Jewish World Review June 26, 2003 / 26 Sivan, 5763

How to get rid of porn spam; Windows XP dictionary?; Windows ME system can no longer find the Internet with Windows applications | (KRT) Q. How do I get rid of all the unwanted pornography that I get daily in e-mail? I opened one by mistake and have not opened any since then. I am not interested in seeing any of it since I am 79 years old. I would appreciate your help as I cannot afford to pay for a service that might block this as I am on a fixed income. I am sure a lot of people have this same problem.

_Joan Porto

A. Because you use Microsoft's Web-based Hotmail service, it is possible to totally eliminate pornographic messages just by changing the inbox settings to display notes from "friends only," Ms. P.

I know this self-censorship is disappointing advice because it amounts to exchanging e-mail only with established sources and therefore denies us the wonderful serendipity that e-mail originally brought. Remember that first time a long-absent schoolmate's message popped out of cyberspace onto the computer screen?

But the low-life, greed-headed spam spewers already mostly ruined this by hiding any happy surprises in a flood of worthless pitches anyway. So I propose using what the industry calls a white list and religiously ignoring any sender not on it. Hotmail makes this a snap.

Look for the small box in the upper-right hand of the Hotmail display labeled Show Me Mail From. Click on the little down arrow in that box and pick People That I Know. Now your Inbox will show only messages from people who already are in your Hotmail .com address book. All others will be hidden unless or until you change the setting back to the default of Everyone. As you add names to the address book they will be included as friends.

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To avoid the temptation to take a glance at all of the unsolicited junk that flows in, look on the left of the same line for the Hide Folders command. This will remove icons for the Inbox and for the Junk Mail that Hotmail itself identifies and puts in that folder. Out of sight and out of mind, the porn will be gone as long as you can withstand the temptation to take a peek at the unfiltered Inbox. You can periodically toss out the filth by opening the Everyone category and doing mass deletes using the check box atop the list of subject lines.

We all would rather be told of a magic bullet that would eliminate all of the pornography and leave nothing in the mail pail but the milk of human kindness. The sad fact, however, is that the U.S. Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, the European Union and heaven alone knows how many other regulators have tried and failed to put the kind of stop to porn that each and every one of us can implement simply by giving a firm "no" to all unknown senders.

Q. You always seem to know what those Windows XP startup items are for, like SynTPLpr, etc. Where can I get a "dictionary" so I can get at least an idea of which ones to try to deactivate?

_Richard Brautigan

A. In recent months I have been delighted at, the Web offerings of German Windows guru Alexander Reger. His site moves between English and German with superb coverage of the vast bulk of these vexing startup items called processes. They are the dirty little secrets behind Windows XP that tend to drive users to distraction as soon as they discover how to click on Start and Run and then type in the command msconfig.

This is the XP System Configuration Utility, which displays the identity of each and every bit of software running in the background and permits one to click a check box to switch any of them on or off. These are snippets of code that range from printer drivers to movie players that get loaded into memory in ever increasing numbers as more and more software is added to a computer.

Of great interest lately has been the use of processes by various spyware schemes that secrete themselves on victims' hard drives and do nasty stuff like send their operators information about what Web sites the infected computer is visiting.

In addition to privacy issues, the more processes that run, the more machine memory resources get diverted to unused software rather than running needed programs. The result can be system instability and slowdowns.

Reger's site includes lists of just about every process under the sun, and each is clickable to find detailed explanations that help one decide whether to keep it running or click it into oblivion.

Another great source for understanding this behind-the-screen stuff is the Task List at, a more commercialized site that also provides loosely knit technical support volunteers to help registered users for a $35 annual fee. The Task List is free and used to draw prospective customers to the paid parts of the site.

I ran your example of SynTPLpr through Reger's dictionary and found that it is the driver needed to add fingerprint recognition to touchpads made by San Jose, Calif.-based Synaptics Inc. Unless your laptop is CIA-issued and top secret, you probably don't need that one, Mr. B.

Q. My Windows ME system can no longer find the Internet with Windows applications. Using the DOS prompt, I can ping out to the Net, but apps like Internet Explorer return error messages. What could cause this?

_Dave Ball

A. Other readers will benefit by your question because it informs about how to check Internet connections using Windows built-in command-line software; your answer partly lies there as well.

Ping is an operating system command that sends a signal out through the Internet to another computer and prompts the other computer to send a return signal - a ping, as in Ping-Pong. In Windows ME, one can click on Start, then Run and type command to get that command-line box. Type in ping plus an address to check if the connection is live. A better test is to use a more detailed command to trace the path your computer makes to reach a ping site.

Type tracert at the Start/Run line for a sample. Now to your fix, Mr. B.

To check your Windows Internet configuration, type in winipcfg at Run and look in the display that pops up to see whether you have a valid IP, or Internet protocol, address established. Then click on the choice Release to take your machine off the Internet. Now click the box called Renew to force the machine to reach out and get a fresh address.

This usually restores access for the Windows programs like the browser, as well as those command-line programs such as ping and tracert.

The final step is to rerun the networking setup wizard to restore the browser's links to the underlying IP connection. Click on the My Network Places icon on the desktop, then run through the Internet setup wizard that you have used before.

Using those command-line fixes and rerunning the setup wizard should restore the Windows browser's access.

Note: Windows XP uses different commands. Type cmd in the Run box to bring up the text command line box. The XP commands are ipconfig, ipconfig/release and ipconfig/renew. In Windows ME, the Command Line is reached by typing command in the Run prompt.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of rthis column by clicking here.


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