Houston We Have a Problem… 013 02/12/06


Surfing In Australia

In the next few weeks I will be travelling to Australia for a three-month stay. I will be taking my laptop with me and I want to be able to stay in contact by email, how can I do this? I have home broadband, should I leave the ‘hub’ switched on whilst I am away?

David White, by email


If you haven’t already done so familiarise yourself with your laptop’s wireless Internet and network setup. If you have a dial-up account check to see if there’s a connection number for Australia as this could prove useful if you are visiting any really out of the way places. Find out if you can what sort of connections will be available to you during your visit and if they include Ethernet and dial-up then make sure you pack suitable cables and adaptors.


It wouldn’t hurt to do a dry run before you leave and practice setting up a wireless connection at a local wi-fi ‘hotspot’. You may need to briefly switch off your Firewall or virus checker to make the connection but once you are online switch them on again straight away.


Don't let your defences drop when you are travelling. Keep your laptop in view all of the time, enable BIOS and Windows password security and encrypt any sensitive or personal data. Once you are in Oz and you have an Internet connection up and running you should be able to access your messages through your normal email program, though you can sometimes run into difficulties with settings and protocols, in which case try the free webmail service www.mail2web.com. All you need to do it tap in your email address and password. You can also use it in Internet cafes and public Libraries with web access if you can’t get connected through your laptop. Switch off your home system while you are away, it will just be wasting electricity. Incoming emails will be stored on your ISP’s server computer until you download them onto your PC.



Safety in Numbers?

Is Windows 98 still reasonably secure from hackers now that Microsoft no longer supports it?

Peter Lucas, by email


It is true that older versions of Windows are less prone to virus attack because no new ones are being written and those still in circulation should be picked up by anti-virus software. However, hackers try to gain access to your PC through your Internet or network connection and by exploiting security loopholes -- old and new -- so you need to maintain your defences and make sure you have a good Firewall installed. 



Redundant Email Account

I would be grateful for your advice as to how to cancel a previous e-mail address, which is receiving vast amounts of spam messages. I am able to control it to some extent by deleting before opening but would really like to loose the address completely.

Sheila Brandon, by email


No problem, in Outlook Express go to Tools > Accounts. Select the Mail tab then click on the redundant account name. If you want to delete it click the Remove button; if you just want to stop using it click the Properties button and on the General tab uncheck ‘Include this account when receiving mail…’.




Video on the Web

I would like to send video clips over the Internet to relatives and friends. A number of sites, such as Google Video, offer the facility to upload movies into a free archive, which can then be accessed by my intended recipients. I have 2Mb broadband which is adequate for downloading but has proved much too slow for uploading video clips. At about 18kb/s, as displayed during upload, it takes over an hour to send a 2-minute clip.


I have heard DivX can compress a DVD to fit onto a CD without loss of quality. Could I use this to speed uploading, or do you have any other suggestions?

Ron Coleman, by email


It’s a long shot but it could just be that the site/the web/your ISP’s server was exceptionally busy when you try to upload your movie. If it really is only 18kb/s then there is something drastically wrong and as good as DivX is, it cannot solve your problem. However, before you start fiddling with settings you should carry out a ‘speed’ test by going to: www.speedtest.bbmax.co.uk/ and www.adslguide.org/tools/speedtest.asp, (average the two results). These sites use a JavaScript plug-in to check both download and upload speeds and if the latter is much below 200kb/s (most ISPs quote 256kb/s for a 2Mb broadband connection) you should contact your ISP’s technical support. 




Upgrade Woes 

I have recently upgraded my Windows ME PC to XP. Connectivity is now a problem and will only allow 5 minutes online before it closes down. I have also lost Word and Microsoft Works and the printer stops after about 4 lines have been printed. Norton Anti-virus was installed on ME but has been un-installed leaving my PC vulnerable and confused. Can you help?

Jenny Collins


Windows upgrades rarely work properly. Problems with the earlier system, not to mention viruses and malware can be carried across to the new setup. There are limitless opportunities for software conflicts and it is almost impossible to fix faults, which more often than not are multiple in nature and have a tendency to cascade. 


I would call it day. Backup all of your irreplaceable files, format the hard drive and carry out a clean installation. If you are using an XP Upgrade disc you will be asked to briefly load a full retail copy of Windows 98, SE or ME for a validation check, otherwise it proceeds just like a normal XP installation. Even with all the inconvenience of re-installing your applications I promise you it will be a lot quicker than trying to troubleshoot a flaky upgrade.





© R. Maybury 2006 2011


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