From the Actrix Online Informer June 2008

by Rob Zorn

Readers' Forum June 2008

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 (


Peter writes: Hi, I have had to upgrade (yeah right) to Office 2007 from Office 97 (because Word died and no one could fix it) – but that is not my problem. In Outlook Contacts, when you view the contacts they are in the order you want (alphabetical by last name or Company name – or how I have dictated). However when I send an email from Contacts they are displayed by First Name – totally ignoring the display settings in Contacts. When you have 57 Johns this is ridiculous. Help! Peter

Hi Peter, I'd have to say that on the whole I’ve been reasonably impressed with Office 2007’s improvements (and I don't readily warm to Microsoft), but Outlook remains one of the more difficult programs in the suite. However, your problem can be solved.

First, open Outlook and click Tools and then Account Settings. There is a series of tabs in the Account Settings dialogue box. Click the last one called Address Book, and then click the Change button. Put the dot in "File As (Smith, John)" rather than in "First Last (John Smith). Then click Close.

But wait, there’s more! To make sure this change sticks, click Tools again, and then Options. On the Preferences tab click the "Contact Options" button. There are two drop down boxes there you can use to set the default Full Name order. Set both to "Last, First" and click OK. Click OK again and you’re done. However, the changed order won’t show up in your address book or contacts until you restart Outlook.

When you do, open a new email and click the Address Book option in the tools ribbon along the top. Your contacts should now display in surname order.


Don writes: Dear Editor, I have seen a reference to "Safari" which was being recommended by Canon who says they are better than Windows [Internet] Explorer or even faster than Firefox. They give a good writeup and also say it provides better web viewing. Have you ever heard of Safari and could you recommend it? Thanks.

Hi Don, I had always thought Safari was only a Macintosh browser, but was interested to find there is now also a Windows version. The website even suggests it has 6 percent market share. I find that a bit dubious but it might be true. I have not used the browser at all, but wouldn’t be surprised if it's quite stylish. I think the Macintosh 'look and feel' has always been superior to Windows. However, the quality of your web-view is probably most determined by the type and quality of your monitor and graphics card.

There is no harm at all in downloading and using it, so feel free to go ahead and try it. If you don't like it you can always start using your usual browser again. Let me know if you do, and how you found it. Are any other Windows users using Safari? If so, how are you finding it?


Cushla writes: Dear Rob – Perhaps you could include in one of your Online Informers a reason for why over the past six months dial-up connection has deteriorated so much? My family purchased me a brand new computer a month ago as they thought the fault was in the machine – however, this was not the case. One should not have to wait 20 minutes and more to download emails surely?

Hi Cushla, I am sorry to hear this and am sure it is very frustrating. Lots of things can affect the speed of a dialup connection. My first thought would have been some spyware infections. These are very common and can clog up your internet connection as they are constantly "reporting home" on your movements. If that's the case, a good spyware clean out might be what you need.

However, if you have a completely new machine and the problem is the same, then it could be something local to you. The quality of your phone line is the most likely. If you have line deterioration or a bad circuit, there can be too much 'noise' on the line for the modem to cope. This is a common problem with rural lines, and nearby electric fences can also cause interference that will slow your modem down. Lastly, it could be something also connected to your phone line, such as a fax machine, that is causing the problem. If you have a fax, try completely disconnecting it and see if that makes a difference.

There are a few other tricks and tweaks that may help. Feel free to give the help desk a call on 0800 228749 and they can help you narrow down what the problem might be and find a fix.


Allistair writes: In the May Actrix Online Informer John wrote about not being able to print out his address book in Outlook Express. I have a similar problem in Thunderbird. I can go to "View" - "Sort by" - "Name" and everything is in alphabetical order there but when I go to "Print Preview" for the address book it is in non alphabetical order. Any clues? Allistair

Hi Allistair, The inability to do this is a known bug in Thunderbird which always prints address book entries in the order in which they were created. There is a workaround, but it's temporary and will only last until a new entry goes in (which Thunderbird does by default every time you email or reply to someone).

  1. Create a new temporary address book (under the File menu).
  2. Select all cards in your original address book. Select "View -> Show Name As -> Last, First."
  3. Drag all cards to the new address book. Cards in the new address book will now be in order.
  4. Delete all entries in your original address book.
  5. Drag all cards from your temporary address book back to the original address book.
  6. Delete the temporary address book.


Paranaputra writes: A stupid question for which I should have found its answer six years (or so) ago, but did not...

I would be grateful to anyone who could tell me how to get a timer to go off with a warning sound at a pre-selected – and variable – time, to tell me that the end of an allotted period on any subject is about to arrive. Sort of like an egg-timer, so to speak, small but clear and LOUD, positioned in any of the four corners of the screen, governed to operate via the START menu (suitable to Windows XP). That should be its essential function, perhaps with a few "other bells and whistles" for more elaborations... Anybody?

It sounds like you need something more than Outlook's calendar feature. There's a lot of software out there that does this sort of thing, as you'll see if you Google egg-timer or post it note software. You could also search sites like Source Forge or Tucows for free versions. Is anybody using something like this that they could recommend. Let's not let Paranaputra suffer another six years of missing deadlines!


Rhondda writes: Hi Rob, I have just perused the list of topics in past Actrix Online Informers, looking for info on the Recycle Bin and emptying it; plus recommendations from you about taking up the offer of 'More Updates are ready". Should we always take up the offer of updates; AND what do they actually update? Are they always free? Looking forward to hearing from you. Rhondda

Hi Rhondda, Emptying the Recycle Bin is pretty easy. Just right-click on it and then left-click on Empty Recycle Bin. That permanently deletes stuff, though, so be sure before you do it. You can double-click your Recycle Bin to check its contents before emptying. If there's anything you want to restore to its original location (i.e. you no longer want to get rid of it) then right-click on the item, and left-click on Restore. But hey, that wasn't an Internet question!

Yes, you should generally agree to take up the free updates as they are announced via the auto-update system. Yes, they are always free, and they're usually security updates – that is fixes to existing problems in your operating system that make you vulnerable to hackers and other web-based nasties. Microsoft is constantly updating its software as new problems come to light (with either security or stability) and these are well-tested before they are automatically downloaded to you. Of course this is also the way most people automatically upgrade to Internet Explorer 7.

The announcement warning will let you check what the updates are before you agree to install them, too.

One more thing... You should only accept Windows updates and updates for other software you know you have installed. Watch out for browser pop-ups which look like Windows messages warning about the computer being out of date and requiring an update. Clicking these often leads to spyware downloads and other dodgy goings-on.


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