Readers' Forum - July 2003

by Rob Zorn
from the July 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.

Sir, I was told that when you send an e-mail it gets broken up and sent via different routes and put together again when it arrives at it destination, true or false?

Hi Bert, Yes, this can occur. Pretty much anything sent across the Net is broken up into small bits of data called "packets". Each packet gets numbered and then sent to the next computer on the Internet which passes it on to the next and to the next until it reaches the recipient where it is put back together by the receiving e-mail program and displayed as a whole e-mail. Normally, all the packets go the same way, but sometimes, when one computer somewhere along the line stops being able to send packets on, it will report that back to the previous computer which will then start sending them by a different route. In this way, some of the packets can go by different paths to end up at the same place.

The final destination computer knows how many packets it should receive because each is numbered. "Packet loss" occurs when some of the packets don't make it all the way for whatever reason. When the destination computer experiences packet loss, it sends a message back to the originating computer asking for the missing packets. In this way it makes sure it gets them all so that it can put the whole original message back together.

Hello, I would like to know about downloading stuff. When you get the box saying 'Save' or 'Open,' which one is the best to use? What is the difference and which one should I click? Thanks, Jacqui

Hi Jacqui, The difference between the two options is that the one (Save) allows you to save the downloaded file where you want to and run or install it at your leisure. The other (Open) attempts to download and run the file without any further input from you.

In almost all cases, you'd want to choose the Save or Save to Disk button. This will mean that you can choose the location at which the file will be saved to your hard drive for use at a later time. You can, if you want to, rename the file as well. Once you finish downloading the file, you can find and open it at your leisure because you know exactly where you have put it. Most people download and save to their desk tops.

When you choose Open, the file still downloads, but it gets saved to a "temp file" with a temporary name in the Internet Temporary History Files folder. When it has finished downloading, the file opens right away. One disadvantage is that the file is a lot harder to find if you want to access it later. Sometimes you'll get halfway through an install of the new program, and realise that you have to abort the installation for whatever reason. In cases like that it's good to know where the file is so you can easily run it later when you are ready.

Your article on "Along Came a Spyware" is very relevant to me. I got Gator auto installed sometime earlier this year and didn't know I had it until I recently installed a firewall. You mentioned software to remove it, but can it be removed without software? I've gone into my directories and searched for all the Gator files. Most you can delete, but a couple you can't. Do I have to load software to remove? Regards, Kieran

Hi Kieran, Unfortunately, no, just deleting from your directories won't usually do the job. In fact this is very much not a recommended approach to uninstalling anything. Spyware programs like Gator update your registry, and may link themselves to shared files etc, and, unless you're a real computer guru, there is no way you'd be able to get rid of it safely yourself. I certainly wouldn't try it.

You should always uninstall software by using the Add/Remove programs feature in your Control Panel. This will usually use the programs' own uninstall elements which will cause the programs to be removed safely and more fully. Unfortunately, Spyware programs usually resist this sort of uninstall. They get onto your computer by sneaky means, so why should we expect them to co-operate when we try to remove them legitimately? This is why specialised software for removing Spyware is recommended.