Small Alan McNeill
Alan McNeill
Computers are a like a big meal. Take small bytes, and chew well before swallowing, it's easier!

Q. Everyone's getting pages on the internet and we're using it in the office. I've read about computer viruses and I'm worried I'll get one on the office machine and have everyone mad at me. Can I get a virus on the internet? - anonymous

A. You could get a virus on the internet though it is very unlikely. But you're right to worry so you should use a viral checker at least once a week to make sure you're not hosting a future disaster. For those of you new to computers, a virus is not something you computer catches like we catch a cold, it's a small computer program that hides in a file or on a floppy disk and tricks your computer into hiding it on your hard disk. Then it makes copies of itself on each floppy disk you might put in your machine after that. That's why it's called a virus. It's self replicating. You probably have a copy of a virus killer already on your computer. Exit Windows or open a DOS window in WIN 95 and type "msav" at the prompt. That will open a program for killing most common viruses. You can also download new up to date anti-virus programs off the internet, or just purchase a commercial one. A good one, easy to use is F-Prot.

Q. What does the Turbo Button do? I know the light goes off and on when I push it, but I don't see that it does anything.

A. The real name of the Turbo Button is the SLOW DOWN button, but I don't think that naming a button SLOW would sell many computers, so we call it the Turbo Button. When the button is in, and the light is on, the computer is running at it's normal speed. When you push the button and the light goes off, the machine slows down. Really old programs that have never been fixed for faster machines to run without tripping over their own feet used to need this. The Turbo button is often wired backwards. Here's how to check your machine. Make sure the Turbo light is on, then shut your computer off. Don't just reboot, but go all the way off. Then turn the computer back on and count the seconds it takes your computer to go through it's RAM count. Then toggle the Turbo light off, shut down and do the same test again. With the light off, the computer should function very slowly, and thus count the RAM slowly too. If that's how it works on your machine then you are wired right. Always run your machine in the Turbo mode.

Q. I get all this e-mail since my Web Page went on line. I thought that would be great, but it's a lot of work answering them, and some of the questions are really dumb. What can I do? anonymous

A. E-mail is so easy that people use it more than regular mail (snail mail).Yet we can't really tell who will be a customer or not, so we have to answer them all! BUT... you don't have to write a new message for each person. The trick is to create the answers to all your common questions once, save them - then paste them into your e-mail responses.

Let's say you've received a message requesting a brochure - I know, they just saw all the same information on your Web Page, so why do they want a brochure? They don't. The typical net tourist is just smoozing around the internet, looking at this. It's great that your page caught their interest.They actually worked up enough motivation to actually click the e-mail button, but don't expect them to really figure out why they're writing to you.

Most are just asking "Are you real" - will you write back? You could mail them most anything back, even refer them back to your Web Page for details and they'll be happy, but our goal here is to make YOU happy, so...give them more than they expect.

Sit down and write a letter to your mother or brother about your business and what keeps you going at it. What excites you? What specials are going on, festivals, etc? Pretend that she's never seen the island, reef, golf carts, or your business. Then edit out all the too personal material, and save it as a text file.

Make sure you use SAVE AS and choose ASCII text, or DOS text, or PLAIN text. They all mean pretty much the same thing; NO FORMATTING. Each word processing program does this a bit differently, but they all do it.

Now when you reply to an e-mail question, answer with a line or two, then IMPORT or paste the text letter you've created right into your message. Each e-mail program is different on the details of how to do it, but ALL do it. You'll find you can use this generic text letter for about half your replies, and save ALL that typing. Then create more - create answers to all the common questions - save as text - paste them in. Pretty soon your letters will be turning browsing, sleepy, net cruisers into paying guests or customers. And best of all, you'll be doing it in a few minutes instead of hours.

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