Computer systems getting complicated

There are two subjects I would like to address this week. The first is how to get your e-mail messages read and the second is how to solve difficult computer problems.

Spam is on everyone's mind. It is estimated that in a short time, eighty-five percent of all e-mail traffic will be unsolicited. This is a costly and annoying problem. Some people use spam filtering programs and many of us just use our delete key to get rid of this unwanted e-mail.

But what do we do if we want our e-mail to get through and not be mistaken for spam?

I receive so many e-mails each day that I am not too careful before deleting those that look like spam. How do I guess which are spam? I look very briefly at the "subject" line and the "from" line. If I don't recognize what's in either, the message gets deleted.

Therefore it becomes important that people sending e-mail should not have confusing usernames or subjects.

This means that when setting up your e-mail account, don't try to get too cute. Names like "powerbaby" and "loverboy" are going to get mistaken for spam. In Outlook Express, the name that appears in the recipient's "from" column is set using Tools, Accounts, Mail Properties, User Information, Name. Other e-mail programs use a similar process. Keep it simple, like "Fred Jones," etc.

Likewise, be careful what you use in the subject line. "New pictures of the baby," and "cherry pie recipe" are reasonably descriptive and probably won't get deleted at first glance. "Hi" and "info you requested" are likely to cause someone to hit the delete key without looking further.

Using these simple steps may keep your e-mail from being deleted as spam.

Next, what do you do when you encounter a perplexing computer problem? At Coffee and Computers, we have been experiencing a number of such problems lately. A message appears that doesn't want to go away. A machine locks up for no apparent reason. What can be done to fix these problems?

Unfortunately there might not be a simple answer. Selecting a certain option in a given program can solve many problems, but some cannot be solved this simply.

I would like to make a few suggestions. First, read the Help section. If this doesn't work, visit the Coffee and Computers group on Friday morning because someone there may have experienced the same problem. If there is no solution there, call Jim Mathews at 714-544-1217. Jim is one of the few technicians that makes house calls. And, finally, if all else fails, visit Con Tran at Universal Computer Service at 2124 N. Tustin Avenue, 714-544-1686.

Computer systems are getting more and more complicated and sometimes outside help is necessary. "That's computen."

If you would like to hear more about spam, getting computer help, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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