Readers' Forum - June 2003

by Rob Zorn, Jim Breen and Steve Trayhorne
from the June 2003 Newsletter

question.jpg (4013 bytes)If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "forum" in the subject line and check back next month to see the results! By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free.

Alan asks: Hi, a question about news groups which may also interest other readers; I would like to join a news group but have heard of spam problems if my email address is shown. How do I set up Outlook Express to suppress this information? cheers, Alan

Hi Alan, Unfortunately, you can't get Outlook Express to suppress your address when you use it to access news groups. It forces you to include one. However, you can do things to make your e-mail address less susceptible to spam-harvesting.

When you use Outlook express as a News Reader, you need to set up a new "account" (Tools/Accounts/News/Add...). In order to reduce Spam, a lot of people alter their e-mail address in subtle ways. For example: instead of writing fredlmnop@actrix.co.nz, they write fredlmnop@actrixdotcodotnz . You could also put in something like fredlmnop@actrix.co.nznospam . The idea is to put something there that will allow people to work our what your real address is easily enough so that they can reply to you, but that won't work when automatically harvested for a Spam list.

Spammers often harvest e-mail addresses from newsgroups by using little robot programs that scour the newsgroups copying all the e-mail addresses. Of course the spammer ends up with thousands of addresses and usually isn't able to check them all. The disadvantage is that if someone clicks on reply because they want to correspond with you (which is often what news groups are all about) the false e-mail address will come up in their reply, and unless they notice it, their message to you will bounce back to them. Most people in news groups are savvy to the practice of masking your e-mail address in these ways, and will spot it, but you can't always be sure. Hopefully, if they miss it the first time, they will examine the reason why their first message bounced and quickly see the problem.

One last option would be to put a small note at the bottom of your posts to the newsgroup suggesting that your e-mail address be "fixed" before anyone replies to you directly. This too is a reasonably common practice.

Paul Henson writes: I use Outlook Express 5. It only happens with a very few e-mail addresses, but when I hit the reply button to a message received, the recipient gets a message that consists of "yp" and some hieroglyphics. The intended message gets lost. If I select the address from my address book, there's no problem. I have my settings on rich text and in Tools/Options/Send, I have selected "reply to messages in the format they were sent." The recipient of my e-mails has her setting on rich text, also. Any clues? Thanks.

Gidday Paul. I hadn't come across this one, but Steve Trayhorne and Jim Breen from our Support crew were quick to point out that the problem you describe is a known bug if you use HTML for your reply e-mails and you also have your options set to not include the original message in the reply.

The simplest way to fix this would be to go Tools/Options and then select the Reply tab. Check the box that is labelled "Include message in reply." If you really don't want the original message to be in the reply, then you may have to delete it manually.

While we're on the topic, some readers may not be aware that Outlook Express has a number of options that can be experimented with. Just click Tools and then Options on the Menu Bar at the top of the screen.

Be careful with the settings under Security, Connection and Maintenance, and if you're not sure, don't make any changes there. The rest of the sections are pretty straightforward and you can experiment with some settings changes fairly safely. The old practice of remembering how things were when they worked okay (and writing it down before you play) will probably help you ensure you don't end up getting into a situation you can't get yourself out of. Worse comes to worse and our free help desk (for Actrix customers) will usually be able to help - 0800-228749.

Carol Flanagan writes: I have a major problem with my out going mail. I can't send images/pics of any sort. They go out as computerese talk and when sending they go out as part one of several. Eg. if it's a Powerpoint e-mail of 6 images it will split it up into 6 separate e-mails, all unviewable. Can you help please?

Thanks to Steve Trayhorne for this reply: The problem you are having relates to an advanced setting in Outlook Express:"Break apart messages larger than..." This feature is not active by default and would have to have been turned on manually on your computer. With this in mind you may wish to discuss the reason this feature was activated with other users of your computer.

To turn off."Break apart messages larger than..."

  1. In Outlook Express go to Tools / Accounts / Mail;
  2. Select your Actrix account and click Properties (button on the right);
  3. Select the Advanced tab;
  4. Remove the tick from the box next to "Break apart messages larger than..."
  5. Press Apply, then OK and then Close.

More Information:

To combine and decode e-mails that have been split in to parts:

  1. Select all of the messages that are part of the original message (each part usually has a number). To do this, press and hold down the CTRL key while you click each part of the message.
  2. On the Message menu, click Combine and Decode.
  3. If necessary, reorder the parts in the correct sequence.

To save the recombined message, click Save As on the File menu.

Fritha Jameson writes: I was doing a little checking of properties for some of my e-mails and discovered the following:

      Received: from blood.actrix.co.nz (unknown [192.168.30.41])
      by hardrain.actrix.co.nz (Postfix) with ESMTP id 3F9F420C010
      for fritha@actrix.gen.nz ; Mon, 28 Apr 2003 10:33:08 +1200 (NZST)

My question is: Who/what is blood.actrix.co.nz and hardrain.actrix.co.nz? Is this normal?

Hi Fritha, Yes, it's quite normal.

Hardrain, slowtrain, blood, desire etc, are simply the names of our mail servers. If an e-mail for you was received by Actrix, usually either blood or desire would deal with it. If you were to send yourself an e-mail to the address fritha@blood.actrix.co.nz, you would be specifying that you only wanted blood to receive and dispatch your e-mail. This isn't recommended, of course. Technicians always have at least two servers assigned to any one job. If one falls over, the other one can take up the load while the broken one is fixed. If you specify that you only want blood to deal with your mail, then desire may not jump in and help you if you're trying to send mail while blood is down. Also, server tasks and names can be changed without notice.

Technicians usually give a group of servers names that fit with a certain theme. Our web servers here are normally named after mythical places: arcadia, xanadu etc. Our mail servers are named after Bob Dylan albums. I heard that the servers at another ISP were originally named after one of the founder's past girlfriends. I can't say for sure whether this is true, but it wouldn't surprise me. I know that technicians often quite enjoy working out what the naming conventions of other organisations are. The name of a new server or a new naming convention can cause a mass discussion which can last days...

As they're not usually in the public eye, and only spotted by people who scrutinise their mail headers, not a great deal of time tends to be spent explaining this sort of thing.