Link to Polar E-Connections

 

 


Free Windows XP Service Pack (SP2)
Promises Better Protection From Hackers, Viruses, And Worms

Pay Online
With Polar

Ask The Help Desk
Web Browser Not Accepting "Cookies?"

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

Short Tutorial
Create "Restore Point" On Computer Before Downloading SP2

 

 

Greetings from Polar's E-Connections Team

September brings another season of football and another season of homework. This month's newsletter will help you keep up on both of these activities, update you on Microsoft's latest Service Pack, advise you where to look for upcoming asteroid flybys, and show you how to "loosen up" your cookie settings. You could be very busy!

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

Free Windows XP Service Pack (SP2) - Promises Better Protection From Hackers, Viruses, And Worms

Microsoft Corp. recently announced the release of the long-awaited security software update for its popular Windows XP operating system. Dubbed "Service Pack 2" (SP2) and costing almost one billion dollars to develop, this free software download revises less than five percent of the millions of lines of code that make up Windows XP. However, the software upgrade promises to make users of Windows XP much safer from cyberattacks. SP2 adds protection by closing entries for viruses, increasing spyware barriers, and improving the safeguards of users' personal data. (Over 250 million copies of Windows XP have been sold worldwide.) Note: Windows XP Service Pack 2 DOES NOT replace the need for third-party virus protection, e-mail filtering, and firewall protection.

SP2 Is Potentially Buggy -- Download At Your Own Risk

As with any release of new software, there promises to be bugs. SP2 is no exception. Even Microsoft admits that SP2 may cause software incompatibility issues (programs not working properly) once a user downloads SP2. We suggest that you contact your software vendors before you download SP2 to make sure their software is compatible. Microsoft provides a link (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=842242) on its site which lists dozens of software programs and games that may not work correctly once SP2 is downloaded. Companies who have versions of software that may not run correctly after the download include Symantec (anti-virus software), Macromedia, and even many Microsoft products! This link also provides information on how to resolve some of these incompatibility issues.

So keep in mind that, while Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack (SP2) has many new security features, it is still a work-in-progress. Download SP2 at your own risk.

Major Security Features Of The New Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2):

Limited Firewall Protection - An Internet firewall helps to protect against intruders gaining access to (hacking into) your computer via the Internet. The firewall software, which currently comes as a part of the Windows XP package known as the "Internet Connection Firewall" (ICF), is replaced by a new firewall software called "Windows Firewall." Windows Firewall, although not as comprehensive as many third-party firewalls, is more robust than ICF. In addition, Windows Firewall is automatically "on" as a default setting once the SP2 download is complete. (This is the reason for many of the software program conflicts mentioned above.) Windows XP's current firewall is not "on" by default. As a result, most Windows XP users are not using nor were even aware of XP's current firewall availability.

Pop-up Ad Blocker - SP2 installs and activates a pop-up ad blocker by default for use when surfing the Internet via Internet Explorer. The settings for this blocker are adjustable. You can shut the blocking software off if you like pop-ups, use sites that require pop-ups to function properly, or enjoy using your current ad blocking software.

E-mail and Instant Messaging Protection - New e-mail protection settings are available. Also, security cautions appear when attempting to open or save suspect attachments received by e-mail or during instant messaging sessions.

Downloading Windows XP Service Pack (SP2)

While the benefits of installing Service Pack 2 are many, users of Windows XP may find challenges when downloading the software. Microsoft estimates that download file sizes could range anywhere from 80 megabytes to 270 megabytes. (Yikes!) Downloaded file sizes will vary because the operating system on a user's computer will download only the components of SP2 that it needs. If a user has been downloading security updates all along, the downloaded file will be smaller and not take as long. The downloading of bigger files using slower Internet connections could take as long as a few days according to Microsoft!

Rather than downloading the Windows XP Service Pack 2 via the Internet, an alternative option is to obtain the software on CD-ROM. Microsoft Corp. will soon begin taking requests at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ and ship CDs free of charge to Windows XP users. (Delivery may take up to two months.) New boxed retail versions of Windows XP that include SP2 will be available by the end of October 2004. So, if you are still using Windows 98 and looking to upgrade your operating system to Windows XP, wait until November 2004 and be sure that SP2 is included as part of the package.

Note: Again, keep in mind that SP2 is a work-in-progress. Download SP2 at your own risk. Also, Microsoft provides a "restore point" option in Windows which promises to "roll back" your computer to where it was prior to the download of SP2. If you run Windows XP and intend to download SP2, it may be prudent to create a "restore point" on your computer as a safeguard prior to the download. See the tutorial below for step-by-step information.

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Pay Online - With Polar

Did you know you can pay your Polar bill online? Paying online is convenient and easy to use. Simply go to Polar's website at www.thinkpolar.com and click on E-Statement. Then click the PAY BILL option, located on the top of the screen, and it walks you through the process. Paying online gives you options such as paying directly if you've misplaced your bill, paying while on vacation or away on business, or paying your bill automatically with a credit card each month, etc. In order to use Polar's E-Statement, you'll need a username and password for security purposes. To inquire or get a username and password, contact our billing department at billing@polarcomm.com or 1-800-284-7222.

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Ask The Help Desk - Web Browser Not Accepting "Cookies?"

Question: I have the cookie settings on my Internet Explorer 6 browser disabled so that my computer does not accept any cookies. I just came across a website that does not provide me with full access to the site unless I accept its cookies. I have enabled my cookie settings so that I can gain access to this site but it still won't allow me to access it. What else do I need to do to make this work? (My operating system is Windows XP.)

Answer: The cookie settings are more involved than just turning them on or off when using Internet Explorer 6 on a PC. In fact, there are six different cookie settings ranging from "Block All Cookies" to "Accept All Cookies." The default setting is medium and if you've adjusted it back to that, it's possible that the current setting is not low enough for some sites. Gradually "loosen up" on your cookie settings until the site works by clicking your cursor arrow on the "Tools" menu, dropping down to "Internet Options," and then clicking on the "Privacy" tab. Lower your cookie settings slider one notch and click on the "Apply" button. Close the "Internet Options" window and try your site again. If you are still unsuccessful, repeat the process by lowering your cookie settings by one notch until the site works properly.

If your browser is still not accepting cookies from the site, close Internet Explorer and relaunch it. Check your cookie settings and then try the site again. If that still doesn't work, a restart of your computer may do the trick.

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Great Sites To Check Out This Month

Find Out How Hybrid Autos Work
http://auto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car.htm -  With the recent increase in fuel costs, there's been more talk about hybrid cars. Hybrid technology (uses two or more sources of power to provide propulsion) has been around for a while. Many locomotives and buses combine diesel and electric power. Some submarines utilize either diesel-electric or nuclear-electric power. Mopeds combine the power derived from a gasoline engine with the pedal power of its rider. But what goes on under the hood of a hybrid auto that can give you 20 to 30 additional miles per gallon compared to a traditional gasoline-powered auto? This site reveals all!

Trump's "The Apprentice" Returns For Second Season
http://www.nbc.com/nbc/The_Apprentice_2/ -  The first season of NBC's "The Apprentice" was a huge hit. Last spring, an average of 20.7 million people watched the television show each week. The Donald returns this month to test the business skills of eighteen new candidates. Tougher, more intense weekly dossiers are planned for the teams this season. Each night will, of course, culminate with one candidate hearing Mr. Trump's words, "You're Fired!" This site allows you to catch-up on the latest episode news, read candidate bios, review current updates about last season's candidates, and a lot more.

See What's Up In Space Today
http://spaceweather.com/ -  Even if you have only a casual interest in what's happening in outer space, this website is an interesting one to bookmark. Each day the site provides editorial and images of what's going on up above in the wild blue yonder ... asteroid flybys, aurora storms, planet alignments, spacecraft sightings, meteor storms, etc. You can even sign-up to have the creators of Spaceweather.com call you when things are happening in the sky over your hometown. (There is a monthly fee for this service.) Check out the site and then head out to your backyard tonight to see all the action firsthand.

Getting Help With Homework
http://school.discovery.com/homeworkhelp/bjpinchbeck/ -  Now that the kids are back in school, they may be needing some assistance with their homework. Look no further than BJ Pinchbeck's site. It has links to over 700 sites that can help kids with their homework. The links are divided by subject for easy searching. There's also a set of fun study tool links that will help make both you and your child wiser.

College Football 2004 Has Arrived!
http://ncaasports.com/football/mens -  College football season has finally arrived. A great place to keep updated on your favorite Division 1-A, Division 1-AA, Division II, and Division III teams is at the NCAA's official college football site. It includes up-to-the-minute scores, the latest polls, regional rankings, records, game schedules, photo galleries, bowl schedules, and statistics. It's got it all!

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Short Tutorial - Create "Restore Point" On Computer Before Downloading SP2

If you use Windows XP and plan to install Microsoft Corp.'s free Windows XP Service Pack (SP2), it would be wise to create a "restore point" on your computer BEFORE you download SP2. Similar to backing up your system, creating a restore point lets you roll back your computer to where it was prior to the download of SP2. (Just in case something goes wrong during the SP download or software applications don't work properly afterwards, it's better to be safe than sorry.) It's easy. Here's how to do it:

  1. Click your cursor arrow on the "Start" menu.
  2. Go to "All Programs" on the pop-up list.
  3. Go to "Accessories" on the sub-menu.
  4. Go to the "System Tools" sub-menu.
  5. Select "System Restore" from the sub-menu by clicking on it.
  6. The "Welcome to System Restore" window will open. Click your cursor arrow on "Create a Restore Point." Then click on the "Next >" button.
  7. When the "Create a Restore Point" dialog box opens, give your restore point a name by typing it in the "Restore point description" field. Click on the "Create" button.
  8. The "Restore Point Created" window will open giving you the name of the restore point along with the date and time it was created.
  9. Click on the "Close" button.

If you actually needed to restore your system to its pre-SP2 download state, follow these steps:

  1. Click your cursor arrow on the "Start" menu.
  2. Go to "All Programs" on the pop-up list.
  3. Go to "Accessories" on the sub-menu.
  4. Go to the "System Tools" sub-menu.
  5. Select "System Restore" from the sub-menu by clicking on it.
  6. The "Welcome to System Restore" window will open. Click your cursor arrow on "Restore my computer to an earlier time." Then click on the "Next >" button.
  7. When the "Select a Restore Point" window opens, select the pre-SP2 download date within the calendar frame you chose as your restore point. Then, on the list, click on the name you called your restore point. Click "Next >."
  8. Read the warnings on the "Confirm Restore Point Selection" window, and if you are satisfied that you selected the correct restore point, click the "Next >" button.
  9. The system will log you off, shutdown, and then do "system restore." When it is completed, Windows will restart.

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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.