How to deal with chronic parAOLnoia HELP LINE

November 30, 1998|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Please pardon my chronic parAOLnoia, but I'm trying to minimize the risk of installing America Online for my teen-age daughters. Can I delete AOL's guest option, or at least restrict a guest's Internet access?

The only thing worse than being parAOLnoid is being right. And right you are - your distrust of AOL is A-OK here.

That feature where somebody with an AOL account can use any machine running the software to log on to that account through a "guest sign-on" creates a huge back doorway for PC-savvy youngsters to get around America Online's otherwise superb parental controls.

Children can get a name and password from outsiders and use it when they are alone or invite people into their rooms who then sign on as guests with access to the steamy and strident Internet realms that parents try to block.

AOL gives you no way to disable the guest sign-on option. Its answer to this loophole is the somewhat lame suggestion that you install software such as PowerWatch or CyberSitter, which can block your child to load AOL unless you enter a password for each session. If you were there to type in a password, of course, the problem with guest passwords wouldn't exist.

I would like to take files that are old but cannot be thrown away and reduce them to computer records capable of being accessed later if and when needed. I was thinking about having the papers scanned and written onto CDs so that I can throw out the hard copies. What software will allow me to scan documents and write them to CDs, and what software is out there that will then allow me to retrieve a particular document when I need it?

Your instincts are superb in realizing that the CD is the computer storage medium that is likely to last the longest - most likely long after things like the currently popular ZIP drives and SyQuest cartridges are nothing more than museum exhibits.

SyQuest's recent profound business woes make many doubt that the company will even finish this year supporting its various formats, including the popular but probably doomed SPARQ drive.

Your best bet is to get both a scanner and software such as Xerox Corp.'s new Pagis or Visioneer's Visual Desktop and one of the new CD-R (recordable) drives such as Micro-Solutions Inc.'s backpack CD-rewriter.

You should then scan in your documents and use optical-character recognition to turn them into text files that you can move onto CDs for archiving. A second option is to use the scanner to produce a picture of each document and store it as a graphics file in the .jpg format that is likely to be around well into the future.

This is a great system but hardly a cheap one. Figure $100 to $200 for the scanner, a bit under $100 for the software and about $500 for a CD-RW (read/write) drive.

I don't know about you, but I think most people would prefer to keep this stuff in cardboard boxes in the basement until some of those prices come down.

I purchased a computer recently with Windows 95 and a free upgrade to Windows 98, which I installed. Since then, my desktop continually locks up or stalls if left unused for even a short time. Control-Alt-Delete unlocks it and reboots it, but it is a bother. Are others having this problem? I'm not all that enamored with 98 over 95. Would you recommend uninstalling Win98?

I suspect that whatever is wrong with your machine now will still be wrong if you decide to uninstall the Windows 98 upgrade software, which does, as you note, come with an option to uninstall itself. Trouble is, one of your machine's internal settings is probably corrupted and that bad setting will simply be carried back over to Windows 95 by the Windows 98 uninstall routine.

I'm sorry to say your fix is going to be a real bother. You need to uninstall Windows 98 and then use the CD-ROM for Windows 95 that came with your machine to reinstall Windows 95 and restore the original setting for your machine.

For what it might be worth, chances are excellent that you could then reinstall the Windows 98 upgrade without that annoying lockup problem returning.

My problem involves upgrading to America Online's new 4.0 software. I am also told by technical support people for my computer that I need to download Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 to replace 3.01 now on my PC. If I download Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01, will it supersede 3.01 or should I delete it? I also have AOL 3.0 in my drive. AOL said I could delete it but it may be a good idea to hold on to it if something goes wrong with 4.0.

Your question is a common one and the answer needs to be spread widely - don't attempt to delete older browsers when upgrading to the latest versions. Chances are slim that you will find all the stuff that needs to be erased, and your machine might start acting up because it is looking for files that you creamed while trying to get rid of 3.01.

It's much, much better to log on to the Microsoft Web site (www., download the program and run new upgrade software for the IE 4.01 version.

The MSIE 4.0x installation software will clean up the unneeded 3.01 files for you and then change the machine's internal settings to recognize the new browser and stop looking for the old one.

As to the second question, it is essential to keep the AOL 3.0 software on your machine when you start using the 4.0 version so your mailbox contents and personal settings can be transferred.

Pub Date: 11/30/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.