Unexplained sign-ons to the internet

Question: I downloaded and installed the entire package of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, and installed it over an existing copy of IE 3.0. Now sometimes, while reading my e-mail in Outlook Express, my computer locks up. Also, this has happened when I’m online. It seems to do it when I am scrolling down the page.

Another thing happened that I found extremely strange. I disconnected from the internet, left the room, came back, and found that the computer was reconnected to the internet. Thinking that maybe I had forgotten, I disconnected again and left the room. My wife called me back in a while later, and I saw that I was connected again, and the box on the screen was telling me that the connection had been idle for 20 minutes.

If you have any idea what’s causing this and how I can rectify it, I would appreciate hearing from you. –T.M.

Answer: I got T.M.’s e-mail just before Halloween and naturally thought of things supernatural. Either that or he had my mom over for dinner, because she once claimed that, when she goes near electronic equipment, weird things happen. Mom confirmed that she’d been in Winnipeg during the trouble, but that wasn’t close enough for her wacky bio-chemistry to kick in.

Just before I called on an old ghostbuster who used to practice his trade in Toronto, I got an e-mail back from Dave Carter, Internet Explorer marketing manager at Microsoft Canada.

If you subscribe to a website, there is an option you can check called ‘Dial as needed’,” Carter explained. “Your reader probably checked it by accident.”

IE 4.0, it turns out, has the capability of dialing into the Internet all on its own, when this setting is enabled. At intervals, the browser determines whether a subscribed web page has been updated and alerts you if it has. In some cases, it can be set to download up to three levels of a web page’s content for off-line viewing.

Subscribing to a site is easy to do. Under the Favorites menu, there’s an Add to Favorites option. This is IE 4.0’s equivalent of Netscape’s bookmarks. When you find a website you want to bookmark and you click Add to Favorites, you’re presented with the question, “Do you want to subscribe to this site?”

The default option is “No, just add it to my Favorites”. If you pick option #2 or #3, the browser will mark the website to be updated.

To check which sites you’ve subscribed to, intentionally or unintentionallly, click Manage Subscriptions on the Favorites menu. A new window will appear with a list of your subscriptions. Select one, then click Properties, then the Schedule tab. Uncheck the Dial as needed box, and your internet ghost should go away.

As for the scroll problem under Outlook Express, Jeremy Schmuland, help-desk technican at GE Capital’s Edmonton office, suggested it has something to do with IE 4.0’s Active Desktop.

One solution is to disable that feature by right-clicking on an empty part of your desktop, and then unchecking View as a web page under the Active Desktop menu item.

Another way to solve that problem is to be sure the latest video-card drivers are installed on your machine.