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Tech 101 | Tech Q&A

Ad Banner Is Security Issue--and Can't Be Deleted

April 05, 2001|DAVE WILSON | dave.wilson@latimes.com

Q: How can I get rid of the advertising at the bottom of Quicken 2000? I recently purchased a new computer and transferred my files, and now I can't seem to get rid of the advertising banner. It is the kind of invasion you might expect in a free program, but it's not something you should have to put up with in a program you purchase.

A: Apparently, you can turn off ads in the Online Financial Services Center by clicking the Edit menu, then Options and Quicken Program. Hit the General tab and put a check mark in the Remove Advertising box. As far as killing ads in other areas of Quicken, we don't think that's possible using the tools built in to Quicken, although we imagine that there's a hack floating around created by someone equally irate.

And you should be irate. In addition to being really annoying, shoving live ads at people through their accounting software is a huge security issue. You might as well just post your income tax information to a Web site.

Our advice: If you can't live without Quicken, don't launch or even install the thing without first disconnecting from the Internet. At a minimum, don't activate the online features. That might keep the ads from being downloaded. We set up our accounting and tax software only on an encrypted, removable drive because we think keeping sensitive information on a networked computer is asking for trouble.

Q: I've had occasions when someone called to tell me their e-mail message to me (at the correct address) had been returned by Road Runner, my service provider. My concern is that other potential clients might have tried to contact me and failed, and I would never know about it. The technical staff tells me there's no way I can be notified about e-mail that's been refused. Any solutions?

A: Run, do not walk, to a new Internet service provider.

A properly addressed e-mail message to a mailbox with enough space to hold it simply should not ever bounce. The whole point of the Internet's design is to make sure stuff gets delivered, come heck or thermonuclear explosion.

In most cases, the receiving system would have to be down for at least three days before an e-mail actually bounced back. Sure, that happens sometimes, but if it happens repeatedly, that's a sign written in flaming letters across the sky that the people running your ISP aren't paying attention.

The correct response by a provider when somebody calls to say e-mail is bouncing is to pull the fire alarm, scramble the jets, get some cold Coke into the house geeks and get it fixed. Not, "Oh, yeah, we've been meaning to do something about that."

Some ISPs have been setting up blacklists that will block mail coming from specific ISPs in an effort to reduce spam, and it's possible that's the problem here. If so, tell your friends that they are hooked up with some black hats and should consider looking for a new ISP.

As for alerting you to bounced mail, the only solution we can think of is to run your own mail server. You can set up a little pager program that will scream at you when the server crashes, so you can rush back home and reboot it. But we think it makes more sense to pay somebody a couple of hundred bucks a year to do that sort of thing for you.

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Dave Wilson is The Times' personal technology columnist. Submit questions to Tech Q&A at techtimes@latimes.com.

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