Help For Learning Windows in A Small Package
By Ann K. Parsons
Email Dos and Don'ts
"I've got all this stuff! I have manuals! I have books! I have help files! I'm going bonkers here! What do I do? I can't read all this stuff! I don't know where to start!"
Well, then, try our Mini Blinds pamphlets. They are small. They are simple, and you only get one small subject per pamphlet. Want to know something small, something specific, don't want to search through a whole book, then Mini Blinds is what you want. You want to cover windows with mini blinds, not drapes, not curtains, but Mini Blinds. Here you go, try this on for size and convenience! The advantage to Portal Tutoring's Mini Blinds is that once you grasp what's going on here, you can read and understand all those books and manuals you've got there. So don't throw them out!
Note, these Mini Blinds are written using keyboard commands. These are commands that can be used by anyone using Windows. If you don't like the mouse, try keyboard commands. If you use a mouse, you can just click on the things I discuss here. Otherwise, use your hands on the keyboard.
Email Dos and Don'ts
Email is one of the most wonderful things which a computer can do. It allows you to communicate with anyone, anywhere, who has a computer, even a cell phone. It opens the world of communication to all. No more are people isolated by distance, inability to read handwriting and print, or by deafness. Instant communication between people who are thousands of miles apart has become the norm. However, there are some things you need to know about email so that your experience will be rewarding and not dangerous or irritating.
It is not the purpose of this pamphlet to discuss different email clients, the program you use to send and receive email. Rather, this is a pamphlet which you can use for reference when you begin to send and receive email on any computer.
The Email Header
First, let's talk about the parts of a heading for an email message. What do all these things mean, and how are they used?
- TO: This refers to whom you are sending the message. You must place the email address of that person in this space. Place the email address after the TO.
- CC: CC stands for Carbon Copy. If you are older than say forty, you will remember the old carbon paper that used to be used to make copies of a document on a typewriter? Well, a computer can make as many copies of an email message as you want. So you can send a letter to six people all at the same time, just put one person in the TO field and the other five in the CC field, separating their addresses with a comma. (Note: all the people in your CC list will see the names of all the letter's recipients.)
- BCC: BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. A Blind Carbon Copy is a list of email recipients whose names are not visible to each other. When you put email addresses in a BCC field, nobody else who receives that email can see to whom you sent it.
- Subject: This is the most important part of an email header, next to the TO field. This tells your reader what the message is about. It is usually a one to five word phrase which is like a headline in a newspaper. What is this message for? Why are you writing it? You might say: greetings from Rochester; or, help needed. These are possible subject lines. Always put a subject in this field. Nothing is more irritating than getting a message that doesn't have a subject line. Many people who get lots of email, filter their email by subject. If you do not place a subject line, or if you use a subject line that is unrelated to what you're talking about, you may find that people have either filtered your post so that they will not read it, or not read it at all but just deleted it.
A word about Netiquette. Netiquette is a word which has been coined to mean the manners and social protocol used in sending and receiving email. It is mostly an unwritten set of rules. Here are some examples. The longer you are on the net, the more comfortable you'll feel, and know more about Netiquette.
- Always sign your email with your name. Many people use Email for fast messages, but that is no excuse for not signing your email with your first name, at least, or your initials. If you don't, you're likely to be addressed as Hey You.
- Use the social conventions when sending letters to others in email. If asking for information, say please and thank you. Fast doesn't mean discourteous or boorish.
- Always remember that email allows you to talk to people all over the world. These people are from all walks of life: old, young, middle aged, black white, brown, yellow, Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Pagans and Hindus. They may be from the United States or Canada, Western Europe, Northern Asia, Southern Asia, Africa, Australia or the Middle East. They may be blind, deaf, mobility impaired, or have other disabilities. You need to treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Email is the tool that has made our earth into a village.
- Unless you are writing to a close friend, be careful to run your spell checker and not to use too many abbreviations. This is especially true if you are writing to someone to request information, sending out an announcement, or selling a product.
- If you are writing an announcement or if you are asking for help, be sure to remember your Five W's. Who, What, When, Where and Why are the Five W's. If you send out an announcement and ignore these simple things, you will get a storm of email from people demanding clarification! Why aggravate yourself. Send out complete information the first time.
- Do not use all caps because this indicates you are yelling at someone.
Email Discussion Lists
One of the more interesting phenomena which has occurred in the past twenty years is the development of the Email DiscussionList. These lists are used by groups of people who want to discuss a specific subject or talk about a general topic. There are thousands and thousands of these lists on the Internet. Their topics range from gardening to disabilities, to cooking and managing your finances. When you join a distribution list, anything you post is distributed to all other members of that list. In turn, each time a member posts, you get a copy of that post in your email box. Here are some tips for using such a list.
- When posting to such a list, keep to the topic of that list. Do not chatter unless you are sending to a list that allows such things. Stay on topic. On some lists, it is permitted to put OT in the subject line to indicate that the topic is not the usual for the list. However, on most lists, using OT will just get you a repremand. It's off-topic, even if you put OT in the subject line.
- Keep your subject line relevant. Change the subject line if the subject of the conversation changes.
- Do not overquote. All email clients have the ability to quote the previous message to which you are replying. Some programs, most notably Outlook Express and Outlook, automatically quote the previous message. Do not allow your computer to do this! If you must quote, only quote two or three sentences so that the rest of the list knows what you're talking about. Or, you can paraphrase what the previous writer said. This kind of attention to your email will be appreciated by all.
- Do not send files to a distribution list. Many lists do not accept attachments, so you needn't worry about this. However, some do, and it is not a good idea to send files this way.
- If writing on a public list, do not swear. Do not curse. Do not use vulgar language. Remember that many people read your messages and that they come from all walks of life. If you must use vulgarities, it is best if you put stars or dashes in place of some of the letters in the vulgar words you wish to use.
- Do not flame another person. Flaming is sending personal insults to somebody, either on a public list or in private. Flaming is frowned on no matter where it occurs, but you can be thrown off a public list for flaming. Don't do it. You can disagree with something somebody says, but you should never start calling that person names or cutting him down in any way. Be sure to distinguish between the person and what he or she is writing.
What about attaching files? Many people attach files to their email messages. This is all well and good, but you need to be aware that attachments can be dangerous to your computer. Some attachments can carry viruses, and your machine will stop working. Or, you could be spreading a virus to your friends' computers without knowing it. If you send a file, send a cover letter with the following information:
- Your name
- the recipient's name
- what the file is
- what it is called
People who send unidentified files in email are likely to have those files deleted before any questions are asked. If you get an unidentified file in the mail, delete it immediately without opening it. The two minutes you spend writing a cover letter to identify the file will save hours of pain and aggravation.
Jokes, Quotes and Humorous Stories
Many people love to send jokes or humorous stories to all their friends. Sometimes this is fun to do, and your friends will laugh with you. However, try not to send these things to everyone in your address book. Some people do not like certain jokes. Others are offended by religious or political rhetoric. Choose your recipients carefully.
Avoid becoming a "forwarder". A "forwarder" only sends out email that is written by other people. He sends quotes, humorous stories, and jokes every day. He/she never sends out anything that has been written by him/herself. This indicates that either the "forwarder" is reluctant to write down his/her thoughts, or that he/she thinks so little of him/herself that nobody could possibly be interested in what he/she wrote. This is not the case. Your friends and your family want to hear from you, want to read your thoughts, so write.
Here are some tips on how much to say in email. Do not put any information in email which you wouldn't want a stranger to read. This is particularly true when using an email distribution list. Do not put your address, phone number or social security number in email. Do not say when you are going out or leaving for a vacation. Do not communicate your most private thoughts. They may get archived somewhered.
There is a great deal of talk these days on the TV and in newspapers about the dangers of using email and being on the Internet. Some of this flurry of news and information is exaggerated. However, there are most certainly some few people on the Internet who wish others harm. If you find that you are being asked too many questions, asked to do something you feel uncomfortable doing, think your correspondent is acting in a suspicious way, break off your correspondence. Block the person's email if you can do this. If the person persists in wanting to contact you, and you do not wish to be bothered, report him/her to that person's ISP ( Internet Service Provider).
Use common sense. Don't automatically decide to meet someone in person. Don't share private information. Be alert. As they used to say when discussing drugs, "Just say no." Your safety and that of your family and friends is more important than any friendship or relationship you could ever have.
Scams, Virus Warnings And Hoaxes
Finally, a word about scams, virus warnings and email hoaxes. Many newbies are caught off-guard when they receive their first scam, virus warning or hoax in email. They become frantic and the first thing they do is send this warning on to all their friends in their address books. Stop! Calm down! Take a deep breath, and type this address into your web browser:
Once you've gotten to Google, type in the name of the virus warning in the search box with the word hoax or virus, e.g., 'Budweiser Frogs Virus' or 'child Cancer Hoax'. ,it will be easy to do this because most of these things have a title or some indication of a name. ,if not, just type in the closest approximation to a title that you can think of, & Google will almost certainly bring up information about it. Doing this will bring up a list of places where the hoax has been analyzed and checked to see if it is true or not. The two minutes you spend on Google will again save untold time and aggravation. For, the idea behind these hoaxes and scares is that their creators want you to be afraid, and they want to choke the Internet with hundreds of messages which will prevent legitimate mail from reaching its destination.
As for scams, the people who send out scams are looking for either your money or your identity. If you receive an email which offers you something which looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you get an email that says you can receive some sort of product or service if you just pay such-and-such, be suspicious! If you get something that tells you you've won the lottery, and you haven't bought a ticket, delete it. If someone says they want to bank several million dollars in your account and you'll be given 20%, delete it. If you think something might be genuine, check it out. Call the person or company to see if it is true. Most importantly, do not give private information like your Social Security Number or your bank information to this type of person.
The following is a list of sources for books and tutorials. Most of these are designed for the blind or visually impaired, however, if you are in search of printed material, take note of the information about O'Reilly Publishing. This is an excellent source for books on computers and computing. You can obtain these books from the publisher or by going to most bookstores. The O'Reilly collection is also available on Bookshare, should you be a member of this library service.
American Printing House for the Blind: http://www.aph.org
Phone: (502) 895-2405
Toll-Free Customer Service: (800) 223-1839 (U.S. and Canada)
Access Technology Institute tutorials: http://www.accesstechnologyinstitute.com
Phone: (916) 248-4114
Fax: (800) 986-6198
Consult contact link
Crisscross Technologies: http://www.crisscrosstech.com/
Phone: (212) 569-7432 or: (718) 268-6988
Freedom Scientific Tutorials: http://www.freedomscientific.com/fs_products/tutorials.asp
Phone: (800) 444-4443
Iowa Department for the Blind's Tutorials: http://www.blind.state.ia.us/assist/
Phone: (515) 281-1357
National Braille Press: http://www.nbp.org
Phone: (617) 266-6160
Toll-Free: (888) 965-8965
O'Reilly Publishing: Excellent source of printed books. http://www.oreilly.com
Top Dot Enterprises Tutorials and articles on computers:
Phone: (425) 501-3122