What to do NOW to avoid this email address catastrophe

By | August 1, 2009
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In Computers One Step at a Time this time:


  • What to do NOW to avoid this email address catastrophe
  • Why Epson deliberately make their printers “break” (and what to do about it)
  • The quick tip you need in Internet Explorer 8 – without it some webpages just won’t work.
  • A warning about an email scam


Phew! It’s been busy lately – I’m working on something new that has some new videos and some technical help… and tells you how to easily speed up your PC. But I’ve managed to get myself a bit of time free to write this issue!

Did you know I’m a mind reader? For example, I can tell, even from this distance, that you use email. Of course you could say the fact that you’re reading this email is a bit of a clue…

An email catastrophe waiting to happen
All right, I admit it, my mind reading skills are pretty poor. But I do have a really important tip – and if you use email, it’s one you should know about. A reader emailed me the other day saying her computer had frozen up. She’d got someone in to sort it out, and they had done. But the hard drive (which is where the PC stores everything) was kaput. A new one isn’t too expensive. And she had been sensible enough to back up photos and so on using blank CDs.

But she also lost all her emails… and the email addresses. So she had to ring everyone, saying “Can I have your email address again?” That’s a pain in the neck in itself, but what if there are some people whose phone number you don’t have? If your computer has trouble you could lose contact with them entirely.

Luckily there’s an easy way to avoid this problem. You can backup your email addresses. Here’s how to do it in Outlook Express or Windows Mail:

  1. Start up Outlook Express (in Windows XP) or Windows Mail (in Windows Vista).
  2. Click on the file menu in the top left.
  3. Point the mouse at “Export”.
  4. In the little menu that slides out, click on “Address book…”
  5. Select “Text file (Comma separated values)” and click on “Export”
  6. Type in a name for the backup. Something like “email address backup”. You can also click on Browse to choose where to save it. I’d put it in My Documents (XP) or Documents (Vista)
  7. Choose what you want to include in the backup – people’s names, email addresses etc.
  8. Click on Finish.

Now you can go to the file in your My Documents or Documents folder and copy it to CD or flash drive just as you back up other files. Or you can email it to a friend to keep it safe for you – it’s unlikely their PC and yours would have problems at the same time.

(Or on most PCs, you could double click on it to see the email addresses, then print them out. If you do have trouble, you’ll still have to type them in again but at least you’ll have a list to go from.)

If your PC’s hard drive does give up the ghost, you can get the email address back by doing much the same as above but going to “Import” instead of “Export”, choosing “Other Address book” and then “Text File (Comma separated values)”.

(What if you use webmail through a web browser, like Yahoo or Hotmail? Then you don’t need to worry – your emails aren’t stored on your PC so if your PC goes pear shaped, you won’t lose your email addresses)

One last point – if you get more email addresses over time, you’ll need to backup your address book again or it won’t have these newer ones.

There you go – back up your emails like that and you’ll avoid the risk of losing them all!

Why Epson deliberately make their printers “break”…
After you’ve printed a set number of pages with a modern Epson printer, you’ll start getting messages saying “Your printer requires maintenance”. It’ll still print – for a while. After a set number more pages, it will stop printing completely and some lights on the printer will flash.

But it doesn’t mean you have to get a new printer. Epson have deliberately made it do this. They claim it’s because the ink pad (which cleans up any spare ink) is full. But from what I’ve heard, it often isn’t at all – which means they’ve locked you out of a perfectly good printer. Epson expect you to take it to an official repairer to re-set this message. I imagine a lot of people just buy a new printer, which may be what Epson are secretly hoping for.

Luckily some very clever chaps have come up with a program to re-set it for you. You can download it and you don’t have to pay anything.

Have a look at this page:
www.the-inkstore.co.uk/frame/pages/Epson printer resetting.htm
to get the full instructions on what to do.

A quick mention (one of my favourite websites)
Since the weather’s been pretty rubbish over the last week or two, I’ve had a good tidy-up at home. Instead of throwing out some of the things I didn’t want anymore, I popped them on eBay. Nothing fancy – an old Beano annual, a book on knots and a couple of other bits and pieces. It took me about half an hour to put them all on eBay and I’ve made £55.04. Not a fortune but not bad for half an hour! I’ve got some more bits to put on and that should make me a few more pounds – all handy nowadays!

Read more about how to use eBay here (not just to sell but also to save money on what you’d normally buy in the supermarket): www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/ebaytrial.htm

When Internet Explorer 8 won’t work… and how to make it work
If you use Internet Explorer to browse the web (and most people do), there’s a good chance you have version 8. It’s the newest version and Internet Explorer tends to automatically update itself unless you ask it not to.

You can tell what version of Internet Explorer you have by starting it up and pressing F1 on the keyboard. You’ll get the help menu – and the first page tells you which version you have.

The new version is good – in many ways I’d say it’s better than any version that came before. But it has one snag… one fairly major snag. Some websites won’t work with it. Since the whole point of Internet Explorer is to display websites that’s quite a serious problem.

But there’s a fix. When you get a webpage that doesn’t work, simply look up at the top, to the right of the address bar. Look for a button that looks like a sheet of paper torn in two halves. Click on that and it’ll pretend to be Internet Explorer 7 and it’ll re-load the webpage. That way it should work – if you still have problems it’s because of the web page itself, not because of the new version of Internet Explorer.

One more quick thing – a scam doing the rounds:
There’s a scam email doing the rounds saying it’s from Revenue & Customs and that you’re owed a tax break. It says they’ll pay you a massive amount if you give them your details.

Don’t be taken in. It’s a scam. They’ll use your details for fraud. HMRC don’t send emails about things like this – it’s not secure enough. Most of the time, they’d write. But they wouldn’t just email you. After all, as far as they know, anyone could be on your PC, and put their own bank details in instead! Just delete it without clicking any links in it.


Phew – a long issue this time. I’d thought with writing these fortnightly instead of monthly like in the “old days” they might end up a bit shorter – but no!

Anyway, that’s all for this time.


Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2009

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