Readers Questions Part 4

This week I’ll again spend a bit of time answering a selection of readers’ questions in the hope that I can resolve some of your most common problems.

I have an irritating problem in Word 2000 that hopefully you can help me with.  When pressing the return key a strange symbol appears after the sentence.  Also, when you press the spacebar, a small dot appears each time.  I enjoy reading the Click column in the Herald Express every week.
Alban Williams, Kingsteignton.
These characters that you refer to are known as ‘Formatting Marks’ and are basically used to highlight paragraph marks, spaces and tab intents in your publication.  Some people find it helpful to have this feature turned on so that they can easily see whether there are two spaces in between a couple of words or whether an intent is tabbed or justified into position.  Personally however I can’t stand my document being littered with formatting marks so to turn it off do the following:
In Word go to ‘Tools’ and then ‘Options’ from the main window then half way down the dialog box that pops up will be the option to display formatting marks.  Just ensure that all the boxes for the different types of formatting marks are un-ticked and then click ‘OK’.

I read your column every week and find it very useful. I was wondering if you could answer this question for me please. I’ve heard a little about Linux, is it worth me installing it on my computer and are there any advantages or disadvantages over Windows?
Chris Truman, Dartington

For those of you not in the know, Linux is a popular alternative to the Windows Operating System that has in recent years become a real option for the home computer market and not just the professional server market that it once occupied.  In many instances the program is available free of charge and manages to rival and even beat the popular Windows Operating System in several areas such as speed and reliability.
One of the most extraordinary things about Linux is that the source code is available to anyone who requests it and they are then able to modify it themselves to add new features or bug fixes.  This leads to some quite interesting spin offs of the original product – For example, some of my more observant readers may remember an article I wrote five weeks ago that focussed on the ‘Lindows’ Operating System that was based on Linux but promised to allow you to run Windows applications.  This was one product based on Linux of many and over the next couple of weeks I’ll take the opportunity raised by your question to attempt to review the options available to home users as a real alternative to Windows.
I have a small problem with my PC that I’m hoping you can help me with.  When I shut down Internet Explorer and then disconnect from the Internet my PC attempts to re-dial almost straight away.  Although I can cancel this off, it does get quite annoying.
Brian Carter, Brixham

It sounds to me as though you’ve got it set up so that your computer automatically connects to the Internet whenever it detects that a connection is needed which can be quite troublesome as even though you have shut down Internet Explorer it is likely that you may still have a number of small programs running in the background.  These programs, such MSN Messenger, ICQ, Kazaa, WinMX and so on continually search for an active Internet connection to log on to so that they can provide an Internet based service for your computer.  It seems most likely that one of these small programs is triggering your auto-dial just by searching for a connection that it can use.
The two choices are either to disable these programs before you disconnect from the Internet or to disable auto-dialling.  To perform the latter, simply open up the connection that you use to connect to the Internet and ensure that ‘Connect Automatically’ is un-ticked and then go into ‘Properties’, ‘Dialling’ and check that  ‘Dial whenever a network connection is not present’ is selected as the default option.


About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.