Check out free tools that let you make smart use of the Net








Your agency probably has a mandate to use the Internet more that it used to, but
the trick is to use the Internet without letting it use you. So much information is there
for the mining that users tend to get lost in the jumble. How about a little help in file
storage and forwarding?


Some readers have tried my suggestion of e-mailing backup copies of documents to
themselves at a Yahoo.com or another free e-mail account. It’s a great way to store
information you need at multiple work locations or on the road, but it has drawbacks such
as limits on attachment size.


Here’s another resource: My Docs Online Inc. of Naples, Fla., gives 20M of free
file storage to anyone who signs up. No personal information is requested other than your
e-mail address. The company also sells a premium service, but the basic store-and-forward
service is free.


I find it much faster than uploading messages and attachments to an e-mail account, and
the site pages at www.mydocsonline.com are clean and fast-loading. Accessing My Docs
Online from a notebook computer in a hotel room does not take forever.


The company makes no security claims except for saying that files are stored on
firewall-isolated servers.


To forward a stored file, type in one or more recipients’ e-mail addresses and add
a brief message if you wish. My Docs Online will send the recipients a notice complete
with a link that shows how to read or download the file. You receive a confirmation that
the message was sent.


The advantage is that the file does not arrive as an attachment, which some users might
not be able to open or might hesitate to open because of the recent Internet viruses.
Instead, they see a brief message explaining where to go to download the file within seven
days. Your file will stay on My Docs’ server until you delete it, but it is available
to the recipients only for a limited time.


If you stored the file as text, clicking on the filename will display it, but you or
your recipients can also download the text or any other file types.


I signed up the day this service opened. It went down for a brief time the next
morning.


Since then I have used it daily with no problems, and none of my files has ever been
lost.


E-mail is a great way to conduct business, but people keep changing addresses.
ActiveNames Inc. of New York, at www.activenames.com,
  promises to keep track of registered users’ e-mail addresses and manage any
changes for you.


ActiveNames lets you do three things:


Although ActiveNames manages the addresses, the actual e-mail does not pass through the
company’s servers.


I do have some security and management concerns about this service but see excellent
potential if it works as claimed. Check it out. The ActiveNames service is free, but you
must download and install a small program to take advantage of it.


I have thousands of bookmarks. Here is a search tip for Netscape Navigator 4 browser
users looking for a seldom-used Web location. Clicking on Edit on the top toolbar
lets you search with Find in Page for specific information on the visible Web page or
frame. But if you open the Bookmarks screen and click on More Bookmarks at the bottom, you
will find that Edit offers a tool called Find in Bookmarks.


Try it. This sophisticated search tool saves time digging through layer after layer of
bookmark folders for one elusive address.


I’m sorry I couldn’t warn you in time about the Melissa macro virus that
caused a worldwide stir last month. But macro viruses are a threat only if you use
Microsoft Word or, in some cases, Excel. Why not just switch to a Corel WordPerfect or
Lotus Word Pro word processor and refuse to open Word .doc attachments?


No antivirus program can keep you immune in the early hours of a macro virus epidemic
such as Melissa. So why use Word? WordPerfect and Word are essentially equivalent except
for the inherent macro virus danger from Word. I don’t understand managers who put up
with the nuisance.


John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s. E-mail him at powerusr@penn.com.



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