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May 2005 Reader Challenge

April 2005 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our April Reader Challenge. First prize, a copy of "Learning Windows Server 2003," goes to Mike Piontkowski of California. Second prize, a copy of "Windows Server 2003 in a Nutshell," goes to Shawn P. Lemay of New York. Both books are from O’Reilly Associates Publishing. Visit to read the answer to the April Reader Challenge.

May 2005 Reader Challenge

May 2005 Reader Challenge Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by May 25, 2005. You must include your full name and street mailing address (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win; your answer is eliminated, even if it’s correct). I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I’m a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem here on May 26, 2005.

The Challenge

As a computer professional, you’ve probably learned that friends and relatives use you as their personal Help desk. You get questions at social events, and when your home telephone rings, there’s an excellent chance that someone's calling with a computer question.

I’ve decided that from now on, when I’m at a party, I’m going to tell people that I work in a bread factory, tying twist ties at the end of the plastic bag. (By the way, the color of a twist tie on a commercial bakery product tells you which day of the week the product was baked. Do you know the color-to-day code? I’ll include it with the answer to this month’s challenge so you can tell whether the product you want to buy is fresh.)

Sigh! Even after I establish a new fictional professional identity, the people who already know I’m an IT pro will continue to ply me with questions. Here are a few recent queries I received. Your challenge is to come up with the correct answers for the hapless callers.

Question 1:

I just selected some text from a Web page and pressed Ctrl-C to copy it to my word processor. I pressed Ctrl-V in a blank document window, and now my firewall software has displayed a popup message telling me that my word processor is trying to access the Internet at IP address Should I click Yes or No?

Question 2:

My computer has a wireless adapter, which is on the floor below my desk. The wireless router is on the desk and connects the other computer on the network (two rooms away) as well as the DSL modem. When I connect to the other computer, the connection is extremely slow. Sometimes the adapter icon on my taskbar displays an error message for minutes at a time, saying there is no connection. The problem is intermittent, so I don’t think the problem is bad hardware. It certainly can’t be that I’m too far away from the router, so what's going on?

The Answers

Question 1:

Click Yes. The IP address is an IP address for the local computer, and it’s called a loopback address. Software engineers can use the loopback address to test IP software, without worrying about the physical condition or configuration settings of the network hardware. The loopback interface is totally local and not connected to any network, including the Internet.

Question 2:

I know it doesn’t seem credible, but the router and the adapter are too close together. This problem isn’t documented in the manual that comes with network adapters, but if you search the support section of the manufacturer’s Web site or call its support technicians, you’ll learn that a computer directly below the antenna of an access point or router will often have a weak or nonexistent wireless signal.

Bread ties (or plastic clips) are color-coded as follows:
Monday - Blue
Tuesday - Green
Thursday - Red
Friday - White
Saturday - Yellow

Commercial bakeries don’t distribute products on Wednesday or Sunday. As a memory aid, the colors are in alphabetical order, starting with Monday.

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