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This page is intended to help both computer users and web site designers (especially novices) without duplicating what is given in many other, usually more comprehensive web sites. It therefore covers such things as my personal experiences and items which are otherwise not well-publicised.

Like many pages on this web site, this page contains some external links. I do not have time to check them regularly, so if you find any that do not work, please let me know so I can correct or delete them.


A first generation computer

If you are interested in the early days of computing, click here to read about my experience with a first generation English Electric DEUCE.


Web site development aids & some browser problems

On the other hand, if you want something more up to date (but not necessarily the latest information - I only update occasionally when time allows), I have a small page outlining my experiences with a number of web site development resources. Some I recommend, others I warn about. It does not include discussion of HTML editors, because I prefer to produce more efficient code using a simple text editor. The page also draws attention to a couple of little-known problems with some popular browsers.


Dictionary of computer terms

If you want to know the meaning of any computer-related word or acronym, try looking it up in the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing. It really is huge in its coverage, and still growing.


Compression/decompression utilities

Do you ever find a file that contains just the data or software you need, but it's been compressed using some method you can't deal with (not everyone uses Winzip)? The Cross-Platform Page: Encoding and Compression Formats is the site you need. Contains utilities to compress/decompress just about every method ever thought of, for numerous platforms and conversion between them, including all versions of MS Windows, MSDOS, Unix, Mac, etc., etc.


Identifying file formats

Do you ever receive a file with an unknown format, and wish you had some way of knowing which application was needed to read it? Now you can find out by looking it up on this web site.


Identifying spammers

It is a common misconception (even some ISPs and spam-blocking software providers, who should know better, seem to believe it) that you can identify the source of a spam message by simply looking at the "From:" address in the message header. This is completely false. Spammers nowadays invariably falsify that address, usually by inserting that of someone who is completely innocent. This is trivially easy to do. People who block such addresses are merely preventing people with that address from contacting them with valid messages. When an ISP does it, it prevents that innocent person from contacting any of their (the ISP's) customers. Similarly, returning spam messages to the "From:" address is effectively spamming an innocent person - neither they nor their computer sent the offending message, so there is no point in "returning" it to them.

It is possible in many cases (not all) to trace the computer which actually sent the message by identifying the numeric IP address contained in the full headers, which are not normally displayed by email packages but are available as an option for any particular message. This works if the computer concerned is using a broadband "always connected" system, but does not work for computers with a dial-up connection because they are allocated a new numeric IP address by their ISP every time they log on to the net. Even when the source computer has been identified in this way, this does not identify the real spammer, because the usual way for them to operate nowadays is by infecting some innocent's computer so as to make it send out the spam. The real source can only be traced by following up the content of the spam, which is a job for experts and cannot be automated.


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Jim Fisher Summary Biography | Miscellaneous Small Items

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