June 2011 Q&A
Q: I'm getting email from people asking me to friend them on Facebook and don't want them. My friends say they're not sending the messages.
A: If we friend each other, Facebook will send some messages to you suggesting you might want to be friends with some of my other friends. Just ignore them. You might also get messages on the right hand side of your page saying something like "you might know these people …" Facebook's defaults are way too lenient in what personal information they share. Go to Account > Privacy settings to tighten the settings.
Firefox sync problem
Q: I'm having trouble with a newer version of Firefox on my laptop. The browser has a synch function, and when I used it, I ended up with two copies of every bookmark on both machines. I deleted the duplicates on both machines.
A: On the computer that has the master list, delete the duplicates, then delete all the bookmarks on the other machine. Then synch the machines and you should be OK.
Phone display problem
Q: I have a Facebook application on my iPhone, which imported the bookmarks. On the iPhone, the CIPCUG website now opens to the calendar instead of the top of the home page in Firefox. Safari opens the full page.
A: Toby: I don't know because I don't use the iPhone.
Jessica: Different browsers set different home pages. The browser on the phone might have set the calendar as the home page. Set a different home page so see if the phone set the calendar as the home page. We'll talk at the break on how to uninstall the app and finding the settings.
Q: If I use a public WiFi site but don't sign on to my bank, email or other sites, am I vulnerable in any way?
A: Essentially, you're fine. It's possible for a really, really good hacker to hack into your system in that case, but the chances are that those hackers are not interested in your computer. People who can crack the Oak Ridge National Laboratory computers (see http://blogs.pcmag.com/securitywatch/2011/04/oak_ridge_national_laboratory.php) probably are not going to go after yours. The only way to be "perfectly safe" is to encase your computer in lead and then concrete and bury it 30 feet deep in the backyard. That, of course, makes it useless. In the real world there's always a tradeoff between security and ease of use. You have to balance the two.
Q: Can I safely delete the setup files after I download and install a program?
A: Yes. I usually keep mine for a month or so in case something goes wrong and I have to reinstall. If it's a program you paid for, it's a good idea to keep the file so you don't have to pay for it again.
Unread email messages
Q: My computer lies to me. It tells me I have a lot of unread email messages, but I've checked the inbox and spam folder and can't find them.
A: If you've checked the spam folder, I don't know. Call me at the shop and we can set up an online session to try to find the problem.
Q: If I use Gmail, does the mail go onto my computer or stay on the server?
A: A little of both. The information has to be displayed on your monitor, so some information is downloaded. The messages stay on the Gmail server unless you've set up your account to download the messages and delete them from the server after doing so. The information going to your computer is stored in your browser's cache until you delete it manually or the browser deletes information when the cache reaches a certain size, which can be adjusted. Use Help in your browser to determine how to clear the cache, the main purpose of which is to store graphics and other information so web pages will load faster.
Q: Is it backed up?
A: In theory, yes. If you want an additional backup, you can download the messages, address book and contacts to your computer, too, and keep it there or burn it to a CD or DVD.
Saving a Gmail link
Q: I have Gmail and want to save a link that a friend sent to me. How do I do that in Chrome?
A: Go the address bar, highlight the link, copy it with Ctrl + C. Open Notepad and copy the link with Ctrl + V. You might wonder why Ctrl + V was chosen for the paste. C and V are next to each other on the keyboard and if you're copying lots of material, it's easy to toggle back and forth between the two.
Following email links
Q: Sometimes when I try to follow links in emails, what I want is several layers down. Sometimes, I can't go beyond three layers. Why?
A: Who knows? Browsers handle different things differently. You should be able to do a manual click through.
Q: All my accounts on Quicken - 10 years worth of records - disappeared. I had a backup and restored all but the past month. Now my Works spread sheets won't work. The program files had been moved to the Recycle Bin, and I tried to move them back, but the program doesn't work.
A: There are several possibilities: your hard drive is going bad and information is disappearing; you have malware or a virus; someone is getting in and playing around; the RAM is going bad.
Q: The computer is 10 years old.
A: You have a serious issue to deal with. If you spend time trying to fix this problem, you can spend hundreds of hours and dollars and then have another problem crop up with the risk of more loss of data. A 10-year-old computer is really old electronically. You're better off, and in the long run it will be cheaper, to buy a new one. Good computers are in the $700 range. You'll have to reinstall your software.
If you have a virus, it won't come over with the data transfer. Once you get to the place where your computer is blowing up regularly, you'll be facing more and more problems. It's like a car. If problems begin to mount and you're spending more on repairs than the car is worth, you'll ending up buying a new (to you) car.
Q: For the past couple of weeks, I've been getting messages when I shut down not turn off my computer because it's processing updates. Is there any way to see what's installed?
A: Go to Start >All Programs >Windows Update >View Update History. Most of the updates will be listed Knowledge Base (KB) numbers. In XP, open Internet Explorer and go to Updates.
Q: On some websites, I'm getting an overprint of something else.
A: Lots of sites were written to use non-standard quirks in Internet Explorer 6 and have not been updated. All newer browsers are more standards-compliant than IE 6 and might not display some pages as you expect to see them. Try another browser to see if it works better with the site. Many page owners have been lax about updating them.
Q: I understand IE 9 doesn't work in Windows XP.
A: That's true. Microsoft is trying to get everyone off IE 6 and Windows XP.
Windows Live Mail
Q: I'm having trouble getting messages in Windows Live Mail. I prefer Outlook Express and am still using it, but it's corrupted. I can't answer some messages that arrive in it, but I really love the program.
A: Both programs get mail off the server and then delete the messages on the server. If you're using both programs, neither one will have all the messages.
Q: I'm generally getting all the messages in both programs.
A: Then at least one of the programs is not deleting the messages on the server. When messages disappear and you have two programs, it's a question of settings. If you have a corrupted email program, fix it or change to a different program. Otherwise the problems will just continue. and you're asking for more trouble. Similarly, if you're married to a dysfunctional woman, you'll continue to have problems.
There's some confusion about Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail. Outlook Express is not a slimmed-down version of Outlook. It's an entirely different program that Microsoft no longer supports. Windows Live Mail, despite the name, downloads messages to your computer and replaces the old Windows Mail, which replaced Outlook Express. Outlook Express can be downloaded from tucows.com, but it does not work with Vista or Windows 7. Windows Live Mail can be downloaded at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=56883de5-2024-4631-806e-757693072a1c. Mozilla's email program, Thunderbird, can be downloaded at http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird. Reviews of 11 free mail programs can be found at http://email.about.com/od/Windowsemailclients/tp/free_email_prog.htm.
Q: I'm having some problems with streaming information. Some of it seems to be on the computer and some in the clouds.
A: When you ask for streaming, the server and computer try to download enough to keep the stream running consistently once you start hearing the sound or seeing the picture. Sometimes the streaming speed slows down after the streaming starts, and the buffering can't keep up. Your picture/sound will pause until more data arrives and then start over again. Anything that's downloaded for streaming will be in the cache file of the browser for some period of time (see earlier question on the cache).