Helping computers with people problems since 1996
Compute This Online
Dear Sean McCarthy,                                                             10/01/2009

Welcome to the sixth edition of this newsletter - it's a companion edition to my popular Compute This... newspaper column in the Hometown News and I truly hope that you find it helpful.

Protect Your Identity Day Update: Last week I announced in my newsletter that we would be doing a Protect Your Identity Day with The Vero Beach Sheriffs
office on 60 just off 95.

I am sorry to have to report that the Protect Your Identity Day scheduled for October 3rd has been canceled.

I know, I know. Between the seminars and the Identity Days you would think I could get something right.

Anyways, if you were planning to attend, thank you but don't! - no one will be there as it has been canceled. Keep reading future newsletters and I will let you know what date we reschedule it for.

But keep the comments and suggestions coming - I couldn't do this with out you!

And as always I hope you enjoy this weeks newsletter.


Sean McCarthy
In This Issue
Rejected emails contain clues...
Navigating around your computer...
10 email tips everyone should know...
Featured Article - Beware the restoration disks!...
Rejected emails contain clues
Email error?Over the last few weeks, I have gotten a number of calls from people confused about the e-mail address that appears at the end of my column in the Hometown News.

The e-mail address, often gets chopped in half with a hyphen in the middle when the program that formats the words for the paper breaks the address apart so it will fit on two lines.
Consequently, what happens is people send their help requests to the wrong e-mail address.

Here's a tip: When you see the e-mail address (or any e-mail/web address in a publication) that is broken in half to fit on two lines and you notice a hyphen in the middle of the address, try sending to the address without the hyphen if you have problems sending it with the hyphen.

That brings us to a question: What happens to e-mail that is sent to an incorrect address?

With postal mail, we can be pretty sloppy making spelling mistakes, leave out things like street or avenue and even leave off important items like city and state, but as long as we have a good ZIP code and a reasonably clear street address, the good folks over at the post office usually figure out where it belongs and deliver it to the right address.

Not so with e-mail; an e-mail address has to be 100 percent accurate.
The computer programs that manage the flow of mail from one computer to another over the Internet (also known as "Mailer Daemons") don't put a lot of extra thought into the e-mail address; either the address is good exactly as it is typed and the message is deliverable, or it is not correct and therefore undeliverable.

And what happens to undeliverable mail? It gets returned to sender - just like in the real world when the post office cannot make out an address.

But this is where things tend to confuse people.

Continue reading >>>>
Navigating around your computer
Navigate file folders

One of the "buzzwords" you're bound to hear while learning to use your computer is "navigate."

Unfortunately, no one ever seems to take the time to explain exactly what that means.

I thought I would use this week's newsletter to elaborate on that somewhat mysterious term and help people understand just how important a concept it is.

In a nutshell, "navigating" around your PC computer simply means finding a file or folder somewhere on your hard drive, CD/DVD drive, floppy or USB drive. (Online however, "navigating" to a particular Web site means to open that Web address in your Web browser).

OK, that sounds easy enough, but what's it really mean? How does one "navigate" to a particular file or folder on your hard drive, CD/floppy or USB drive?

To answer that, lets talk a bit about how information is organized on your drives and then compare that to a regular, old fashioned file cabinet.

Each of your drives is very similar to a file cabinet drawer in the way it stores data. Like a file cabinet drawer, there are folders (represented, remarkably enough, by little manila file folder icons), and there are files that are stored in the folders.

In a real world file cabinet, when you open a file cabinet drawer you see all of your folders stored alphabetically from front to back. If you were looking for a particular file, you would have to start by knowing what folder it's in and then, "navigate" to that folder to find your file (hint: Since the folders are arranged alphabetically, start from the front and work your way towards the back until you find the folder that likely contains your file). Not knowing what file you are looking for and what folder it's in can make finding what you are looking for difficult and, unlike computers, there is no search function built into your file cabinet.

On your computer, each of your drives, whether it's the hard drive, floppy drive, DVD drive, CD or removable drive - like a USB or Zip drive - is designated by a letter followed by a colon. Your hard drive is typically represented by a C:. Your floppy drive is usually represented by an A:. Your CD drive is typically represented by a D:. And additional drives will be labeled E:, F:, G:, etc.

Now, these letters can and do vary from machine to machine but the rule is each drive gets a letter and knowing what drive the folder or file resides on is the first step in navigating to it.

(As a side note, you may be wondering what happened to the B: drive. Back in the old days of computing, before hard drives were common, machines were built to support two floppy drives. These drives are hard coded into the system as A: and B:.

When hard drives became commonplace, they were given the next letter in the alphabet and became C:. After that, machines began to come out with only one floppy drive and a hard drive; A: and C:. And that's why the B: designation is usually not seen on today's computers and also why the C: drive represents the hard drive.)

Back to our example...

Continue reading >>>>
10 email tips everyone should know
10 email tricks everyone should know
  1. Use a signature file to automatically... "sign" your email
  2. Use the Blind Co Copy (Bcc) feature to hide the address list when sending to multiple addresses
  3. Never email angry! Wait 24 hours before clicking send on "hot" emails
  4. Avoid casual use of the "reply to all" button
  5. Use folders to organize email
  6. Use message rules to automatically file email into your newly created folders
  7. Resist the urge to forward messages to everyone in your address book
  8. Answer the easy ones - If you can answer an email with a 1-2 line response then do it now.
  9. Avoid typing in all caps - if you have trouble reading small type increase your font size instead of using the caps-lock button
  10. Try to keep the size of email attachments down to 200k or less
Thank you for reading. I hate spam as much as anyone so please, if you don't want to receive my newsletters, use the "SafeUnsubscribe" link at the bottom of this email and you will be removed from my list.

I also appreciate your feedback. Feel free to respond to this message with any comments you may have and I promise to reply to you as soon as possible.

An lastly, if you find my information helpful and you overhear someone complaining about their computer, please mention my name or forward this newsletter to them by clicking here. Most of my business is referred to me by word of mouth so without you I would not be in business. Thank you for your support.
Sean McCarthy
"The Mouse Whisperer"
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Featured Article
Beware the recovery disks!
Beware the restoration disks!

This week I thought I would write a column that will (hopefully) help someone avoid one of the pitfalls of computer ownership.

What I am to write about this week happens so frequently (it just makes me cringe thinking about it) but it shouldn't happen at all. Especially considering that the cause of this re-occurring problem is invariably someone who should know better.

What is it? What keeps happening to get me so riled up?

I'm talking about repeated instances of people calling factory "tech support" for minor problems, only to have the tech-support people (who should know better) instruct the poor, unsuspecting computer owner to format their hard drive and start from scratch.

That's like getting a lobotomy for a headache!

Then, when a user suddenly realizes all of her data is now gone (hardly anyone makes backups, you know) the guy on the other end of the phone casually tells her it's not his responsibility.

The above scenario does happen. A lot. I probably get two or three calls a year from people who just got off the phone with tech support and are left holding the pieces of a once-functional computer, now freshly restored to it's original factory specs, with no idea how to get all their programs, desktop and applications back in, let alone their personal data.

It's sad but avoidable.

Let's cover a few points so you can be aware when someone who is supposed to know better is about to lead you down the road to ruin.

If you ever get to the point where you feel you need to call the computer manufacturer, remember the guy on the other end of the phone is really busy (he takes calls like yours all day long, every day, 40 hours a week) and he's going to want to get your call over and done with as quickly as possible.

Many times, he'll want to speed up the process by telling you to find your "restore" or "system restoration" disk.

When he does, a bell should go off in your head.

Are you prepared to wipe out your computer's hard drive and start from scratch?

Are all of your data files backed up? (Do you have copies of all of your Word, XL, bookmarks, e-mail addresses, etc?).

Also, consider the reason you called tech support in the first place -was it for a relatively minor problem, such as difficulty connecting to the Internet or maybe a printer that was acting up?

If you don't have your data backed up or the problem you called about is a minor one, you may want to put the brakes on his proposed repair...

Continue reading >>>>
Compute This... 

The Home Town News

I prefer Windows XP

or Vista if that's what you got...

Or, for the brave, how about Windows 7?

and AVG Free for your antivirus

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