ABC Weekend 29 March, 2004

Tips & Hints

Posted 2 March, 2004

The first show of the year with Simon and we looked at the rising tidal wave of spam, viruses and hoaxes. We discussed why the new broadband plans are not such the deal they seem and why you need to be very careful before committing to a plan. We also managed to talk with a few callers.

Returned emails

Most spam and virus emails use a false return address so you can’t find who sent them. Most email servers send a note back to the sender when they reject an email for containing spam or a virus. This combination has an irritating effect that Peter called in about.

Peter was worried that he keeps getting notified about emails that he never sent. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it. Getting in a conversation with a system administrator about the origin of spam or virus emails strikes us as a pointless exercise.We'd suggest it’s just another computing irritant we need to get used to.

Slow computers after getting broadband

Cecilia called about her computer running slow after getting broadband. This usually indicates the computer has been infected with a virus, has been hacked or comprehensively taken over with Spyware. We recommend following the steps in our Protecting Your Computer page to get, and keep, the nasties off.

Videophone problems

Videophones are a great idea, just like Thunderbirds and Maxwell Smart, you can talk face to face across the world. If you use the Internet, you can do this for almost nothing. But there are some catches.

The main catch is that there are many links in the chain that connects you to the other end. If any of these goes wrong, the results can be less than satisfying. Malcolm called with exactly this problem.

In fixing the problem you need to eliminate each potential weak link of the chain. Start with the easiest things to check, the things on your own machine.

  1. The software. It may be limitations with the software. You need to check the settings are appropriate to your connection and hardware. You may want to experiment with different programs.

  2. Your computer. Does it meet the specifications to run the program? Check the box, it maybe your hardware or operating system isn’t up to scratch. You also need to check the operation of firewalls and security programs.

  3. The Internet connection. Is it fast enough? You may find a 56k dialup connection is adequate, anything less will be terrible.

  4. Your Internet provider. A cheap Internet provider makes shortcuts that will affect your Internet connection. You may need to test the connection on another system.

  5. The servers you are using. Different packages use different methods of connecting. If your video package uses a server then you need to experiment with different servers.

  6. The other parties’ setup. Point 1 to 4 could also be a problem at the other end. You need to get the other end to check their systems and Internet provider.

Given the complexity, it can be a time consuming thing to fix a problem like this. Like many problems you need time and patience. Doing some research on your favourite search engine might turn up some solutions from others with similar problems.

Upcoming shows

The next Weekend computer spot is scheduled for 10am on April 4. We’ll decide the topic a little closer to the date. If you’d like to be kept up with changes, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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