Link to Polar E-Connections

 

 


Surfer Beware
Recognizing And Stopping E-mail Hoaxes

News Server Information
From Polar

Ask The Help Desk
What Is A Browser Plug-in?

Sites Of The Month
Great Sites To Check Out In April!

Short Tutorial
Earmarking Important E-mail Messages Within Your Inbox

 

 

Greetings from Polar's E-Connections Team

Spring has FINALLY arrived! It's time for showers, flowers, baseball games, garage sales, and getting outdoors more often. Check out some of the helpful sites in our "Sites Of The Month" section below to help you get even more enjoyment out of this time of the year.

The goal of each of our monthly eNewsletters is to keep our subscribers informed regarding their Internet connection and to improve their Internet experience. To meet this goal, each monthly newsletter will usually contain information related to:

  1. Warnings on a recent virus or e-mail hoax that may affect you
  2. An update on new services and other local interests
  3. An answer to a frequently asked Internet related question
  4. Some fun, seasonal websites to check out
  5. A short, step-by-step tutorial on an e-mail or browser related task

We think you'll find the information contained in this newsletter to be a valuable tool for enhancing your Internet experience. If, however, you'd prefer not to receive these bulletins on a monthly basis, click HERE.

To see what's inside this issue, take a look at the index to the left and thanks for reading!

- The E-Connections Team

Surfer Beware - Recognizing And Stopping E-mail Hoaxes

If you have an e-mail address, it is very likely that you've received a hoax message via e-mail. Promises of free Outback Steakhouse coupons, the assurance of $1,000 in prize money from Microsoft's Bill Gates, instructions for killing mosquitoes using Proctor and Gamble's Lemon Fresh Joy, warnings of an immediate and severe toilet paper shortage due to the destruction of a large toilet paper manufacturing plant located in California during last summer's forest and brush fires, ... and the list goes on. Many of the same e-mail hoaxes have been circulating around the Internet for years.

Some "creators" of e-mail hoax messages start these "eRumors" to harass people or companies. Others are written by spammers who gather the carbon copied e-mail addresses from forwarded e-mails they come across to then send new spam to or sell to fellow spammers. Most writers of e-mail hoaxes, however, do so simply to watch how quickly their "creations" spread. Sometimes hoaxes can spread across the globe literally overnight. It's easy to see how. If one e-mail hoax is forwarded to just ten friends and those friends forward the message to ten of their friends and so on, after only six forwarded messages in this fashion, the result is one million e-mail hoax recipients.

Not only can e-mail hoaxes be a nuisance to the recipients, the cumulative effect is a general slowing down of e-mail servers around the world. If specific companies are targeted, hoaxes can be public relations nightmares for those entities. E-mail hoaxes not only waste people's time, but they can scare recipients into taking incorrect or even harmful actions.

So what to do? One of the best methods of finding out whether or not an e-mail message is a hoax (when the message refers to a product or company) is to first go to the website of the company or institution mentioned within the message. For example, when an e-mail began circulating in August of 2003 espousing the benefits of the new "Mayo Clinic Grapefruit Diet," Rochester, Minnesota's Mayo Clinic immediately posted a link on its website telling people that the information was false. (See http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?objectid=8E199485-EB00-418B-B6BF8BED83C675E7.) The same is true regarding the "Four Free Cases of Coke" e-mail hoax that has made its rounds throughout the World Wide Web more than once. The Coca-Cola Company immediately posted information on its site (http://www2.coca-cola.com/contactus/faq/promotions.html) about the hoax and asked people to disregard the hoax. If you are unsure of the company's website, type the name of the company into most any search engine, i.e. Google, and the company's site will no doubt be listed. In fact, the first website on the resulting search list will most likely be the company's "official" website. You can be assured that if you have received an e-mail hoax that hundreds, if not thousands, of others have also received the same hoax message and the matter will be addressed somewhere on the targeted company's website.

There are also some websites that are dedicated to alerting Internet users of hoaxes circulating around the Web. These sites include search tools to research archived hoaxes by name or subject. Hoax information sites to bookmark in the Favorites list of your browser include:

http://truthorfiction.com/
http://vmyths.com/
http://urbanlegends.com/ulz/

In short, the next time you receive an e-mail message that you believe to be a hoax, do some quick research before forwarding the message on to family and friends. If you receive an e-mail message that was forwarded to you from a friend and you've confirmed the message to be a hoax, let your friend down gently when telling him/her not to be expecting $1,000 from Bill Gates anytime soon.

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News Server Information - From Polar

We have re-arranged our UseNet news feeds to give our customers a greater access to newsgroups. While there is still a daily limit on the amount of data each customer can download each day, we are making more servers available. We now have two servers for general news traffic (including both binary and message groups) and two servers for binary-only groups. If you reach a daily limit on any of these servers you may feel free to utilize any of the other servers. 

The binary-only servers will have a more complete collection of the binary messages and files, with binary messages being stored longer. These will offer you better success if you are collecting multi-part files.

The general use servers are now news.polarcomm.com and news2.polarcomm.com. The binary servers are binaries.polarcomm.com and binaries2.polarcomm.com.

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Ask The Help Desk - What Is A Browser Plug-in?

Question: I've heard people refer to plug-ins on browsers? What is a browser plug-in?

Answer: A Web browser plug-in is an application that works with your browser to either display certain types of web media or add some functionality that was not originally built into the browser. For example, some website creators use Shockwave to allow users to view interactive 3D simulations or to participate in interactive games. In order to view the 3D simulations or play the games, the user needs to have the Shockwave plug-in downloaded onto his/her browser. Other common examples of plug-ins are Quicktime and Windows Media Player both which allow users to listen and/or view audio and video Web media, Flash which allows browsers to interact with web applications (mainly animations), and Acrobat Reader which allows users to read PDF documents.

So how do you know which plug-ins you're going to need to add to your browser? No worries. When you come to a website that requires a plug-in, either the plug-in is already pre-installed on your browser and will run automatically or, if the plug-in isn't already installed on your browser, instructions will be automatically displayed regarding how to download it. Most plug-ins have free versions.

For the most part, newer browsers come with the most common plug-ins. You may need to update to the latest version from time to time, but you'll be prompted by the plug-in application when it's time to do so.

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Great Sites To Check Out This Month

American Idol's Official Website
http://idolonfox.com -  The countdown for selecting the next American Idol continues on the official website of the popular American Idol television show. The site includes backstage photos, videos, interviews, and bios. You can also play the Idol Knowledge Trivia Game, send Idol e-Cards to friends and family, or head to the American Idol Virtual Salon to style and colorize your favorite contestant's hair to then send to friends. Who said the Internet isn't making life more fun?!

Helpful Information For The Partially Sighted Or Blind
http://VisionConnection.org -  If you have a friend or family member who is partially sighted or blind, refer them to this website. Founded by Lighthouse International, the site provides the latest news and information on vision impairment, its prevention, and vision rehabilitation. The site also has customizable preferences that save your text size settings upon return visits.

Shania Twain's Up! World Tour 2004
http://www.shaniatwain.com/index.asp -  Shania Twain's Up! World Tour 2004 is in full swing. She completed her European concerts last month and is now on tour in North America this month through early July. Twain's official website provides concert dates and locations, a jukebox to listen to the music from her new album, fan club information, the latest Shania news, and the latest Shania memorabilia. Check it out ... then head to the the closest available concert near you.

Swap Seeds And Plants Online With Fellow Green Thumbs
http://www.gardenweb.com/ -  This site is a great place to swap seeds, plants, gardening tools, and supplies. Specialized categories for plant/seed exchanges include the Hot Pepper Exchange, the Asian Vegetable Exchange, and the Tropical Plant Exchange. Links to various local and regional exchanges, a calendar of garden events, definitions for over 4,400 botanical terms, gardening tips, and bulletin board forums are also available. This site will make your green thumb even greener.

NFL Draft 2004
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft04/index -  This is the definitive site for this year's NFL Draft. The site includes daily updates on potential draftees, which team is looking at which player, the Big Board of Top 10 Prospects by NFL Draft expert, Mel Kiper, Jr., the breakdown of the 2004 Draft Order by team, insider draft coverage, updated combine reports, who looks good and who doesn't, predictions, team-by-team picks since 1990, and much more. I told you it was definitive!

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Short Tutorial - Earmarking Important E-mail Messages Within Your Inbox

Most Internet users keep a portion of their incoming e-mail messages after they've read them in case the messages are needed for documentation or follow-up down the road. Some of these saved messages are especially important and need to be specifically earmarked for follow-up.

A couple of simple tricks for earmarking these messages in your inbox when using Outlook Express are to: 1) turn the important, previously read messages back into messages that appear to be unread (back to a "bold" print), and 2) "flag" these messages to indicate that you have already read them but that you are saving the messages for future use. These two tips aren't exactly rocket science, but they are simple and work quite well.

To make a previously read message bold (again) within your inbox using Outlook Express 6, move your cursor arrow to the "Edit" menu and select "Mark as Unread" from the resulting drop-down menu. Reverse the procedure by either clicking on the message again, or by going back to the "Edit" menu and selecting "Mark as Read."

To place a small red flag next to an e-mail message found in your inbox to indicate its importance when using Outlook Express, select the message you want to flag by clicking on it and then click your cursor arrow in the "Flag" column next to the envelope icon for the selected message. Click on the flag itself to un-flag it.

To mark a read message as unread when using Netscape 7.x on a Mac or a PC, just go to "Mail" and select the message you want to mark and hit the "M" key. Pressing the "M" key again will mark the message as read again. If you like, you can also go to the "Message" menu and drop down to "Mark" and select "as Read." This will mark the message as read and place a check mark in front of the menu item. Reverse the process to remove the check from the "as Read" menu item and mark the message as "unread."

The easiest way to flag a message is to select the message you want to flag and click in the flag column. Click on the flag again to remove it. You can also use the Message menu and drop down to "Mark." Select "Flag" from the submenu to flag the message. Repeat the process to remove the flag.

In OS X for the Macintosh, the most popular e-mail client software is Apple's own Mail.app. When using Mail.app, you can also flag and remark messages as read or unread. Look for the commands under the "Message" menu.

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We hope you found this newsletter to be informative. It's our way of keeping you posted on the happenings at our shop. If, however, you'd prefer not to receive these bulletins on a monthly basis, click HERE.

Thanks for your business!

Best regards,

The E-Connections Team

Polar E-Connections



(We have used our best efforts in collecting and preparing the information published herein. However, we do not assume, and hereby disclaim, any and all liability for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions resulted from negligence, accident, or other causes.)

2004 Cornerstone Publishing Group Inc.

Trademarks: All brand names and product names used in this eNewsletter are trade names, service marks, trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.