Restore e-mail signatures in a snap

Helpline

March 05, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

I've been sending e-mail with my customized signature (name, address and my home page address) on it for a long time. But when I click on a new message in Outlook Express, I get the following message: "Warning: The signature file specified is not a valid text-file. The signature feature has been disabled." The signature is gone. I can't find anything in any of the help files on my computer, and I can't figure out how to put it back except to type it in manually each time. Any hints on how to get it back?

To restore it, choose the Options item under Tools in the Outlook Express software, and you will see a display with a number of tabs including Signatures. There you will find a space to type in whatever text message you want added to the bottom of e-mails you send.

My favorite two signatures that came from readers were these: "Warning! Do not look into laser with remaining eye" and "Bigamy, having too many husbands; monogamy, the same." To share your own favorite signature line, go to chicagotribune.com/go/coates.

I am shopping for a new computer and would like your words of wisdom. In several of the tech forums I use, some people say that the major computer-makers (IBM, Dell, Gateway, Compaq) make lousy computers loaded with proprietary parts and buggy software. These people say the only way to get a good computer is to build it yourself or have one custom-built by a local computer shop. What do you think?

If you crack open a PC from any of the major manufacturers you mentioned, you will find the same chips from Intel Corp., the same hard drives from the likes of Seagate Corp., and the same video boards from the likes of Matrox Inc. as you will find in a machine cobbled together by one of the custom shops that line the strip malls of America.

The machines from mom-and-pop outfits also will run the same operating system (Microsoft Windows) and the same software (probably something from Microsoft Corp. or maybe IBM's superb SmartSuite). What you do get by going through the trouble of finding a small supplier is the ability to return the machine instantly if it doesn't work. While it is true that the small outfits probably get forced to charge more than the big guys because the big outfits can buy parts in volume, you can return to the small shop and have the machine upgraded to catch up with changing technologies.

This always is easier to do with the outfits that assembled your custom machine than trying to get upgrades on something you ordered on the Internet or picked up at a consumer electronics store.

Sadly, the hassle one must go through dealing with a small operator in a busy storefront almost always is worse than just going to the superstore or calling up a Web site and buying on the spot. As for me, I prefer the impersonal aloofness of a big store to the hassle of trying to haggle prices and understand the gobbledygook that gets tossed your way when you dare step up to the counter at that strip mall custom computer shop.

Send e-mail to jcoates@tribune.com.

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