Volume 8 Number 4 - October 2001
Too quick to click! I downloaded a file from Morpheus (a Napster type program) that appeared to be an MP3 but actually was a vbx file that forced me into a reformat of my hard drive and load up all my programs again. These things usually will come across as a file like "song.mp3.vbx" that at a quick look appears to be a song. I guess it is like house cleaning. I throw out all the junk I accumulated and get to start over.
New programs that are worth looking at are Pop Up Stopper (this blocks out the new windows that Internet sites try to launch) and GrabIt (a really great newsreader introduced to me by our technicians). Both programs can be downloaded from www.download.com.
For the patriotic, visit www2.tigertech.com/downloadlb.html for a waving flag that stays at the bottom of your screen.
A great site for technical tutorials visit www.techtutorials.com with 1742 free tutorials for your use.
If you would rather buy these books visit www.half.com to buy used books as well as other great buys.
Finally, if you want a great place to find foreign newspapers to find out how they are taking this Afghanistan problem check out www.newspapers.com/country.htm.
WINDOWS XP HERE
The big news this month is the release of Windows XP. Among all of the new features are several related to the Internet.
Internet Explorer 6 and Outlook Express 6 have been incorporated into the operating system. And the new Wizard makes it easy to setup your Internet connection. The new Luna interface to Windows XP gives a new look to all Windows applications including the familiar Internet Explorer. As with the downloadable Internet Explorer 6, the integrated browser and E-mail client include some security enhancements.
New to Windows XP is the inclusion of an Internet firewall. See the article elsewhere in this issue for more details.
Windows Update has been changed in it's appearance but serves the same function.
If you're having trouble with your computer, a knowledgeable and trusted friend can take control of your computer from a remote location and hopefully work out the problem. We'll explain this in more detail in the next issue.
If you have the Pro version of Windows XP, you can also access your desktop from a remote location.
There are lots of new Internet related features in Windows XP and we'll be detailing them all in future issues.
Windows Update looks different than it has looked with previous versions of Windows but should be easier to use.
The first time you connect to the Internet, you should run Windows Update and download the Java Virtual Machine.
Due to a previous agreement with Sun (owners of Java) which Microsoft did not renew, a new version of Java was not included in Windows XP. Downloading the update will help prevent you from having Java problems with certain Web sites.
It's a 5+MB download so it will take a little while, but it's worth the time.
There may also be updated drivers for your video or sound card, or maybe some other device in your system.
And remember to check in with Windows Update from time to time to make sure you're current with whatever security and other updates that may become available in the future.
One of the nicest features of Windows XP is the inclusion of an Internet firewall.
Make no mistake, this is not an industrial strength firewall, but it's certainly better than nothing.
It's not particularly useful if you connect to the Internet with a modem, although turning it on won't hurt. It's most useful for those with DSL and cable modem connections.
Users with broadband Internet connections can often see the computers and shared folders and printers of their neighbors. Using Windows XP's firewall will prevent others from seeing your computer on the Internet.
Go to the Control Panel and select Network and Internet Connections. Select Network Connections in the center right of the screen, then right-click your Internet connection and select Properties. Go to the Advanced tab and check the box to turn on the firewall.
Remember, this is no substitute for anti-virus software or an industrial-strength firewall, but it's better than nothing and should serve most home users well.
If you're running an FTP server or need to keep certain ports open, click the Advanced button and you can be selective about what ports are kept open.
The first time you start up Windows XP you'll notice that it wants you to activate the product.
Activation is different from registration which is optional. You have 30 days to activate Windows XP. After the initial 30 days, the functionality of Windows will be restricted if you have not activated it.
Microsoft has done this to reduce software piracy. Let's say that you install Windows on your computer. Then you loan your CD to a neighbor to install on their computer. This second installation is not legitimate and Windows Product Activation (WPA) is designed to prevent it.
The activation process is simple. You can do it when you're finishing up the installation process or click the reminder that pops up when Windows is loaded. It will automatically dial an 800 number and within 15 seconds or so, your copy of Windows XP will be activated. Alternatively, you can call a toll-free number and complete the process by talking to a person.
The activation process does not send any personal information to Microsoft nor does it track any software you have installed. It is an anti-piracy measure which creates a numerical code unique to your computer. If you have two computers, you'll need two copies of Windows XP. However one copy of XP can be installed on one computer as many times as necessary.
SITES OF THE MONTH
Everybody loves seeing silverfish in their house don't they? Believe it or not, artists have drawn silverfish in a number of unique ways and you can see many of them at www.geocities.com/jqaiii/gallery/gallery/html.
Captain America has been a popular comic character since 1941. You can take a look at his history at www.crosswinds.net/~testiculos/capam/capam.htm.
Our money has a fair amount of artistry incorporated into it. You can take a historic look at the artistry of US currency by going to www.frbsf.org/currency/index.html.
Everybody likes jokes and there are tons on the Internet. Here's a site that has them broken down into categories. Go to www.lotsofjokes.com. Note: some categories may not be appropriate for young eyes.
Get the inside scoop on tech-oriented news every day by going to www.techdirt.com.
Piracy is rampant on the Internet. It's so easy to plagiarize and capture graphics, then call them your own. At www.pirated-sites.com you can see a collection of sites that appear to have ripped off content or design from other Web pages.
Halloween will be here soon. There are a couple of humorous animations concerning Halloween mischief at www.toddgallina.com/halloween. Be patient, the animations take time to load.
Bitstream is published on a monthly basis by Techline/Cellular Connection as a service to customers of Techline.com for the purpose of educating users regarding the use of the Internet.