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Issue #107: August 9, 2009

Q: For weeks a yellow Error Code 4 notice is splashed across my screen.  I have found no help from Yahoo nor is there an X for me to delete it.  I don’t know how it got there and I don’t know how to eliminate it.  All of my mail drafts, sent and trash files are deleted. 

– Lois P.
Niceville, Fla

A: You sure don’t make my job very easy, Lois!  You sort of neglected to mention in your e-mail that you were talking about an error with Yahoo! Mail.  However, once I realized where your error was coming from, it wasn’t too hard to find a solution.  I believe you’ll find the answer to your question by visiting

Q: I have a question about email addresses in Outlook.  I received an email, and then clicked the Reply button, typed my comment, then Send.  A few moments later I received an auto email from the Mail Administrator of my ISP, stating the address was invalid.  I compared the email address I sent the message to, the one I received and replied to, and the one filed in my Address Book.  When I hit the Reply button, the “to” block was populated with an old address.  It was not the one on the message received nor filed in my address book.  What causes this and is there a fix? 

– Rita B.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: There’s nothing that you can fix, Rita.  The problem is on your e-mail buddy’s side.  It sounds like whoever sent you that e-mail doesn’t have their new e-mail address set up quite right in their e-mail program.  When your friend switched addresses, he or she would have had to change the settings in their e-mail program from the old address to the new one, but it sounds like they left the old address in the “Reply-To” field.  Your e-mail program uses the contents of that field to determine the address to send to when you click your Reply button.

You have also discovered one method that people use to perform a little trick called e-mail spoofing.  By spoofing an address, it’s possible to send e-mail using someone else’s name.  I’ve actually used this technique to pull a few jokes in my time, sending e-mail as Bill Gates, and once, even as  Spoofing is commonly used by spammers to mask their real e-mail address, and it’s actually possible for some of them to send e-mail with absolutely no real information that can be traced back to them.  In an e-mail, these fields reside in the Internet header, which you can look at if you want to.  In Outlook, the header is displayed by opening an e-mail and selecting View->Options.  The header is at the bottom of the dialog.

My “Official Geek” Judie had a comment on last week’s column: “I have heard of putting a false e-mail address in your address book.  However, it’s purpose is not to protect your address book from viruses.  The concept is that you would get a notice that an e-mail was sent to that address and that the e-mail is being returned to you as a ‘no known user’ and therefore it would alert you (the sender) to the fact that you have a virus.  After which, you can then run a virus scan to hopefully isolate the virus and get rid of it.”  To that I would say good point, Judie, except the trick was specifically billed as a protective measure, not an informative one.  Also, if one’s virus scanner is capable of detecting such a virus, and it’s properly configured, it will detect it on its own.

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