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From the Actrix Online Informer October 2007

by Rob Zorn

Readers' Forum October 2007

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send us 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).

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Steve writes: I enjoyed the password article in a recent Online Informer. It said we couldn't use non-numeric/non-alphabetic characters except "_", "-" and "+" because Actrix's system [NOW] doesn't allow that. I'm interested in know WHY the whole range of those other characters has been barred.

Hi Steve, Certain non alpha-numeric characters could potentially be used by clever hackers to insert code fragments into the username or password system which are then run to do unwanted things. This is why we have placed limitations on the characters that can be used. The chances of potential disruption are negligible but removal of unnecessary characters reduces the risk. We still believe there are more than enough options without them to create a good, strong password.

There are security features and programming techniques that could be employed to counteract the potential exploitation of non alpha-numeric characters but, as with most computer security systems, they are only secure until an ingenious individual thinks of a way to thwart or by-pass them. Keeping up-to-date with security techniques, patches, etc is the most common and reliable defence (and we certainly do that), but removing the legitimate use of the characters themselves takes this one step further.

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Donna writes: When I log in I don't automatically get the Actrix site. I get toggle instead. Why?

Hi Donna, I'm guessing you're referring to the website that first comes up when you go onto the Internet with your browser. This is a personal setting on your computer that is very easy to change. If you use Internet Explorer, click Tools and then Internet options. The Internet options box will come up, and the very first setting on the General tab is for your Home page. Simple replace whatever is there with http://www.actrix.co.nz.

If you're using Firefox, the setting is found under Tools/Options/Main.

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I have two computers, one a lap top and the other a desk top. Is there any way of having the same contents from the "Inbox" and "Sent Items" in both computers?  Thanks Allistair

Hi Allistair, yes, there is a way. What you can do is set the email programs on each of your computers to use IMAP rather than POP as the mail type. POP (short for Post office Protocol) downloads your mail to your local email program and then deletes it from your mailbox on the Actrix mail server. IMAP, on the other hand, leaves it all there so that you can see it when you connect to your mailbox from a different computer (but make sure that one is also set to IMAP or it will download and delete your mail when it connects).

IMAP has some real advantages, not the least of which is the ability to check your mail from different computers. Any subfolders you create using IMAP to store your different e-mails in are actually created on the server, so they'll also be there when you connect from your other computer.

You can also set your mail program to save your sent items in a Sent Items folder on the server. This means that everything you send from one computer will also be there in that same Sent Items folder on the server when you access your mail from a different computer. Unfortunately, I have found, that Outlook refuses to do this, however. It saves sent items in a local folder regardless of whether or not I set it to save them in the server-based Sent Items folder. This means I can't access my sent items from different computers. I have found that Thunderbird does it very well, though.

IMAP has some disadvantages, too. The main one is that it tends to mean you need a very large inbox, and you may find yourself having to pay for extra space very soon. The standard size for your Actrix mailbox is 100Mb. This may seem like a lot, but you'll find you fill it very soon, especially if you're creating lots of subfolders and storing emails with attachments. You can upgrade to more space for reasonable fees. See: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=65.

Changing to IMAP is a little more complicated than I've made it sound here, so you may want to do a little further research on your own by googling "POP or IMAP" or something. You may want to start here: http://www.entourage.mvps.org/glossary/pop_imap.html.

You'll find the settings for POP or IMAP under Tools/Accounts in most email programs.

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Steve writes: I've got this 'browser warning' popping up on my screen which suggests I download some programme or something that will clean my computer out, which I didn't realise was dirty. Have you heard of it and what is it? thanks Steve

Hi Steve,

These sorts of pop-ups used to be really common before browsers came with built-in pop-up blocking, and you're right to be wary of anything that pops up inviting you to download something. Commonly these warnings say you've got spyware on your machine, so please download our spyware tool. What they don't tell you is that the spyware tool is in fact spyware, adware or whatever. It may even be something much worse, such as a virus or trojan which will open your machine up to someone else's control.

I have a number of recommendations.

  1. Don't even download anything that comes by way of a pop-up invitation.
  2. Do download and run either Ad-aware or Spybot (mentioned in this month's free programs round up), or even better, sign up to try the CA Security Suite.
  3. Turn your pop-up blocker on. In Explorer this setting is under Tools/Popup blocker. In Firefox it's under Tools/Options/Content/Block pop up Windows.
  4. Have your Windows Firewall turned on (Start/Control Panel/Security Centre) or make sure you have a third party firewall installed such as Zone Alarm. Firewalls stop remote computers connecting to you without your knowledge.
  5. Make sure you have an anti-virus program installed - see the free software list from last month's newsletter, or even better, sign up to try the CA Security Suite. These should warn you if you're about to install something undesirable.

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Barbra writes: I have Kodak Easyshare software. To download 'Picasa' do I have to go into Add/Remove and uninstall the Kodak Easyshare Software? I have been told 'Picasa' is much easier to use.

Hi Barbara, This one's outside our Internet expertise in that we just don't know about what peculiarities there might be with any software you have installed. But as a generalisation, Picasa is fine to download and use beside any other imaging/photography software, and you shouldn’t have to remove the Kodak stuff before you can download and use it. If you do want to uninstall the Kodak software, make sure first that you don't need it to get the photos down off your camera!

 

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