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From the Actrix Online Informer January 2009

by Rob Zorn

Readers' Forum January 2009

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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Kevin writes: Hi there, Always enjoy your newsletter, in particular interesting sites. However, on opening link to World Fact Book, the headline screamed at me a majestic offer to improve my manhood! Then I checked out the footy on BBC sports and blow me down (is that rude?) there was another one. Based on the fact that these are good reputable sites that would clearly be of interest to kids, why on earth would they go down the track of resorting to this sort of nonsense? I know of course this is clearly out of your hands etc – just curious as to why even the good stuff is now getting grubby, Keep up the good work, Regards, Kevin

Hi Kevin, Thanks for your kind words, and I hear you, brother. When I just went to the Fact Book I got the banner telling me I was the millionth visitor (a lie) and that I should click the banner to claim my prize (fat chance). I'm not sure I can answer your question except to say these websites are probably in an advertising deal with some company that feeds them rotating advertising banners. They may not know what's coming and probably don't have much control over it. It may be their website hosting company that is in such a deal making them even less in control.

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Peter writes: "Internet littered with abandoned sites." I recall seeing a programme which scanned one's bookmarks/favourites and reported on sites no longer available. Anyone know what it might have been/is?

Hi Peter, I did a bit of a Google – and it seems there are programs out there that do just that. AM Deadlink might be one to try. It's small and free and gets a good review from PC World.

The program is available here: www.aignes.com/deadlink.htm.

The PC World review is at: www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,22977-order,1-page,1-c,alldownloads/description.html.

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Last month Brian Dennehy, from Actrix Support, suggested downloading an older version of Adobe reader might help a customer with a problem. The following response is from another customer, Jim.

Hi Brian, Just a comment on your response to an emailed query in December's Online Informer. I do quite a bit of reconditioning old PCs for various folk who just want the basics and don't have much money. Often I install an old version of any given software because these run better (for obvious reasons) on old operating systems like Win 98. The first place I look is: www.oldversion.com.

For example, they have versions of Acrobat Reader from 2 (1.4 MB) right through to 8.11 which weighs in at a massive 22.3 MB – truly the greatest example of bloatware in the known universe. I think it was your Accounts emails that put me onto Foxit, which I now install on every PC I set up. Pass on my thanks.

Your caveat regarding the need to scan files still holds, but as yet I've never struck problems at this site. Regards, Jim

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Jane writes: Speaking about spam, do you know of a free anti-spam program I could download? I'm sick of getting the same ones through or do you have any other ideas, please to help with this? Thanks and Happy Christmas to you all at Actrix. Jane

Hi Jane, One popular anti-Spam program is Mailwasher. It was developed by a New Zealander and is very easy to use (http://mailwasher.net).

It works by connecting to your mailbox and showing you the headers of everything thatís there. You can then delete any emails you donít want before you open up your email program. You still have to deal with them, but at least you donít have to download or view them.

You can also set Mailwasher up to bounce spam emails back to the sender giving the impression that that your email address is invalid so theyíll (hopefully) take you off their list. We ask that you donít use this feature, though. Thereís very little point in that itís very hard to get off a spam list, and all it does is increase server load. Spammers use fake sending addresses most of the time so your bounce wonít get through. All it will do is generate another bounce and so on.

The Mailwasher trial version is free, but can only be used with one email address. You can pay to upgrade to more and better features.

Actrix also offers CyberFilter, which is a lot more radical, but well-suited to some domestic users. It works by not allowing anything through to you unless you have "whitelisted" the sending address. Emails from addresses you blacklist get deleted automatically, and all others get held until you log in and either approve or reject them. You can find out more about CyberFilter at http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=68.

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Jo writes: Hi there, Just wanted to ask a couple of questions about getting a website online as I had a few problems. In a nutshell a friend made my site for me (using Publisher 2003) and we contacted the hosting company - who then started talking about FTP client software (which I didn't have). They then talked about a free one (Filezilla). I sent the website files by e-mail and the hosting people then said they would have to convert the files to html and this would take a while (which it did).

My questions are – why would they have needed to convert to html – surely since we used a web publishing software it should have been in html already? What benefit is there is having the FTP client software? and Now that I'm up and running how do I update – do I need to e-mail files and wait again or is there a better system? Cheers, Jo

Hi Jo, HTML is pretty simple stuff in concept, but there is a little bit of a knack to it. Some programs are good for producing HTML documents, like FrontPage, Dream Weaver and a few others, and some are not. Publisher is really designed for producing desktop stuff which is very different from designing a web page. You can't really approach it the same way because HTML is a bit stricter about how things can be laid out. Publisher's feature of saving in html doesn't work very well because it has to produce very complicated coding to get what you've designed in a desktop publishing environment to work as a web page.

The images on websites, for example, usually aren't part of the web page. They exist somewhere else (usually in an images directory) and the HTML code tells the page how and where to display them. Desktop publishing has the images actually present, and there is all sorts of potential for this to go wrong when converting from desktop environment to web.

I would never recommend using Publisher or Word or any program not designed to be an HTML editor. If you want to try a free one, NVU has a good reputation. http://net2.com/nvu/.

I haven't seen the files Publisher produced for you, so I can't comment with certainty, but I'm not surprised they didn't work very well and needed to be re-done.

FTP (file transfer protocol) allows you to connect directly to your website. So if a file needs changing or updating, you do that at your computer, connect to the site using FTP, and transfer the corrected file up. It then overwrites the existing one and your changes are live. It's very simple to do and saves you having to wait for (and pay, presumably) the company to make the changes. Filezilla is a very good program for this and one I use all the time.

There's a short introduction to HTML we put in a past Online Informer, http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/htmlstuff.htm,  but it's very basic and a little dated now. If you Googled "HTML tutorial" or something you'd find endless free help understanding and using it. There's also a brief introduction to getting a site set up with Actrix at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/0509getweb.html.

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Paula writes: We have this Winweb system pop up over and over again. It tells us that someone is trying to get credit card details through Mozila Firefox. How can we get rid of this? Thanks, Paula

Hi Paula, It looks like you have a Winweb Security Spyware infection. WinWeb is a fake security program that actually tries to steal your data, not protect you. You need to get rid of this pretty smartly. It's also a general pain in the neck with the pop-ups, and will slow your computer down. The warnings about someone stealing your data are probably false.

More information about it can be found at www.2-spyware.com/remove-winweb-security-2008.html.

I would download and use a program like Spybot Search and Destroy. You can get that free from www.spybot.com/index2.html. Spybot should be able to find it and remove it. Look at the report Spybot gives you after you've run it.

If spybot doesnít find and remove it, you may have to take your machine into a specialist who should be able to remove it for you, such as your local computer repair store.

If youíre not confident running spybot, our helpdesk can probably talk you through it, but to save time, at least download the program first. Install and run it yourself (it's quite safe) if you can. If not, the help desk can be reached on 0800 228749.

 

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