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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Q & A
Device alerts you to incoming calls while online

By Tamara E. Holmes

Q. What are 'call-waiting modems'?

A. If you've ever missed an important phone call because you were logged onto the Internet, you'd appreciate a modem that has call-notification features. Such modems work with call-waiting services (hence the term), which are available through your local phone company. The technology alerts you if another phone call comes in while you're online. You can then decide — based on the phone number — whether or not you want to accept the phone call, which in some cases logs you off of the Internet.

Q. When creating a password to get into a Web site, does it matter if you use upper- or lowercase letters?

A. That depends on the type of password technology the site uses. Some sites and services require case-sensitive passwords. Case-sensitive passwords offer an extra layer of protection over non-case-sensitive passwords since they allow users to come up with more variations for their passwords, making them harder to crack. If you have the option of creating a case-sensitive password, security experts advise that you mix it up by using a password that contains both capital and lowercase letters.

Q. Is it true that computer manufacturers don't have to honor warranties if you don't have the box the computer came in?

A. It's a good idea to read your entire warranty right after you buy a computer because it isn't unheard of for manufacturers to include a clause that states that they won't honor a warranty if the computer is no longer in its original packaging. While such a clause isn't unheard of, it's by no means a standard practice. Check your warranty to be sure. If it doesn't state on the warranty that you must keep the box your computer came in, then assume that you don't.

Q. Do I have to be invited to join a mailing list or can I just join one?

A. While some mailing lists might very well be set up for exclusive groups of people, there are thousands of mailing lists that are open to the public. There are a number of Web sites that let people create mailing lists, as well as browse through and join those lists that have already been created. Yahoo Groups (groups.yahoo.com) is one such site, which lets you choose mailing lists from a number of categories ranging from career-related lists to those pertaining to recreation. You can also check CataList at www.lsoft.com/lists/listref.html, which lets you search for a mailing list based on key words of interest.

Holmes answers questions daily at usatoday.com/tech.htm.