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 Windows Tips & Tricks

The Internet
April, 2002

Bill Beverley is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and intermediate computer enthusiast. Early in his military career he was on the ground floor in the development of the U.S. Army's Field Artillery Tactical Fire Direction System (TACFIRE), a forerunner of subsequent digital computers / communications within the army.

In many ways the Internet is much like a telephone network system. However, instead of transmitting point-to-point voice conversations, Internet pathways are used to exchange digitized computer data. But, you can use the Internet to place phone calls.

DSL Attacks
For computer users who have a DSL or cable modem, you know that it provides near instant messaging and Internet access. You can quickly jump around on the Internet. Unfortunately, with all that extra speed, there are some problems. These modems have a feature that makes them "always on." This means that even if you're not currently downloading or uploading information, your connection is live and open. This open status provides an access path for hackers to get into your system. There are a couple of things you can do to minimize your exposure. First, in the Control Panel, go to Networks and clear the Print Sharing and File options. Second, purchase a firewall software package. A firewall acts like a guard for your personal computer (PC). It lets things out, but, depending upon how you set things, limits access into your PC and protects vital Internet protocol information.

Several companies sell software that filters out Web pages that are inappropriate for kids. These programs run on your computer and block children from seeing questionable sites without restricting 
your access to them. Some popular vendors include: 

Unfortunately none of these programs tells you exactly what they filter out. Their idea of what's appropriate or inappropriate may not match your preferences. ;

History List
Using Win98/Me/XP, Internet Explorer maintains a History List that contains a link to each page that you have visited while on the Internet. If there is a need to return to a particular Web page and one not saved in your Favorites list, you can use the History List to locate the URL for the page. To view the History List, click the History button or select View, Explorer Bar and History.

Internet Access
Slingshot is an Internet access software program. To use it, connect to a telephone jack, put Slingshot's $10 CD into your PC, type in an access code, and you're on the Internet for 600 minutes on a local access number or 120 minutes anywhere in the U.S. using a toll-free number. Slingshot resides peacefully with any other ISP and browser you already have on your computer. It's a stand-alone arrangement. You can connect to the Internet with Slingshot and not have another ISP, or you can use whatever browser is on your computer. You can even get an e-mail box and address. Install the Slingshot CD in a couple of minutes and you never again need the CD to access the Internet from anywhere there’s a telephone hookup. When you run out of minutes, recharge your account online with a credit or debit card, or buy more time from a number of major retailers. Slingshot even provides a free trial if you want to use it. ;

Internet Links to the Desktop
With Win98/Me/XP there are a few quick ways to create links to the Internet right on your Windows desktop. To begin, go to the Web page or hyperlink you want to add to your desktop. Now, do any of the following steps to add a hyperlink to your desktop: 

  1. To add a link to the current page, choose File, Send, Shortcut to Desktop from the IE menus. 
  2. To drag-and-drop a link to the current page, be sure you can see the desktop. Then, drag the little icon shown next to the URL in the Address box to your desktop and release the mouse button.
  3. To drag-and-drop a link that's somewhere on the current Web page, point to the link so the mouse pointer changes to a pointing hand. Now drag the link to your desktop and release the mouse button. 
A shortcut to the Internet hyperlink will appear on your desktop. By double-clicking it, the Web page you linked to will open in your browser. If you no longer want the desktop shortcut, simply drag it to the Recycle Bin.

Links to Your Favorites Folder
If using Win98/Me/XP, you can add a favorite link to the current Web page to your Favorites folder by dragging the Web page icon that appears before the page's URL in the Address bar to the Favorites button on the Standard Buttons toolbar. You also can move this Web page icon to the desired subfolder of the Favorites folder.

Internet Links in Word Documents
When you send someone a Word document via e-mail, it's very easy to imbed any Internet link in this communication. All you have to do is type a URL (use http://) in the document. You will notice that the link appears in underlined blue. If you or your recipient(s) click the link, your system will dial the ISP, if necessary, and navigate to that link. If this action fails to work for you, then that Word option has been disabled. To enable it, choose Tools, AutoCorrect. When the AutoCorrect dialog box opens, click the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Select the check box labeled "Internet and networks paths with hyperlinks,” click OK to close the dialog box, and record your selections.

Laptop Tracers
There are several companies that will trace your stolen computer over a phone or Internet connection. For this service, you pay a yearly fee and install special monitoring software on your laptop. When a thief logs on to your computer/Internet, the company uses this software to trace the call to the originating phone number which reveals his/her location.  Two providers are: 

Macintosh URL
If you see a URL that includes the %20 symbols, it is an indication of a Web page that was made and named on a Macintosh. This URL allows blank spaces in names and is served up through a system, such as Windows, that does not allow blanks. Unix computer systems sometimes use a tilde ~ in place of spaces.

Modem Connection Test
Even if you have a 56Kbps modem, you won't connect at 56K every time.  In fact, every time you connect to your ISP, it will probably be at a different speed. There's not much you can do about this because your modem connects at the fastest speed that your ISP and the phone connection allows at the time. But, if curious, you can check your dial-up ability with 3Com's LineTest tool. This site helps you figure out your phone line's capability. You can also try Net.Medic, a browser companion that helps monitor, isolate, diagnose, and correct Internet or intranet performance problems. Net.Medic helps you identify the source of your network bottleneck, offers solutions for any problems with your computer, and often fixes them automatically by using software found at the sites listed above.

Online Service Programs
Microsoft makes it easy for users to sign up for Internet access with software installed on Win98/Me/XP for several major online services. If Internet service(s) is already set up on your computer, you can remove the software for the ISP(s) that won’t be used by clicking Start, Settings, and Control Panel. Double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon and then click the Windows Setup tab. Finally locate the Online Services group, click Details, remove the ISP(s) you do not use, and click OK.

Phone-to-Phone Calls via the Internet
You can make free phone-to-phone long distance calls using your computer and the Internet. Go to 

on your browser. You register for each service and download free software. In Dialpad’s case, the software is an applet or small application of less than 200 kilobytes, which downloads each time you log on to your computer. To call you need a pair of speakers and a microphone. However, a headset with earphones and built-in microphone is a better investment. All of these devices will plug into the back of your computer in the microphone and speaker connection ports. You will also need a fairly up-to-date computer with a sound card, preferably a full-duplex card that permits both parties to talk at the same time, at least a 28.8 kilobyte modem, and Internet access. Most services work with an ISP. It’s important that you pay attention to the system requirements and help screens. ;

If people are to visit your Web page, you have to let them know about it. Almost all Web search sites and directories let you register your page with them. You should look for a button that says something like "Add URL." Some search sites only need your URL while others ask you to fill out a form with site name, URL, site description, and possibly other info. You can save some time by using a Web site submittal service. Although these services used to be free, most now charge a fee, such as

Search Engine Terms
When using search engines, the key to obtaining the most relevant Web sites is to use correct commands. Commands use the + (plus) and – (minus) signs to modify search terms to focus results. The plus sign tells a search engine to find pages with all the words you enter into its search box. For example, if you want to find pages with references to TRUCKS and PICKUPS on the same page, type: +TRUCKS+PICKUPS. The minus sign tells a search engine to find pages that have one word on them but not another word. For example, if you want information about TRUCKS but not pages relating to PICKUPS, type: TRUCKS-PICKUPS. Combining both symbols VEHICLES+TRUCKS-PICKUPS tells the search engine to return pages relating to VEHICLES that mention TRUCKS but not PICKUPS.

Finally, there are countless Internet tips. However, the most important may be those concerned about your Internet privacy. Here are a few dos and don’ts to use when accessing the Web. One, do not maintain a browser cache. Anyone with access to your computer can check the sites you’ve visited on the Internet. To clean out your cache trash in IE5, select Tools, Internet Options. With the General tab, click Delete Files in the Temporary Internet files section. Two, do not enable file sharing even when you are not on a network setup. In Windows 9x, select Start, Control Panel, double-click Network icon, and choose the Configuration tab. Now click the File and Print Sharing button, and uncheck both boxes in the Dialog box. Three, do not preserve a history. Your browser maintains a history log that identifies each Web address visited by you. To clean out the history log in IE 5, select Tools, Internet Options. In the General tab, click the Clear History button. Fourth, do not accept cookies from strangers. Cookies are stored in \Windows\Cookies folder. You can delete its contents by highlighting one file and then pressing Ctrl-A followed by Delete. Fifth, use an anti-virus software program to scan all e-mail attachments. If using DSL or cable, you can stop intrusions with a firewall program. For confidential correspondence with people, you really should use encryption software.

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