Q. I know I can create filters for email to keep out x-rated and other inappropriate material, but is there such a thing as a filtered Internet service provider (ISP)? Crystal, Phoenix.
A. There are, indeed, Internet service providers that restrict access to what are generally considered offensive Web sites, chat rooms and message boards or forums. Some will even allow users to designate which family members can visit unfiltered areas of the Web. Two examples of filtered ISPs are www.family.net and www.cleanweb.net.
Q. How can I tell how much RAM or computer memory my system has? Jeff, Tempe.
A. Click My Computer > Control Panel, then double-click the System icon. Click the Performance tab and under Performance Status you will find Memory, followed by a number representing the amount of RAM your computer has installed.
Q. This is a weird problem, Mr. M., but I'm not making it up. The image on my monitor wobbles and pulsates and it's just the strangest thing. I've rebooted, I've even tried changing monitors and the problem continues. Does that make any sense at all? Deanna, Phoenix.
A. Through the years I've learned that anything is possible when it comes to computers, so all weirdness is cheerfully accepted as gospel here in Mr. Modemville.
About a year ago, another subscriber had a similar problem with screen-image wobbles. We were finally able to narrow down the source of the problem -- unlikely as it was -- but once identified, the wobbles disappeared immediately. Check the area around your monitor. If you have a desk fan or other electronic device near your screen, remove it from the area.
Some electronic devices have poorly shielded motors that create a magnetic field capable of interfering with your monitor's electromagnetic imaging. The same problem has been reported with cordless phones affecting screen images and causing modem interference and disconnections. Whodda thunk?
Mr. Modem's Web Sites of the Week:
Laughing in Congress
Provides a light-hearted but accurate source of the daily comings and goings of the U.S. Congress. Find out who represents you with the "Find Your Member of Congress" search tool and contact them by email. You can even write your own bill, then send it to Congress. (Is this really a good idea?) Learn what goes on inside Congress, from how a bill becomes a law to what it's like to work in those hallowed halls, and see where your tax dollars go.
Online Virus Scanning
If you don't have your own virus-checking program -- and you really should -- make it a point to visit this site frequently. Trend Micro's free service will scan your system for viruses without the need to download and install any software.
Understanding Medical Test Results
Unless your HMO permits you to visit kindly Marcus Welby, M.D., who will spend hours with you (between commercials) explaining every detail of your medical tests, you’re probably pretty much in the dark about tests your HMO doctor d’jour may recommend. Before undergoing any procedure, do your homework at The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: Diagnostic Tests Web site. Choose the category and the specific test you want to learn more about. You'll find reliable information about everything from simple throat cultures to bone marrow biopsies. If this doesn’t help, take two ASCIIs and call me in the morning.
Tune into Mr. Modem on PC Chat Radio, Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. or Saturdays at 2:00 p.m., on KXAM 1310-AM Phoenix or Webcast at www.pcchatshow.com. Join thousands of subscribers worldwide who receive Mr. Modem's highly informative, always entertaining newsletter each week. For more information, visit www.MrModem.com.