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Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

~ January-February 2008 ~


Safety on the Internet

The scams on the Internet seems never ending.  Hackers, phish, and more.  Here are some suggestions for the PC users among Volunteer Today readers to help you and your program stay safe.

1. Update Windows

Microsoft regularly releases free downloads to fix security problems with Windows, Internet Explorer and other Microsoft software such as Office. Visit the Microsoft Office Web site for the latest up-dates. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx

2. Install A Firewall

A good firewall such as ZoneAlarm will prevent programs from accessing the Internet without your permission, and block access to your PC from intruders. http://www.zonealarm.com/store/content/home.jsp

3. Check For Viruses

Malicious virus code can infect your PC's system files and damage your important data. Pay attention to any alerts on virus proliferation and never open an attachment, unless you are absolutely sure of the source.

4. Browse More Safely

The latest web browsers such as Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 offer security features like pop-up blockers and phishing filters to keep you safe when visiting web sites.

Getting the Email Message Through

Simple things can insure that your email newsletter or message is read and absorbed by the reader.  Here are some tips.

  • Before sending e-mail always reread what you have written before sending it on. Read it three times (at least) -- once for content (does it say what it should) and once for tone (does it accurately reflect your emotional state). And never forget grammar and spelling check.  Do not trust the computer corrections. 
  • Keep in mind that people will read it like a letter, so being exceptionally terse, short-winded, using too much slang, etc., creates problems with respect to the information and tone you are trying to convey.
  •  Face-to-face communication requires the use of cooperative communication techniques, e-mail needs it even more. It lacks the ability for correction if something you write sounds harsh, arrogant, authoritarian, absolute or uses hot words, as perceived by the reader. Once you send e-mail you can't erase it or correct it.
  • Emoticons are those symbols designed to convey emotional state. Some programs have them automatically.   (Think smiley face) These are used to convey that an email poster is joking or angry, or sad. Problems occur if someone does not understand their meaning, or who reads e-mail quickly (a very common occurrence). A sparing use of these little graphics is all right.  Best be clear about your emotional state in the body of the email.
  • E-mail is a poor medium for conflict resolution or constructive problem solving. Consider using e-mail as an aid to organize and plan a face-to-face or telephone problem-solving situation.
  • E-mail is best used to move information and facts around, but is limited in situations that require dynamic, direct, or simultaneous interaction. When you sense that an e-mail exchange with a colleague is getting emotionally charged or is too complicated, it's time to take it to face-to-face or telephone communication.

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