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10 computer TIPS
Be sure to mind your e-mail manners
E-mail provides lightning-fast, two-way interaction between businesses, friends and relatives, but such communication has its pitfalls. A thoughtless e-mail can destroy friendships, alienate loved ones, end careers, even ruin businesses. To save you from wreaking electronic havoc, here are the 10 commandments of e-mail etiquette.
1. BE POLITE: DON'T LOCK THOSE CAPS
Veteran e-mailers tend to be less formal than traditional letter writers because of the medium's immediacy. Salutations usually consist of a simple "Hi," and many people type only with lowercase letters because it's faster. Although it's just as fast to leave the Caps Lock key on, total capitalization is, in e-mail terms, AKIN TO SHOUTING.
2. TYPE NO EVIL
E-mail lends itself to the quick reply, which can get you into big trouble. Hasty, emotional e-mail can lead to profuse apologies or even the loss of friends. Take a moment before you hit the send button and ask, "Would I say the same thing to the person's face?" Count to 10. Sleep on it. Read it again in the morning.
3. LESS IS MORE
With e-mail, many people feel compelled to forward jokes to everyone they know. But that doesn't mean you have to forward them, too. Save the forwarding function for particularly funny or interesting items; that way your friends and relatives will think you are clever, instead of lonely.
4. SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY (Many of us do not follow this procedure)
We've all received e-mail that requires us to scroll through a huge address list to get to the actual text of the message. You can avoid sending e-mail like this by using blind carbon copy. Just put one of the addresses in the "to:" field, and the rest in the "bcc:" field. The big address list won't appear, and the recipients can get to the point more quickly.
5. KNOW WHEN TO SMILE
Conveying humor through e-mail can be difficult because the recipient can't see you smiling. Smileysâ€”symbols such as : ) at the end of a sentenceâ€”are a great way to express your feelings. Of course, using these symbols too often can dilute the effect. You can find a list of smileys at the Unofficial Smiley Dictionary ( eff.org/papers/eegtti/eeg_286.html ). Remember to use them sparingly.
6. AVOID CHAIN LETTERS THAT USUALLY ACCOMPANY A HOAX
Some e-mail, such as pleas to send messages supporting various causes, plays on our sense of compassion. Chain letters and petitions can be useful and effective ways to communicate, or they can be as annoying as spam. If you receive an e-mail of unknown origin, treat it skeptically, even if it was forwarded by someone you know. This e-mail won't damage your computer, but it does tend to clog the Internet with useless data.
7. TRAVEL LIGHT
It's frustrating to check your e-mail and then have to wait for your computer to download a big file that's attached to a message. Your Internet connection is locked up until it's done, and that can be a long time. Remember the golden rule: Don't put others you know and love through this experience. Unless the message recipient has better than a standard modem connection, strive to keep e-mail attachments well under 500K. It's good practice to avoid sending large files, unless you ask the recipient beforehand.
8. TRIM THE FAT
The reply function makes e-mail very convenient. You can maintain a correspondence for weeks or months with that initial message. But many e-mail applications save all of the correspondence, from the very first message to the last. When replying to a message, save the last reply and delete the rest. Anything beyond the last reply can be a waste of bandwidth.
9. THE POLITE E-MAILER ONLY RINGS ONCE
Instant messaging through software such as ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger lets people chat in real time. But if someone on your buddy list is online, you shouldn't keep knocking if the person doesn't answer. Your buddy may be running an application that uses all of her computer's resources, effectively blocking your message. Or that person could just be busy. It's important to respect others' computer privacy.
10. DOUBLE-CHECK ADDRESSES
Your e-mail program's address book is a great organizational tool, and it saves you from having to type lengthy e-mail addresses. But it's pretty easy to click on the wrong address in your book or accidentally select a bunch of addresses. It gets worse when replying to one person from a message sent to many people. Always make sure you have the right address. E-mail that's sent to the wrong address can cause serious trouble.
YNCS Don Harribine, USN(Ret)