Q. I just went through another week with some, not all, of my e-mail not getting received. One particular e-mail was addressed to seven...

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Q. I just went through another week with some, not all, of my e-mail not getting received. One particular e-mail was addressed to seven addresses and on only one did I receive a “not-deliverable” notice. Could the link to a video and the fact that there were seven recipients cause a filter on my provider’s end or on the recipient’s end to reject the e-mail as spam? Is it possible MSN was having technical problems? Is there a way my Hotmail can tell me if a message gets opened? What do I do?


— Omar Sommer



A. This is one of the major problems caused by spam. The prevalence of spam causes us to use spam filters, which, unfortunately, may also filter out e-mail we want.


Yes, your e-mail could easily be being filtered as spam for some recipients. If the recipients’ spam filters don’t save suspect e-mails to a separate folder — or if the recipients don’t check those suspected spams — they may never know the spam filter is blocking them from receiving your e-mail. And if they don’t know it … well … then you won’t know it.


What’s more, I’m afraid there’s no way to ensure that mail is received, other than calling and asking the recipient. Some e-mail programs do allow you to attach read receipts, which cause a receipt to be sent to you when the e-mail is opened.


But many e-mail programs allow the recipient to prevent read receipts from being sent back to the sender, so that’s no guarantee.


Q. Can you help me get rid of MSN Messenger? I have contacted MSN technical support several times, and it seems unable (or unwilling) to help me. Microsoft has also cleverly put this thing on the left side of the desktop so it covers the icons of things I actually use.


— Thomas Westman, Issaquah



A. You should be able to remove the program from your computer simply by going to the Add or Remove Programs utility in the Control Panel and selecting the MSN Messenger program for removal.


If you want to keep MSN Messenger on your computer but clear it out of the way, you can go to the Tools menu and select Options.


Then uncheck the box that indicates MSN Messenger will be loaded automatically when Windows boots. Next, click on the File menu and choose Close. That will clear MSN Messenger from your desktop, and the next time you boot up it will not load.


Q. I had some trouble with my laptop the other day, and ran Norton Utilities Disk Doctor, which reported I had a couple of problems on my hard drive.


However, when I checked the Fix Errors box, it gave me a message to the effect that it can’t proceed because the operating system has exclusive access to the drive or some of its files.


It added that a repair can be scheduled the next time I start the system. If I tell the program to schedule a repair, and then do a restart, all that happens is that the computer seems to go into DOS mode and run CHKDSK before starting Windows. I get no indication that anything has been found wrong or fixed.


— Steve Rosen, Kirkland



A. Basically, what we have here is a failure to communicate. Disk Doctor isn’t very clear about what’s going on.


If you run DiskDoctor with the Fix Errors option checked, the utility will give you the message about not being able to actually fix any errors until you schedule a repair and restart your computer. That’s regardless of whether there actually are any errors or not.


Accordingly, Symantec recommends that you run DiskDoctor with the Fix Errors option unchecked to do the actual diagnosis. Then, if errors are detected, run the utility with the Fix Errors option checked.


When you do so, all that happens is that DiskDoctor reboots the computer and causes the Windows CHKDSK utility to be run with the /F switch active, which causes the operating system to fix any errors found.


Confusing? You betcha. Could be designed better? You betcha. But you should find that if you now run DiskDoctor without the Fix Errors box checked, you should be free of errors.


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.