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 Windows Tips & Tricks

Internet / Web
April, 2003

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.

Many people use “Internet” and “World Wide Web” interchangeably. There’s a difference between these two terms. The Internet is the maze of phone cable lines, satellites, and network cables that interconnect computers around the world. The Web, on the other hand, is the name given to anything on the Internet that can be accessed using a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). ;

Back and Forward Buttons
To see more of the Web and less of Internet Explorer (IE), you can get rid of the Standard Buttons toolbar. Right click at the top of IE. Clear the checkmark from Standard Buttons. Without the back and forward buttons, you'll need a different way to navigate using the mouse or the keyboard. On the keyboard, press Alt and use the left and right arrow keys. To use the mouse, you'll need one with a wheel. Press Shift and turn the wheel.

For an alternative to IE, there are three new browsers one of which may be of interest to you. One is Mozilla 1. This browser is an Internet suite that includes browser, e-mail, and chat. It takes little room, loads pages fast, supports Internet standards, protects privacy, and doesn’t clutter your system with unwanted add-ons or come-ons.  It’s also free at PCworld. A second browser is Netscape 7. It is Mozilla 1 plus more frills. Version 7 incorporates various small improvements with an Opera-style tabbed browser interface, new search options, and an Internet radio player with a cleaner interface. It, too, is free and sports an AOL Internet Messenger. The third browser is RapidBrowser XP that builds on IE transforming it into a multimedia portal geared to broadband users. It, however, costs $30.

You'll find a calculator for every purpose at Calculators Online where there are 15,720 created by 2,855 individuals, business, and tax-supported entities worldwide.  This site has machines with more potential than the Windows built-in calculator.

City-Specific Searches
Here are some ideas for locating region-specific online information about any city: 

  1. Go to online directories like Yahoo! < http://www.yahoo.com> that have sections devoted to local information.
  2. Many newspapers have their own Web sites with information about their service areas.;
  3. Most states and many cities in the U.S. have extensive Web sites. You can guess the URL for almost any city or state by using a template. The XX in the following URLs is where you need to supply the appropriate two-letter postal code:
    • For large US cities: <www.ci.cityname.XX>.
    • For states: <www.statename.XX.us>.

Internet Explorer likes to create secret cookies which are files on your hard drive that contain information about Web sites you've recently visited while online. Although IE lets any site create a cookie, you may turn it off by clicking on Internet Options from IE’s Tools menu and click on the Security Tab. Click first on the Globe icon and then on the Custom Level button. From there, you can Disable cookies, Enable them, or make a site ask you for permission before creating a cookie.

Copying Text
To copy text from IE into a word processor, you simply select the text and press Ctrl + C. Next, you move to the word processor and press Ctrl + V to paste the text. If your word processor recognizes all of the Web formatting, as MS Word does, you can paste it with the formatting intact. To lose the formatting, you paste first into Notepad, copy the Notepad contents, and paste that information into the word processor. You can save ink and choose to print the simple information rather than all the fancy material featured on many Web sites.  If you use IE as your browser, select Internet Options from the Tools menu and go to the Advanced tab. Scroll down to Printing and uncheck ”Print background colors and images” and press Apply and OK.  With Netscape, select Page Setup in the File menu, uncheck “Print Background,” and press OK. An even quicker approach is to highlight the desired text to be printed, click on File, Print, and select and click on Selection and OK to print the desired portion of the page.

Desktop URLs
To create a link to a Web address in Microsoft IE, you choose File, Send, Shortcut to Desktop. You can also create a shortcut directly on the desktop without even running Microsoft IE. To create a Web page URL shortcut, right-click a blank spot on your desktop and choose New, Shortcut. When the “Create Shortcut” wizard opens, you type in the URL in the form <http://www.whatever.xxx> and click Next. Type in a name for your new shortcut and click Finish. Assuming that Microsoft IE is your default browser, you can now double-click your new shortcut to open IE and navigate to the selected page. 

Dial-Up Connection
To speed up your dial-up connection in WinXP, click Start and Control Panel. In the Control Panel, double-click the System icon. In System Properties, click the Hardware tab and then the Device Manager button in the Device Manager section. In the Device Manager window, you will see a tree with all of your system’s hardware. Now locate Modems on that tree and click the plus sign (+). Right-click your Modem and select Properties to display the properties for your Modem. On the Modem tab, set the Maximum Port Speed to the highest available value and then click OK twice. You can reduce interference and increase dial-up connection by disconnecting other phones, faxes, cordless phones, and answering machines.

Finding Web Sites
To find a specific Web site, in an IE window, click in the Address bar, type go, find, search, or ?, type a space, and then the name of the company or organization of the wanted site. If the name has a space in it, do not type the go, find, search, or ?, and just put double quotation marks around the name. On Yahoo!, typing this information in the Address bar will automatically start a search for the company or organization. You can set which search site is accessed by using TweakUI. You'll find this option in the General tab. What IE won't do is go to a Web site when you just type its name without the www and the .com, unless you press Ctrl+Enter after you enter the name.

Free Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Free Internet service has its disadvantages as well as advantages.  ISP providers want to gather information about you and use that information to sell merchandise. Getting a free Internet account is a lot like getting a fee based but cheaper Internet account. You find out what's available, pick one or more free ISPs that look promising, get those ISPs' set-up software, and then run it/them on your computer. The set-up software guides you through the process of creating your account. After the account is created, you have the ISP's icon on your desktop. Opening the icon connects you to the Internet via that ISP. While connected, you see ads on the screen, usually in little browser windows that can’t be closed. The hardware requirements of free ISPs are the same as any other dial-up service. At the moment, the free ISP market is in flux. Not a week goes by without some free ISP announcing major changes to its operations. Many have gone out of business or merged, and most of the survivors have cut down on the quantity of free service they offer users. Every time a service closes or chases away some of its customers by imposing more restrictive rules, users shift to other free ISPs which may not be equipped to handle all the new traffic. You can stay on top of this evolving situation by visiting FreedomList. FreedomList lets you search for free ISPs in any country, rate or review your free ISP, see the average ratings other FreedomList users have given their free ISPs, and read those users' reviews. The site also collects news stories concerning free ISPs.

Go Button
Do you use the Go button that sits to the right of the Microsoft IE 6 address bar?  Most of us just type in an address and then press Enter. If you'd like to just eliminate the Go button, choose Tools, Internet Options. When the Internet Options dialog box opens, click the Advanced tab and scroll down through the list and deselect "Show Go button in Address bar". Next click OK to close the dialog box.

Government Complaint Site
A good place to find a list of companies and organizations with direct links to official sites is governmentguide.com. Federal agencies overseeing major industries such as airlines, automobiles, etc., use your feedback to prompt product recalls, investigations, and new regulations. For example, if airline overbooking causes a problem, you can use the aforementioned Web site to click to the US Department of Transportation site. It has a form posted there for reporting incidents related to airline overbooking. Fill out this form and submit it. 

Greeting Cards
The next time you remember someone's birthday at the last moment send an online greeting card. Most online cards are free and sometimes arrive within minutes. The cards are just e-mail messages that include cute graphics or animation and a silly tune. Card variations are available for all occasions. You can even add your own personal greeting. You might want to check out these sites. Blue Mountain has a large selection of online greeting cards. Apple's iCards offer somewhat classier photo cards at Apple.com. Click the iCards tab at this site.  Shockwave has elaborate animations. However, your recipients might have to download the Shockwave plug-in if it's not already on their computers. Hallmark Cards and American Greetings have gotten in on the act, too. For something a little different, try Beat Greets featuring snippets of music from popular artists. Online cards are useful for those who can’t get to the store.

Home Page for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6
Instead of going through all the steps to open Internet Options from the menu to change your home page, just navigate to the desired page. Now, grab the icon in the Address Bar, at the left side of the URL, and drag it to Home button. After releasing the mouse button, you'll be asked to set your home page to this URL. Just click Yes and you now have a new home page.

Microsoft Word assumes that you want to create a hyperlink when typing a Web address. The address is in blue and underlined. However, not everyone wants to create hyperlinks. There are two places where you need to remove a checkmark. First, from Word's menu, go to Tools, AutoCorrect Options, and then, AutoFormat As You Type. Uncheck the option "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks." Then, click on the AutoFormat tab. Uncheck the box next to "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks." These changes must be done in both locations. They will not unlink Web addresses and e-mail addresses that are already in a document. It only affects new documents.

Finally, if you are new to the Internet, the University of South Carolina Beaufort Library has a site at that is called Bare Bones 101. It will help novice computer users learn how to use the Internet.

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