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 Windows Tips & Tricks

November, 2001

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.

The popularity of the World Wide Web continues to grow to vast proportions since the first graphical web browser was released in 1993.  It is an enormous information resource and tool for all computer users. You can check your stocks, book airline tickets, pay bills, search for just about anything, etc.

Access URL from Run Command
To quickly get to a Web site, select Start, Run. In the box next to Open, type the Universal Resource Locator (URL) you want to visit. Click OK and your browser window opens directly to that site after connecting you to the Internet.

Address Toolbar to Taskbar
You can set up direct Web access on your Taskbar if Internet Explorer (IE) 4.x is installed on your computer. To create an Address toolbar, right-click a blank area of the Taskbar and select Toolbars, Address and an Address bar appears on your Taskbar. You can resize it by holding your mouse pointer over the vertical bar at its left edge. When the pointer changes to a double-pointed arrow, click and drag in either direction.  Now type an address or the first few letters of it and the rest pops up automatically, if you have previously typed it, and press Enter.

AutoComplete is a handy tool that fills in the rest of a Web address once you have entered part of it into the computer. Once AutoComplete brings up the correct URL, you press Enter to load the page. To turn on AutoComplete, click the Start button, choose Settings, Control Panel, and then double-click the Internet Options icon. Now click in order the Content tab, the AutoComplete button, and, in the AutoComplete Settings window, the check boxes for the desired features followed by OK.

If you are serious about computer security and privacy and don’t want others examining your Web browser’s cache to see where you have been online or you just want to save hard disk space, clean out your cache after every trip to the Internet. This task can be done automatically with IE by clicking Tools, Internet Options, and Advanced tab. In the Security section, check Empty Temporary Internet Files When Browser Is Closed and then click OK. Or, if you want to delete these files manually vs automatically, click on Start, Settings Control Panel. Then double-click the Internet Options icon, click the General tab and delete the files using the Delete Files button followed by OK. If, on the other hand, you want to keep your temporary files but control disk space consumed by them, click the Settings button to adjust this parameter. 

Computer’s IP
Using a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or cable modem for your computer’s connection to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) makes your computer vulnerable to hackers. This problem is created because virtually all “always on” Internet connections use what are called static Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. A unique number called an IP address identifies every computer that is connected to the Internet. An IP address looks something like the following number: Each of the four parts of an IP address can have from one to three digits. Because you always have the same IP address, a hacker can find it by a process of “pinging” your computer. He “pings” by selecting MS-DOS Prompt from his Program menu in Windows and typing in the word ping and an IP address. His computer will then attempt to ping the computer at that address. He can also ping a domain and get back an IP address. The hacker then uses this information to track you down on your computer. For those folks who use Hotmail, every time you send an e-mail message your IP address gets recorded as part of that message. If you want to know your computer’s IP number in Win95/98 go to Start, Run, and then type WINIPCFG. Click the OK button and an IP Configuration window appears. The easiest way to prevent a hacker attack is to turn off your computer after each use rather than leaving it on all the time. Your computer can also be identified through “Cookies” so it is suggested you delete them after using the Internet.

Childrens’ Web Site
JuniorNet is for kids ages 3 to 12. This site assures parents that it provides a safe, online environment for youngsters. JuniorNet has games, educational activities and no advertising banners. The multimedia content with animation, music, and sound includes brand names that many kids will recognize, such as Highlights for Children, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, and Jim Henson's Bear in the Big Blue House.

Internet Filter Content
You can restrict the types of sites viewed by your children. Win98’s IE has filtering options built in to it. To access the filtering options, click Start, choose Settings, Control Panel, and then double-click the Internet Options icon. Now click the Content tab, the Enable button, and the Ratings tab. Select the category you want to filter, use the slider bar to adjust it at the desired setting, and click OK.

Drag and Drop Images
If using Win98/Me and displaying a Web site or Hypertext Markup Language Editor (HTML) document in your IE, you can drag an image on the Web page to the Title bar or Address bar to display it. This is not the same as a Web page thumbnail, which is a small version of an image that leads to a larger, more detailed version when you click it. This feature doesn't work if you are viewing a page constructed using the Microsoft HTML format (MHTML) which includes graphics in the same file as the text file that makes up the Web page. These files have the .mht extension. You can also drag links or mail addresses from the displayed page onto the Title bar or Address bar as a way to command IE to go to the linked page or to open your default e-mail client. Of course, you can also do this by clicking the links on the Web page.

Electronic Signatures
If you are worried about signing an online contract using an electronic signature, check out The Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, that issued a press release about electronic signatures. This release includes a checklist-style set of tips for anyone getting ready to sign a contract with a digital signature.

File Extension
As a Web-user, you frequently download files from the Internet. Here's a list of file types, so you'll be able to pick and choose what you're getting just by looking at the extension: 

  • Extension .pdf:= Acrobat file document with layout preserved. 
  • Extension .dll= functions or data to a Windows program.
  • Extension .doc= document, like a Word document.
  • Extension .xls= Excel spreadsheet.
  • Extension .exe= Application program.
  • Extension .jpg= commonly used graphics program.
  • Extension .dcr= Shockwave file that enhances Web pages with multimedia, such as animation.
  • Extension .wav= digitally recorded sounds. 
Unless you are an experienced computer user, tinkering with Dynamic-link Library (.dll) or Executable (.exe) files could damage your system.

Find on the Internet
When Win95 has been upgraded with IE, one change that slips by users is tucked into the Find command. Click Start, Find, and you see that you can now Find things On The Internet. Click it and, if connected to the Internet, you see Microsoft's own search page, ready for your keywords or other search options.

Free ISPs
Here’s a tip to help you if on the road and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gives you a busy signal, or offers no local access number(s) for your location. For backup Net connections, consider a free ISP.  The following providers have a reputation for providing reliable service: 

Full Screen View
The entire Web page won’t fit on most small screens. Even a large screen can feel small when you open multiple pages. For better viewing it helps a little to eliminate unnecessary browser elements, such as the toolbars. In IE 5.0 or 5.5, choose View, Full Screen or just press F11. Now the entire screen will show the page less toolbars, etc. To get them back, press F11 again or click the Restore button in the upper-right corner.

All of us have received e-mail messages with stories that are questionable but seemingly true. Before you forward these messages to family and friends, check them out for false rumors or hoaxes at these web sites: 

Home Page
If you want to create a custom browser home page containing only the links visited regularly, Microsoft Word is your answer. Select Tools, AutoCorrect, Format As You Type tab and make sure the Internet and network paths with hyperlinks check box is checked. Create a new document in Word and type in a description and URL address for each of the sites you want listed on your custom home page. Save the document in Web Page(*.htm;*.html) format. Now open your browser. If it is IE, click File, Open, Browse and select the page you just saved. If you use Netscape Communicator, click File, Open Page, Choose File. When the page is displayed in your browser, make it your default home page. To do this in IE, click on Tools, Internet Options, and click on the Use Current button. In Netscape click Edit, Preferences, Use Current Page. From now on whenever you start your browser, you will see your custom home page.

Internet Connection
If you want to sign up for a new ISP and there’s no New Connection icon on your desktop, click Start, Programs, Accessories, Internet Tools, Internet Connection Wizard. Follow the onscreen instructions to configure your new account using information, user name, server addresses, etc., provided by your new ISP.

IE 5.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Internet Tools
Microsoft’s IE 5.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Internet Tools provides the ability to preview Web pages exactly as they will appear when printed and makes it easier to connect to the Internet and find information. It also allows you to use Connection Manager as your default dialer when Dial-Up Networking is already installed. To download the service pack, or for more information.

You should be aware of scams whenever using the Internet. The top 10 Internet scams are: 

  • Internet Auction

  • companies that fail to provide equipment after auctioning it online. 
  • Internet Access Services

  • ISPs that “trap” customers into long-term contracts with big penalties for early cancellation. 
  • Credit Card Fraud

  • companies that use your credit card to run up charges. 
  • International Modem Dialing

  • usually adult Web sites that disconnect a computer’s modem and dial out to a long distance number. 
  • Web Cramming 

  • companies that offer free customized Web pages but then place monthly charges on the victim’s phone bill. 
  • Multi-level Marketing/Pyramids

  • consumers of marketing program who find their customers are other distributors and not the general public. 
  • Travel and Vacation

  • Web travel sites that deliver accommodations or services with hidden charges. 
  • Business Opportunities 

  • companies that charge for motivational tapes and software while advertising a stay-at-home job. 
  • Investments

  • stock trading services that offer no risk and high returns and deliver neither. 
  • Health Care Products 

  • that are worthless but offer cures for serious illness’.

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