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Vol. 18  No.7  Supporting PC Platforms Newsletter:..Nov - Dec 2002

CONTENTS

Winding down another year!

Have Yahoo Mail?
Make it Usable

What’s Your E-mail License Number?

Final Bytes

Schedule

Winding down another year!
By Bob Wallace

The first thing you should be aware of with receipt of this last newsletter of the year is that we’re running just over two weeks later than is normal. We’ll explain the reason for this just a bit later. In the meantime, best wishes to you and yours for a Happy Thanks-giving Day this week, and Season’s Greetings for late in December.

As we wind down calendar year 2002, one change has taken place here at the home of your editor, adding one more computer to the three systems already here. What has been in use here over the previous several years include the Datawise PC purchased in November of 1999, the Compaq LTE 5100 notebook computer picked up late in 1998, and the desktop system modified with a new motherboard five years ago that still functions as a multi-purpose system for your editor. This desktop with its current setup dates back to 1998 as well, although a system crash came at the end of 1999, necessitating a re-install of OS/2 Warp 4  (and Fix-pak 13) early in January of 2000.

A Toshiba Satellite 1415 was picked up early in November. As this news-letter issue is being edited, that laptop system has just had Microsoft’s Office XP Professional installed, allowing for your editor’s wife to not have to deal with Microsoft Works at all, although we’ll likely leave it on the computer for the time being. Before making this one addition to the system already configured by Toshiba, note that we were able to learn that well over 2,000 DLL files are installed on this Toshiba system, far more than was found on the Datawise this laptop will replace shortly. Complexity, it seems, only increases with each new purchase and/or upgrade of personal computers.

(By way of comparison, the older PCs here show a total of:
453 DLL files for the Compaq
3,031 DLL files for the Datawise
1,239 DLL files for the AMD PC)

With the purchase of this Toshiba laptop we now have an even mix of operating systems in the house: one each of Micorosft’s OS, Windows 98 Second Edition on the Datawise desktop, and Windows XP Home Edition on the Toshiba laptop;  OS/2 Warp 3 on the Compaq notebook, and OS/2 Warp 4 on the desktop system used to edit these newsletters over the last several years, and using Word-Perfect 6.1 for Windows to edit each issue of the newsletter.

What’s good about the Toshiba laptop? Given a processor running at 1.8 GHz, one would think this would be a very fast system. Despite the speed of the CPU, the system takes as long or longer to boot up as the Datawise with its Celeron 433 MHz processor. With its 15-inch display, this laptop gives almost as much viewing area as the Impression 7 Plus monitors attached to our desktop computers.

Once the system is turned on and up and running, it does get things done very quickly. Installing the Microsoft Works for XP Professional on Sunday afternoon took a very short period of time while editing this newsletter and taking occasional peeks at the football game being played at that moment.

If there is one shortcoming with this Toshiba Satellite 1415, it’s the very small speakers. If you like to listen to music on your computer, three cheers. But don’t expect the Toshiba to play like a pair of Bose speakers, or anyone else’s speakers for that matter. Given the extremely small speakers on this laptop, anything larger than a trio or quartet is going to be too much for those speakers to reproduce with the fidelity one might normally expect from a good set of stereo speakers.

With the size of the display  and  the speed of the CPU, watching movies on this system might work quite well. No DVD disk is to be found in this house, so we’ll have to make an educated guess as to how well movies might play on this Toshiba Satellite. Thinking back to the day we picked up the Datawise PC three years ago, Hank Skawinski was even then playing movies on the PCs in his workshop in San Jose while doing other things with the several machines on his bench.

Now that your editor’s wife has this Toshiba laptop to work with, we’ll start thinking about setting up a LAN here and attach the two separate PCs to it, with Windows XP on one, Windows 98 Second Edition on another, and OS/2 Warp 4 on a third. At some point, one of the two latter systems will be taken off the LAN and retired. We’ll attempt to keep you posted with updates on how this LAN setup gets put together, for those considering doing this at some point in the future, and how it works once we get the several PCs hooked up and running.


Have Yahoo Mail? Make it Usable
By Gabe Kingsley, PIBMUG’s San Francisco Special Correspondent

Quick quiz: True or false -- a Yahoo mail account’s main purpose is as a spam accumulator. It’s true provided you don’t use their powerful filtering tools.

If you already have a Yahoo account, jump right in. Otherwise visit www.Yahoo.com, click on "Sign Up" (under "Personal Assistant"), and you’ll be ready to go. Tip: give only required personal information. Request notifications or sharing your info is at your own risk (although you can always edit your personal settings later).

Once the account is established, click on "Mail" on the Yahoo.com home page. Sign in and select "Mail Options" on the right side of the page, and then click "Filters" in the "Management" column.

What’s a Filter?

The concept is easy: a filter is a rule you establish that controls how many incoming messages are treated. You can specify conditions for accepting or rejecting mail, and make these rules broad or very specific. Even simple filters can allow mail from a certain source or about a specific subject, or can block mail from other sources or subjects. The most important thing? Filters should be specific to give you the greatest control.

When I set up my Yahoo e-mail account, I use filters to allow only specific From addresses or text in Subject lines, and send all others (all non-specified addresses) to the Trash folder, where it gets deleted.

First, think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to include or exclude? What folder do you want messages to go to, Inbox, Trash, or another folder you create?

Creating and Using Filters

Start by selecting "Add Filter" on the "Filters" page. There are a few boxes with drop down lists from which you make selections. You can include or exclude e-mail based on words in certain headings, or text from within the body of a message.

You can configure filters under any of the following headings:

From Header (originator of the message)

To/CC (you and any other recipients)

Subject (topic of message)

Message Body (any word(s) in message)

Select one of the following conditions from the drop down for each of the above that you use:

Contains
Does Not Contain
Begins With
Ends With

Enter appropriate text in the box next to each of the above that you wish to be acted upon.

Message Actions: Move to Folder: InBox - Bulk - Trash - (or any folder of user’s creation). Here are some examples:

Create a rule to accept mail From nancy@bigfoot.com and Move to Folder named Inbox (select "Move message to folder" at the bottom).

Reject all mail From the domain abc.com and Move to Folder named Trash.

Allow mail with the phrase, "Family News" in the Subject field and Move to Folder you create named Family (create custom folders on the "Check Mail" page by clicking on "Folders Add" above "Inbox").

If you subscribe to discussions or special interest groups, or receive news bulletins, you can easily filter mail from them. Do it by creating a Filter that specifies a consistent line of text that appears in the Subject line or their messages, such as "IBM User Group" or "Genealogy," and send it to the folder of your choice. (The text can even be a unique word or phrase embedded within the Subject field). You can also enable a news message by the originator’s address in the From field.

Note: Make sure your rules do not conflict. You may enable messages from a source by its return address that also contains text in the Subject field that you block for another. In the case of such conflicts, use multiple conditions in the filter, such as From a specific address and with specific text in the Subject field.

An Easy Filter Trick

I find it easiest to create and track individual rules for all the messages I wish to move to a specific folder. That way if you cancel a subscription or wish to make a change to a rule, you can simply delete or edit the individual filter.

However, if simplicity is what you prefer, you can group your "allowable" Filters into one list of originators or certain subjects. This tells Yahoo to send everything to the Trash folder that does not meet specific criteria in the Subject field (such as: If Subject does not containt "[broad_band]" or "INFORWORLD" or "BRIAN LIVINGSTON" or "Woody’s" or "Briefing" Then Move the message to Trash.)

Note: the Boolean (logical) operator or must appear between multiple items that are to receive the same treatment or the syntax will not be correct and the filter will fail to work. This must be done manually, as the Yahoo filter mechanism will not do this for you. I also created individual filters for each of those originators or subject lines to send to inbox.

The Filter creation tools are very easy to use and should be familiar to anyone who has used standard Windows pick lists and drop downs, but should you make a mistake, you can edit a filter or delete and recreate it. After the first two or three, you will feel quite comfortable and create them with ease.

Helper Programs

A serious limitation of a Yahoo mail account is that you must be online and interactive to use it. (How else can they show you those ads?) That means you must visit their web site in-person, sign in (or let the Yahoo cookie recognize you) to access your e-mail account. Fortunately, there is a terrific free program that eliminates this inconvenience. The utility is YahooPOPS and it lets you retrieve your Yahoo mail remotely using your current e-mail client program (see list below).

Download it at http://yahoopops.sourceforge.net (note the "Download" link in nthe upper-right).

This program is tiny, installs in an instant, and is compatible across almost all versions of Windows. The authors host a discussion group and offer support at the site, so check it out for tips and assistance. As Yahoo makes changes to their mail interface, the authors also make updates available to accomodate them. The program comes with a file names HotTo.txt that explains it all and makes it a snap to configure. Something I really like is that it can be set to delete the contents of the Trash folder at Yahoo, saving you the need to do so.

Before you install YahooPOPS, you may want to read some of the most recent conversation in the discussion group for tips. Once you have the utility installed, right mouse click their icon in the system tray, select "Configure," and check out the easy-to-grok options.

You must also create a new account for your Yahoo account in your existing e-mail program. This is done on the same config screen as you set it up for your currenht e-mail servers. YahooPOPS works great (and it’s a keeper)!

YahooPOPS support most current 
e-mail clients including Calypso 2.x, Eudora, FosMail, Incredimail, Lotus Notes R6, Outlook Express, 2000, and XP, Mozilla and Netscape Mail, Pegasus, and The Bat.

Sending Yahoo Mail Remotely

Now that you can retrieve your mail without being online and visiting the Yahoo.com website, how do you send e-mail with your Yahoo.com return address? Simple! When you create your account for Yahoo.com within your own e-mail client program, use your ISP’s SMTP server address in the proper field, near where you specify the server address for YahooPOPS (explained in the YahooPOPS HowTo.txt file).

When entering the return address to be shown on outbound maill, use your Yahoo name (yourname@yahoo.com). Mail sent using this account would show your Yahoo.com return address, even though it was mailed through your ISP’s SMTP server.

Note: If someone wants to determine the originator of an e-mail, they can read details of the Internet mail header, but for general purposes, this works just fine. Warning: If you are using an alias address behind which you do not wish to be known or that you do not want linked to your main ISP e-mail account, do not use this method.

In Addition ... and Finally

In conjunction with my Outlook e-mail program and Yahoo account, I also use a very powerful little program called Mail Washer, which helps manage mail from any source. It offers its own built-in "Friends List" and "Black List" to allow wanted or block unwanted sources of mail, even mail received through your ISP mail account. MailWasher even comes with built-in filters to block mail from known sources of spam around the world.

The author asks for (but does not require) an unspecified donation for use of his program. The difference between the registered versions is a small block of advertising that appears at the top of the window. I recommend you try it at www.mailwasher.net. If you love it, send along a few bucks and use it guilt-free.

Copyright © 2002 by Gabe Kingsley. Reproduced with permission. Article reproduction coordinated by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group. Gabe Kingsley is a San Francisco Bay Area based consultant and can be reached by e-mail at words4use@yahoo.com



What’s Your E-mail License Number?

Bass explores ways to send better 
e-mail, not waste your recipient’s time, and make sure your mail’s read

By  Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group

Washington is considering legislation that will force you to get a license before you can send e-mail. No, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to receive 
e-mail without any restrictions.

Sure I’m kidding. But it’s no joke: People send out lots of email, with much of it needlessly long, valueless, bandwidth-hogging, inaccurate, and, of course, dumb. (Did I miss anything? Right -- e-mails full of Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: and >>.)

Over the years, I’ve collected e-mail tips: ways to help you create e-mail that not only doesn’t annoy others, but actually makes your e-mail worth reading.

Think in Paragraphs: You’d be surprised how many e-mails have one, long paragraph. Oddly enough, you may be using paragraphs but your 
e-mail program may  be missing the hard carriage returns. Suggestion: send yourself, or a buddy, an e-mail and see how it looks. If necessary, add two "returns" between paragraphs when creating the e-mail.

Write Short: Keep your sentences short and limit yourself to three short paragraphs. Go beyond the Bass Int’l limit of, say, four paragraphs, there’s a good chance it won’t be read.

No Subject? Adios: Here’s my steadfast rule: If I don’t know you very well and your message has a blank subject line, it goes into the trash. The reason is there’s a strong possibility a virus or worm is attached.

Use Smart Subjects: Say the right thing in the subject line

and your recipient gets fair warning what to expect in the message.

For instance, even before I started using Yahoogroups, I started my message subject with "PIBMUG." For one thing, it helps AOL and Hotmail users, the people who get tons of spam, sort out real messages. (Others thought PIBMUG messages were spam, but that’s another story.)

More important, it makes applying rules or filters to e-mail easy. For example, after a Home Office column hits the newsstand, I sometimes receive 100 messages a day. That’s in addition to the usual stuff from PR flaks and PIBMUG correspondence. So I’ve encouraged everyone who sends me jokes to start the subject line with "jokes" enabling me to separate them from business messages.

"Fwd Fwd Fwd": Of course if you get lots of email, your threshhold for junk isn’t very high and subjects can give strong clues for what to delete right off the bat. For instance, if I see more than two "Fwd: Fwd:" in the subject, it’s immediately sent to the trash. Adios.

That’s Not Funny: Make sure you at least read the joke before sending it. That’s a great technique for determining if it’s really funny. No, really -- people often send me lame jokes that are excruciatingly bad. Keep a mental note of the type of joke you send and match it up with their response (or non-response). You may notice you rarely hear back when you send a text joke but often get an "LOL" from a cartoon.

Want to see if people are reading your mail? Flood them with lame jokes -- I mean fifth generation forwards of ribald stories or cartoons that weren’t funny when they first ran in Playboy 20 years ago. Then slip in a legit e-mail and see if you get a response.

And if you’re still going to send jokes, remove the millions of ">>>" brackets. The damn things make everything difficult to read.

No Reply Needed: I send dozens of 
e-mails each day with an explicit message that the recipient needn’t reply. That’s only polite because many times the e-mail’s just an FYI. So right above the message, I type "This is just an FYI sono reply is necessary or expected. -Steve."

Who Are You? Many users haven’t changed the "Reply to" name in their 
e-mail program, and it drives my crazy trying to figure out who’s writing. For instance, one person uses a period -- that’s right, a dot -- as his name. So when I look at the e-mail header, I haven’t  a clue (and still don’t) who he is. Another person didn’t  know what to use so she stuck "Netscape" into the field figuring, well, something needed to go there. Head for your e-mail program’s Options and poke around until you find a spot that asks for a "Reply with" or "Real Name" and put in your name.

Mail List Netiquette

Many of you subscribe to interactive mail lists. I’m on many, and I moderate quite a few, including my broadband and CD-ROM yahoogroups. When you reply to a message on this sort of list, it’s essentially the same as sending
e-mail, but with added restrictions.

Here are a few list rules to consider adhering to and maybe applying to your e-mails.

Don’t Waste Bandwidth: So many messages, so little time, right? Well, avoid responses that the entire list won’t find useful and feel obligated to at least glance at. So don’t reply to the entire list with "thanks," "good idea," or "I’ll try it!" Instead, reply to the sender. Look carefully and you’ll probably see the sender’s e-mail address near the top of the message.

Good One, Steve! In case you weren’t clear about Wasting Bandwidth, consider this: When replying to messages, do it only when you have something substantive to say. Sorry, "Good one, Steve" does not qualify as substantive.

Snip, Snip: When replying, it takes a few seconds to snip extraneous junk and leave only essential portions of the previous message. No matter what you do, get rid of the tag line -- the info about subscribing and unsubscribing -- from the previous message.

Keep Snipping: Did I explain that it’s best to quote only those brief portions of the previous message, and only items that are necessary to make your point? Good. I’m not kidding.

Avoid HTML: Stick with straight text when replying or sending messages on lists. Not everyone’s e-mail program can read all your fancy fonts and formatting.

Keep Files to Yourself: Attachments are usually frowned upon on mail lists to avoid any chance of getting a virus.

Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World and runs the Pasadena IBM Users Group. He’s also a founding member of APCUG. Check PCW’s current edition at www.pcworld.com/resource/toc/index.asp and sign up for the Steve Bass online newsletter at www.pcworld.com/bass_letter.


Final bytes
By Bob Wallace

As was suggested on front page, this issue of the newsletter is now just over two weeks overdue. On Saturday, November 9, we were awakened at 5:30 in the morning to be advised that Lois’s mother had been taken to the Emergency Room at Kaiser South Sacramento during the night with shortness of breath. By that time of day she had already been placed in the Intensive Care Unit at Kaiser, and by 7:30 a.m. we were on our way to Sacramento to provide our support.

Given the nature of this situation, we chose to stay overnight near the Kaiser hospital, and visit again on Sunday, November 10. Either or both of these days would have been the day for putting this month’s issue together under normal circumstances. By Sunday at Noon, Lois’s mother had bounced back sufficiently so that we decided to get back to San Mateo, due in no small measure to my being assigned to a 12:01 a.m. start on Monday morning and would require some amount of rest before going to work in San Francisco.

The following weekend, November 17, found us once again in Sacramento at Kaiser South to catch up  on what changes had been made in Lois’s mother’s situation. Medication had been modified since our visit of the previous week, and she was clearly doing better as a result of that change. In fact, Kaiser decided that she was doing well enough to go home late in the day on Monday, November 18. For the moment everything seems to be going well for Lois’s mother again, so now we can focus on a newsletter to finish off another year.

As you should have noted by this point, much of the focus in this issue deals with e-mail. Curiously enough, two groups your editor is tied to within the Yahoogroups have been impacted by Yahoo over the past weekend with several messages from Yahoo saying that the e-mail account has been bouncing messages for some time, so they are denying access to those messages. This includes one group of former GT Sysops from the bulletin board days, and the computer club’s Yahoogroups account. A quick check with RCN’s Tech Support finds no changes to their system over the past few days that might account for this situation, nor has there been any change to the setup on this computer that would account for it. One bright note for this situation? Far fewer messages to wade through from one group that does at times get very busy over one subject or another. While messages are not getting through for the moment in that arena, other messages not tied to the Yahoogroups message system are getting to the ISP and on to this system, in most instances at least once each day. More often, connections are made at least twice each day to check for incoming messages.

As you will have noted from the front page, a new laptop is sitting on the table for Lois’s use, a Toshiba laptop running Windows XP Home Edition. While this is a good system, from our brief experience with it thus far, your editor is holding out for an IBM set up with Linux!



Schedule

December 12: To be announced

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