Chapter 0 Electronic Mail


Chapter Outline

Chapter 0 Electronic Mail 1

Electronic Mail Basics. 2

Computer Viruses. 3

Backing up your files. 3



Electronic Mail Basics

Email has changed the way we communicate for both the good and the bad. On the plus side, it is very easy for me to send an email message to my entire class thus disseminating information in a fast and cost effective manner like class is canceled today! Calling everyone on the phone is not only impractical but chances of reaching everyone are pretty slim where the chance of everyone checking their email is pretty high. On the minus side is the amount of spam I receive everyday, in the magnitude of 100 plus spam messages a day (that is just counting what the spam filter removes). I receive on average that same amount of messages that I need to deal with (i.e. from administrative mail: university, college, and department, student mail and personal mail). I send out roughly 20 messages a day myself (either the initial message or a reply message). So email consumes a big chunk of my daily workload.

So in an effort to help improve the usefulness of email lets go over some basic etiquette.

1.    Donít forward, donít click on any links, donít believe it, just delete it. If you know the person who sent it to you, inform them that it is spam, direct them to: Of course if you think it is true go the hoax buster web site and look it up BEFORE you forward. 99.999% chance it will be spam, but hey there is a .001 % chance that is true. So keep in mind that no one is ever going to give you money for sending a message to as many people as you can, it is a spam message meant to trick you into thinking technology is great that they will pay you for nothing. Along the same lines if you read a message that makes you cry before you to reach the end because it is so sad DONíT believe it. I always wonder if the writer spent as much time on their homework as they did on crafting these very clever messages. Often times the messages are based on partial truths so you believe because you Ďheard something like thatí before. Keep in mind that it is easy to fake a from message line so the message may say it is coming from me but that does not guarantee that it really does. Lastly I will NEVER send an attachment to you unless you have asked for it.

2.    Subject line Ė always include a meaningful subject line to help people who get tons of email like me. Do not reply to a message I sent you when your message has nothing to do with the subject. Stop being lazy and type in a new subject. Otherwise the message comes back to me as RE: my subject so I think you are replying to my email to you. A good format to follow in school would be:

Subject: class number: topic

Ex: Subject: CS 002 April 20th

3.    Why is Subject: class tomorrow not a good subject? Chances are you sent the message on Tuesday night after midnight so the message is dated for Wednesday. My first thought is we donít have class on Thursday, did they mean the lab? Why put the class number in the subject line? Well if you donít let me know what class you are in then you could be one of any 200 or so people in any one of four classes that I am teaching. A little courtesy on your part saves me time trying to look your name up to find out just what you are talking about.

4.    To Line Ė You send the message to people you expect a reply. Replies should come fairly quickly the same day or the next. With spam filters today you are never sure if your message went through so try to reply ASAP. If you canít answer the message, send a reply that you are still thinking and will get back to you soon.

5.    CC Line Ė the cc (Carbon Copy) line is for people whom are informing about this correspondence so that they are aware of it. You should not expect a reply from someone you have cc a message to.

6.    BCC Line Ė is what is called a blind carbon copy and is not really meant so that you can use it to inform people of the correspondence without the to person knowing it but instead it should be used so everyoneís email address is not exposed in a long CC or TO list. The best advice actually is to send a message to yourself and BCC everyone else. This way the receivers all know the message was sent to a group and their email was kept private.

7.    The message itself Ė should be short and to the point. Email is not private, this doesnít mean that anyone can read email messages but it does mean that email messages can be company or public property! Instead of me repeating what is most likely online anyway let me do a quick Google search Ö Ok here are 32 tips: for using email.

8.    Replying to a message Ė do not reply to all receivers and do not reply to a list with your personal comments meant only for the sender. The excuse is always an email snafu or I mixed them. Ok its time to get with the program itís your fault for not paying attention to who the message is being sent to. Pay attention.

Email is good tool for communicating and keeping track of that communication. To see a video (and read more detailed information of how email works check out:


Computer Viruses

I am not going to spend a lot of time writing about computer virus when you can go to and watch the video or read till your heart is content about them. Of course part of your assignment is to click the link and read the information. What I can say is that you should have an antivirus program with automatic updates installed on your computer. UVM gives you one for free from the software webpage (se the syllabus). What I can say about viruses is that you should always keep a backup copy of all your work in case your computers gets a virus or gets destroyed for whatever reason.

Backing up your files

So part of protecting yourself against viruses is to keep backup copies of all your work as well as the original CDís (plus keys) or install files for the software you have on your computer. If you have downloaded the software online save the file on a cd. If you keep all the software CDís then if you need to get a new computer or a new hard drive you will have all the software to reload it.

Now one of the easiest ways to backup your document files is to ftp (file transfer protocol, or you can say copy files to a networked computer) your files to the UVM server. FTP is simply sending a file up (uploading) to a server (UVM) or downloading to your PC. You must be connected to the internet in order to do this. Why is this handy? For one if you always save a copy in your account (on the UVM server) you can access that file anyplace on campus or anyplace in the entire world!

You must use a file transfer program like SSH or Fugu etc. and they all work basically the same. The idea is that you need to connect to a server generally called a host. The host name for UVM is You will also need your account username and password. There are lots of other items that could be filled in but by and large you donít need to change the other settings (I never have), just host name and username. When you connect you will be asked for your password.


After connect your window may have two sides, in my case the left side is my computer (client) and the right side is UVMís server (host). To copy files you just click and drag them

1.    Upload Ė you click and drag a file from the client side and drag to the host side.

2.    Download Ė you click and drag a file from the host side to the client side.


folder.bmpYou will notice I have 4 folders (or directories), Mail, public_html, UVM, and zBackup2_18_04.

1.    Mail Ė folder is automatically there and this is where my e-mail is automatically placed. You should just leave this folder alone.

2.    public_html Ė folder is also created for you and this is the folder where you would place items that you want to display on the World Wide Web.

3.    UVM Ė folder is one that I created using the create new folder iconnew.bmp, if I double click the UVM folder I will be in that folder. I recommend that you create a UVM folder with sub folders for each year, then in each year I would create a semester folder and in each semester I would create a class folder for each class I am taking. Then put your document files in each folder where it belongs and keep these till you graduate with diploma in your hand. Of course some work you may want to keep forever (I sadly still have some work that I did in college, yet I never look it anymore:).

4.    The backup folder starts my long list of backups for each year. Generally files like the one you are reading along with all the web pages that go with the classes I have taught. I label them with the year just so I know when that was made. I may delete this 04 back up soon :).

So it takes more time for me to tell you about what folders to create then it takes for you to just do it and start backing up your files now. Other reasons to back up, someone spills water on your computer and you now no longer have that term paper due today. However if you had wisely made a copy of it then you are good to go since you just need to go to a campus computer and print it out from your network drive.

Dialog Box Terminology

terminology1.bmpWhen you drive a car you put the key in the ignition, put the car into drive, step on the gas pedal to go and press the brake pedal to stop. Try telling someone how to do that when they do not know the terminology. The same holds true for the computer. Now chances are you know all this terminology below but just in case you do not lets go over them.

Title Bar just tells us the name of the application and the file name of the file we are looking at.

Menu bar shows you all the menu options that this program has available to it. Office has a menu bar made up of nothing but icons (more like a toolbar)

Toolbar shows you the more common options that you may use for this application.

The Status Bar shows you information usually about the file you are looking at. In this case it is letting you know that this web page is done loading.

The Task bar shows you the OPEN applications that you have running on your computer at the moment.


††††††††††† Choosing a menu option or some toolbar buttons you would get a popup dialog box. In a dialog box you have several different types of controls. For example letís look at the above dialog box that contains list boxes, text boxes, radio (option) buttons, check boxes and command buttons.

List Boxes are used to present you with a list of choices to choose from. Most of the time you can pick only one item from the list. Sometimes you are allowed to choice more than one (hold the ctrl key down when you click on the options).

Text Boxes are simply places that you type in the text that is needed. When the text is highlighted you can just type and it will delete the current context.

Radio (Option) Buttons are used to choose ONE in a group. In this case we have two groups, one for Orientation and one for Scaling. Choosing one option, will automatically un-choose the option chosen.

Check Boxes are like toggles you choose them or not and you can choose as many or as little as you want.

Command Buttons perform some type of action. OK accepts the changes that you have made where Cancel does not. You can also hit the ESC key to cancel out of a dialog box. Notice the Printer has an ellipses after it, which when you click on this button another dialog box will open.

Tabs are not shown in this dialog box but it is not uncommon to see them.

Spinner boxes terminology3.bmpallow you to spin or scroll through a choice of values, usually numeric.