Q. I've been leasing my cable modem and I'd now like to purchase one. Other than price, what else do I need to consider or be aware of?
A. There are a variety of options and configurations available when it comes to cable modems, so the first thing I would suggest is to check with your cable provider and find out what cable modem manufacturers they either recommend or know to be compatible with their system. Most cable Internet providers will require a DOCSIS (pronounced DOC-sis) compatible modem. DOCSIS, which stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, is a standard that ensures minimum data transfer rates, among other things so technical, they make my head hurt.
Once you know that the modem you purchase will meet your ISP's requirements, then you can focus on such things as USB versus Ethernet connection (connection speeds are the same for both), or if the modem is upgradeable. Some modems offer diagnostic software, though it's unlikely you'll ever use it.
When all is said and done, you can't go wrong following your cable ISP's recommendations. I use a Toshiba PCX2200 cable modem. Cable modems cost approximately $100 and are available at Best Buy, CompUSA, and finer modem establishments everywhere.
Q. When I open some programs, they don't fill the screen so I have to manually maximize them. Is there some way I can force new windows to open to full-screen size?
A. In theory, a window should open to the size it was when it was closed. It doesn't always work that way, but that's the theory.
If your Internet Explorer, for example, opens smaller than maximized, that can occur because you may have closed a pop-up ad before closing IE the last time you used it, causing it to open to the size of the pop-up.
Try to maximize a window, then close it by clicking the "X" located in the upper right-hand corner. To maximize a less-than-maximized window, click the middle of the three buttons located in the top right-hand corner of the window or double-click the window's title bar. Sometimes it requires a few attempts before Windows "remembers" to reopen maximized, so patience helps.
If that doesn't work and you feel that life has no meaning without full-screen windows, as a last resort you might try downloading a free program named AutoSizer (http://southbaypc.com/autosizer), which will automatically resize any window. AutoSizer works with all versions of Windows and once installed, resides in your System Tray, below the time display.
Q. I'm using Outlook Express and at one time I blocked an address from my boyfriend when we weren't getting along. Everything is fine now and I'm afraid I've missed some of his email. Where does blocked email go and how can I get it back? I'd also like to unblock his address so I can receive email from him in the future.
A. Mr. Modem is a romantic at heart and understands that love is never having to say "I blocked your email, you Spambag."
Messages received from blocked addresses are routed into your Outlook Express Deleted Items folder, which you can open and read just like any other message folder. If you want to move a message from your Deleted Items folder to your Inbox, for example, just highlight the message, click Edit > Move to Folder, and select the destination folder.
To remove an email address from your Outlook Express blocked list, click Tools > Message Rules > Blocked Senders List. You'll be presented with a list of addresses currently blocked. Select (click on) the address(es) you want to remove from the list, then click the Remove button, followed by OK.
Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:
Here you'll find lists containing episode titles and air dates for more than 2,000 TV shows. A more detailed episode guide is available that contains guest stars and plot summaries for approximately 500 popular shows.
Hold the Button
The concept behind this site is simple: To see how long you can hold down a button, using your mouse. Now, before you jump to the conclusion that this endeavor might be a waste of time, please be advised when you release the button, you will be notified how you rank in stamina with other world-class button-holders. And lest you think this site is for those who have no life, the record time for button holding (at publication) is a little over 13 hours.
These self-care flow charts, courtesy of the American Academy of Family Physicians, begin with a list of about 50 basic symptoms. From the list, choose the one that fits your situation best. Once you click on a general symptom, you will be escorted through a flow-chart type questionnaire where you will quickly end up at a possible explanation for your ailment. It goes without saying -- which is clearly not true since I'm saying it anyway -- that you absolutely, positively must contact your doctor if you feel there may be something wrong. Mr. Modem is not a physician, nor does he portray one on television.
(For prompt, personal answers to your computer questions, subscribe to Mr. Modem's weekly newsletter at www.MrModem.com. Read Mr. Modem's column each month in "Smart Computing" magazine. For a free issue, visit www.MrModem.com and click the "Smart Computing/Mr. Modem" logo.)