Sky Digibox


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Here are some notes to help you use e-mail. If you've never read anything like this, then you are probably still in the "beginners" class. Please read it all. It will be to your advantage.


About two percent of the messages I receive are from "newbies" or beginners. Hey, that's OK. I was a "newbie" myself, back in 1994, so I've had enough practice to help you. Read these notes, when you get time, because typing messages the right way (and the polite way) is more likely to get you a useful answer than if you type a message which makes no sense or is apparently RUDE BECAUSE IT'S TYPED IN CAPITALS. Words are typed all in capitals like this only to indicate shouting. Don't do it!

Typing messages

Firstly, you should *always* type a relevant subject title. Some e-mail programs won't let you send a message without one. The subject should be as unique and descriptive as possible. For example: "From Joe Bloggs re my order 105463 dated 6/9/01" or "DB3 4YB Grundig GDS200 Sky Digibox fault". The title serves two purposes.

  • Allows the reader to see at a glance the relevance
  • Allows the message to be located weeks later if you refer to it again

You'll appreciate that, if every message that I receive has the title "help me", or "I have a problem", or "question" or (my favourite) "help!" then it doesn't make me want to read it and I won't be able to locate that message again once it is filed away with the previous 10,000 that have the same subject. Use a unique message title which is relevant to what you want to ask. Remember that I'm handling some 60 enquiries a day.

Do not type your entire message in the subject line and leave the actual message body blank!


Standard procedure is to return the relevant parts of any previous "discussions" as "quoted text".

>Normally the text that you return will look like this
>and it is helpful to set the line length to 70 characters
>which is the standard used by the majority of email

You then add your reply BELOW each paragraph or BELOW the entire "quoted" message - never above it!

Your e-mail software can be set to do this automatically. You don't know how? Nowadays, most software has a "help" file instead of a User Instruction booklet. Read the help file.

If you follow this standard protocol, it is a great help to someone like me who answers 50-60 messages each day and has a memory like a goldfish - because I seldom remember what I wrote yesterday and I certainly can't recall what you wrote last week..

When you reply you can choose to send additional copies to other people.

Cc: is "Carbon Copy". Both recipients can see each other's addresses in the message header.

Bcc: is Blind carbon copy where the addresses are hidden so the recipients cannot see who else may have been sent a particular email. It's bad practice to send out circulars, jokes etc. to multiple recipients using the To: field, because this gives out private addresses to all of them. So good practice means putting your own address (or invent a user called 'Multiple Recipients' with your address) in the To: field and the intended recipients in Bcc:

Capital Letters - use of

It is normally considered very rude.

Capital letters are used to indicate SHOUTING or to EMPHASISE a specific word.

However, a nicer way to emphasise a word or phrase is to *begin and end it with an asterisk*. Type normally, with capital letters where they belong - at the beginning of a sentence - and a full stop at the end.


you probably learned at school that a sentence should begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop but a lot of people seem to forget this makes it very difficult to understand their messages so if you want to receive a prompt and courteous reply this is not the way to type your email message it's not helpful either if you put all the full stops at the end of a bunch of sentences and let me figure out where to put them myself........ Yes I'm taking the p*ss but look again. Do *you* write like this?

Of course, I appreciate that some people suffer from dyslexia and that a very small number of people simply had a poor education through no fault of their own. I also appreciate that English may not be your first language. I can be tolerant to some degree but the bottom line is this:-

If you want me to understand what you are writing, you should make every effort to do it as accurately as possible. If I can't understand - then I won't be able to give a sensible reply! If you can't be bothered to type carefully then I can't be bothered to reply. Use a spell checker and a grammar checker if necessary. Most computers have these. Microsoft Word certainly has them. If you really struggle with your own English language then why not visit your local library and sign up for an adult learning course? If you thought that your ability to communicate in writing was unimportant - think again.

Some people have pointed out that they weren't "lucky enough to have a university education". They missed the point: I was taught English at junior school. I was proficient by the time I was fifteen. If I hadn't been, I wouldn't have got to university. So, if you haven't mastered English by age fifteen, you have a problem - why haven't you caught up? My university education has nothing to do with it and nor does luck. I make my own luck. So should you.

Here's a typical example, in red. Yes, it's real. Somebody actually thought that I would reply to this garbage. I'm not surprised that he gave no name!

"hi tuned in foriegn channel stuff but all sky progs came out mutv sport films etc if i dont subscribe 2 these will i stlll get them thru other channels c ive already got them so i dont wanna pay pls clarify his jace!!!!!!"


It's *really* difficult to understand at a glance, isn't it? Where's the punctuation? How many seconds did you waste trying to understand it? Can you spot the actual question? Do you enjoy receiving anonymous messages? Guess the age of the writer (six, seven? - obviously too young to understand a technical answer, yes?)

Note: many people are genuinely dyslexic. These people have my sympathy but, unfortunately, that doesn't help me to understand what they are trying to communicate. I have friends who have really bad dyslexia but they can type almost perfect English - because they took the trouble to get help.

Another thing which is very annoying is to receive unsolicited attachments. Send your pictures to your friends if you want to but don't send them to me unless I request them. Amazingly, many people don't even know they are sending attachments! Well, if there's a picture in your e-mail or any form of colour or special text styles (bold, italic etc.) then you are sending an attachment. Stick to plain text, please.


Most modern browsers allow you to send and to receive messages which have an encoded file attached. A file which is HTML encoded uses HyperText Mark up Language to tell your email reader or "web browser" exactly where to position text, what colour to make it and how big.

However, older email software can not recognise the codes, so it is useless to send an HTML "attachment" unless you are sure that the other person can read it. Check your "preferences" settings to make sure that "plain text" is ON and "HTML" (or "rich text") is OFF.

HTML "garbage" can be avoided by altering your menu setting which is telling your program to "send an HTML attachment".

For example, in Microsoft Outlook Express, the setting is in Tools/Options, which has a tabbed layout with a 'Send' tab. Under the 'Send' tab is a heading 'Mail Send Format' which is defaulted to HTML on a radio button. Below it is a 'Text' radio button which is what you want. Netscape setting is similar: Preferences: Mail & Groups: Messages: Message Properties: By Default, Send HTML Messages. Most users will thank you for turning off the HTML garbage because a) their program doesn't support it and b) it quadruples the size of the message (and the download time and the file size on their hard drive!) It also quadruples your upload time and probably increases your telephone bill if you are in the UK.

Hotmail has a particular problem. It defaults to "Rich Text Format" (which is their way of describing HTML).


To turn off RTF in an e-mail message

1. Click the "Compose" tab. The "Compose" page appears.

2. Click the "Tools" drop-down list on the left above the message text box and select "Rich-Text Editor OFF".

Other Attachments

It is also possible to send other files as attachments. For example, you might want to send me a picture or a Microsoft WORD document. Well please DON'T. I've been in business since 1994 and I rely on my computers to work 24/7. The only way I can guarantee this is to refuse all unsolicited attachments. I don't want the risk of a virus and I don't want to waste time on-line while a large picture file downloads. This time can be better spent in helping my customers.

So, if you desperately need me to look at a picture, upload it to your own web site and tell me the URL. If you need to send me a WORD document, think again and send a plain text e-mail instead!


Finally, you'll find some older people use amateur radio abbreviations (I don't know them - I'm not an amateur) and youngsters use mobile phone "text" abbreviated scribings such as "C U L8TR M8" (see you later, mate). I find the latter rather annoying. It might be quick to type but it wastes *my* time because they are often hard to interpret and there's no real need to abbreviate to this extent.


If you are new to e-mail, use your web browser with a search engine such as <--- click on this link to "go" to the search engine.

... to search for the word "netiquette".

(Or, if you are using AOL, you'll probably find a "search" facility in your AOL browser).

That should provide a list of sites which discuss Internet Etiquette and protocol in more detail. It's important to be aware of these "rules" because it's difficult to judge the mood of someone from his/her written text. Ambiguities arise and can result in time wasted or even serious misunderstandings. These can largely be avoided by keeping to the standard methods and also by indicating mood, deliberately, by using either "quoted moods" or expressions - for example <grin> - or by using smiley faces (called "emoticons") which you can make from punctuation characters (look at the following with your head tilted left).

Emoticons or "smilies"

:-) = happy or simply a friendly grin

;-) = winking - indicating a joke or sarcasm

:-( = sad or unhappy

:-0 = surprised = gosh!

:-p = sticking out tongue - politely rude!

Although some people feel that it's rather childish to intersperse these "emoticons" in a message, it really does help in gauging the mood of the writer. If you don't like them, you can clarify your mood like this: <grin>.

Of course, you can make up your own "emoticons".

80) = happy, drunk with a red nose and glassy eyes.

There are also abbreviations such as:-

  • AFAIK - as far as I know
  • ROFLOL - rolling on the floor laughing out loud
  • IMHO - in my humble/honest opinion
  • ASAP - as soon as possible
  • BTW - by the way
  • ISTR - I seem to recall
  • IIRC - if I recall correctly
I hope you find these notes useful.


A "cookie" in computer terms is simply a note which is stored on your computer. Your Internet browser (eg. Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, iCab, Safari, Opera) has a file where it stores these notes. Cookies are normally very useful because they make it appear as if a web site "remembers" you or something that you did. For example, if you are a member of a discussion forum, an information "cookie" can be kept in the cookie file on your computer so that you don't have to type in your username and password each time you visit the forum. Similarly, it is used by "shopping cart" systems. A unique code is stored in your cookie file so that the list of what you want to buy is associated with your computer when you reach the "checkout". Cookies can also be used to track your progress through a web site for other purposes; this may be so that you see a pop-up message only once on a particular page. In general, cookies are useful. There is no way that a cookie can be stored on your computer anywhere except in the dedicated cookie file. Also, it's not possible for the cookie reader software on the web site to read any files on your computer except the cookie file.

You can see the cookies in your browser - usually under "Preferences". Here is a typical list:









You can delete one or more cookies if you don't want the web site to recognise your computer on your return to that site. Or you can delete all of them. But be careful in what you delete, otherwise you may find that you are asked for a password that you didn't even know you needed!

At the time of writing, there are useful and interesting notes on the following web pages. If a link no longer works, please tell me:


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Copyright ©2004 SatCure
Updated October 23, 2004
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