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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life

September 2008


You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too. Why not email her

September 2008

Mice behaving badly


Q:  My mouse is only working intermittently.  What can I do about it?

A:  There are four main problems you can encounter with a computer mouse.

  • If using a mechanical mouse, the ball inside may have built up too much fluff.  Gently twist the ball out and clear the pocket of any debris.
  • If optical, the surface you are working on may be too uniform for the sensors to work properly and detect movement.  Cover the surface with textured material so that there is more variation.
  • Your battery may be failing – check and change this if necessary.
  • Wiring may be damaged, so again – this needs to be checked.


Lost e-mails

Q:  I came back from a 3-week holiday and tried to download my e-mails.   I got a few but then the screen froze.  The next day, on trying again, there were no e-mails at all and no record of the ones already downloaded.  There was nothing in the deleted items folder or the recycle bin.  Are they somewhere on the computer still? I was advised to go into my ISP's home web page to access them from there, but can't see how I would do that.


A:  You can pick up e-mails from your ISP only if:

1.) They have not yet been downloaded onto your home computer (very useful to look at large files that won't download properly, or spam, as you can delete them here, before you try downloading the messages you want to read and keep); Or

2.) The system is set up to keep copies of everything there, as well as on your own machine - but this isn't usual or you would soon fill your ISP-based folders with rubbish.  (Googlemail is one of the few that does this automatically.)  Usually once downloaded, they disappear from the Web for good.

As you did not download all of the messages, it is a very good idea to try
to access these over the Web from your ISP's website.  You will need to log-in with your username and password, but then should be able to click a Mail link and be able to access an Inbox and other folders.  You can then delete any large or unwanted messages and download the rest in the normal way at some future time. 

However, if you have already downloaded some, these are presumably lost in the ether between your ISP and home and I am afraid I do not think you will be able to find them again.

Opening attachments


Q:  Sometimes when I try to open e-mail attachments I get a message which says something like "unknown file type, create a file association from folder options". What is this and how do I do it. 

A:  It means that the software used to create the file is not on your own computer (for example, if it is a Publisher file and you don't have Microsoft Publisher).

Save the file onto your desktop or somewhere easy to find and then open it with an alternative program that you DO have.  To do this, right click the file name and select "Open with"...  You will hopefully be presented with a couple of appropriate programs, but also a link (Choose Program) to the rest of the programs on your computer.  If you scroll down, you may see a likely program to test it with.  Click the name and see if you can now read the file.

Once you find a program that opens the file, click the checkbox to always use this program to open this type of file.


'Open with' box



View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

Don't forget to visit the general laterlife features section called laterlife interest


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