PC Chat presents Ask Mr. Modem! - East Valley Tribune: Business

PC Chat presents Ask Mr. Modem!

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Posted: Friday, July 2, 2004 6:35 am

July 2, 2004

Q. How can I change an email address? My husband picked ours, but it's so ridiculous, whenever somebody asks me for it, I tell them I can't remember it. Help!

A. Your question arrived by fax, so your hubby must have selected a doozy of an address. The good news is that it’s really just your username that you need to change. Your username appears to the left of the @ sign in your email address. Many email accounts permit users to create multiple addresses, called aliases. Go to your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s) Web site and look for an account management link where you should find instructions for creating additional addresses.

Alternatively, contact your ISP and tell them what you would like to do. There may be a small additional charge to create a new address or they may simply accommodate your request.

Another option would be for you to obtain a free email address from a provider such as Yahoo! Mail (http://mail.yahoo.com" class="content-link" target= "950">http://mail.yahoo.com). Most households today are multiple-email address households, so you’ll be in good company.

Q. When I go away for a month on vacation, will your weekly newsletters pile up and take up space in my Outlook Express? I love your newsletter and don’t want to miss a single issue, but I usually unplug the computer when I'm away for an extended period, so I don’t know if that will create a problem.

A. Have no fear! Each exciting, captivating, compelling (don't stop me, I'm on a roll!) issue will be waiting for you on your ISP's mail server (computer) when you return. Think of email as you would U.S. Mail: When the mailman -- mail person, to be politically annoying -- places mail in your mailbox, it remains there until you retrieve it and bring it into the house. With email, your ISP's mail server functions as your snail-mail box: Your email will collect on your ISP's mail server until you check your email and retrieve it.

As far as taking up space on your computer, each newsletter is only about 20KB (kilobytes) in size, so four issues will take up less than a tenth of a megabyte of space – a tiny amount. Personally, I wouldn't give it a second thought and would instead concentrate on having a great vacation!

Q. One of my friends told me that I should upgrade my computer's BIOS. Is that true -- and if so, what the heck is a BIOS?

A. BIOS is an acronym for Basic Input/Output System, which is a fancy way of referring to the programming that provides your computer with the basic instructions it needs to load Windows, locate its disk drives, perform routine maintenance, organize memory, and generally behave in a civilized manner.

I would not recommend upgrading your BIOS unless there's a specific problem that your computer manufacturer tells you can be resolved by upgrading. Don't upgrade the BIOS simply because a new version is available. If your computer is running well, congratulations. That's what it's supposed to do, so my best advice is to leave well enough alone.

Mr. Modem’s Geekspeak of the Week:


The science of building computer chips and other devices out of components that measure 100 nanometers or less. Today's technologies can produce circuitry as small as one micron, and one micron, as we all know, equals -- let me whip out my slide rule here to double check -- yes, that's right, one micron equals 1,000 nanometers. So 100 nanometers is one tiny critter. Equipped with this form of nanotechnology, cell phones could store up to 10GB (gigabytes) of data. Entire telephone directories could be built into a phone with room to spare. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

The Mensa Workout

Mensa is an organization whose members have IQ's in the top two percent of the population -- so clearly Mr. Modem has no first-hand experience with this group. Think you’re a candidate for membership? Try the Mensa Workout by solving 30 problems in 30 minutes. You’ll find questions such as, "What is the number that is one half of one quarter of one tenth of 400?" After automatically tabulating your score, the Workout will tell you if you're Mensa material or not. Trust me: You’ll know before your score is tabulated.


Free After Rebate

This site will point you to retailers that sell computer hardware, software and consumer electronics items that end up being free after you send in for a rebate. Like most rebates, you pay for the item first, then submit the rebate materials. All products listed have 100% rebates, so if you like to get things for free (plus shipping and sales tax), be sure to visit this site.



Sure, you could go to the individual Web sites for UPS, FedEx, Airborne Express and other shipping services to look up the status of a package. But if you use a variety of carriers, PackTrack is a major time-saver that permits you to track packages using any of 58 different shipping services.


For fast, personal responses to your questions, join subscribers worldwide who receive Mr. Modem’s Weekly newsletter. Subscribers also receive unlimited access to hundreds of questions, tips, tricks, Web site profiles, and more in the new, searchable, Mr. Modem Knowledge Base. For more information or to subscribe, visit www.MrModem.com.

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