CCN Userhelp FAQ

Andrew D. Wright
CCN Userhelp Volunteer

          Here are three commonly asked questions to CCN's Userhelp, in no particular order.


          Why do I have this strange DON'T DELETE THIS MESSAGE -- FOLDER INTERNAL DATA message in my mailbox?

          It's scary; you've got this message in your inbox that says:

Date: Thu, 24 June 1999 10:22:47 -0300 (ADT)
From: Mail System Internal Data <>

This text is part of the internal format of your mail folder, and is not a real message. It is created automatically by the mail system software. If deleted, important folder data will be lost, and it will be re-created with the data reset to initial values.

- and you don't know what it is. Is it one of these viruses you've been hearing about? Is someone messing with your account?

          Actually it's nothing to worry about. It's an ominous sounding but harmless message produced when you use the IMP Web-Based mail (Lynx users: this needs a graphic browser!), and you can delete it without fear. The CCN-Tech team is still trying to determine what in the IMP program is producing this message, but they are sure that deleting the message does not affect anything.

          For those of you who don't know what IMP Web-Based mail is, it's a way for you to access your Chebucto email account from any JavaScript enabled web browser anywhere in the world. JavaScript capable browsers include Netscape Navigator 2.0 or higher and Internet Explorer 3.0 and higher. You just go to the web site, an easy-to-remember URL and login with your CCN username and password. Your mail is right there on the screen and does not get downloaded to the computer you happen to be on. You navigate with your mouse and open your emails like little web pages. When you are done, logout and no-one else can access your mail. It's perfect for when you are travelling - you just stop into any library or internet café and you can read your mail just like you were at home.



          Can I get a virus from opening an email?

          Well, yes and no. If you're reading an email using PINE, then no, not just by opening it. The only way you can get a virus is if you receive an infected attachment to an email, save it to disk then download it to your home computer and open or run it without first scanning it with an up-to-date virus program.

          If you are downloading your mail and opening it with a mail program at home, then yes, it is possible but unlikely to get a virus from just opening the email. It is way more likely that you would have to open an infected attachment without first scanning it to get a virus.

          So let's look at opening the letter and getting infected first. This one is possible, but very very rare. If you are running Windows 95 or 98 and if your email program is set up to run ActiveX or JavaScripts without asking you and if you happen to receive a particular malicious coded message written by someone who knows what they are doing, then yes, it is possible that it can do you some damage. Almost unheard of, rare to the point of almost being myth, but possible. The fix is to turn scripts off in your mail program's preferences so that they can not run.

          Much more likely is the virus will show up in a document attached to the actual email or in the form of a small program that you would have to run. The fix here is to never never never set your email program to automatically open attachments or run programs. Take a minute and scan the files with your updated virus checking program.

          On that note, what do I mean by an updated virus checking program? Well, if you haven't gotten an update for it within the last six months, it is pretty much useless. You should have one updated within the last couple of months at the most and more recently if you are someone who gets a lot of attachments from a variety of sources. Beacon Power User Norman De Forest has a very complete Anti-Virus page for people interested in learning more and finding out where to go for programs and updates.



          Are there lessons in how to do things on CCN?

          Yes. One of the functions we perform here at CCN is to introduce people to the Internet and computers. Quite a few of our members are older people who have never been near a computer in their lives and even some younger people can need some help in learning all the different commands. For these people and everyone else who may be interested, there are a couple of dedicated and underpraised volunteers who teach actual classes covering all the basics of using a Chebucto account and what you can do with it. To find out when, where and what is covered, use the g)o training shortcut when in Lynx (that is, type 'gtraining' without the quotes) or follow this link.


You may direct comments or suggestions about this column to:

Andrew D. Wright,

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