Q. I have not upgraded my Windows from the second 98 version. It did not seem necessary, since most of my work involves Word and use of the Internet. I had heard there were numerous...

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Q. I have not upgraded my Windows from the second 98 version. It did not seem necessary, since most of my work involves Word and use of the Internet. I had heard there were numerous problems with the newer versions and didn’t want to tackle those. I now find that to use an iPod I will have to update my Windows. What version do you suggest?

Also, I have an online firewall and virus scan. I have downloaded Spybot and use it every day. Every time I run Spybot I find “DSO Exploit.”

I did some research on the Internet but the suggestions — that I make sure that I had all Windows’ critical updates and that I update Spybot — didn’t work. I read an involved method on another Web site but don’t have confidence in the source. Can you direct me to a trusted site for solving this vexing problem?


— D. Monroe

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A. With respect to your first question, I would update to Windows XP Service Pack 2 since it’s the latest and most stable version of Windows. If you’re going to be running on a network, I’d make it the Professional version of XP.

With respect to the DSO exploit, that was a vulnerability in Internet Explorer that hackers could take advantage of. The vulnerability has been fixed, so if you have updated your version of Internet Explorer you don’t have to worry about it.

Unfortunately, even though the problem is fixed, Spybot keeps reporting it. You’ll want to check with Spybot for an update to their program that fixes this glitch.


Q.

I receive e-mail via comcast.net and recently was warned Comcast will discontinue forwarding e-mail from attbi.com, my original ISP. In the process of sending corrections to my address to the attbi mailers, I noticed something peculiar.

In the header, instead of reading to franvir@comcast.net or franvir@attbi.com, the message is sent to gopusalist1@gopusa.com for a newsletter from a Republican organization. How and why does it come to me? I assume it also goes to many, many others. Is this the way spammers work?


— Francis Harrison


A.

I guess you could call it spam, but it’s sort of legitimate spam. In this case, the e-mail is from the Republican Party and it’s not trying to hide its identity. It sends the e-mail to a list of recipients — which it has named “gopusalist1” — of which you were one.

As for where they got your e-mail address to include in their list, I couldn’t begin to guess.


Q.

I inherited a Compaq Presario 5000 running Windows ME. It began running low on RAM and demanded that I add to the existing 127 megabytes of memory. A techie type told me what I needed and where to put it and I did. However, the system doesn’t seem to know that I have added 256 more megabytes.

I can only assume there is some procedure that must follow the installation of the chip to integrate it into the system. I say “assume,” because I haven’t been able to find any instructions that speak to RAM upgrades and the care and feeding anywhere in the documents available to me.


— Jim Vogel


A.

The specific procedure for adding RAM depends on the computer.

First, you have to make sure you have compatible RAM, not only in terms of speed but also type and format.

Second, you need to make certain your computer recognizes it. Some computers, for example, require you to specify in BIOS that you have added RAM. Others may automatically detect the new RAM.

You need to consult your computer’s documentation to be sure. If you don’t have the manual, you can probably find it online at the maker’s Web site.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.