Houston We Have a Problem 10



Houston We Have A Problem 095, 13/03/10


Filter Tips

Recently you recommended that a reader install a Spam filter on their computer but these things seem to be as much a curse as an aid. Often e-mails that I send to friends and family are not reaching them because of the Spam Filters they use. Is there anything I can do to stop my perfectly normal e-mails being filtered out in this way?

Phil Gibson, by email


Most Spam Filters do a reasonably good job, however they are not perfect and some of them can be quite aggressive. Providing there’s nothing obviously suspicious in your emails and you avoid using keywords like Viagra, Rolex watches, diplomas, enlargement and so on, they should get through. Problems can arise when the filter has been configured to automatically delete messages flagged up as spam. Typically this option is disabled and over time the filter learns what’s good and bad as the user spots errors and manually identifies Spam emails that have slipped through the net and removes wanted messages or addresses from the Blacklist, or adds them to a Whitelist or Friends list. Unfortunately there’s no easy answer. Every filter is different and all you can do is warn the affected recipients that you are having trouble, though clearly in order to do so you will have to resort to more old fashioned means, like snail mail or telephone…



Protecting Windows 7 for Free

I have just upgraded to Windows 7; do you still recommend our old friends AVG and Zone Alarm (free versions) to look after our PC safety or is there something new that we ought to consider?

David Taylor, by email


Both AVG and Zone Alarm continue to do a fine job under Windows 7 but there are other free anti-virus and firewall programs worth considering. The latest release of Avast! (v5) is faster and lighter on its feet than its predecessor and has a new feature called a ‘Behavioural Shield’ that monitors programs and emails for suspicious activity, not covered by the regularly updated signature files. You might also like to consider Microsoft Security Essentials, which has recently finished a lengthy Beta trial. It’s early days but so far it is doing a very good job indeed, providing a high level of protection, without hogging resources or interfering with other programs. There are links to all of the programs mentioned at: http://tinyurl.com/27txx2. The firewall included with Windows 7 works well but if you want to ring in the changes, try Comodo, Keiro or Outpost, which again are all free and there are links to the downloads at: http://tinyurl.com/2fqoyk



Screen Test

I have many spools of 8mm cine film that I would like to copy onto my hard drive prior to editing on my PC and then burning onto DVD. My attempts to capture projected cine film from a screen with a modern digital camcorder have been unsuccessful due to the difference in frame speeds. I would appreciate your advice on a DIY solution to my problem because the cost of commercial processing is too high when considering the amount of footage involved.

Rick Ahern, by email


The only effective way to overcome the difference in frame rate between cine and video capture is to use a projector with variable speed control. You may also find that using a cine/slide transfer screen or box (basically a ground glass screen and a mirror), will give better results than shooting the screen but in the end the only way to do it properly is to use professional telecine equipment. If you shop around -- try the classified ads in the backs of photo and camera magazines -- there are some quite reasonable deals on offer.



Simple Site Search

Is it possible to do a search like ‘Find on this page', which looks not only at the current web page but also at all pages it links to? For example can I search for the word 'sundial' on all the churches linked from www.norfolkchurches.co.uk?

John Foad, by email


It certainly is and to search an entire site all you have to do is prefix the website name with the keyword plus a simple command. So, for example, to search for ‘sundial’ on the Norfolk churches site you enter the following in the Google Search box ‘sundial site:norfolkchurches.co.uk’ and press Return. If you don’t mind switching to Firefox, it’s even easier using an add-on called URLbarExt (free from: http://tinyurl.com/6ye7zg), which has a Site Search option, and many other useful features.



Sign of the Times

I sometimes send Word documents by e-mail and occasionally need to include a signature. I have a scanned signature in .tif format, which I use for this purpose. For the recipient to be able to see the signature I need to embed it in the Word file. This presents a risk of identity theft or worse if the recipient does not keep the file safe and a hacker extracts the embedded signature file. Is there a way of protecting the signature file or should I scan a new signature with a slight fault in it?
Richard Ball, by email


That particular horse bolted a long time ago and your signature is already out there in the public domain, on letters, cheques, credit card slips and the countless official and unofficial documents that we all sign, all of the time. By all means create a fake signature for emails and word documents but I suspect that its value to a fraudster or hacker who happened upon it would be very limited. There are many much more valuable items of personal identity, such as PINs and passwords, that you should be concerned about protecting.




© R. Maybury 2010 0102


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