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Checking Your Hotmail With Firefox and Synching Different Palm OS's With Your Desktop

Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page F07

I used to be able to right-click on a link in a Hotmail message to open it in a new tab in my Web browser, Firefox. Now that doesn't work anymore.

Microsoft says it changed the way Hotmail treats links to avoid confusing users. Formerly, if you clicked on a link in Hotmail, it would open in the same window, taking you away from your Hotmail inbox; a banner at the top of that window would return you to Hotmail. But, Microsoft says, that banner did not always appear.

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Now, Hotmail automatically wraps Web links with JavaScript code that forces browsers to open them in a new, separate window. Firefox doesn't see that JavaScript code as a standard link and, therefore, doesn't offer its open-in-a-new-tab option when you right-click it.

Other Web-mail sites, such as Yahoo Mail and Google's Gmail, also switch links in messages to new windows -- but they somehow do this while keeping these links in a form that Firefox recognizes, allowing users of that browser to open them in new tabs instead. Microsoft spokeswoman Stacey Osburn wrote in an e-mail that Hotmail's more complex approach lets it "check for potentially dangerous" sites and issue warnings if needed.

In other words, don't expect Hotmail to change its behavior to make Firefox users feel at home. Either switch Web-mail sites or visit Firefox's bugs database (bugzilla.mozilla.org), open an account and vote for bug 138198 to be fixed.

I own a Palm m515 running on Palm OS 4.1, but my wife's Garmin iQue3600 runs on Palm OS 5. Can we both hot-sync to the same Palm Desktop software?

Yes, as long as you install the version of Palm Desktop bundled with the Garmin handheld. You can't, however, sync both handhelds to the same desktop file -- each one must tap into its own user file on the PC.

-- Rob Pegoraro

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or rob@twp.com.

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