Mr. Modem: Clear up capitalization confusion on tech terms

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 02, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem’s sites of the week

JetStream — Online School for Weather

The National Weather Service created this online weather school to help educators, emergency managers or anyone interested in learning about weather and weather safety. Information is arranged by subject, beginning with global and large-scale weather patterns. Interspersed within JetStream are Learning Lessons, which can be used to enhance one’s individual knowledge.


Touch typing test

When you arrive on the site, the test will be paused, so click the keyboard and start typing to begin. The objective is to type as quickly as you can without making errors. (Duh!) Click the tabs in the upper left-hand corner for additional information and instructions. Have fn! Oops.

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Is it correct to capitalize the word “Internet”? What about “email”? Should I use a hyphen and write “e-mail”? I figure if anybody would know, you would, Mr. M.

The Internet (with a capital “I”) refers to the vast collection of connected computer networks that use the same data-transmission protocols. These networks evolved from a government-sponsored program (ARPANet) in the late 1960s. It is considered a proper noun, so when used within this context, “Internet” should properly be capitalized.

To make it a bit more confusing, there is also a lower-case “i” internet that refers to two or more connected networks. This internet doesn't necessarily have any connection with the other Internet. There is also an “intranet,” but I’m sensing a massive loss of interest at this point, so let’s move on.

As far as email, as the term has evolved, either “email” or “e-mail” is acceptable today. I prefer the hyphenless “email,” but that’s due to an unfortunate incident I had with a hyphen as a child. To this day I have nightmares about punctuation. In my worst moments, I’m almost commatose.

Someone is using my email address to sign up for various mailing lists, seminars, meetings and other things. Aren’t there laws against this?

While there are federal and state laws against email “spoofing” and other forms of misleading or deceptive online practices, the problem is tracking down and prosecuting the perpetrators.

In most cases of this type, automated scripts harvest email addresses from legitimate sources such as websites, message boards, blogs, social media and those dreadful “chain” emails people delight in forwarding to others.

If you are receiving mail from sources you believe to be legitimate, chances are it’s the result of an automated process or it’s from something that you agreed to — no doubt buried deep within the fine print of a User Agreement — when you subscribed or registered for something else.

Because junk mail is such a problem today, I recommend having a minimum of two email addresses, one being your primary email address that you use to communicate with friends, family and other trusted individuals, and another “disposable” address that you use for all other purposes, including making online purchases and for website registrations. I prefer Gmail, which is free, for this purpose, but Yahoo! Mail is also good and also free.

If you are receiving email from legitimate companies or websites that you recognize, it is usually safe to click an “Unsubscribe” link located at the bottom of those messages. Do not click an Unsubscribe link in messages not from legitimate senders. Those links are a tactic used by spammers to get you to verify your address as a functional address so it can then be sold to other spammers. Of all the nerve!

Is there a way to set a default font style and size in Gmail?

Log into Gmail, then go to Settings using the little gear icon to the far right. Locate the Default Text Style section on the General tab. Choose your text style using the icons above, “This is what your body text will look like.” Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

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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