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Tech 101 | Tech Q&A

Sites Can Help You Locate People Abroad

February 15, 2001|DAVE WILSON and AARON CURTISS | dave.wilson@latimes.com and aaron.curtiss@latimes.com

Q: I would appreciate any assistance you can give me in locating a people search in foreign countries in English--namely Israel and Argentina. The site I found in Israel requires a Hebrew font. The site I found in Argentina requires the use of Spanish.

A: We found a couple of sites that might help. One is http://www.phonenumbers.net and the other is http://www.nedsite.nl/search/people.htm, both of which offer international search functions.

You also might try a Web site called Babel Fish that translates Web sites on the fly. It's at http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/translate.dyn.

Q: I'm trying to update my McAfee Virus Scan .dat file from a 3 to a 4 version. I downloaded the appropriate icon to my Desktop, but when I double-click on it to install the update, I get a message that says, "No qualifying products found."

What am I doing wrong?

A: Here's what's going on. Anti-viral software is only as good as the latest anti-viral definitions loaded on the computer on which it's being used. Dozens of new viruses are identified each day--though most are just variants of known types--and your anti-viral software has to be taught to recognize those variants. Most people do this by downloading an update file containing new virus definitions from the company that developed their anti-viral software. Typically, such downloads are free for a year from the first download.

You, faithful reader, are using McAfee's version 3.x--a fairly old version. It is so old, in fact, that McAfee last released an updated anti-viral definitions file for that version in December 1999. Like most anti-viral software developers, McAfee supports its current version of the software--in this case, version 5.x--plus one version back, which would be 4.x.

So, with no recent updates available for version 3.x, you'll have to buy a new anti-viral program--and then update that--to get the latest anti-viral protection.

Q: Frequently, I get a message that my computer has performed an "illegal operation," and to my knowledge I have not done anything to cause this. What does it mean?

A: Illegal operations are essentially instructions from a program that a computer operating system, such as Windows 98, does not understand. So the computer stops everything and lets you know. Often, it simply stops running the program that caused the problem. Illegal operations are inherently human errors--but generally not yours.

See, modern computer programs contain millions of lines of code written by a team of human beings. In the same way that you might make a few typos in a letter to a friend, programmers can insert incorrect coding into their programs.

Testing catches many of these glitches. But because of the array of available software and hardware configurations, not even the most comprehensive testing can find every potential problem.

Most of the time, illegal operations can be fixed by restarting the software or shutting down the computer and rebooting. If the problem keeps occurring, take note of the specific instances when the error message occurs--what key sequence you were following, what other devices or programs were operating--and report it to the software maker, which might already be aware of the bug and might offer a patch.

*

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

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