Readers' Forum - November 2005

from the November 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).

Val writes: Hi There I have been getting a lot of Spam mail lately and now I have started receiving mail inviting me to log onto pornographic sites - some of these are child porn! How do I stop this? - I run my own business from home and have a website - so I have not blocked Spam as some info coming from my website gets blocked by my computer. I have tried replying to the website asking them to stop sending me mail, but my emails get returned. Surely this is illegal - should I report to someone - and if so who?

Pete Cranston from the Actrix Help Desk responds: Hi Val, As you aware Actrix provides free automated spam-filtering for all customers. Our filters will examine a message, and based on internationally developed criteria, assign it a spam score - messages that are 100% known as spam will be deleted immediately. Any message that the system thinks is spam, but is not 100% certain is placed in a spam folder - you can access this by logging into My Actrix on our web-site to view your trapped spam. All other messages will be delivered to your mailbox as normal.

The spam filter we operate is extremely widely used and very effective, however it is not completely foolproof. Spammers constantly change their tactics and some messages will get through to your inbox despite our best efforts. There is also the possibility that a legitimate message may be tagged as spam, so it is important to check your spam folder regularly for any false positives - messages in this folder will be automatically deleted after 30 days. The spam filter can be disabled for each individual mailbox by logging into My Actrix, which it seems you have done.

Unfortunately if you do not want this filter enabled there is little else we can suggest to reduce the amount of Spam you are receiving. The only other options would be to install some sort of self managed Spam software such as Mailwasher so you can filter out what you do not wish to receive yourself, or as a last resort you can change your e-mail address. This effectively allows you to start from scratch with a clean unknown address, and provided you are cautious with who you give the address out to, should rid you of spam problems. If you wish to change your e-mail address, please call the Actrix helpdesk on 0800-228749. Please be at your computer with it turned on when you call.

Some of what you are being sent may be illegal and as such if you wish to make a complaint to Internal Affairs, you can do so via the following page: http://www.dia.govt.nz/web/submitforms.nsf/cencomp?OpenForm

Caroline writes: Hi There, can you tell me how I can change my email address?

Hi Caroline, Changing your e-mail address is reasonably easy. All you need to do is call our help desk on 0800-228749. They'll ask you some questions to verify who you are, and then will change you e-mail address and user name in our database. When this is done, though, you will also need to make sure that you change the settings in your e-mail program (so that your new e-mail address is checked instead of the old one) and in your dialup network settings (so that our authentication servers recognise you when you try to connect). Again, these changes are not difficult, and our help desk crew can talk you though finding and changing the settings. The whole process should take just a few minutes.

It can take up to four hours for your new settings to come into effect, so if you make the change it's best for you to go off and do something else for a while before trying to use e-mail again. If you change your e-mail address, you also need to make sure that your usual correspondents are aware beforehand that you've done it, as mail to your old e-mail address will start to bounce.

James writes: Hi Rob, When I access my mail from someone else's computer and want to write a new email I sometimes lose it because when I hit send (out of habit) I get told to go to the logon page which, when I do deletes my message. How do I get it back? Can I get it back? Why doesn't the webmail programme automatically save unsent messages in the outbox when the window is changed like my Eudora programme does? Cheers, James

envelopewm.jpg (1746 bytes)Hi James, Web Mail works a little differently to mail on your own computer using a mail program such as Outlook or Outlook Express. It's a lot less automated because it's dependent upon interaction from you.

We've heard from a few customers who've been frustrated to lose an e-mail they'd been writing because they didn't realise that the system automatically logs them off after 40 minutes of inactivity. This is done to avoid the situation where somebody accidentally leaves themselves connected to the mail server indefinitely. You can imagine the security concerns involved if someone were to do that at an Internet cafe, for example. The next person on the machine would have access to all their mail.

It's important to understand that your typing of the e-mail is actually taking place on your computer, not on the server, and the reason why the server doesn't save your unsent e-mail into the Drafts folder when it logs you off is simply because it doesn't know about it and can't know about it. When you're connected to Web mail, all the server knows is that there's a connection between your computer and itself. It doesn't know anything about the e-mail you are typing until you hit Send, at which point it receives the e-mail from your computer and sends it.. It can't look at what you're doing (and if you think about it, you'll be glad that it can't). So if you've typed away for 40 minutes, there's been plenty of activity on your computer, but none between your computer and the server, so the server will close the connection after 40 minutes. We've now put a warning to this effect on the "Compose E-mail" page.

Customers should keep this in mind when composing e-mails in Web Mail, and if they're worried about a timeout, they should manually save a copy of what they're typing into the Web Mail Drafts folder (just click the Save Draft button). Once something has been saved into the Drafts folder, it can be retrieved even after they've logged in and out again.