Readers' Forum - October 2003

by Rob Zorn
from the October 2003 Newsletter

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.

Last month we didn't have any customer letters, but this month we've been overwhelmed and I am not able to include replies to all of them here. When you send a question in to the forum section, you will get a reply, even if I don't decide to include it here. Some forum questions will be kept for inclusion later in case we have another dry month, but a private reply will still be forthcoming as soon as I am (or one of the Support staff is) able to provide one.

In response to the first article on questions about starting a web site, Dion writes: I don't know if this is where to send this, but I have found ACEhtml a useful program. I tend to write my own code, but you can edit tables in an easier format than html, it is free, it is easy to use, and it has a browser built in unlike many, so you can see your result without having another browser open at the same time.

Thanks Dion. I have heard of others who have downloaded and used ACE HTML and that they've enjoyed it and found it useful. Ace HTML can be downloaded from

Dear Editor, Every time I use the dial-up connection it sounds like a bus load of budgies going over a cliff. Is this caused by the phone line or my computer and is there anything I can do to get rid of this racket? I enjoy your newsletter. John Stewart.

Hi John, Thanks for your kind words. The squawky budgie sounds are your modem and ours talking to each other. When two modems connect, they have to send signals to each other explaining who they are and what they want to do. Then they have to agree on a language to speak, and a speed at which to speak it. Yours will be saying "I'm the modem on John Stewart's computer and I'd like to speak to you this fast." If the Actrix modem understands it will say back that it is an Actrix modem and that's a fine speed at which to speak. If it can't quite understand what your modem is saying, it will respond that it isn't sure about you and can you try again. Then your modem will introduce itself again at a lower speed and this dialogue will continue until both are happy. You'll notice that your modem suddenly goes quiet for a few seconds before you are fully connected. At that point, our reception modem is handing you over to our authentication server so your user name and password can be checked.

I like these noises as they help me understand where the process is breaking down if I ever have connection problems, but yes, most of the time you can turn the sound off on your modem. With a Windows machine, you can usually get to your modem settings by clicking the Start button, then Settings and then Control Panel. Once the Control Panel opens, look for an item labelled Modems, or Phone and Modem settings. Double click this.

A "Modem Properties" box (or a box with a similar name) will come up that will contain a list of all the modems installed on your machine. In most cases there will be only one. Make sure your modem is selected in the list by clicking on it if it isn't already highlighted in blue. Once you've selected it, click the Properties button and then look through the options until you find the modem volume settings. If you can't find these settings, then it may be that your modem doesn't allow you to turn the volume off or down.

Terry asks: How do I get a Linux program and how do I make it work? What technology, and how to use it?

Hi Terry. Not being a Linux user myself, I've asked one of the support guys to give you a brief introduction. Getting into Linux is a great idea if you're up for it, but covering your questions in detail would go a little beyond what we're about here in the Readers' Forum. We did a few articles on installing and using Debian Linux last year. If you go to the archives site at, you'll see a series of four articles in the alphabetical index on the left. Look for the word Debian.

Lalith from support has supplied the following:

Hi Terry, There are several flavours of Linux in use. Some of them are Debian, Redhat, Mandrake, SuSE etc. Redhat and Mandrake are not free. Suse is the version used in Europe.

Debian is a totally free operating system. (Still, there vendors who sell this version to cover their copying cost at a nominal amount.) In terms of security, reliability and the support available within the Linux community, Debian is deem to be the ultimate and the one we favour here at Actrix. If you wish to use Debian, provided you know what you are doing, what you need is a 2-CDrom set for the installation. We can supply this, if you can send us two blanks and a stamped reply envelope (P O Box 11-410, Wellington - mark to the attention of Lalith).

The following websites certainly will help start you off.

Regards, Lalith de Silva

0310login.jpg (8302 bytes)Dear Rob, Is there any way I can make use of computers when I am overseas (and accessing e-mail as well as contacting friends and family) using my current Actrix account and address rather than having to go to hotmail? Many thanks, Allen Heath

Hi Allen, Yes, there sure is. It's what Actrix web mail is all about. All you have to do is get online wherever you are in the world, and go to our home page. Near the top right of the page there is a log in box. Put in your user name and password, and make sure the radio dot is in the Web Mail option.

When you click the Log in button, you'll find yourself at a web-based interface with your inbox. From here you can read your Actrix mail, delete it, forward it, etc. Most importantly, you can send new mail from your Actrix address. You can also open, view or download attachments.

You won't be able to access e-mail that has already been downloaded to your home computer, but you'll certainly be able to deal with anything that comes while you are travelling.