Q. Can you shed any light on the subject of sending large video files by email, Mr. M? Every time I try, I get a message from my mail service that the file is too large. Help!
A. The best thing to do with large files is not email them, but instead upload them. I would suggest using a Web-based service such as YouSendIt.com or TransferBigFiles.com. Your recipient will then receive an email with a link he or she can click to download your large file without clogging up the pipes. In this way any recipient can retrieve your super-sized file at his or her convenience. (And no, there aren't really any pipes involved.)
Q. Have you heard anything about an emergency broadcast system for cell phones? I don't know if it's just a rumor or if there is any truth to it. Thanks, Mr. M.
A. Communications company Alcatel-Lucent announced the creation of the Broadcast Message Center (BMC) which will allow government agencies to send immediate alerts to mobile phones in the event of a state, local or national emergency.
The messages, similar to the warnings and tests that periodically preempt television broadcasts -- usually in the last few minutes of a play-off game -- will be sent via text message, and will be geographically targeted. For example, an alert pertaining to a road closure in a particular city will only be distributed to cell phones in that area, while a significantly larger group of users will receive alerts in the event of a city-specific or major nationwide event such as a terrorist attack, natural disaster, extreme weather or the debut of my latest eBook.
The Broadcast Message Center has been tested in San Diego and Tampa, and is currently in field trials with all major cell phone carriers. It is scheduled to be in operation by mid 2012. (Anybody care to guess how long it will be before these alerts are accompanied by advertising?)
Q. Until recently, I have been advised to avoid Windows 7. I am happy with Vista, but assuming that most of the Windows 7 bugs have been removed by now, do you feel that the features it offers justify upgrading? I would appreciate your advice, Mr. M.
A. I have never recommended staying away from Windows 7 because of problems with the operating system itself, so I would take any such advice with a grain of salt -- not that I recommend the consumption of sodium, either.
Overall, Windows 7 is a more stable operating system than Vista, but I would not advocate changing to Windows 7 for the sake of changing. I'm a big believer in the philosophy, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," so if you're happy with Vista, stick with it.
If problems arise at some point in the future, or if you purchase a new computer, it will have Windows 7 so that would be an appropriate time to make the transition.
Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week
More than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from stories of the Vikings in Canada, circa 1000 A.D., to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies in the 1800s.
National Geographic DNA Project
The objective of this project is to collect and analyze more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous people worldwide. The good-yet-creepy news is that for $99.95, you can purchase a Public Participation Kit and submit a sample of your DNA using a cheek swab (which is generously included). By participating, you will not only contribute to the Project, but you may discover something fascinating and/or horrific about your own genetic past. For example, I learned that I am genetically related to a Malaysian banana plant. Bummer.
Mr. Modem publishes the weekly "Ask Mr. Modem!” technology-help newsletter and a plethora of helpful eBooks at www.MrModem.com.