The Digital Life, Houston We Have a Problem, 079 19/04/08


OE Rules OK

Is it possible to set Outlook Express to receive emails only from my contacts in the Address Book? 

James Boylan


Yes it is, by creating a 'Rule', though I must say this is a fairly drastic way to control Spam and you run the risk of losing important messages from people or organisations that are not in your Address Book.


In OE’s main window go to Tools > Message Rules > Mail, select the Mail Rules tab and click the New button. In box 1 select ‘Where the From Line contains people’ and in box 2 select either ‘Delete it’ (the safer option) or ‘Delete it from Server’ (the nuclear option). In Box 3 double-click on the underlined ‘contains people’ then click the Address Book button. Select the people you want to receive messages from by double-clicking each one and they appear in the Rule Addresses box on the right. When that is done click OK.


Here’s the important part. As it stands this Rule tells OE to delete messages from your contacts, so you have to make it work the other way around, and delete messages from people NOT in the Address Book. Click the Options button on the Select People dialogue box that should now be on your screen, and under ‘Apply Rule if:’ select ‘Message does not contain the people below’. Keep clicking OK to exit the dialogue boxes and restart OE.


A better solution would be to create a rule that ‘Moves’ messages from people you do not know into a quarantine folder, so you can check them at your leisure. Alternatively, install a Spam Filter, and as usual I recommend MailWasher, which is free and effective. You will find a link to the download on the Software page of the PC Top Tips website (http://tinyurl.com/v3rz5)



Pictures for Posterity

I run an Apple Mac G5 and take pictures off and store them on an external hard drive. You have mentioned on several occasions that hard drives can fail, so what is the recommended way to keep digital my images safe?

Alan Coleman, by email


In the end no electronic storage system is infallible. If you are really worried about your photos then all you can do is to make duplicate or triplicate backups, with copies on optical, magnetic or solid-state media and keep them off-site, or in online repositories but then there’s the problem of obsolescence. Will the equipment necessary to read the various disc formats we use today still be available in 50 years, and what happens if your online storage company goes bust? Ironically the only image archiving system that has a proven track record of surviving a century or more, and is totally hardware independent, is paper. However, make sure your photos are printed on acid-free paper and properly stored; images printed on ordinary photo papers probably won’t last for than 50 years.



Stick in Limbo

I am unable to use Windows Mail on my new laptop due to one message being stuck in the Outbox. I can't delete it either. The laptop manufacturer’s helpline suggested restoring the application, which was successful, but the stuck message remained. The technical guys at the well-known shop where I purchased the PC spent half an hour with my 'seriously weird' problem, not having met anything like it before. They were unable to help despite trying to delete just about everything!

Margaret Peterkin, by email


Well, I suppose we should be grateful that they didn’t resort to the usual head-scratcher’s solution of formatting your hard drive re-installing Windows, but I am surprised it caused so much confusion. It takes just a few seconds to Google ‘stuck message windows mail’ and this will bring up a link to Microsoft Knowledgebase article 941090 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/941090).


It is a well-known problem in WinMail and the KB article has links to a free update that should fix it and two simple to follow workarounds, for rebuilding the Windows Mail message store folder. In the unlikely event that doesn’t work try a free program called WMUtil (http://tinyurl.com/22xmar), which has a ‘Clear Outbox’ function that gets rid of any phantom or zero byte messages that may be gumming up the works.



Statically Speaking

A friend is continually having problems with his PC. These vary from programs not running correctly or taking an age to load. Whenever I try to replicate them I have no joy. I was wondering if he might have a high level of static electricity build up in his body, which may be affecting his machine. If that is possible is there some sort of antistatic device he might employ?

Peter Kelly, by email


PCs are very well protected against static electricity but in any case it couldn’t be responsible for the faults you describe. They sound to me like typical PC and PC user problems that often mysteriously disappear in front of an audience… If the system really is slow and unreliable tell him to clear out the clutter, or try some tuning tips outlined in Boot Camp 355 (http://tinyurl.com/cczzr for Windows XP) and BC512 http://tinyurl.com/36svm5, for Vista)






© R. Maybury 2008 3103


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