Readers' Forum - August 2005

from the August 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 get an answer to you 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 also turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

Ken writes: Hi Rob, We will be shortly exchanging houses for a couple of weeks with a couple in Christchurch. We would like them to be able to use our computer and email if needed. My question is: Is there any way we can stop them looking at our folders? We don't have much worth looking at, but even so it would be best not to put temptation in their way. We have Windows XP which we keep up to date. Regards and thanks for your always interesting bulletins. Ken

Hi Ken, With Windows XP, it is pretty easy to set up multiple user log-ins, so I asked Steve Trayhorne from Support to put some instructions together. They contain a fair few graphics so I thought I'd put them on a separate page. If anyone would like to know how to protect data by setting up multiple users on XP, click here.

Norman writes: My old faithful finally gave up the ghost and I've acquired a modern computer with Windows XP Home. On the old one I had a ZoneAlarm firewall, but I notice that Windows XP has its own built in firewall. How does the Microsoft firewall compare with ZoneAlarm? Is it safe to leave it alone or should I disable the Microsoft firewall and install the ZoneAlarm one? Non-technical words of one syllable please, Rob, as I'm 82 and a novice at this game. Regards, Norman

Hi Norman, If you're connecting to the Internet using just dial up, then the XP firewall is probably sufficient. You can never guarantee anything, but dialup connections are not usually the target of hackers. They prefer to try and exploit fast connections, and there are plenty of unsecured ones out there for them to pick on.

That said, Zone Alarm is probably a better form of protection. It blocks traffic both in and out of your computer which means it will alert you before it will allow one of your own programs to go and do something stupid. XP Firewall only blocks incoming traffic. Also, Zone Alarm has some performance issues, but seems to work very well on XP Home, and if you have a faster computer you should find Zone Alarm performs fine.

If you can be bothered, I reckon it would be good to download and run Zone Alarm, but if you fear installation hassles then you're probably quite okay without it.

John writes: Hi. Not sure if you can help or not. Each time my PC does an auto up date, it identifies a media player up date for installation. I do it and it confirms all is ok. But then the exact same up date appears on the next check . It seems that A. it is not installing or B. it is not recognised as installed. How can I sort this out? Thanks, John

Hi John, I understand the failure of this Critical Update for Windows Media Player Script Commands (KB828026) has been common recently and I have also experienced it. There are a few comments on the Internet but no definitive answer seems available at this stage. My third attempt to install the patch did seem to succeed. My suggestion is to make sure you have downloaded and installed the latest Media Player and optional updates.

When you go to www.windowsupdate.com, select the Custom Install. Click Select Optional Updates and install the relevant updates. Then return to the Critical Updates and retry the install of the Critical Update for Windows Media Player Script. I assume Microsoft are aware of this problem and that this issue will be resolved eventually.