Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Internet Indiscretions: "Did I Really Say That?"

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Vol. 8, #58 - Feb 17, 2009 - Issue #366

 Internet Indiscretions: "Did I Really Say That?"

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Internet Indiscretions: "Did I Really Say That?"
    • Follow-up: Missing Manuals
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Microsoft to open its own retail stores
    • $250,000 Bounty for Conficker Virus Writer
    • Get Photo Gallery for your XP computer
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to prevent problems when installing XP SP3
  5. XP Security News
    • Did your computer get an ugly Valentine's Day gift?
  6. XP Question Corner
    • How to adjust settings for people with limited vision
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • "Make Pictures Smaller" option not available
    • What's the difference between Quick Format and Regular Format when installing XP?
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • WebCam Monitor - Turn Your PC Into A Video Surveillance System!

My Antivirus Is Killing My Netbook - Now What?

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 Editor's Corner

Internet Indiscretions: "Did I Really Say That?"

Is there anyone among us who has never said something that we wished we could take back? The "slip" of the tongue has probably been a common occurrence since the dawn of language. Sometimes it just creates a moment of embarrassment. Other times it can have dire consequences.

The Internet has created even more opportunities for us to commit faux pas. The literal meaning in French is "false step" and the expression refers to violation of (often unwritten) social rules. In previous editorials, we've addressed such issues as email etiquette and whether the 'Net causes people to act rude. But committing a faux pas isn't about being intentionally obnoxious. It's more about "forgetting where you are," and blurting out in public things that you might normally say within the intimacy of family, close friendship or a common workplace.

For example, members of certain emergency-oriented professions, such as cops and doctors, tend to develop a sense of humor that may seem callous to outsiders (accountants and hair stylists probably have their own inside jokes, too, but I've never been privy to those). We do that in large part as a defense mechanism; dealing with death and human misery on a regular basis isn't easy. Back when I was teaching full time at the police academy, there were "insider" jokes that I would tell in class to lighten up the tough subjects. I'll never forget the time I found myself telling one of them at an academy graduation ceremony - speaking to my class sitting in the front rows and having forgotten that the rest of the room was full of spouses, parents and other non- cops who wouldn't appreciate the warped humor. That gaffe didn't cost me my job, but if it happened in today's hypersensitive climate, it might.

Spoken indiscretions (unless they're videotaped, or committed by a very prominent person) tend to fade away after a few days or weeks. The problem with the Internet is that when you mess up, it's recorded for posterity - and it may come back to haunt you years later. The other problem is that it can be a lot easier to make those missteps in the first place. When you're physically out in public, you're more aware that there are others listening. When you're sitting at home at your desk (or with your feet propped up and your portable computer on your lap), dashing off a quick comment to an email discussion group or a post to a social networking site, you don't feel nearly as exposed. There's an illusion that what you're saying is within the confines of your home, even though the moment you hit the Send or Post button, it may travel half-way around the world.

Sometimes it's a simple typo that gets you in trouble. I have a friend who had an important client named Mr. Whitman. Unfortunately, the "S" key is right under the "W" on a QWERTY keyboard and one day, typing too fast, she hit the wrong key - and then hit Send without proofreading. It might not have been so bad if not for the fact that the client was both prim and proper and a rather difficult person to deal with. She kept her job, but for a while there she wasn't sure she would.

Had this happened in the pre-Internet era, she would have printed the letter out and probably would have looked it over and caught the error before putting it into the envelope. But electronic communications are all about getting the message out there quickly, and too often we don't proof read, or even if we do, mistakes that would jump out at you on the printed page are sometimes easy to overlook on screen.

Of course, not all online indiscretions are innocent slips of the fingers. It can be dangerous to respond to email or join in a live chat when the topic is one that makes you angry. Discussions about politics, religion and values often bring out the worst in us. At least with email, you have a chance to set it aside before you hit Send. In a live chat, as soon as you hit that Enter key, your comments are off and you can't get them back. In some email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook, you can create a rule to delay sending messages for a specified time period (in Outlook, this can be from one minute to two hours). This gives you a chance to think about it and make changes or decide not to send it at all, after you've hit the Send button. Here are instructions for how to set up this rule:

I don't have any hard evidence of this, but I suspect a large proportion of those messages that the senders regret in the morning are written while drinking and "driving" on the information highway. Alcohol (like some other drugs) lowers inhibitions and makes us more apt to talk "off the tops of our heads" - to say what we're thinking without the normal self-censoring process that we go through otherwise. When a person's Internet communications become incoherent or seem out of character for that person, I always suspect that he or she may be TUI (typing under the influence). Lack of sleep can have effects that are similar to intoxication. Someone who has been awake for a long period of time is not only more prone to speak before thinking, but is also likely to be more irritable and to blow little things out of proportion.

Social networking sites such as Facebook also offer great temptations to say things that might be better left unsaid. I have several Facebook friends who are on the "other side of the aisle" politically. A few of them frequently post very blatant and, to me, inflammatory comments or articles espousing their particular political views. Sometimes it's very hard for me not to respond in kind. Sure, I have as much right to post my own political views as they do, but getting into partisan warfare on what's supposed to be a site devoted to cultivating relationships isn't really the best use of the technology. Here are some suggestions for avoiding social media faux pas:

Even though I heartily agree with all those rules, I have to admit there have been a couple of times when I just couldn't resist posting an opposing viewpoint to a particularly provocative statement. Mostly, though, I get the same satisfaction by simply removing those types of comments from my wall.

As I've gotten older, it has become easier to just walk away from those types of arguments - but sometimes the wrong thing slips out when you're not emotional, intoxicated, or tired. Maybe you're heavily multi-tasking, and thus not paying attention to the address line of an email message. Thinking you're replying only to the person who sent it to you, you dash off a sarcastic comment knowing your friend won't take it the wrong way. Then you hit "Reply to all," not noticing that there are other names in the cc: list, some of whom may be strangers, your boss, your friend's mom, or other folks who might be offended by your remarks. That's another situation in which the setting to delay sending mail can save you.

Something else that might get you in trouble is forwarding messages that have a long thread attached. I was on the receiving end of one of those once. Many years ago, Tom and I were doing work for a content company that solicited writing projects from major companies and then farmed out the actual work to people like us. One day they accidentally forwarded a long email thread between themselves and the client, which showed that they were getting paid a lot more for the work (our work) than they'd indicated to us. If we'd known beforehand that they were getting so much, we would have asked for double what they were paying us. I never quite trusted them about anything again and I started scrutinizing things more. Soon that whole business relationship went sour.

Another giant email "uh-oh" is hitting the Reply button instead of Forward. Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo ended up doing untold damage to his company and his own reputation when he did just that - commenting that a borrower's request to revise his mortgage rates was "disgusting" and then sending that comment back to the borrower instead of forwarding it to someone else as he'd apparently intended.

Hey, I've made mistakes of my own. Last December, I wanted to send a nice holiday message to lots of my friends, so I made a distribution list in Outlook. I thought this would hide the recipients' addresses from each other, but to my chagrin, the list got expanded for some reason and all the addresses showed up in the address field. I hadn't intended to reveal everyone's address to everyone else. I learned a lesson; from now on I'll either send messages individually or put the distribution list address into the bcc: field instead of the address field.

During this last election, many people alienated friends and business associates by including their political affiliations in their email signatures. In fact, a company called Email Charity launched signature templates that inserted banners supporting either McCain or Obama.

The first amendment guarantees us the right to free speech and was written with political speech in mind - but proclaiming your partisan affiliation on every message you send probably isn't the best way to win friends and influence people in today's sharply divided political environment.

Then there's Twitter. Once you hit the Post button on your microblog message, it's out there for everyone (or your followers, depending on your settings) to see, and there's no taking it back. Because the posts are so short, you might think you can't get into too much trouble - but you'd be wrong. Recently an executive made the news when he posted an insult about Memphis, the hometown of Fedex, one of this company's clients. You can read about it here:

What about you? Have you ever committed an Internet indiscretion - or been embarrassed by one committed by somebody else? Did you learn the hard way about the difference between Reply and Reply To All? Do you think drinking while driving the info highway should be banned? When you have a "slip of the fingers" online, do you immediately apologize or pretend it never happened and hope nobody else will bring it up? Would you consider setting up your email client to delay sending so you can "take it back?" Tell us your stories and opinions at feedback@wxpnews.com

Follow-up: Missing Manuals

Last week, I discussed the phenomenon of the disappearing software manual, and wondered aloud whether anyone really misses them. It seems some do and some don't.

Bob H. wrote: "What manuals? Missing manuals? I hadn't noticed they were gone. Most of the software I use has quality vendor provided built-in help or on-line help. Really... who needs paper manuals?" Hal H. agrees: "I prefer to use well designed Help files (many are actually "well designed") and/or use downloaded .pdf files. They are both easier to use than the old manuals and don't clutter up bookshelf space and waste a lot of paper. If I can't find something about the software in either Help or a pdf file I search the web, again, faster, usually, than a manual."

Cheryl K. said, "I do NOT miss the missing manuals, in fact I still have several that are about 20 years old lurking around my house. I feel like I can NEVER throw them away because they are so BIG they must be IMPORTANT ... I NEVER DID read them through from beginning to end, and rarely looked something up in one."

Stuart H. noted that "I thought the hard copy manuals were mostly useless and pretty well never used them. I quite like pdf manuals which I keep on my computer somewhere and often on the desktop until I find I never need it. This is because I can search it for what I want (and sometimes find it) and it is low overhead and it is where I need it - on the computer.

Jane B. also agrees, but ... "I don't miss the books. As you said they were quit heavy and I think they made great paperweights. But somehow what I can't believe is that why the programs are so flipping expensive and they don't include a book?" And Bengt S. said, "When I used software with printed manuals the manuals were always missing (yes before the era of the missing manuals). I always had them either in another office or they were lost in the general chaos of my office,,,, So a good helpfile and maybe a pdf-file is far better IMHO."

Patrick L. says, "Good riddance to printed manuals. I cringe at the number of trees killed to print these books that 99 times out of 100 sat on the shelf w/o the spine ever getting cracked. Online help, downloadable documentation, and user forums are way better than anything a book can offer."

Dave just might have been a tad sarcastic when he said, "Yes I miss the manuals, I usually read them while soaking in a hot tub and having a cocktail." On the other hand, Linda G. sounded quite serious: "Yes, I miss the Manuals. Granted, I often 'start right in' using a new program but almost always refer to the manual for help and to learn the features."

George W. had this to say: "Yes, I miss the paperback manuals. I used to refer to them occasionally and usually found other program capabilities while thumbing through them for an answer ... Paper manuals also allowed the user to get a good overview of the program operation and capabilities, many times pointing out things that one does not now get exposed to merely by 'learning on the fly' through use." Chris B. put it simply: "It is a lot simpler to read from a manual rather than accessing online help or whatever help the vendor has provided. I definitely miss the paper manual."

And Bob Y. is more adamant: "Help files, at the very best, can only provide contextual help on a window by window basis. They never have and never will be able to provide narratives as should be done in print manuals. So, when software manufacturers only provide a Help file, they are cheating the buyer. After all, what good are all the features that supposedly exist in the software when the user can't find them or can't figure out how to use them?"

Jay S. wants a manual, although not necessarily a paper one: "In the old days, DOS, and up to the time when manuals ceased to be a part of the software package, folks used to ask me how I knew so much. My answer was always the same, I read the manual. I used to work through the tutorial the first few days and then again six or months later. Now, I am ok at most programs but spend way too much time hunting for 'how do I do this'. Include a pdf manual at the least."

Mark N. offers this: "I don't really miss the manuals, but I wouldn't say good riddance. Once in a while they are useful, and when using a new application, there are some applications that don't follow the standard Windows commands and rather than hunt around for them, the manual is useful. This doesn't mean that the manual has to be hard copies, however. On-line or help files are still manuals of sorts. Not wasting paper on manuals is a good thing."

Terry T. brings up a different issue: "One thing I've noticed over the years is the software companies got rid of the manuals but not the huge boxes. How ridiculous to open a big box only to find a CD/DVD and the registration form rattling around inside. What a waste! Think how the mostly-empty boxes means it cost more than it should for shipping and fuel."

Finally, Alvin M. notes that "It is not just software that has lost the manuals. We just purchased a new laptop our first and were stuck while trying to set it up because somehow the touchpad had been turned off. It is very hard to read the manual that is in the computer before you get it set up." In fact, several of you wrote about this problem of needing to refer to the electronic hardware manual when the hardware isn't working.

We got a huge number of responses on this topic, with widely differing opinions. Those on both sides of the argument offer good reasons for their opinions. Whether you miss the manuals or you don't, there are many others who agree with you. Thanks to all who wrote.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called VistaNews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Quotes of the Week

It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener. - Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)

Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. - Josh Billings

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Turn your webcam into a CCTV with alarm and email notification! Try it before you buy it:

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It doesn't take much to bog down Vista. Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance.

Backups? We don't need no stinking backups! Syncronization is easier, faster and much more current than backups!

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 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Microsoft to open its own retail stores

Last weekend, my son and I ventured into an Apple store at the mall. It was scary - all those pod people walking around with glazed expressions on their faces and shelling out big bucks for sleek looking devices. Now comes the news that Microsoft plans to launch their own retail stores to sell software and computers running Microsoft products. Apple's retail outlets have been credited by some with reviving that company's image and increasing the popularity of its products. Will getting "out there" among the people do the same for Windows? I guess we'll have to wait and see. Read more here:

$250,000 Bounty for Conficker Virus Writer

Microsoft and other leading companies in the tech industry said last week that they're offering a quarter million dollar reward for information that leads to the conviction of the authors/distributors of the Conficker virus that has infected 10 million Windows computers. If you could use an extra $250,000 and have a lead, read more about it here:

Get Photo Gallery for your XP computer

Windows Photo Gallery is built into Vista, and gives you an easy way to organize your digital photos and do simple editing tasks such as adjusting the exposure, cropping, fixing red eye, and fine tuning the color saturation and temperature. Now there is an upgraded version of Photo Gallery that you can download to use on your XP computer. It adds the ability to stitch multiple photos into a panoramic shot, color histogram for analyzing the distribution of colors in a picture, and the ability to share your photos easily through Windows Live Spaces or Flickr. You can find out more about it and download it here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to prevent problems when installing XP SP3

If you still haven't gotten around to installing Service Pack 3, you're not alone. I hear from many readers who have heard about problems other had with the SP and want to know if they should risk it. SP3 includes important security updates so it's a good idea to install it. There are steps you can take to help prevent common problems with installing the Service Pack:
  1. Make sure you have enough free disk space (1500 to 1800 MB).
  2. Remove these updates first if you've installed them: Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit, Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 MUI pack
  3. If you use a wireless network adapter, make sure it is supported (check for XP SP3 drivers)
  4. You might need to disable your antivirus software to install the SP. Be sure to re-enable it after the installation.
  5. If you're using a laptop, plug it into AC power. Bad things can happen if the battery dies during installation.
It's also a good idea to do a full backup of your data and if you're using XP Pro, create an automated system recovery set so you can repair the computer if the installation fails. Although most Service Pack installations go smoothly, it's better to be safe than sorry.

 XP Security News

Did your computer get an ugly Valentine's Day gift?

A bot-net called Waledac took advantage of the holiday to send out malicious spam telling the recipients that they've been sent Valentine's Day cards. When they click the link, they're rewarded with a malware infection. They say love hurts, but this is going too far. There are an estimated 20,000 bots in the Waledac botnet. If you or someone you know clicked on one of those card notifications, be sure to update your antivirus software and run a thorough scan. Read more here:

 XP Question Corner

How to adjust settings for people with limited vision

Some of us as we grow older suffer from limited vision. For instance, I have glaucoma and the beginnings of macular degeneration. Where can I find information to "tuneup" my computer for some help? Things like screen contrasts, Cursor color, size, and shape, and software that is very simple and easy to see the commands. I am repeatedly frustrated by screen changes in Yahoo (cannot find the buttons) and popups that are not easily removed (cannot find the buttons). HELP. - Fred R.

XP includes a number of "accessibility options" that let you adjust the scrollbar and window border size, icons, size and color of the cursor and contrast. There is an Accessibility Wizard that can guide you through the steps. Just go to Start | All Programs | Accessories | Accessibility and click Accessibility Wizard. You can find out more about how to use the wizard here:

If that's not enough, there are also many third party programs made to assist those with limited vision. These include screen enlargers, screen readers and more. The Assistive Technology Catalog helps you search for those products:

Finally, here's a tutorial for how to make XP computers easier to see:

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

"Make Pictures Smaller" option not available

In XP, when you attach photo files to email, you normally get the option to make the pictures smaller to save bandwidth. However, if the shimgvw.dll file is not registered, that option might not appear. Luckily it's easy to register it and restore the functionality; just see KB article 555547 to find out how:

What's the difference between Quick Format and Regular Format when installing XP?

When you wipe your hard drive and do a "clean" installation of XP on a computer, you get the option to format the partition in either NTFS or FAT, and for each of these there is also the option to use "Quick Format." If you've been wondering what the difference is between choosing the regular format option and the "Quick Format" (other than the amount of time it takes), see KB article 302686 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

WebCam Monitor - Turn Your PC Into A Video Surveillance System!

WebCam Monitor turns your PC into a video surveillance system. Use any camera with WebCam Monitor to detect an intrusion or other unusual activity. When an alarm condition is detected, the program can sound an audible alarm, or quietly send you an email with a snapshot. Download the free trial or buy it with an exclusive $10.00 off instant discount.

 About WXPnews

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