Why your computer wants to jump up and down on your emails…

By | August 1, 2011
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In the Computers newsletter this month:
  • Why your computer wants to jump up and down on your emails…
  • Someone else might have already researched your family history for you
  • Two reasons you should know about this shortcut – one good, one bad
Hello ,

After talking about a printer that you’re unlikely to actually buy and a type of laptop I don’t recommend last time, I thought I’d try to cover things you might use this time!

So there’s a question I get asked a lot, a keyboard shortcut that’s useful and annoying at the same time and a nifty website I’ve just heard about…

When your Email program asks you to compact emails
Every so often (in fact one time in every hundred), when you shut down Outlook Express, it’ll ask you if you want to “compact your emails”.

It gives me a wonderful picture of my PC jumping up and down on a suitcase full of emails, trying to squish them in.

But I often get asked what you should do – should you say yes? Is it safe?

Well, unless you desperately need to do something else on your PC right away or to turn it off straight away, click on Yes.

It’ll reorganise how it stores your emails and make them take up less room. You won’t see any difference in what folders they’re in or anything, but they’ll take up less space on the hard drive and more importantly, the program will be less likely to lose any emails or mess them up.

It can take a few minutes, which is why I say only do it if you’re not in a hurry to do something else. If you are, click no and it’ll ask you again next time.

Otherwise, click yes and it’s a good excuse to put the kettle on… in fact, that sounds like a good idea – hang on a minute while I make a cuppa…

Tracing your Family History – someone else might have already done it for you!
Right, back again (and with tea now) and here’s an interesting website someone told me about the other day. It’s a website that lists lots of surnames that have been researched by people who are into family history. You can go onto it and see if yours is there and if it is, you can find out what the other person has done.

It means you might be able to find out lots about your family tree without having to do all the work yourself. And if you have done work on yours, you can put it up there for other people – you never know, you might end up hearing from a long lost relative (if they turn out to be a multi-millionaire looking for someone to leave a fortune to, then you’re in luck!)

But more likely it’ll just be interesting to see what research someone else has done on your name. Sadly Wakeling isn’t on there so it wasn’t much use to me personally – but then, it’s quite an unusual name.

Here’s the website: http://www.uk-surnames.com/

A shortcut for web browsing
Here’s a quick shortcut that’s worth knowing – for two reasons.

If you’re on a webpage, you might know that you can go back to the previous page you were on by clicking on the left arrow in the top left of the screen (it’s usually blue).

But you might not know that you can do the same just by pressing the backspace key – the one just above enter on the keyboard.

Handy – and it can save you time. That’s the first reason it’s worth knowing about.

The second is because it can sometimes go wrong – here’s what happens:

You’re on a webpage where you need to type something in – maybe typing in your address for a delivery. You make a mistake and press backspace to delete the last thing you type. That should work fine.

But if in the meantime you’ve clicked somewhere else so you’re not “in” the box where you’re typing, it doesn’t count as deleting the last thing you typed. It counts as if you’ve pressed it on the full webpage itself, instead of in the box of text.

So it goes back to the previous page – and loses everything you’ve typed in so far.

But now at least 1) you’ll know why it’s happened and 2) you can try to remember not to press backspace unless you’re sure you’re still “in” the text box. The way to check is that if you press a letter and it appears in the box, then you can safely press backspace. If not, pressing it will take you back to the previous page.

Well, that’s my tea gone and that’s all from me for this time!

Tim Wakeling

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