Readers' Forum - February 2004

by Rob Zorn
from the February 2004 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 the Actrix Support Team, too, for their input here when some of the questions also have me a little stumped.

In response to the question and answer last month about using credit cards safely online (the question was from Geoff B), Charles wrote in with the following good idea:

Thanks for the newsletter. One solution to security on the Internet is to have two credit cards. I have my usual credit card plus another savings account with another bank from which I have a credit card with a limit of $500. This is the one I use on the net with the thought that if someone does get into it the maximum will be $500 less anything I may have already purchased.

Rob, I have a Windows 98; Outlook Express. I have received an e mail message with a coloured photo at the end of the message. I wish to take a copy of the coloured photo,  can you please tell me the process to follow. Many thanks, Cath.

Hi Cath, This is reasonably straightforward, though the answer would depend a lot on what you wanted to do with the copy you took. If you just want to save the image as a file on your computer somewhere, you can do this by right-clicking on it and then left-clicking on Save Picture As... This will then allow you to browse to a location on your computer in which to save the file. It's usually easiest to select your desk top, though this can become crowded after a while. So, if you feel confident you should probably make another folder for the pictures you want to save, or use the My Pictures folder which should be inside your My Documents Folder.

During this process, you will also be able to change the name of the file if you need to in order for you to be better able to identify it later. Make sure though, that you don't change the file extension. The file extension is the three or four letters in the file name that come after the dot. Most images that come as e-mail attachments end in .jpg, .jpeg or .gif. Your computer needs to know what the file extension is in order to know how to interpret and display the photo for you.

Now, if you mean you want to have a physical photo made that could be put in a frame and displayed on your wall or mantelpiece, you will need to get some professional help, but it is easy to do and doesn't cost a lot. Most good photo developing outlets can make a paper photo from a jpg or gif image. All you need to do is select your floppy drive (usually your A: drive) when you are saving the image. Of course you need to make sure you have a clean floppy disc inserted at the time. Once you've saved the image onto a floppy, ring around a few of the photo developing outlets and find one that can do it for you. You'll find it won't cost a whole lot more than getting a normal negative developed.

Lastly, you could just try printing the photo yourself, but unless you buy photo-quality paper and are prepared to play about with your colour settings a fair bit, you are not likely to get anywhere near the result that a professional developing house would produce for you. I hope that helps.

Warren asks: When using CyberFilter [the Actrix Anti- Spam product] why is it sometimes I get an incorrect date on some of my e-mails in my Pending E-mails folder? Some are at least a day ahead and some are dated January 1970!

Hi Warren, Yes we've had a few of these questions recently.

The only reason we can suggest as to why the first thing might be happening is that some spammers send e-mails with the date set a few days in advance. This is so their emails always sit at the "top" of your inbox.

The reason for the 1970 dated emails would be that the date header in the spam email is not formatted correctly. So CyberFilter displays 1970 which is the Unix Epoch (January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT). Basically all Unix/Linux times are worked out in seconds since that Unix epoch time (1970), and that is the default time. Unix is the base operating system of the server upon which CyberFilter resides.

However we are looking into this to be fixed in version 3, so that CyberFilter's backend code tries to work around the messed up date headers in order to display something a little more realistic than 1970. I hope that makes some sense.

Helen asks: Why does it take so long to download Microsoft updates?

Hi Helen, There could be any number of reasons for this.

The most likely first cause is that they're often very big. Each new release of an operating system from Microsoft (98, ME, XP) is bigger (often much bigger) than the previous one. The patches and updates also seem to be bigger as time goes by. If you have more than one to download, the combined amount of megabytes can reach a very large level and tie your 56K modem up for an hour or more. The larger the download, too, the greater the chance that something will go wrong and it will stall. Most of the time you can resume the download from where it stalled by disconnecting and re-connecting, but this doesn't always work.

One thing that might help here would be to select only one update to download and install at a time.

A second problem could be server load. The Microsoft server at the other end may be experiencing thousands and thousands of requests for updates at the same time you're asking for them. This may slow down its ability to pump them down to you at a reasonable speed. You could try attempting to get the updates at a different time of day; perhaps at a time when the rest of the world (or the rest of New Zealand) is asleep.

Lastly, it could be possible to tweak some of the settings on your modem to make it behave a little better and worker faster for you. This is usually an easy, quick and painless process. Our free help desk may be able to help you (0800-228749 8am - midnight).