September 2000 

How
To Do It

.                             Q & A

Q: An annoying problem in our household is that whenever I get on the computer to do something, my kids are always bugging me because they want to check their e-mail. Half of the time they don't have anything. Sometimes my husband even gets in on the act. What can I do?

A: There are a number of downloads that will check multiple e-mil accounts and show what's going on from your desktop. Here's one we like, and it's free. But beware: it's so new it's still in its beta (test) stage. It's called eprompter, and you can get it at ePrompter.com. The program is interesting because, among other things, it claims to be the first to check all three major forms of e-mail - Web mail such as Hotmail, Pop3 mail from such places as Earthlink and even your AOL account. (Unfortunately, as nondenominational as it as with respect to e-mail service, ePrompter is currently available only to Windows users.) The program can check as many as eight accounts at once while you're doing something else; it places an icon in the system tray in the lower right hand corner of your desktop that shows how many messages are waiting to be read. Our favorite part: system-tray icon rotates through all accounts, showing the number of messages waiting (in different color for each account). Of course, in your case it could be a double-edged sword. Your husband and kids won't be breaking up your work sessions anymore to peer into an empty mailbox, but if they can see over your shoulder that they do have messages waiting, you may never get anything done.