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Solutions

By JOHN TORRO

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 5, 2000


Q. I use Outlook Express 5.0. When I open e-mail or select reply or forward, the window opens in a small screen. I have to maximize the window. Is there a way to set a default to open windows maximized?

A. Instead of clicking the maximize button, hold your mouse over the top corner edges and click and drag the window to the size you want. From then on, Outlook Express windows you open will be this size.

Trimming the task bar

Q. I bought a computer. How do I remove the preloaded programs I do not want from the task bar, which in Windows 98 is slow to load?

A. Windows 98 makes this easy to control: Run the System Information tool (Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information or Start, Run, type MSINFO32 and press enter). Select Tools, System Configuration Utility. From here you can turn off the different areas within Windows from which programs run at startup. You'll see a tab for each area: Config.sys, Autoexec.Bat, System.ini, Win.ini (expand the Windows option and check the Load and Run lines) and Startup (this contains the programs that start from within the registry as well as the Startup group).

Mystery address

Q. I receive commercial e-mail that does not have my e-mail address in the "To:" block. It is a different name entirely. I have complained to my service provider, but it says it cannot stop this.

A. You don't see your name in the "To:" block because the sender used the Blind Carbon Copy, or BCC, box. E-mail addresses put in the BCC box show the recipient only his e-mail address and no one else's. Your address probably was one of a few hundred the sender stuck in the BCC box. There are filtering techniques that can be used by end users and service providers to decrease the amount of spam (unsolicited e-mail), but it's almost impossible to completely eliminate it. Many Web sites, such as http://www.ecofuture.org/ecofuture/jnkmail.html, discuss spam and techniques to help beat it.

Changing appearances

Q. My husband messed up our computer without knowing what he did. Now we have a dark blue border around everything, making black print hard to read for old eyes. We also got a nuisance aquarium scene that can gurgle constantly, but he knew how to turn sound off. We have Dazzle, which we love but can't keep on because the screen saver comes on instead.

A. From any empty area on the Desktop, right-click and select Properties. Click the Screen Saver tab. Under Screen Saver, select None. Now click the Appearance tab, select Windows Standard under Scheme and make sure Font is set to Small. You may be prompted to restart after this.

Saving BIOS changes

Q. During bootup and before the Windows screen comes up, my PC's screen shows the following diagnostic and information: 'The following configuration options were automatically updated: Disk1: 6203[MB], Disk 4: CD-ROM.' It then gives me three choices: 'F1 Save Changes; F2 Ignore Changes; F10 Computer Setup.' I always hit F2. What does this mean and how I can get rid of it?

A. Next time it happens, choose F1 to save the changes. Apparently your PC's CMOS settings changed and the changes need to be made permanent. Sometimes BIOS settings can be lost because of power glitches or a failing motherboard battery.

Make that OK

Q. In your May 15 tip about restarting Windows faster, you said to select Start, then shut down and in the dialog box, select Restart the Computer, then hold down the Shift key while clicking the Yes button. Where is the Yes button?

A. Sorry. It should have read click OK.

Heading off the latest computer viruses

As if the chaos and billions in losses caused by the "love bug" computer virus in May weren't bad enough, here's another troubling fact: There are sure to be copycat viruses.

One way to minimize the risk from such a virus, in addition to making sure your virus protection software is up-to-date, is to disable the Visual Basic Scripting functionality on your PC.

Visual Basic Script is a subset of the Microsoft Visual Basic programming language and can be easily programmed to harm your PC. However, most home PC users will never have a reason to use it, so they won't notice if it's disabled.

At www.europe.f-secure.com/ virus-info/u-vbs/, you'll find an excellent step-by-step instruction on how to disable the association of VBS files with the Windows Scripting Host. Once this association is removed, VBScripts no longer will automatically execute when double-clicked.

Microsoft also has posted a patch at its site (www.microsoft.com) to alter its Outlook e-mail software, which was a main target of the love bug virus. The patch will prevent users from running executable programs attached to e-mail. The patch also will warn users if a program tries to access Outlook's address book or send e-mail to prevent users from running any executable programs they receive.

There also is a new type of virus being reported, one where you don't have to open an e-mail attachment for it to infect your PC. Your PC can be infected by just viewing or previewing e-mail or by visiting a malicious Web site. This type of virus takes advantage of two Internet Explorer ActiveX controls that were incorrectly marked as Safe for Scripting.

To close this security hole, run the script directly from http://www.microsoft.com/ msdownload/iebuild/scriptlet/en/ scriptlet.htm.

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