Explorer to remember which sites you've been to, and so forth.

I wrote two articles on Newsgroups (or one long article split into two) back in December 2000. Not a whole lot has changed since then. You can view those two articles at:
http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/usenet01.htm and
http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/usenet02.htm.