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Answers to Writers’ Questions

Dear Pearl,

First of all, it is not the firewall that stops spam. The firewall stops virus infections, worms, spyware, and other intrusions into your computer when you are connected to the Internet. (See the answer for 'How can I make sure my computer is protected by a firewall?' See below this.)

Your question is about spam, so the first thing to check is whether your Internet Service Provider has any spam-filtering facility. They often do these days and may be either free or you can protect your mailboxes by paying a small annual charge for each one.

Next you can check for Spam killing software (see link below).

One of the best-known softwares for this is Norton Internet Security which will add spam filtering and virus protection to your emails and provide a firewall as well. It automatically updates its database and is very efficient. However, it does cost. Check the price from the following link: Norton Internet Security If you're in the

AVG offer a free version of their Anti-virus and spam checking program, and you can upgrade to an enhanced version for a modeest annual payment, if you wish, later. Click Here

Another very good paid for product is Avast! Internet Security. This has a spam filter, firewall, virus checker and more.

Hi Lester,

In this day and age everyone should ensure they have a firewall set up on their computer. Windows comes with one which you can turn on, if it isn’t already. The various flavours of Windows have different ways of doing this. If it is already turned on and you have doubts as to how well it's performing (some experts say it's not as good as it could be) then you might want to check out some third party software such as Norton Internet Security Click Here. or another program which is very good and which offers a free solution is AVG Click Here. The one I use myself is called Avast! Internet Security. This has a firewall and much more. Click Here

Dear Twilla,

Spyware is so called because it installs itself surreptitiously on your computer and then quietly gathers information about your surfing habits, bank passwords and other key financial data and then reports this information back to its maker (for 'maker' read 'crook').

How do they get onto your computer in the first place? The can be disguised in downloads such as toolbars, search engines, browser accessories, screen savers and other seemingly helpful utilities.

How do you know if your computer is infected with spyware? There are several symptom, the most obvious of which are:

If you have noticed any of these then you may want to check whether the cause is a spyware infection or something else.

AVG do a free anti-virus program which includes a module to detect spyware. You can upgrade to a more sophisticated system later if you wish for a modest annual subscription. Click Here.

The program I use myself is SuperAntiSpyware. They do a free version which you can upgrade to a paid version later if you wish. It is very thorough and recommended.
Click Here

Dear Puzzled,

We had to have a round table discussion about this which went on for several hours. In the end our secretary, Phyllis, produced notes, in her own impeccable style, of everyone's thoughts:

Darren (gopher): It's obvyus innit? It's 'hairy crocks-is'. (no one felt very comfortable with this, but we were too kind to say so.)

Jeannie (proof reader): It's from the French and I heard it's pronounced 'or-croo' and 'or-croo-say'. It's translated from 'heur' meaning 'hour' and 'crux' meaning, well the 'crux' or nub of the matter. In other words it's the decisive point of the hour. (This made a lot of sense and several heads were nodding.)

Bernard (researcher): The secret to this, he said, is that the 'x' is pronounced like a soft 'c'. Therefore, in my considered opinion, the word is properly pronounced 'hor-crews' and 'hor-crew-sees'. (More heads nodded this time.)

(We would have asked Mervyn, our editor, but it was discovered that he had fallen asleep, so we left him, poor dear.)

Me (Phyllis) quietly: I looked this up on the Internet, and if I might say, Bernard, I'm rather surprised you didn't do so...

Bernard (researcher): Well I didn't know the dratted question had arrived until this discussion, did I? If certain people would brief other people beforehand then perhaps things might get done.

Me (Phyllis): Yes, well, be that as it may, the concensus of opinion on the web is that it's pronounced 'hor-crucks' and 'hor-cruck-sis'.

Darren (gopher): Wot, you mean like wot it's written?'

Phyllis (secretary): Not so loud Darren, but yes. Just like it's written.

1st Footnote: After the meeting we did attempt to contact J K Rowling the author of those wonderful, wonderful Harry Potter stories, but the cleaning woman who answered the 'phone advised us "She ain't here, luv." So we left it.

2nd Footnote: Dear Ms Rowling, if by any chance you should read the less than academic exchanges above, may I extend apologies on behalf of WritersReign, and just mention that if you are ever in need of a good secretary/PA my telephone number is...

Merv (editor): Phyllis!, stop crawling and put the kettle on.

Phyllis (secretary): Any salary will do...

Dear Erica,

Absolutely. Every story should have a title except in the unlikely event that the competition rules state otherwise. The standard method of preparing a document for a competition is to:

Having said all this, always read the competition rules carefully and follow their instructions.

Thanks for your question Baffled,

Why do we de-frag? De-fragging (de-fragmenting) will tidy up your hard drive and the operation of your machine will be improved. Many people leave this task for months on end and some say they have never de-fragged but it is advisable to de-frag weekly – perhaps first thing on Monday morning when you are reading your emails.

Windows comes with its own de-fragger, but as there are now so many versions of Windows extant that it would be onerous to list the various methods here. Instead I am going to suggest two things:

1. Visit the Windows Community website: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us

After you click on the link above you will be taken to their home page where you will see (top, right) a field where you can ask your question. Put in something like ‘how do I de-frag my computer’ and you will get a list of links to answers which will include most versions of Windows.

Another similar source of information is the Windows Club. They have a page specifically for defragging Windows 7 & 8. Go Here.

2. Get some software that will do the job for you.

There are various softwares out there, both paid and free, for de-fragging hard drives. However, when it comes to free ones you need to be very careful when downloading them as so many sites offering free software attach harmful stuff to the downloads. I’ll say no more.

My advice is to choose software from a recognised producer and pay for it. The one I use is called Diskkeeper from Condusiv Technologies. This software will work on most flavours of Windows, but if you have a really old version, check with them first.

You can also download the software for a 30-day trial period to try it out before deciding whether you want to purchase it or not. At the time of writing (November 2014) the Home version is around £20 plus VAT. Not what I would call expensive, but we all have our personal budgets to consider. You are free to install it on up to three computers.

Dear Annie,

Yes you can. BUT personally I prefer to keep large documents in smaller chunks, maybe part 1, part 2, part 3, etc. Alternatively save them in chapters if you're writing a book, and name them with a brief title plus the chapter number.

For instance: “MyStory01”. Put the zero in front of the number until you get to 10 then increment from there. This will keep the chapters in proper sequence on your hard disk. Otherwise '1' will come after '9'. Ridulous I know, but that's computers for you. This makes your work so much easier to handle and, of course, to print out for proof reading and checking.

Hi Gerald,

They go into the Recycle Bin.  There is an icon on the Windows desktop which you can double click on to see all the old files (of whatever kind) that have been deleted. They will stay in the Recycle Bin until you choose to 'empty' it - then they are gone forever!

Documents can be retrieved from the bin by right clicking on them and choosing to 'restore' the file. Then they will be put back in exactly the place they were before you deleted them.

If you haven't emptied your Recycle Bin for some time (or maybe never?) it will no doubt be packed with stuff. All these un-needed files are still taking up space on your hard disk and it really does make sense to empty them every so often, say once a month.

Hi Tristan,

First of all check that Word is operating with inches rather than centimetres.

Go to Tools, Options and click the General tab. In the measurement units drop-down box choose Inches. Click OK and exit out. In Windows 8 it’s File > Options > Advanced.

To choose the correct label for Word to use, go into Labels, Envelopes and Labels (Tools, Letters and Mailings, Envelopes and Labels) See below for Windows 8. Click on the labels tab, then click on the label graphic in the bottom right of the Envelopes and Labels window. This brings up another window from which you can choose a label by its reference number.

The most popular labels are Avery, so we will use them for our example.

In the Label Products drop down box choose Avery A4 and A5 sizes if you're a UK user (Avery Standard in the US). This will display a list of Avery label numbers:

Either scroll down to the one you want, or if you don’t know the number, measure the label you want to use, then scroll down the list one at a time until the ‘Label information’ panel to the right of the product numbers shows the measurements you are looking for. Some of us tend to think in terms of 'Width the Height' but notice that Word thinks in terms of 'Height' first then 'Width'.

In Windows 8 it’s Mailings > Labels.

The Envelopes and Labels window will display. Go to the bottom and choose Options. In the Label vendors drop-down choose Avery A4/A5 if you are in the UK, and scroll to the label reference number you use. For instance L7160. Chose whole sheet or single label as required.

Choose the label, then do a test print to make sure it’s the right one. If not go back and choose another label with the same dimensions until, hopefully, you find the right one.  If the size of your label is not listed, you can customise your own label size and call it ‘Bloggs’ or ‘Jones’ etc.

Dear Troubled,

Fret no more - your answer awaits:

Word has the facility to work in more than one document at a time and if you find a blank screen on top of the document you are working in, you have used the Control key (probably instead of the Shift key) followed by an N (i.e. new document). To delete it, go to File (alt F) and then close. In Windows 8 'Close' is in the left-hand column.

I think the ‘piece’ which has disappeared is your current document which has been accidentally covered by a new document. Go to the menu bar at the top of the screen and click on Window. At the bottom of the drop-down menu is a list of the documents open at this point in time. If your missing document is listed – it’s OK and you haven’t lost it. Just minimise the blank page on screen and this should reveal your previous document. Then you can delete the new blank document.

In Windows 8 go to View, then Switch Windows and a list of open documents will appear.

Dear Confused,

For pre MS Word 2013:

Click on to one of the documents you want to open (which will then be high-lighted) and then, with your mouse, move to another document and select by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on the document title (Ctrl+Click). This will highlight both documents and can be repeated as many times as you require.

If you have a block of documents which appear in your listing in unbroken sequence then click on the first one to highlight it then, holding down the SHIFT key, click on the last one. All documents in-between will now be highlighted.

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