Monday, March 26, 2007

Bless are they who “bcc”

Today I received yet one more of those one-line e-mail messages that was sent to 130 other people. Of course, you know what happens when you print that message or forward that message to someone else, right? The one-line message is preceded by 130 e-mail addresses.

The solution to this problem is so simple. When sending to a message to a large number of people, instead of putting them in the “To” line, put them in the “Bcc” line. Everyone still gets the message, only they will not get the e-mail addresses of everyone else to whom the e-mail was sent. Just a quick solution to another one of life’s little annoyances.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Run for your life! It's a hoax!

"Want a free computer? Just forward this e-mail to 8 people." Not only did someone send me that e-mail this week, but it's the third time in the last few weeks I have gotten the same one. Shouldn't I forward it to my entire address book just in case it's for real? It's a hoax. Two things tell me that:
  1. Common sense. (Come on. Why in the world would anybody be giving away free computers for just forwarding an e-mail?)
  2. A quick little copy and paste into Google. It takes all of five seconds, and armed with this simple technique, you can figure out which e-mails are on the up-and-up and which are hoaxes.

Here is all you need to do:
  1. Highlight a hunk of text from the e-mail and use the Copy command (Control-C).
  2. Go to Google.
  3. Click in the search line and use the paste command (Control-V).
  4. Hit enter.
  5. Sit back and watch the fireworks. You are going to get hits that tell you instantly whether or not you have hooked a hoax.

Aren't Hoaxes Just Simple, Harmless Fun?
If you call wasting your own work time, contributing the problem of junk e-mail in everyone's in-box, and clogging up your employer's server simple, harmless fun, I guess you have a good point.

Other hoaxes are actually more harmful. Take, for example, the Teddy Bear Hoax. Readers were warned about a virus and told how to search for a particular file. If the file was present, the computer was infected. The e-mail would go on to explain how to get rid of the infected file. Finally, the e-mail would ask that people forward the e-mail to everyone else.

It seemed everyone receiving the e-mail was finding that yes indeed, they did have this suspect file on their computer. Well, there was good reason everyone was finding they have that file...everyone is supposed to have that file! It's a part of Windows and serves a very good function! (Now the problem was figuring out how to get the deleted file back again.)

One particular school system found that the Teddy Bear Hoax had been circulated widely before it came to the attention of it's tech support folks. Pretty frantic notices went out for people to stop forwarding the hoax and not to delete the file described in the e-mail.

Being Part of the Solution
Whenever I get one of these suspect e-mails, the drill I follow is:
  1. Under no circumstances add to the problem by forwarding the thing
  2. Use the "copy-Google-paste" routine I described earlier.
  3. Copy the URL of one of the sites that explains the hoax.
  4. Go back to the e-mail and hit "Reply."
  5. Paste the URL into the message.
  6. Just above the link, I generally include the message, "Run for your life! It's a hoax!"
  7. Hit "Send."
By the way, I have some shares of the Brooklyn Bridge I would be willing to sell if anyone is interested.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

High School Heroes

Mary Paramore is a retired English teacher who taught for many years at Enterprise High School. From time to time, her editorials have been published in the Birmingham News. I have always thought the depth of her thought and expertise with the written word to be true credits to the teaching profession. Of all that she has written, probably nothing is as touching as what appeared in this past Sunday's Birmingham News. She begins as follows:

More than 2,000 years ago, Plato recorded for posterity these words spoken by his teacher Socrates: "a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong - acting the part of a good man or of a bad.

Those words give definition for all time to the greatness of soul which lies within the good man and woman. On the first day of March 2007, the teachers, administrators and students of Enterprise High School performed acts which illustrate for all time that they, too, are the possessors of that greatness of soul.

The read the article in its entirety, click here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Daylight Saving Time Patch and the BlackBerry

The Daylight Saving Time problem is for real! A couple of days ago, I noticed that an appointment I had entered on my BlackBerry for March 11 was showing up an hour too late on Outlook! As I started looking at other appointments, and found that every one of them between March 11 and April 1 was one hour later on Outlook than on the BlackBerry.

If you are syncing your handheld (BlackBerry, Palm, or whaetver) to your computer, you might want to take a look at appointments during that little three-week window. Also, you might want to simply add an appointment for a day in mid-March and see what happens when you sync.

If you find you are a victim of "DST," the first thing to do is look at the appointments from March 11 through April 1 and decide which one is correct. If in doubt, one thing that will help is if you can remember whether you entered a particular appointment on your handheld or on your desktop. Everything I entered on my BlackBerry was correct on the BlackBerry and an hour late on Outlook. Everything I had entered on Outlook was correct on Outlook and an hour too early on the BlackBerry.

Once you know where the errors are, you can download a patch. For BlackBerry users, do this:

  1. Close BlackBerry Desktop software
  2. Disconnect Blackberry from computer.
  3. Go to
  4. Scroll down until you come to a link labeled "DST Patch Loader" and click the link.
  5. You will get a message asking you to install an Active X Control. Click on the yellow strip at the top of the page to allow this to happen.
  6. Connect your BlackBerry to your computer.
  7. A button will appear that says "Install DST Patch." Click on it.
  8. The patch will download. Be patient. The process will take several minutes and the little "progress bar" may appear to be frozen, but do not worry. Just give it some time.
  9. When the process finishes, you are returned to the the screen that has the button asking you to install the DST Patch. It sure would be nice if you got some sort of message telling you that you were finished, but you don't. I am sure there are going to be many people who hit the button again, but at least YOU won't be doing that.
  10. You can now disconnect your BlackBerry from the computer. You will find that a little hour glass is spinning on the screen. It may spin for 15 minutes. Don't worry. When it finally stops spinning, you are done!

At this point, the appointments on your BlackBerry and those on Outlook will at the least be the same. It does not mean they are correct. You will need to look at each one to determine if it is correct or an hour off. Make corrections as needed. The next time you sync, the corrections will transfer.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?

What functions do you want to use on the Blackberry?

Just E-mail and cell phone?


Keep your calendar, tasks, contacts, and memos?

If the answer is the later, you will want to sync your Blackberry to Outlook.

Steps in Syncing Your Blackberry to Outlook

  • Set up an e-mail account in Outlook if you are not already using Outlook.
  • If you had been using Outlook Express, import your addresses and e-mails from Outlook Express to Outlook.
  • Install the Blackberry software.
  • Obtain and follow step-by-step instructions for the Blackberry desktop software.