Ask Mr. Modem: Upgrade makes a mess of old e-mails

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem's sites of the week

Batmobile History

If you were watching television in the 1960s, you probably watched the original Batman television series. KAPOW! Sure, Batman was a hero, but the real star of the show was the Batmobile. THWACK! This site takes a look at the history of this famous vehicle. Each entry includes photos and a blurb about the car, including in which episode it appeared -- in the unlikely event you do not have each episode committed to memory. SWOOSH!

Encyclopedia of Life

The EOL's mission is to be an online reference and database of all 1.9 million animal species currently known to science. The site's objective is to help us better understand life on this little pellet called Earth. Very admirable, indeed.

Unclaimed property

This is a free search site that reunites visitors with their unclaimed property. "Unclaimed property" is rather broadly defined and includes accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity, or contact with the account owner, for one year or longer. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings and checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends and payroll checks, refunds, traveler's checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders and gift certificates, insurance payments, certificates of deposit, utility security deposits, and contents of safe-deposit boxes. Good luck!

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I upgraded to IE 9, but now some of my Gmail messages appear as a garbled mess. What can I do to correct this, if anything?

The problem you describe is caused by Internet Explorer 9 automatically displaying Google sites in Compatibility View. (In fairness to IE, Compatibility View can be a helpful feature that lets sites designed for older versions of IE appear correctly in IE 9.)

The fix for this is an easy one: Right-click the little gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of IE 9, then select Command Bar. From the Tools menu that appears, click Compatibility View Settings.

Highlight in the "Websites You've Added to Compatibility View" list and click Remove. (Hint: You can also display the Tools menu to make this change by pressing the ALT key from within IE 9 to display the old-style menus such as File, Edit, Tools, etc.)

I use something called Personal Software Inspector to scan my programs to see if any updates are needed. It shows that a program that I am not familiar with called Imadmin (72MB) should be updated. When I Googled it, I learned that it has something to do with instant messaging, which I never use. Should I just delete it?

A legitimate program that's simply residing on your computer isn't causing any harm. And since you didn't know it was there to begin with, unless you're running out of hard-drive space and in desperate need of an additional 72MB, I wouldn't do anything.

For purposes of full disclosure, I am not an enthusiast of programs that attempt to determine if any updates are needed, such as the Personal Software Inspector that you referenced. There is nothing inherently wrong with that type of program, but just because updates are available doesn't mean they should be installed. It's like going to a buffet and thinking you have to eat everything that's on the table, simply because it's there. Not so.

I rarely install updates, and the only updates I install are ones for which I know EXACTLY what the update will do.

My often-stated philosophy when it comes to computing is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." You may feel differently, of course, and when all is said and done, you're the boss when it comes to your computer, but as I said at the outset, I wouldn't do a thing.

Mr. Modem publishes "Ask Mr. Modem!" each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by e-mail. For more information, visit

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