Readers' Forum - December 2003

by Rob Zorn
from the December 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. I'll try and answer your question by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

I'm really grateful to my support team, too, for their input here when some of the questions also have me a little stumped.

Brian writes: Lately we have been receiving mail with attachments and when we go to open and read them we find that there is a message saying that the attachment has been deleted : " OE removed access to the following unsafe attachments in your mail: etc. " Why does this happen?

Hi Brian, Your Outlook Express has been set to block any e-mail attachments which it sees as a potential threat. Unfortunately, this feature is a little over-zealous, and ends up blocking just about everything. To fix the problem follow the procedure below:

  1. Open Outlook Express;
  2. Click on Tools and the click on Options;
  3. Click on the tab called Security;
  4. Remove the tick next to "Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus."
  5. Then click on Apply and OK.

I do recommend removal of this feature as it causes more inconvenience than anything else. If you do remove this feature, you should be sure to keep your e-mail software up-to-date by means of the Windows Update page (http://v4.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/en/default.asp) in order to ensure it won't automatically run viruses. You should also take usual care with attachments i.e., not clicking any that you are unsure of.

Ken writes: Recently my computer decided to do its own thing resulting in my losing all programmes etc. Everything has now been re-entered but I have an ongoing problem with the computer losing its internet connection. It sometimes works fine but will then start to disconnect and can repeat the disconnection a number of times. Timing between the disconnections varies but can be as little as 30 seconds. I have asked the question of others and am told it may be the fact that I live in a rural area with limited phone lines and demand causing the problem. The fact is I use the computer at all times of the day and I never had the problem before the computer crashed. Help!

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Hi Ken, This is one that you will probably want to talk over with someone on our help desk, but a few general ideas might be of help to yourself and other readers before you do.

Yes, rural areas are notoriously bad for dialup connections. The reasons for this include poor quality phone lines, old equipment, electric fences which cause havoc with your modem's ability to send clear signals across the wire, and heavy demand.

Your modem's settings can be tweaked a bit, however, to help it cope a little better with these problems. For example, by setting the maximum speed to be a little slower, the modem may in fact perform better and at a better speed than it appears to be now. By making it slow down, you lessen its chances of getting itself into a knotty situation where it has to drop the connection, or where the Actrix modem drops the connection because it can no longer understand what your modem is communicating. There are a number of other things that can be done to help a modem such as adding initialisation strings to the settings which make its performance more robust. These settings are easy to alter. Our help desk guys can talk you through the changes over the phone. It's all done with a few mouseclicks and a bit of typing. You don't need to open the machine's case or anything like that.

I think what may have happened is that your modem was tweaked a little before your crash and was performing at its best back then. Now that you've re-installed everything, your modem may have returned to its default settings which are not always the most ideal for rural use. Therefore it is struggling and performing badly. I'm guessing, of course, because I don't know all the specifics, but a chat with our help desk would certainly be my first suggestion. You can reach them on 0800-228749 between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight.