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Issue #635: September 22-28, 2019

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Q: Some websites ask if I agree to “allow cookies”. What is good/bad about allowing this.

– Spouse Peripheral
Niceville, Florida

A: In order to understand the answer, I think it’s important for everyone to understand the question. Specifically, exactly what cookies are, and what they do in the context of web browsing.

Browser cookies were conceived in 1994 by a software engineer named Lou Montulli, who was working as a web browser programmer. He co-opted the name cookie from the Unix term magic cookie which is a packet of data that a program receives and sends back unchanged. In browsers, web servers pass messages to your browser when you visit certain sites. Your browser stores these so-called cookies as text files. Typically, they contain information about your visit to the web page, which can include the date and time, your account information, cart information (for shopping sites), and more. Literally any information dreamed-up by the website designer can be stored this way.

Looked at another way, cookies contain tracking information. Often, that’s desirable, because without cookies, you’d have to sign-in to each and every site you visit, before the site can know who you are. Sometimes it’s not-so-desirable, as cookies can be a privacy risk. It is not the cookies themselves that are a potential risk, but rather, what sites do with the data stored in them.

Almost everything about browser cookies used to happen in the background without any notification to the end user (that’s you). However, a law passed by the European Union called the EU e-Privacy Directive, aka the EU Cookie Law, requires website owners or administrators to obtain the consent of site visitors before placing a cookie on their machine. There is no set verbiage for the query, but typically, it reads something like “By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.” There will be a link to get more information, and an “Accept” button. You don’t have to accept, but if you don’t, you probably won’t be allowed to access the site.

• • •

 Q: I’ve been running Microsoft Word with over 30 years of documents on Windows 7. I had to get a new computer and now I cannot open my documents on the Word program which I assume is associated with Office on Windows 10. I am in a real bind as it asks for an app to open the old Word documents. I don’t know which app to use or should I just purchase Word and do a copy and paste onto Office Word.

– Karen N.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: I think you neglected one important piece of information, Karen. Your description of “the Word program which I assume is associated with Office on Windows 10” is a bit vague. Is it actually Word as in “Microsoft Word” – a component of Microsoft Office, or is it something else? Typically, computers do not come with Word, but might come with a trial of Office, usually limited to 30-days.

Perhaps you meant WordPad? Given the name similarity, I can see why you might mistake this as the application you’re looking for. However, WordPad is certainly not Word, and is not capable of opening Word’s documents. To access your documents, you are going to need Word itself, or at least something that can import Word documents.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that your current version of Word would run just fine under Windows 10 (although Microsoft has probably stopped issuing patches and security updates for it a long time ago). If you have the original installation media, try installing it. Beyond that, there are a number of ways to acquire Word, or the entire Office Suite if you need it. Some of them are even free. I found a great article for you at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0635A that has lots of excellent information in it.

The other alternative is to try one of the several Office-like clones that exist. Here’s another link for you that has some great information: TinyURL.com/IGTM-0635B, or just run a Google search for “Microsoft Office Alternatives”. 

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