This e-mail has potential for problems
January 12, 2002 Some Internet hoaxes spring from malicious pranksters who revel in the confusion and panic they create. Others originate with well-meaning but misinformed people who are just trying to help.
This one fits into the latter category.
Many readers and a handful of co-workers have asked me about an e-mail warning of an infected file called sulfnbk.exe, which supposedly contains a virus that, in some versions of the warning, is triggered June 1.
The chain letter includes instructions for deleting the file.
Don't do it.
Sulfnbk.exe is a standard Windows file. You shouldn't fiddle with it.
This particular warning first popped up last spring, but recently has made a comeback. Experts theorize that someone, somewhere along the way, got a computer virus that was sent with an attachment called "sulfnbk.exe." That person passed along the warning to others, who checked their PCs and, lo and behold, found the very same file on their computers.
To complicate matters, antivirus experts now report that some copies of the sulfnbk.exe warning actually have real viruses attached.
For more information on this chain letter, see www.vymths.com or urbanlegends.about.com/library/blsulfnbk.htm.
And if you've already deleted the file, go to Microsoft's product support site -- support.microsoft.com -- and type "sulfnbk.exe" into the search field to call up instructions for restoring it.
While we're on the subject of e-mail, here are some other reader questions I've fielded recently.
Q: I got a new computer for Christmas and was wondering if, given all its budgetary problems, the Jacksonville school system could use my old machine.
A: Assuming your old PC clunker isn't too old or too clunky, the Teacher Supply Depot would be happy to take it off your hands.
The depot, housed in the former John Gorrie Middle School in Riverside, provides Duval County public school teachers with free classroom supplies and equipment donated by businesses and individuals.
In addition, the depot is fixing up donated computers and giving them to students who don't have PCs in their homes, said Chris Buckley, who runs the facility.
The depot can't accept pre-Pentium machines, but "If it's a Pentium level, we're taking it," Buckley said. Donations of computer peripherals and software also are welcomed.
Call the school system's Community Involvement Office at 390-2960 or the Teacher Supply Depot at 381-7480 to arrange a pick-up or drop-off. Donations are tax-deductible.
Q: I just got back from visiting my son and his family for the holidays. He gave me the new Windows XP Home Edition, and since I now have Windows 98, I am wondering if it is worthwhile to install the new program. Have you had any experience with it? I have heard conflicting reports.
A: I do have some experience with Microsoft's newest operating system, having recently upgraded my 2-year-old PC to Windows XP.
In short, I like it a lot. I can't say the computer starts up much faster than before, but it does seem to crash much less frequently. It interfaces nicely with my digital camera, and the individual log-ins means my kids can pollute their desktops with custom icons, sounds and screen savers, all without affecting my personalized settings.
But don't tear the shrinkwrap off that CD yet. First, make sure your computer will run XP. Go to www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/home, click on the "upgrading" link and download the "Upgrade Advisor," which will scan your computer and identify potential problems with hardware or software. The Upgrade Advisor also comes on the installation CD, but if you decide XP isn't for you, it's a lot easier to return unopened software.
Print out the results of your system scan and pay close attention. You may have to download a few new drivers to make things such as your printer or scanner get along with XP. It's best to do this in advance. If you have an anti-virus program (and you should), you'll probably have to uninstall it before upgrading.
After upgrading, you should immediately go to Microsoft's Windows XP site (listed above) and download a "patch" that fixes a recently discovered security hole that could allow intruders to take control of your PC.
If all this is too intimidating, don't feel obligated to upgrade at all. Just send the XP disc back to your son. Or better yet, tell him a good son would come down and install it himself. That guilt thing always gets 'em.
Times-Union system editor Ed Stansel can be reached at (904) 359-4473. His Net Gain column appears Sunday.
<[ align=right>By Ed Stansel. Times-Union system editor. Copyiright © The Florida Times-Union