FACTS! FAX! 134 (05/11/98)
the October 22 edition of F!F!F!, following a response to a reader's query
concerning Freeserve -- the free Internet access program from Dixons -- we
invited your comments on the service. The response has been incredible; letters
and E-mails are still coming in! For the record dissatisfied users outnumber
happy customers by a factor of three to one. Here is just a small sample.
MORE FREE LUNCHES…
have experienced problems with Freeserve. It completely took over our computer,
wiping out our connections to CompuServe and AOL. We could not uninstall
it ourselves and had to get someone in to deal with it. He managed to
reinstall AOL but not CompuServe as it had eliminated our ID.
spent a whole weekend trying to uninstall a very invasive and intrusive bit of
software, which interfered with my windows, stamping FS everywhere but more importantly
stopping my mail program from working properly.
have spent approximately 70 hours on the telephone to Freeserve and still
cannot get connected. They finally admitted that they had no more ideas and I
would have to accept that I could not join their club. I am about £150.00 out
was hoping to trial Freeserve alongside our BT Internet service. However all it
did was to wreak havoc with my connection to BT Internet which has been a
really excellent service. I am still having troubles and still await a response
from Freeserve to my letter.
Dymond, Villa Magdala Hotel, Bath
loaded the software and was not happy with the FS watermark, the way it seemed
to take over my web browser and I had difficulty in running my current ISP
(ClaraNet) in tandem. The connection speed with a 56k modem was not all that
brilliant either. So I decided to uninstall. It wouldn't let me. Something
about the uninstall log not available. I ended up saving all my personal files
and reformatting my hard drive.
loaded Freeserve to see what it was like - big mistake. My desktop has been
hijacked by a so-called "Active Desktop" full of junk I don't want.
When I looked for the Uninstall option to get rid of it there wasn't one. I
thought all new programs had an uninstall option as standard?
seem to be many adverse comments about Freeserve in this column, yet I have
found it to be an excellent no-frills (or gimmicks) ISP. In my experience it
has been fast, worked well, and was easy to set up.
been on the Freeserve service for around a month now, I'm struggling to
understand what all the fuss is about. The service delivers exactly what it
promises, i.e. free Internet access.
Yes, you get their watermark on the toolbar, but without this you'd only
get the IE or Netscape toolbar so what's the difference? The phone cost is as for any other provider.
To my mind, VFM doesn't come any better.
information on uninstalling Freeserve and using it with other Internet Service
Providers is available at the following address:
to everyone who responded, we'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
the end of most months I have some free time left on my mobile phone.Is
it possible to buy a connection from my mobile to my modem and use the mobile
instead of the BT line to send E-mails and use the Internet?
Gawthorpe, South Wingfield, Derbyshire
depends. Assuming your phone is a digital model (GSM or PCM system), it is a
reasonably recent 'data compatible' model, and a suitable modem is available,
then the answer is yes. However, be aware that data speeds on mobile phones are
agonisingly slow -- currently 9,600 bps or between four and five times slower
than a typical PC modem on a BT line -- which means web browsing will use up
your free time very quickly indeed. Incidentally, that figure of 9,600 bps is
only achievable on a good day, with the wind in the right direction and a
strong clear signal, in practice cellphone connection speeds may be a lot
ON THE LOOSE
recently purchased a Panasonic LF-D101 DVD RAM drive. Having installed it I
started to read the manual. The first section that I came across warned me
amongst other things, 'not to get my eyes close to the panel opening door in
order to avoid exposure to invisible laser radiation'. Within the tower set up
I have I can occasionally see a green light through the slit between the DVD
RAM drive and the front panel blanking plate which hides the hard drive unit in
the space above. Do you know if there is any danger posed by looking at this
green light? Also is there any way of
assessing whether the DVD RAM drive 'leaks' invisible radiation to the areas
where I am usually sitting while using the PC?
green light you're seeing is the 'activity' indicator LED, probably on the
front of the nearby hard disc drive, it is perfectly harmless. As the
instruction book says the laser used inside the DVD emits invisible light, even
if it was 'leaking' you wouldn't see it. However, it is highly unlikely any
laser light could escape. Manufacturers go to a lot of trouble to make sure it
stays safely inside the case. Moreover, all CD and DVD decks have safety
interlocks that prevent the laser from operating when the drive door or loading
tray is open.
can I create my own screensaver? It struck me that it would be very useful to
have an analogue clock ticking away on the screen when it has gone into the
save mode. I thought it would just be a simple matter of dropping Clock.exe
into one of the screensavers in Windows System but it ain't that easy! The
trouble is that your regular, sometimes deceptively simple, answers to complex
questions have encouraged me to think that I could do it myself. It's a classic
case of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"…
it was worth a try… Fortunately there's a much easier way and that's to
download one of the dozens of freeware and shareware programs from the
Internet. A quick search on Yahoo using Clock and Screensaver as keywords
brought up a couple of dozen sites. There's an interesting selection at:
assortment includes a 'death' clocks (you tell it how old you are and your sex
and it tells you how long you have left to live…) and Year 2000 countdown
clocks, as well as more conventional time displays. There's also a customisable
screensaver with a clock at:
read the Boot Camp article about Microsoft Sound Recorder (Connected October
22nd) with interest but it failed to answer something that has been bugging me
for some months. Is it possible to record sounds such as a full-length song on
Sound Recorder? It seems to automatically stop recording after 60 seconds, which
is clearly not enough for this purpose.
trick is to create a blank sound file, give it a name and save it. Now go to
the Edit menu and select Insert File and select your blank sound file as many
times as necessary to build up the length of the file.
the articles in Boot Camp recently on the Paint Program. I recently acquired my
computer with Windows 98 pre-installed. In familiarising myself with the
various programs I went into Paint to experiment. Whenever I try to access the
program now I get a message stating
'This program has performed an illegal operation and is being shut
down'. How do I get out of this situation? email@example.com
sounds as though Paint has become corrupted. Try removing and then
re-installing it using the Add/Remove Programs utility in Control Panel.