Readers' Forum - April 2005

from the April 2005 Actrix 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).

Mary writes: Hi, What do you think of https://findthedirt.com/? It seems people have been talking about us. Probably inaccurately as someone claimed to have a "professional" relationship and we have both been retired for quite a few years. I had a look at the FAQ and it all sounds rather nasty. Should we pursue it or ignore it?

Hi Mary, What an odd site and service! I think I remember receiving one of these about me a while ago, and decided it was one of those bizarre things the net throws up every now and then. I assumed they wanted me to log in so they could harvest some personal information or something, and I pretty much ignored them. I searched on my name today and couldn't find anything, so I still think it's all a bit surreptitious and below the belt.

I can't really work out what their game is, but I strongly doubt anyone has put anything in about you. It could be that they're just sending out this sort of spam to generate a bit of interest. Google didn't immediately throw up anything about them, so they can't be too well established as yet. My advice is to ignore it and not worry.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who has had an experience with Find the Dirt.

Deane writes: Hi Rob, In Mike Cooper's reply to Leanne last month he talks about Microsoft's AntiSpyware. Is this something new from Microsoft? Does it come with Service Pack 2 or is it a stand alone program? Look forward to your reply. Regards, Deane.

Hi Deane, Yes, this is a new product from Microsoft. So far it is released as a beta which means it is stable enough to loose on the general public if they want it, but it isn't sure to be free of bugs etc. A beta product (and lots of software developers release them) is usually downloaded by the enthusiast who uses it for free, and in return reports any problems and suggestions he or she has so the developers can fix them before the official release. This one doesn't come with Service Pack 2, and at this stage it appears to be standalone. Perhaps they'll bundle it in the future. I'm not sure. You can read about it (including an FAQ), at the web site Mike mentioned. There is also a link to a free download there. http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx.

Bert writes: Hi Rob When I receive an e-mail from a friend of mine, this dialog box opens up telling me to install Chinese characters. I do not get this message in other e-mails. Any ideas as to why this is so? Regards, Bert

Hi Bert,

I am pretty sure I know why this is happening, and only with the one correspondent. It has to do with their settings, not yours. Your friend is set up to have Chinese characters displayed in their e-mail client, and these must be automatically being added to e-mails they send, perhaps as a signature file, an advertisement from their e-mail provider, or whatever.

This typically happens with a lot of spam e-mails as well that have been sent through Asian providers (the Asian equivalents of Yahoo, etc) where the provider tacks a little message about themselves on the bottom of every e-mail.

Anyway, when you receive the e-mail, your program doesn't have the plug-in to display the Chinese characters, so it is prompting you to install it. Normally you can get this little box to go away by ticking the Never install any language packs box. In so doing, you're telling your e-mail program not to get bothered by this any more, and to just display e-mails without the foreign language characters. I hope that helps.

Pefi writes: Kia ora, Rob: Is this kind of e-mail genuine? It feels like a scam. How then do they make money?

Hi! I am a 29-year-old father. My wife and I have had a wonderful life together. God blessed us with a child too. Our daughter's name is Rachel and she is 10 years old. Not long ago did the doctors detect brain cancer in her little body.

There is only one way to save her and that is an operation. Sadly we don't have the money for the operation. AOL and Zdnet (in Zimbabwe) have agreed to help us.

The only way they can help is this: If you send this email to other people. AOL will track this email and count how many people get it. Every person that opens this email and sends it to at least 3 people will give us 32c (in Zimbabwe dollars). Please help us.

George Arlington
P.O. Box 233
Phone:+263(1)13 3589 or 2279
Victoria Falls
Fax:+263(1)13 2014 or cell 011405930
Zimbabwe

No, it's definitely not genuine. All that stuff about tracking the e-mails is utter rubbish. If it were at all possible it would be extremely difficult to do (and would be a criminal breach of most countries' privacy laws).

This one probably isn't done for money, and the sad dad is likely not to exist, or at least not to have anything to do with this appeal. Someone else has probably made up the story and just wants to enjoy the buzz of having lots of people believe him and to have his or her hoax spread all around the world. If only he or she would channel their talents into finding a real job.....