Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Hot August Nights are upon us and Anne and I have been busy getting the T-bird ready fro cruising. Actually, our mechanic, Brian, has been doing all of the really hard work. Anne jokes that "bird" has an umbillical cord that's attached to Brian! This year he's been working on getting her to run cooler and has installed a custom, over-sized radiator, coolant over-flow catch, put Dura-lube in the oil, CRC EngineKool in the radiator and replaced the electric fan I had on her with a more powerful one.
Sunday was filled with cruisin', Rock 'n' Roll and lot's of "meet-and-great." After talking to several Thunderbird owners and lamenting over the lack of a real T-bird club in the area, we've decided to help a couple we met at Ceasar's Lake Tahoe get one together. After hastily putting together a little hand-out card Monday we headed out again for more fun in the sun. Every time we saw a T-bird with Nevada plates I'd either hand them one of our cards, slip it under the wiper or, if it was open, put it in the drivers seat. Oh, the stories Anne and I would swap about the over-heating problems we've had.
As it got late Anne wanted to cruise through downtown Reno and then over to Victorian Square in Sparks (where the real action is). So we're rolling up South Virginia Street (Reno's main street) and we stop for the light at First Street. Big block engines rumbling around us and music pouring out of every car; it reminded me of when I was young! Then when the light turned green Anne didn't move. "The engine died!" she said. Not a crank, not a groan, not a click. Damn. right in front of everybody, too. I tried asking a couple of pick-up drivers, but they couldn't (or wouldn't) give us a jump.
Finally, a lady in a Mustang convinced her man to help us push it around the corner, out of traffic, so that she could jump it. After we got it started, John introduced himself as a mechanic that restores old cars! His girl said that she always has to talk him into helping people because he has to work on them all day. None the less, John said that our alternator had gone out and that we should get right home. With many thanks to the couple and the usual card exchange we headed straight home.
Unfortunately, there were more red lights and the bird died again at Wells and Second Street. Thankfully, there was a 7-11 store on the corner and I ran over and called AAA. Although this is not a good part of town, the police station is only two blocks away and several officers stopped to see that we were OK. Surprisingly, many other people (including two homeless dudes) also offered to jump, push or otherwise lend a hand. Now THAT surprised me because this isn't an area that I'd normally want Anne to be stuck in alone. Yet here they were; coming out of the wood work, so to speak! I am constantly amazed at my fellow human beings.
When the tow truck arrived we had him take us to Brian's. As we pulled up Brian came out (I'd called to warn him) and stood there shaking his head as the driver parked the bird. Brian suggested that we pick up a new alternator at Summit Racing that would put out between 100 and 145 amps. The old unit was only running around 35 amps and he thought that the new fan was just too much for it. That and the fact that the bird's alternator is 35 years old!
Tuesday morning, after breakfast with our friends Robert and Cathy Cowan, we headed over to Summit Racing and (after conferring with Brian via cell-phone) picked up a 100 amp unit. Then, since he would be home until after 5pm, we headed home and re-stained the fence. I'll fill you in on how things went next week and tickle you with the story about the first time we did the fence.


I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the day ends. I have responsibilities to fulfill today. I am important. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or ... I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.
Today I can grumble about my health or... I can rejoice that I am alive.
Today I can mourn my lack of friends or... I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.
Today I can whine because I have to go to work or... I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.
Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or... I can feel honored because Life has provided shelter for my mind, body and soul.
Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.
What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind of day I will have!
Why not make it a GREAT day??? 

[thanks to Rich Rooney for this one]

Home Office: The E-Mail Rules--Manage the Medium 
Steve Bass reveals how to catch his eye with a comely e-mail message.

Like getting e-mail? Cool, I'll forward you some of mine. Be careful what you ask for, though. I send roughly 22,000 e-mail messages a year and receive more than twice that amount. How do I know? Eudora, my e-mail client of choice, tracks all my e-mail use, reporting, for example, that about 3500 of the messages I received last year had attachments, of which I read only about 60 percent. 

I have e-mail secrets: tips to make it easier to read, and pointers for handling attachments. They're yours--and if you e-mail me, please promise to use them. 

E-Mail That's Read All Over
Unless you're vacationing on a desert island, your time is tight. So is mine. If you send me a long message and I don't know you, I probably won't read it--especially if it has an attachment. Lengthy messages from friends I read when I have the time. (Okay, so I scan them. Sue me.) 

My point? If you want your messages read, consider your recipient. That's what these rules are all about. 

Think short
Limit the message to three paragraphs, tops, each with no more than four sentences. If you must include more, introduce points with short previews--for instance, "Deadline? Did I miss it?" 

Stay plain, Jane
Avoid the fancy formatting, flowery backgrounds, and gaudy colors that new versions of e-mail software allow. Many people still use e-mail programs that support plain text only. Also, what's cool on your monitor may look like hell on mine. And geez! That extra coding increases download time when my notebook's using a 56-kbps dial-up account. 

One person, please
If you're sending an e-mail to a large group of people, hide the recipient list to keep the file size down. It's all right to use your e-mail app's carbon copy (cc) feature if you need to let everyone know who else is getting the message, but otherwise use the blind copy (bcc) feature. Address the message to yourself (or leave the "To:" field blank, if your software allows it) and bcc everyone else. 

In Outlook Express, select View and check All Headers. In Outlook, choose View and check Bcc Field. In Netscape 6, click the To field and scroll to Bcc. Eudora's the easiest--just fill in the "bcc" field. 

Clean it up
Forwarded messages are usually overloaded with annoying angle brackets (>), extra spaces and carriage returns, and uneven word wrapping. That's one reason why I don't read them, and you shouldn't be surprised if the messages you forward aren't read either. 

You can scour the e-mail you forward to get rid of the gobbledygook. All it takes is a quick cut and paste into The ECleaner freeware utility. The ECleaner can be accessed from Outlook 2000's Toolbar; I keep it on my Windows 98 Quick Launch Toolbar. 

Unfortunately, The ECleaner doesn't remove the e-mail headers in the original message, so you need to delete them manually before forwarding. (AOL users have to work harder. AOL doesn't show you the forwarded message's sloppy formatting, so copy the message into a text editor, clean it up, and paste it into a new AOL e-mail.) 

Risky Attachments
Every e-mail I send or receive that has a file attachment carries built-in risks. Viruses and Trojan horses are the most obvious, but file size is another. I found this out after I accidentally tied up an editor's $2-per-minute dial-up account--for 40 minutes--with a huge attachment. (Not smart.) 

Unless you know the person, don't attach anything--images, programs, or Internet movies--to an e-mail. If you must, and if the file's larger than 100KB, be sure you get the recipient's permission first. 

You can save yourself grief by setting your e-mail program not to accept attachments over a specific size. And always play it safe--before opening a file, save it to a convenient folder and scan it for viruses.

BinHexed? Thanks, No.
Occasionally I receive e-mail with an attachment that looks like it's been sprinkled with sawdust, but it has probably only been UUencoded, MIME'd, or (cover your ears) BinHexed, rendering it seemingly indecipherable. OnTrack's free PowerDesk Windows Explorer replacement can make those messages intelligible.
[best bet: stick with plain text - dp]


California getting tough(er) on crime
by Marc Klaas

"AB 673 made it out of the Public Safety Committee successfully and is now headed for the Appropriations Committee where it should face minimal if any resistance. It then goes to the Senate floor where it needs a majority vote before it can go to the Governor's desk to be signed into law."

AB 673 Means Safer Streets

As drafted, AB 673 appropriately expands the list of offenses that qualify an offender for inclusion into the DNA Data Bank to include first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, carjacking, and arson.

The experience of other states, the majority of which include some or all of these crimes in their Data Banks, is significant. Virginia, for example, has solved 283 crimes with their data bank since 1992. At least 56% of those cases would not have been solved if Virginia collected DNA samples from the limited list of offenses for which California currently collects samples.

The DNA Data Bank permits law enforcement to stop repeat offenders early in their criminal career, rather than after they have victimized numerous innocent people. AB 673 promotes public safety. It will save lives and spare potential victims.

The entire California State Senate will soon vote on AB 673. If defeated, AB 673 disappears and California will not take advantage of the full benefit of DNA, the New Millennium's most significant tool for law enforcement. Bottom line: criminals roam free, commit crime with impunity and innocent citizens continue to be victimized.



Let's say it's 6:15 p.m. and you're driving home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job. You're really tired, upset and frustrated. Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home; unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far. What can you do? You've been trained in CPR but the guy that taught the course neglected to tell you how to perform it on yourself.

Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, this article seemed to be in order. Without help, the person whose heart stops beating properly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously.

A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. Deep breaths and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital.

Change you icons

Open My Computer > Tools > Folder Options. When the dialog box opens, click the File Types tab. Now, type in G and you should end up at GIF or very near anyway. With GIF selected, click Advanced. When the Edit File Type dialog box opens, click Change Icon. You can now choose a new icon by doubling clicking it. Now, click OK to close the dialog box. Back in Folder Options, click Close.

Safety How-To

Last week, in CyberSpace Alerts, I gave you seven basic steps for safety on the internet. Now I'm going to expand on each of these for you so that you can be assured that you've done everything possible to protect yourself.

1) Close the windows and lock the doors: install a home firewall and virus protection.

The firewall of a building is a solid, foundation to roof, block in a normally open structure. It's purpose is to stop the spread of fire from an adjacent home to yours, but will also limit other types of direct access such as burglars crawling across the attic. If you live in a multi-unit dwelling ask the maintenance personel if (and where) you have one. 

A computer firewall is a digital version of the same idea. If it's designed properly and configured correctly it can not only prevent bad things from getting in, but also stop them from getting out with your personals. Two of the best firewalls are BlackICE Defender and Zone Alarm. Both of them continue to garner the lion's share of awards, but they have completely opposite ways of going about "plugging the holes." Basically the difference is that Zone Alarm closes everything and allows you to open just what you want opened whereas BlackICE's default configuration is wide open and you must close anything that you don't want open.

If you're a network guru (MCSE, CNE, etc.) then I can recommend BlackICE to you. If you miss something, you only have yourself to blame. Otherwise, I believe that the average computer user is better served by ZoneAlarm. Not only has my testing has shown ZoneAlarm to be EXTREMELY effective, but Steve Gibson Research still offers it for FREE!

After installation, ZoneAlarm will "watch" everything that attempts to go out and then PopUp a message asking if the program has your permission to access the internet. Generally, you'll want to have ZoneAlarm "remember" that your browser (Opera, Netscape, IE) can access the network, but I'd recommend that you NOT grant permanent consent for your email program. Especially if that program is Outlook or Outlook Express because these microshaft products are common targets of virus programmers. Just look at the havoc that LoveBug and Melissa wreaked by accessing their address books!

Carefully consider each program before allowing it to pass the firewall unimpeded. It's better to give most programs approval on a per-use basis than to grant them totally free access. This will assure that YOU initiated the programs request and not some nefarious hacker. After a couple of days, ZoneAlarm will "learn" which programs you trust and which you don't. Then you should be able to relax, knowing that the doors are locked from the inside.

Around the Peer household we affectionately refer to bugs as "George." When spotting these small creatures inside we kindly put them outside (where they belong) instead of taking their lives. But whenever computer "bugs" are concerned, I have no mercy. Prevention and elimination are the only options.

The best anti-virus programs on the market today are Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus and McAfee's Anti-Virus. Last week's testing might show McAfee as best and this week's might show Norton's on top, but you can pretty much guarantee that they'll beat all of the other challengers. Here, again, experience has led my to favor one of these products over the other. After years of servicing computer systems I've noted more problems with computers that have Norton's loaded on them. I don't know why, but it just seems to "hook into" Windows in ways that McAfee doesn't. More often than not, if I uninstall Norton's the problem(s) generally clear up.

I think that the most fundamental installation is the best. Don't waste money on "suites" of software that you don't really need. Oftentimes they duplicate other programs you already have and invariably they seem to make Windows unstable. So don't install or activate anything except the basic anti-virus program and you'll be much happier in the long run.

All of these packages can usually be found at your local software store or you can purchase them online. The installations should run automatically when you put the CD in it's drive. Just read the instructions and click where appropriate. Also of note, these companies make it easy for you to update your programs online and thus keep their protection optimized.


Tip Sheet:

Should I turn my computer off, or can I leave it on all the time?

We vote for turning your computer off if you're going to leave it idle for more than a couple of hours. Otherwise, you'll waste energy and money.

Some argue that cycling the computer's power hastens wear and tear on moving parts like the hard drive. While that may (technically) be true, modern hard drives many last years in normal use. Chances are, your computer will live a lot longer than you want it to.

Admittedly, it's easier to keep your computer on than to wait several minutes each time you start it up, but you should restart Windows daily anyway -- it gets less reliable the longer you use it.

Finally, if you want to leave the computer on and save power, get one of the new Energy Star-compliant computers. (Hardware with the Energy Star logo has met certain energy-saving standards set by the EPA and Department of Energy.) And the industry as a whole is moving rapidly toward power-saving computers that go to sleep when unused for a period of time but pop back to life with the click of a mouse.


Let go of anger -- it is an acid that burns away the delicate layers of your happiness.