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From the Actrix Online Informer October 2008

by Rob Zorn

Readers' Forum October 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 (www.actrix.co.nz).

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Peter writes: Hi Rob, Is it possible to establish 2-way on-line texting via Actrix? I know it can be done using MSN, but MSN has never quite behaved properly on my computer and this facility seems to be no exception.

Brian Dennehy from Actrix Support responds: Hi Pete, Assuming you are referring to text-based conversation between two computers while online, then yes you can definitely use your Actrix connection to take advantage of online instant messaging programs. Some of the more popular instant messaging programs available nowadays are AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger), ICQ, Google Talk, and Yahoo! Messenger, which can all be found at these links:

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM): http://www.aim.com/
Windows Live Messenger: http://get.live.com/messenger/overview
ICQ: http://www.icq.com/
Google Talk: http://www.google.com/talk/
Yahoo! Messenger: http://messenger.yahoo.com/

These are all popular applications, but it is usually a matter of finding out which particular instant messaging program your friends and relatives also use, as these programs, on their own, won't let you cross-communicate between them. If you know people using different applications then it should be fine to have more than one of these applications running on your computer at a time, but an alternate solution is to use a facility that will consolidate them all (or at least, most of them!) into one.

One such facility is called Meebo, and can be found at http://www.meebo.com/.  Meebo allows you to log into multiple instant messaging services at once and chat with your friends and family from there, all in the space of one window. Another alternative is an application named Trillian which is available at http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/downloads/.  Trillian will allow you to log in to multiple instant messaging services similar to Meebo, but instead of being contained to a web browser window it runs as a separate application on your computer allowing you to customise it more to your liking.

From past experiences, most people will usually stick with one or two programs/services for instant messaging, but it's up to you as to which one you find best. They are all free to download and there are no additional monthly charges or anything like that in order to use them.

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Jane writes: I seem to remember in one of your newsletters you mentioned about free firewalls that could be downloaded. Do you know if there is one that will work with Windows 98 as I've had trouble renewing my previous subscription as the update required Windows 2000?

Hi Jane, Being on Windows 98 will limit your options quite a bit and as time goes by it will be harder and harder to find programs that will work for you. Microsoft have stopped supporting it, which means software developers don't really write for it anymore either.

There are a number of free firewalls out there. Ones like Sygate Personal Firewall Free 5.6.2808 have pretty good reputations, but use quite a bit in the way of system resources, so they might not work so well on a PC designed to run Windows 98. However Iíve not been able to test it on a 98 machine, so you could try it and see. You can download Sygate here: http://www.tucows.com/preview/213160.

Another free one that claims to work on all versions of Windows is Outpost which is available for free at http://www.agnitum.com/products/outpostfree/. I havenít heard much about it, but Google serves up some reviews of it that look pretty good.

Comodo and Zone Alarm are well-known free firewalls that are commonly used but they no longer have Win98 support.

 

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