Ask Mr. Modem: Computer user desires the paper plate of email options

Posted Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem’s sites of the week

Online Schools

The motto here is: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.” (Darn it! I had that backward all these years.) This site is a treasure trove of online educational information covering all areas of interest, all levels of degree programs and free online schools.

Whatever Happened to Polio?

Until Jonas Salk created a vaccine in 1955, polio was a world scourge, afflicting millions of individuals. This site, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of this deadly virus and its impact on society and culture.


Nothing gives that warm and fuzzy feeling like pictures of baby animals. This site presents an ever-changing collection of animal births at zoos and aquariums around the world. Get ready to say “Awwwww …”

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Can you recommend any site or service that provides short-term email addresses? Sometimes I just need an address for a single use. I know I won’t use it again, but I don’t want to use my primary email address. Does this make any sense at all?

Yes, it sure does. Disposable email addresses are useful when signing up for anything online or to use when you must provide an email address but you don’t want to receive any of the inevitable spam that tends to arrive thereafter. Some disposable address services will forward messages to your “real” address; others utilize Web-based mail. I have one Gmail address, for example, that I use for signing up for anything online or making online purchases. That way all receipts, confirmations and follow-up junk mail goes to that one designated account and doesn’t pollute any of my other email accounts.

Jetable ( is a message-forwarding service, but the unique wrinkle here is that you can designate the lifespan of your disposable address, from one hour to one month. When the designated time is up, the email address ceases to function.

I know this is a weird question, but what is the proper name for the little mouse pointer?

Weird questions are always welcome here in Mr. Modemville! The object that moves on screen when you move the mouse is often called a cursor, although some annoying purists might argue that technically only the blinking line that comprises a DOS prompt can be properly called a cursor. For the average person, the terms “pointer” and “cursor” are used interchangeably.

What we know as a cursor may take several forms. For example, it may change into what’s called an I-beam when the INSert key is pressed in a word-processing program, or it may appear as a small hand when it encounters a link, or it may become an animated cursor, such as a rotating hourglass, when Windows is in the process of loading something.

Would it be beneficial to purchase a copy of Windows 7 and set it aside for installation in the future? There seems to be a move by Microsoft to eliminate all older versions now that Windows 8 is out. I am very happy with my XP system, but if and when the time comes to move forward, I thought this might be a good idea. Thanks, Mr. M.

Historically, older versions of Windows tend to be available for years after they are no longer the current operating system. For example, Windows Vista replaced Windows XP in January 2007, seven years ago, yet if you search, you will find a number of retailers still selling XP. If history does indeed repeat itself, Windows 7 is going to be available for many years to come.

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

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