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Answers to your technical questions

1. What is e-mail?
E-mail, or electronic mail, is an easy and cheap way of exchanging messages with people around the world, almost instantaneously. You can use e-mail to keep in touch with friends, relatives and work colleagues. You can 'attach' other computer files to an e-mail, such as a photo or a work document or even a sound or video clip. Of course, adding files to an e-mail makes the message take up more space and so the person receiving it will have to wait for it to download. You can also subscribe to e-mail discussion 'lists', contact companies or even petition your MP.
2. How do I find what I want on the World Wide Web?
If you don't know the URL of a website, the easiest way is to use a search engine. Search engines are websites that will search the World Wide Web on your behalf. Just type in what you are looking for and they will give you a list of web pages relating to your individual search. You can be as specific or as vague as you like. The results will vary and sometimes they may not be relevant. Search engines use different searching methods and it is often worthwhile to try several as you will sometimes get very different results! Some examples of search engines are: http://www.altavista.com/, http://www.ask.co.uk/ and http://www.google.com/.
3. How can I avoid computer viruses?
Computer viruses (software which can damage your computer) can be sent as attachments to e-mails. E-mails do not have viruses in themselves, so if you don't open the attachment you won't get the virus. Never open attachments that you are unsure of. Note that some e-mail software, such as Outlook Express, may open attachments automatically to give you a preview of what they look like - turn off the preview option to reduce your chance of getting viruses.
Invest in anti-virus software. All the big companies (Norton, McAfee, Sophos, etc) let you download a free one-month trial version of their anti-virus software from their websites. Downloading can take an hour or two. Another option is to go to the newsagents and look at computer magazines with free CDs, as they often contain trial versions.

There are always new developments in viruses, which is another reason to invest in anti-virus software as it is regularly updated to protect you against new viruses. One such new development is 'HTML viruses', which infect your computer if you view them using a web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer). If asked whether you want to open an e-mail using the web browser or to open it as a regular message, always choose 'regular message'.
To further protect yourself, open your web browser and go to 'Internet Options', where you can change your security level to high.

4. I would like to get online what do I need?
If you have a computer at home, all you need to connect your computer to the Internet is:

--a phone line--
This can be the existing line that your telephone is connected to. If you use this line, you won't be able to make phone calls while you are connected to the Internet. If you are planning to use the Internet a lot you could think about installing another phone line.

--a modem--
A modem enables your computer to use your phone line to connect to the Internet. Most new PCs now have a built-in modem.

--an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP)--
There are many different ISPs and they charge in different ways. Some are 'free' - although you do have to pay for your phone call. Some charge you a monthly fee which can include the cost of the phone calls. If you are in certain areas of the country, some cable TV companies offer Internet access as part of their packages.

date created:3/7/2003 11:59:35

last updated:17/7/2003 12:26:05


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