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Learn The Net: A Basic Guide About Modems All About Broadband

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1 Learn The Net: A Basic Guide About Modems All About Broadband
This tutorial aims to provide information on a range of things relating to using the Internet About Modems All About Broadband Making Connections Viruses Data Backup File Formats & Extensions a) Plain Text b) Formatted Documents c) Compressed & Encoded d) Graphics e) Sound f) Video I Spy Monitor Settings MP3 Plug-Ins Privacy Security Tips Safety Tips For Parents Share Your Digital Photos Newsgroups Ten Tips For Smart & Safer Shopping Ten Privacy Tips Web Radio Stop Next Use the Index above or the Navigation Buttons on each page to move back and forward through the presentation

2 About Modems Telephone lines were designed to transmit the human voice, not electronic data from computers. Modems were invented to convert digital computer signals into a form that allows them to travel over phone lines. Those are the scratchy sounds you hear from a modem's speaker. A modem on the other end of the line understands it and converts the sounds back to digital information that the computer understands. Modem stands for MOdulator/DEModulator.

3 About Modems Buying and using a modem used to be relatively easy. Not too long ago, almost all modems transferred data at a rate of Bps (bits per second). Today, modems not only run faster, they are also loaded with features like error control and data compression. In addition, modems also act like traffic cops, monitoring and regulating the flow of information. That way one computer doesn't send information until the receiving computer is ready for it. Each of these features - modulation, error control, and data compression - requires a separate kind of protocol. That's what some of the terms you see like V.32, V.32bis, V.42bis and MNP5 refer to. If you need to replace a modem for an older computer, consider buying an external one, because it is much easier to install and operate. For example, when your modem freezes (not an unusual occurrence), you have to turn it off and on again to get it working properly. With an internal modem, that means restarting your computer - a waste of time. With an external modem it's as easy as flipping a switch.

4 About Modems This table illustrates the relative difference in data transmission speeds for different types of files under the best of circumstances. A modem's speed is measured in bits per second (bps). A 28.8 Kbps modem sends data at 28,800 bits per second. A 56 Kbps modem is twice as fast, sending and receiving data at a rate of up to 56,000 bits per second. Many things can interfere with the speed of data transfer. These range from excessive noise on the telephone line, the speed of the web server from which you are downloading files, the number of other people trying to access the same file and the overall traffic on the Internet. Until the end of 1995, the conventional wisdom was that 28.8 Kbps was about the fastest speed you could squeeze out of a regular copper telephone line. Today, data transmission for a dial-up connection is typically 56 Kbps.

5 About Modems DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), a high-speed or broadband technology, has become increasingly popular. A DSL line remains connected to the Internet, so you don't need to dial-up when you want to go online. Typically with DSL, data is downloaded to your computer at rates up to Mbps and you can send data at 128 Kbps. Since a DSL line carries both voice and data, you don't have to install another phone line. You can use your existing line to establish DSL service, provided service is available in your area and you are within the specified distance from the telephone company's central switching office. DSL service requires a digital modem and a network card in your computer. Prices for equipment, DSL installation and monthly service vary considerably, so check with your local phone company and Internet service provider. The good news is that prices are coming down as competition heats up. Expect to pay under $50 a month. Some companies now provide free installation and equipment when you sign-up for a year of service.

6 About Modems Cable Modems
Another option is high-speed Internet access via cable TV. With speeds of up to 36 Mbps, cable modems download data in seconds that might take fifty times longer with a dial-up connection. Because it works over TV cable, it doesn't tie up a telephone line. Best of all, it's always on, so there is no need to connect and no more busy signals! ISDN ISDN service is an older, but still viable technology offered by phone companies. ISDN requires a so-called ISDN adapter instead of a modem, and a phone line with a special connection that allows it to send and receive digital signals. An ISDN line has a data transfer rate of between 57 Kbps and 128 Kbps. You have to arrange with your phone company to have this equipment installed.

7 About Modems Making Business Connections
Leased lines come in two configurations: T1 and T3. A T1 line offers a data transfer rate of 1.54 million bits per second. A T1 line is a dedicated connection, meaning that it is permanently connected to the Internet. This is useful for web servers or other computers than need to be connected to the Internet all the time. It is possible to lease only a portion of a T1 line using one of two systems: fractional T1 or Frame Relay. You can lease them in blocks ranging from 128 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps. The differences are not worth going into in detail, but fractional T1 will be more expensive at the slower available speeds and Frame Relay will be slightly more expensive as you approach the full T1 speed of 1.5 Mbps. A T3 line is significantly faster, at 45 million bits per second. Leased lines are expensive and are generally used only by companies whose business is built around the Internet or need to transfer massive amounts of data.

8 All About Broadband The distinctive chatter of a dial-up modem is rapidly becoming a sound of the past as broadband sweeps the globe. According to a recent study almost two-thirds of Internet users now use high-speed connections. It's no mystery why when you consider the enormous benefits: Save Time: Broadband operates from 10 to 20 times faster than a dial-up connection, enabling the speedy transfer of large amounts of data. For instance downloading a typical song takes just a few seconds versus perhaps ten minutes with a dial-up; ing digital photos is almost instantaneous. Save Money: If you now dedicate a second phone line for Internet access, you can cancel it. Also, broadband subscribers usually pay a flat monthly fee, avoiding hourly usage charges. In the long run, it may actually cost you less for broadband than for a dial-up account. New Services: Once you have high-speed Internet access, a new world of possibilities opens to you, such as telecommuting, videoconferencing, and Internet telephony. You can also listen to online radio and watch streaming video, as well as download film clips and movies.

9 All About Broadband Convenience: With broadband you have instant Internet access, 24/7, so you don't have to connect each time you want to go online--you're always connected. This makes it easy to access information when you need it, check your , and even make phone calls over the Internet. Also, multiple computers can share a broadband connection, a great feature if a few members of your family want to be online at the same time. Built for Speed: While all broadband services make dial-up seem glacial by comparison, not all deliver the same speed. Most broadband services are asymmetric, a fancy term that means that the download speed is faster than the upload speed. But since you will be downloading much more data, such as web pages and music, than you will be sending, the download speed is most critical. Depending on the type of service - cable, DSL, satellite or wireless - and other variables, broadband data speed range from 128 Kbps to a screaming 30 Mbps. (Since a three-minute song is about 3 Mb, at the highest speed, you can download it in a fraction of a second--how cool is that?)

10 All About Broadband Cable
If you have cable TV, your provider may also offer Internet access for an additional fee, typically $20 to $50 monthly, depending on the plan. To access the service you need a cable modem, which is usually provided to you. Cable can be speedy, ranging from 512 Kbps to 20 Mbps, but depending on how the cable system is configured, speed may decrease if many subscribers are online at the same time. DSL DSL, short for Digital Subscriber Line, employs an unused portion of your telephone line, so there's no need to install another one into your home or office. The service, which is typically provided by your local phone company, costs from $15 to $50 monthly for residential customers. To connect, you need a digital modem, usually provided by the phone company. Since DSL service is delivered over a dedicated line, bandwidth is not shared with other subscribers as with cable. But connection speeds, ranging from 128 Kbps to 8 Mbps, depend on your distance from the local exchange. The maximum distance is about three miles. If you live further than that, you can't hook up to DSL. Those living closest to the local exchange enjoy the fastest speeds.

11 All About Broadband Satellite
With satellite Internet access, you connect via the same satellite dish you use to receive TV programs. These systems can be one-way or two-way; with a one-way system, you download data via satellite, but you must upload via a dial-up phone line; with a two-way system, high-speed data is both sent and received via satellite. Satellite service requires substantial set-up fees and equipment and can cost up to $100 a month; speeds top 6 Mbps. For people in rural areas, where no other broadband service is available, satellite is an option, although an expensive one. Just as bad weather may affect satellite TV reception, the same is true for Internet service. Also, because it takes time for the signal to travel to and from a satellite, you may experience a lag in data transmission, known as latency. In most cases, this is not a problem, except for aficionados of online gaming.

12 All About Broadband Wireless (WiFi)
This relatively new service delivers speedy Internet access via radio waves. WiFi is typically used in private wireless networks in homes and offices or in public places like airports or cafes. Speeds can reach 30 Mbps or more. To access the network your laptop must have a wireless PC card installed. The good news is that the number of WiFi hotspots is growing and many are free. With a wireless router, you can set up a local wireless network in your home, so that you can use your laptop anywhere you wish. But you will still need Internet access with one of the above options. Another recent development is Wide Area Wireless (WAW), which is similar to cell phone technology, except that it delivers Internet access. WAW can cover large areas, even an entire city. But unless you are lucky enough to live or work in an area where these wireless networks are deployed, you will have to settle for another option, at least for now.

13 Making Connections Why does speed matter? On the Internet, you are constantly exchanging data with other computers. Some of these digital files can be quite large, especially for audio and video clips. As you will soon discover, you want this exchange to happen as quickly as possible - especially as time on the Internet costs money. The most common way of going online is still by modem, a device that translates the digital signals from your computer into analogue signals that travel over a standard phone line. Those are the scratchy sounds you hear from a modem's speaker. Believe it or not, there is actually meaning in all that noise. A modem on the other end of the line understands it and converts the sounds back into digital information Modems come in different speeds and are measured in bps or bits per second. A 28.8 Kbps modem transmits data at speeds up to 28,800 bits per second. A 56 Kbps modem is twice as fast, sending and receiving data at a rate of up to 56,000 bits per second. Almost all modems today are 56 Kbps If you are purchasing a modem, buy the fastest one available

14 Making Connections You will need a standard phone cable to connect the modem to your phone line. The standard connector on a telephone cable is called an RJ-11. On the back of your modem, you'll probably have two RJ-11 jacks. One is for connecting the modem to a wall jack, and the other is for connecting the modem to a telephone. Modems come in different speeds and can be installed inside your computer (internal), or connected to your computer's serial port (external). These days all new computers come equipped with an internal modem. But if you need to buy a modem for an older computer, consider purchasing an external one for two reasons. Firstly, they are much easier to install. Secondly, occasionally your modem will freeze and then will need to be reset. If your modem is external you can simply turn it off and on again. If it's internal, the only way to reset it is to turn off your computer and reboot, which can take several minutes Getting Wired To connect an external modem to your computer, you'll need a serial modem cable. Most likely, your computer will have a connector on the back labelled serial, or with the IOIOIO icon. This connector comes in two varieties: 9-pin (male) or 25-pin (female). If you only have one of these ports, it will probably be COM1. If you have two, one will be COM1, and the other will be COM2. After you plug in your modem, you can sign up for Internet service

15 If you have call waiting service, disable it before going online.
Making Connections Usually your set-up program will try and find your modem and its COM port. If it can't, it will ask you which COM port your modem is attached to. If you don't know, the easiest thing to do is try them all. Even if you only have two serial ports, you may be able to select one of four COM ports. Also, there are some other devices that use the COM ports. In some computers the mouse is plugged into a serial port - this is known as a serial mouse. If you've got a serial mouse plugged into COM1, then just plug the modem into COM2. If you don't have a second COM port, you can purchase a card that goes inside your computer that will give you a second COM port. If this is necessary, you should check with the manufacturer of your computer. Your modem will likely have a connector on the back with space for 25 pins. You need to make sure that the serial modem cable you purchase has the right number of pins on either side and is the correct "gender." The best thing to do is to look at the back of your computer and list the various connectors, the number of pins, and the gender. When you go to purchase your modem, find the cable that matches the connector. If you have call waiting service, disable it before going online. That way, if you're online and a call comes in, you won't be disconnected.

16 Viruses In 1988 a student at Cornell University sent out a virus by accident, infecting more than 6,000 computers in minutes, nearly bringing the Internet to its knees. More recently, the "I Love You" virus caused over $1 billion in lost productivity as it crippled systems worldwide. Last year alone, 10,000 new viruses, worms and Trojan horses were unleashed. Viruses, worms and Trojan horses are human-made software programs created specifically to wreak havoc on personal computers and networks. The chance of contracting one of these computer viruses over the Internet has increased dramatically. In fact, unless you run anti-virus software, your computer will almost certainly become infected. You can also get a virus by opening infected attachments. Some viruses are relatively harmless to individuals. They just attach themselves to outgoing messages or themselves to all the contacts listed in your address book. The sudden flood of overwhelms mail servers, causing the system to crash. Other viruses are more destructive and may lie dormant until a certain date. Then they spring to life to do their dirty deeds. Sometimes a strange message appears on your screen, or data and programs may be modified. In the worst case, all the files on your hard drive may be wiped out. These malicious programs start on one computer, then replicate quickly, infecting other computers around the world.

17 The two most popularr anti- virus programs are from McAfee and Symantec.
You can purchase and download the software from their websites. Both offer regular updates to handle newly discovered viruses. There are also many other reputable ones available Viruses Warning Signs of Virus Infection Your computer starts running sluggishly. It shuts down unexpectedly or crashes frequently. It experiences memory problems or runs out of disc space. Unusual files or directories appear on your system. Strange messages appear on your screen. Inoculate Your Computer If you download and run software from the Internet, or receive e- mail attachments, there's a good chance of contracting one of these digital bugs. Protect yourself by using anti-virus programs to scan your incoming attachments and alerting you if one is infected. The software also scans your hard drive periodically for viruses and deletes them.

18 Viruses Make sure your computer runs anti- virus software. If it doesn't, get it and install it immediately. You can either buy it, download it from the net or get it from a number of reputable computer magazines Anti-virus software must be updated regularly, as new viruses appear daily. You can configure the programs to automatically download updates, making it easy to stay protected. Otherwise, periodically download the updates manually. This is called updating the "definitions" DO NOT OPEN an attachment unless you know who sent it. Even then, it's not totally safe, as a sneaky virus that has infected a friend's computer can access the address book, send a message to everyone, and attach itself. To be completely safe, scan the attachment with your anti-virus software BEFORE you open it. If you receive a suspicious message, delete it immediately from your Inbox. When you delete a message, however, it's still on your system. Go into the Deleted Mail folder and delete the message again to permanently remove it from your computer. Regularly back up your files. Should your system become infected, you won't lose valuable data.

19 What would happen if it all just disappeared?
Data Backup How often do you back up the data on your computer? If you're like most people, not very often, if at all. Yet the information stored on your hard drive can be incredibly valuable. Think of your financial records, business contacts, e- mail addresses, letters and so on. What would happen if it all just disappeared? How long would it take and how much would it cost to reconstruct the missing data? Data lose happens every day for a variety of reasons: The disk drive you use for backups fails for mechanical reasons. Your computer is stolen--laptops are particularly vulnerable. Your computer is destroyed by fire, floods or other disasters. A power surge fries your machine (Make sure you have a surge protector on your computer equipment.) An employee accidentally or intentionally erases key data. A virus infects your system. Your hard drive crashes. Sooner or later it will fail; the only question is when.

20 But most of us never do this - until it's too late.
Data Backup If you diligently back up your system and data and store the backups off- site, you're in good shape. But most of us never do this - until it's too late. Computer files can be restored in the event of a crash, but it will cost you several hundred or even thousands of dollars. In the meantime, you may be lost without essential data. What to Back Up The good news is that you don't need to copy all the files on your hard drive. These days, that could entail many gigabytes of data. You only have to back up your own data files, such as word processing documents, spreadsheets, , digital photos, graphics, music, etc. Basically, any files you've created, downloaded or that were sent to you. You probably already have copies on CD-ROMs of your programs--Microsoft Office applications, web browsers and such. In the event that your computer crashes, you can use those to restore the programs or in some cases, you can download replacement programs from the Net.

21 Data Backup Recordable CDs cost little and also provide an excellent way to share data with friends and colleagues. DVDs are another option, but aren't as common yet as CD burners although the prices are starting to come down How to Back Up Files Files should be stored on removable media like floppy disks, zip disks, CD- ROMs, DVDs, data tapes or an external hard drive. Since floppies only hold 1.4 Mb of data, they aren't very practical, unless you have only a few files. On the other hand, CD-ROMs hold 650 Mb, so if you have a CD-RW drive, you're in luck. To back up your files, first insert the storage medium in the drive. (If you use an external hard drive, then it should appear in Windows Explorer.) If you use Windows, launch Windows Explorer. You'll find it in the Programs folder under the Start menu. Now locate the files you want to copy. Place your mouse pointer on the folder or file, hold down the left mouse button, then drag it to the appropriate drive. Copying files can take a while depending on how many you have and the speed of your system. After you've backed up all the files, open a few to make sure they copied correctly. Now remove the disk, label and date it. Finally, store your backups in a secure place. If you follow this procedure regularly, you may sleep better at night

22 File Formats & Extensions
When downloading files from the Web, you will undoubtedly encounter many different types of electronic files formats. The way to identify the file type is by looking at its extension, typically expressed as a dot followed by 2 to 4 letters (.xxx). Many sites make files available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Your web browser has the ability to identify and display some, but not all of them, and new ones appear all the time. It's helpful to know about the most common Internet file formats, so here's a bit about them. Why should you care? You need to identify the file type to know whether it will work on your computer and whether you will need a particular type of software to decompress, play, or view it. Most of the files will be either text, graphic, photo, audio or video files. Some may be compressed, others not. The most common compressed files are those with extensions like .ZIP, .SIT and .TAR. These extensions represent popular compression formats for the PC, Macintosh, and UNIX respectively. They may be single files or groups of files that have been bundled together into a single archive. An archive file can contain video or graphics files, and often contains software programs with related documentation. Occasionally you may encounter files with multiple extensions like .tar.gz, which usually means more than one type of software was used to compile and compress the file.

23 File Formats & Extensions
All of the file formats found on the Internet can be broken into one of two types: ASCII format and binary format. ASCII files are text files you can view with any word processor. Binary files contain non-ASCII characters. If you display a binary file on your screen, you will see a lot of strange symbols and characters. File Formats & Extensions The most common graphics file formats on the Web are those with the extensions .jpg and .gif. The .jpg is short for JPEG, which is a popular compression standard for photographs and other images. The .gif extension stands for Graphics Interchange Format, a standard developed by CompuServe in the late 1980s. Both these graphics formats are platform- independent, which means you can view them on a PC, Mac or UNIX computer provided you have a viewer for them. For video, popular extensions are .AVI and .RAM for the PC, .MPG (short for MPEG), which is platform-independent, but requires its own media player, and .MOV and .QT for QuickTime movies. QuickTime was initially developed by Apple just for the Macintosh, but now plays on Windows and UNIX, too. Popular audio file formats include .MP3 for both Mac and PC and .WMA for the PC. Other file formats include .AIFF for Mac; .AU for Mac and UNIX; .WAV for the PC; and .RA for Real Audio, a proprietary system for delivering and playing streaming audio on the Web.

24 File Formats & Extensions
Plain Text (ASCII) Files .html/.htm - The language in which Web documents are authored. File Type: ASCII This file type requires a web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer, for viewing. .txt - A plain (ASCII) text file. File Type: ASCII These files can be viewed with a word processor like Microsoft Word or a simple text editor like Simple Text or BBEdit for the Mac. For the PC you can use Notepad, a program that comes with the Windows operating system.

25 File Formats & Extensions
Formatted Documents .doc - A common PC format for formatted text files. File Type: ASCII Although you may occasionally come across files with this extension that are not text documents, usually they are documents that were created using Microsoft Word or WordPerfect for Windows. .pdf - Portable Document Format, a proprietary format developed by Adobe Systems, Inc. that allows formatted documents (including brochures or other documents containing artwork) to be transferred over the Internet so they look the same on any computer. File Type: Binary This file type requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view files and can be downloaded from the Adobe website. .ps - A PostScript file. File Type: ASCII Though it is technically a plain text file, it is essentially unreadable except by a Postscript printer or with the help of an on screen viewer like Ghostscript, which is available for Mac, Windows, and UNIX.

26 File Formats & Extensions
Compressed and Encoded Files .arc - An old and inefficient format for archiving and compression. File Type: Binary If you need to exchange files with an older operating system or have old files to read on a new machine, you may need an ARC program. Stuffit Expander for Windows will work for the PC (sitexxx.exe). For the Mac try something called ARCMac. .arj - A somewhat common format for MS-DOS machines, especially in Europe. File Type: Binary It is fairly slow and in some cases may do a better job than the more common gzip, zip and Stuffit formats. You can use Stuffit Expander for Windows or WinZIP. On the Mac, try UnArjMac. .bin - A Mac binary II Encoded File. File Type: Binary This file type requires Stuffit Expander for the Mac. You download this type of file as MacBinary or Binary.

27 File Formats & Extensions
Compressed and Encoded Files .exe - A DOS or Windows program or a self-extracting file. File Type: Binary If this is an executable (self-extracting) file, then it can usually be launched by double-clicking on the icon on your desktop. This is the only way to tell if it is an executable file. .gz/gzip - The GNU Project's compression program, most commonly used for UNIX and PC files. File Type: Binary For the Mac, use MacGZIP. There are several Windows-based GZIP uncompressors available. .hqx - A common Macintosh encoding format. File Type: Binary A file with the .hqx extension is a Macintosh binary file that has been converted into ASCII text so it can be safely sent over the Internet. You can use Stuffit Expander to decode on the Mac or BinHex4 (binhex4.bin) to create and extract Binhex 4 files. Use BinHex13 ( on a Windows machine to un-binhex it.

28 File Formats & Extensions
Compressed and Encoded Files .sit - A Macintosh file that has been compressed using a program called Stuffit. File Type: Binary To unstuff a file with a .SIT extension, you need a program called Stuffit Deluxe or you can use Stuffit Expander for the Mac or for Windows. All three versions can decompress other file formats as well. .sea - A Macintosh self-extracting archive file. File Type: Binary An archive file is usually a collection of files that have been combined into one to make it easy to download. Because the archive is self-extracting, you don't need any special application or utility to launch it. You simply click on the icon from the Macintosh desktop and it decompresses and unbundles the files. .tar/.tar.gz/.tar.Z/.tgz - A UNIX archiving scheme that is also available for PCs. File Type: Binary Tar, which is short for Tape ARchive, can archive files but not compress them, so .tar files are often gzipped, which is why you might occasionally encounter the file extension .tar.gz. To download and use .tar files on a Mac, you use a program called Tar. For Windows you can use WinZIP to view and extract archive files.

29 File Formats & Extensions
Compressed and Encoded Files .uu - A UUencoded file. File Type: Binary UUencoding allows the user to convert binary data into text so it can be sent via e- mail. You don't often see the .uu extension because many programs automatically decode it in a way that is invisible to you. If your mail program doesn't UUdecode files, then you can use UU Undo for the Mac and WinCode to UUdecode in Windows. .Z - A UNIX compression format. File Type: Binary You can use WinZIP to decompress and view files with this extension, or try Stuffit Expander for the Mac. You can also use gzip to decompress, but not create, these file types. .zip - A common compression standard for DOS and Windows that uses a DOS utility called PKZIP. File Type: Binary These files can be decompressed on the PC with WinZIP. You can get copies for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95/98/2000 (winzipXX.exe). You can also use Stuffit Expander for Mac or Windows.

30 File Formats & Extensions
Graphics Files .gif - The most common graphics file format on the Internet, it stands for Graphics Interchange Format. File Type: Binary If your browser does not have a built-in GIF viewer (but most do), then you can use Lview Pro ( or PolyView ( to view these graphics on a Windows PC. On the Mac, a shareware utility called GIF Converter can be used to view and modify GIFs. .jpg/jpeg/jfif - A popular compression standard used for photos and still images. File Type: Binary JPEG files can be viewed on any platform as long as you have a JPEG viewer. You can view JPEG files with most web browsers. For the Mac, use JPEGView; for the PC, you can use Lview Pro or PolyView. .tiff - A very large, high-resolution image format. File Type: Binary Use JPEGView for the Mac and Lview Pro or PolyView for the PC.

31 File Formats & Extensions
Sound Files .au/uLaw/MuLaw - The most common sound format found on the Web. File Type: Binary Macs need Sound App to play this type of file; PCs can use Waveform Hold and Modify ( which provides support for a variety of formats, conversion between them, and file editing functions. .aiff - Another fairly common sound format found on the Web. File Type: Binary Although it is a Macintosh format, it can be used on other platforms as well. It requires the same programs as .au to play. .mp3 - The most popular file format on the Web for distributing CD-quality music. A 1 Mb files is equal to about one minute of music. File Type: Binary This type of file requires an MP3 player, which is available for both Macintosh and Windows.

32 File Formats & Extensions
Sound Files .ra - A proprietary streaming audio format called RealAudio. File Type: Binary Developed by RealNetworks, RealAudio allows you to play sound files in real- time. This type of file requires the RealPlayer, available for both Macintosh and Windows. .wav - The native sound format for Windows. File Type: Binary On the Mac, you can use Sound App to play .wav files. For the PC, use aveform Hold and Modify or Goldwave to play these files. There's also a good program called Win Play! ( that will play it, as well as other popular formats. .wma - Short for "Windows Media Audio, this proprietary file format was developed by Microsoft to compete with .mp3. File Type: Binary This type of file requires the Windows Media Player.

33 File Formats & Extensions
Video Files .avi - The standard video format for Windows. File Type: Binary These files need an AVI Video for Windows player (aviprox.exe) or the Windows Media Player from Microsoft. .mov/.movie - The common format for QuickTime movies, the Macintosh native movie platform. File Type: Binary You can use a number of applications to play .mov files including Sparkle or MoviePlayer on the Mac, and QuickTime for Windows. .mpg/mpeg - A standard format for "movies" on the Internet, using the MPEG compression scheme. File Type: Binary On the Mac, use Sparkle to play ,mpg files or to convert them to QuickTime movies. There are a variety of MPEG Players for Windows and an MPEG FTP Site that has a large collection of MPEG player resources for all platforms (Mac, Windows, and UNIX).

34 File Formats & Extensions
Video Files .qt - Another extension that denotes a QuickTime movie. File Type: Binary Use the latest version of Quicktime for the Mac. .ram - A popular format from RealNetworks for streaming video. File Type: Binary To view these files, you need the RealPlayer, which can be downloaded from TRY THIS... For a comprehensive list and searchable database of thousands of file formats, visit ( To download software to decompress, view, or play any of the file formats covered here, visit (

35 I Spy In the real world, video cameras capture our every move at ATMs, convenience stores and shopping centres. Now, at startling speed, we're possibly being spied on when we surf the Net. Stealth software programs can be secretly installed on your computer. These programs, known as spyware, record what you do and send your private information to…well, who knows where? And all this is done without your knowledge or permission. What is It? Spyware is the name given to a wide and growing range of software programs designed to steal your personal information. This data is then sent to advertisers or possibly criminals. Some spyware records your keystrokes. Why would this interest thieves? Because when you log in to your financial accounts, they can figure out your passwords by analyzing what you typed. The next thing you know, all your money has been transferred out of your account. Other types of spyware may redirect you to unsavoury adult websites. Another type of spyware, called adware, is responsible for those annoying pop-up windows that litter your screen.

36 I Spy Sneaking In Spyware is typically downloaded from the Internet without your consent. It can take the form of a virus or be part of a "free" program that you download, such as Kazaa or other peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Once it's installed on your computer, it secretly gathers information and transmits it. It's true - Internet service provider Earthlink found that the average computer contains about twenty-six (26) spyware programs. Stop Those Prying Eyes Start by finding out if your computer has been infected. If it begins to run slowly or you are suddenly barraged by pop-ups, even if you're not on the Web, the chances are that it is. Some ISPs, like AOL, offer spyware screening as part of your subscription, but it's still a good idea to scan you computer regularly with anti-spyware software. We recommend doing it once a week. Two programd we like are Spybot Search & Destroy and Adaware Next, if spyware has infiltrated your computer, remove it as quickly as possible. Anti-spyware software scans your drives and shows you which programs are installed. You can then select the ones you want to remove. Be aware that by removing certain spyware software, it might disable the program that originally installed it on your computer

37 I Spy Be wary of sites that offer pirated programs.
Spy No More The good news is that you can avoid secret spyware. Here's how: Before you download free software, read the license agreement carefully. Very often, part of the deal is that you accept spyware as the price for using the software. If this is not acceptable to you, don't download it. Make sure your computer has a firewall. Be wary of sites that offer pirated programs. The same holds true of adult sites that offer free content. These sites are spyware magnets! The Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser has security settings that can restrict spyware from being installed. Make sure the security level is set to at least medium (the default setting). Keep your operating system and web browser up-to-date. Both Microsoft and Apple provide periodic product updates.

38 Monitor Settings Most people think of resolution in terms of photographs or television. In those media, resolution indicates picture sharpness. In the computer world however, screen resolution refers to the dimensions of the pixels displayed on a screen. You may have already noticed that your monitor can be set to different screen resolutions and to display different numbers of colors. For optimum viewing of web pages, we recommend that you use a monitor setting of at least 800 X 600 pixels with thousands of colors. Here's why: Screen Resolution Your computer may have come preset to a resolution of 640 X 480 pixels. That means that your monitor will display a screen that is 640 pixels wide and 480 pixels high regardless of whether you have a 15, 17 or 19-inch monitor. The size of the monitor does not determine the screen resolution. But the bigger the monitor, the larger the screen resolution you can use. If you have a 14 or 15-inch monitor, switch the resolution from 640 X 480 to 800 X 600 and to 1024 X 768 if your video card supports it. You will quickly see that everything gets smaller as the resolution increases. That's because the monitor is displaying a larger number of pixels in the same screen space. Most people find that text and images are too small at 1024 X 768 on a 14-inch monitor, but on a 17-inch or larger monitor you'll have additional screen real estate.

39 Monitor Settings Ideally, when viewing web pages, you want as high a resolution as you can get. We recommend using a resolution of 800 X 600 if you have a 14 or 15-inch monitor, and a resolution of 1024 X 768 for 17-inch and larger monitors. The larger the screen resolution, the more of a web page that will fit on the screen. Since many web pages are too large to fit on one screen, a larger resolution allows you to see more of the page. Changing the Resolution For Windows users, from the Start menu, first select the Control Panel. Now double-click on the Display icon,

40 Monitor Settings Then click on the Settings tab to see the current screen resolution. (For Windows XP uses, select Control Panel, Appearance and Themes, then Change Screen Resolution.) Change the resolution to the largest you can. We suggest X if you have a 17-inch or larger monitor or 800 X for a smaller monitor. Screen Colors The number of colors is also important. If you are working with professional graphics and digital photography and have a computer loaded with memory, use the Highest setting--32 bit. Otherwise, use the Medium setting--16 bit or 64,000 colors, which is a practical resolution to use on the Web. You get near photographic quality and you'll find that the Web becomes more vibrant when you surf with thousands of colors.

41 MP3 MP3 enables you to download songs quickly. A minute of music in MP3 format is about 1 Mb, so your average pop tune may be about 4 Mb. With a 56 Kbps modem, you can download a song in just a few minutes. If you have a high-speed connection, it only takes seconds. Digital audio files found on CDs are usually very large. But MP3, a file format that shrinks the audio data while preserving the quality, has made the distribution of near-CD quality music as easy as a click of your mouse. Hear it Now To play MP3 files you need an MP3 player, which comes in two varieties: portable players and software players. The portable players are hardware devices similar to CD or cassette players. Software players are programs you install on your computer. You may already have Windows Media Player. If not, you can download it from Microsoft. Two other excellent programs are iTunes ( from Apple and WinAmp (

42 MP3 After you download a song, you can play it as many times as you want, and even e- mail it to friends as an attachment to your messages. If you buy a portable player, you can transfer songs from your computer to the player for music on-the- go. . Once you have the player installed on your computer, it's time to listen to some music. A good place to start is at ( where you'll find thousands of songs available for downloading. Apple's iTunes software is designed to work with its wildly popular iPod. While it supports MP3 files, the iPod player works optimally with AAC files, an audio file format proprietary to Apple. Also, if you buy and download songs from Apple's online music store, they will be AAC files. A good resource for locating specific songs is the Lycos Music ( search engine, which claims to index over tens of thousands of songs. Try searching for "Sinatra" and see what you get!

43 MP3 Many MP3 songs are perfectly legal, because the copyright holder and the performer have granted their permission. In fact many young musicians see MP3 as a wonderful way to get exposure for their music while eliminating the middlemen - the record companies and music stores You should be aware that some people take songs from CDs, convert them to MP3 files, then post them on the Web or share them via peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa. This practice has record executives not only fuming, but filing lawsuits against the most flagrant violators. Why? Because it violates copyright laws. Free music means that neither the songwriter, performer nor the record company make any money. You can see why MP3 is challenging the status quo. Having said that, even established performers now make some of their new tunes available as MP3s on their websites. Many online music stores sell individual songs that can be downloaded for under US$ 1.00. While MP3 may eventually be replaced by other formats-- Microsoft has developed WMA and Apple has AAC--online music distribution is here to stay, offering music lovers a symphony of songs at unbeatable prices.

44 Plug-Ins To experience multimedia online, you'll need a computer equipped with sound and video cards and special software programs called plug- ins. A plug-in, also referred to as a player, extends the capabilities of your web browser, turning your computer into a radio or TV. Multimedia is one of the most exciting things about the Web--listening to radio programs and music, watching animations and videos, even gaming in three-dimensional space. Life online can be a much richer experience when you aren't restricted to just words and pictures. When you encounter a web page that requires a special plug- in, you will often be prompted to download it. If the page is set up properly, clicking the appropriate button takes you to the website of the plug-in developer, where you can download the plug-in. Most plug-ins are free and since they are small programs, they download quickly. Whether you use Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator, the procedure is basically the same.

45 You may have to restart your computer before the plug-in will work.
Plug-Ins Downloading and Installing a Plug-In If you don't already have one, create a folder on your hard drive for downloading files. We suggest that you name it something like "Temporary files." For each plug-in you want to download, create a sub-folder. This will make it easy to locate the downloaded program. You may have to restart your computer before the plug-in will work. Once you've installed the plug-in, you can delete the file you downloaded, freeing up space on your computer. When prompted, check the Save to Disk option, then click on the Browse button and locate the folder you created. Now begin the download into that folder. After the file is downloaded, close all programs running on your computer. Use Windows Explorer to locate the file on your hard drive (it will have a name like "plugin.exe") and double-click on it. This begins the installation process.

46 Plug-Ins Get Plugged-In Now
               Plug-Ins Get Plugged-In Now Instead of interrupting your Web surfing to download a new player every time you need one, take some time to install the most popular ones. Get animated with Shockwave ( an older, but still useful plug-in. At the Macromedia Showcase page you'll find links to exciting "shocked" sites. Most websites that want to add pizzazz now use Flash, another popular plug-in from Macromedia. It turns your computer into an interactive animation machine. After you install it, visit the Site of the Day. Turn your computer into a radio or television with the RealPlayer ( Once you install the RealPlayer, you can listen to the latest newscasts from National Public Radio, CNN, and hundreds of other sites. From Apple Computer comes QuickTime ( a plug-in for playing video clips on Macintosh and PC computers. Watch movie trailers and other multimedia with this useful little program.

47 Privacy The Internet is fast becoming the dominant medium for business and communication, but it still resembles something of a frontier, because there is little regulation. Most efforts have relied on the Internet industry to police itself. Although there has been some notable success with self-policing, continued abuses have increased calls for government intervention. Some aspects of the Internet could undoubtedly use regulation, but this task is not as simple as it may seem. The very nature of the Internet--a loose constellation of networks comprising millions of computers flung across the globe--makes it difficult, if not impossible to regulate. The absence of regulations means that everyone who uses this essentially public network can be a target for anyone who has the technical know-how and the desire to invade their privacy.. While the threat from hackers is low for individuals, a more serious threat to personal privacy comes from companies that operate websites. Many sites require you to register before you can use their services. Often you must provide personal information, such as your name, street address, and address. Then as you browse the site, data is collected as to which pages you visited, how long you remained on each page, the links you clicked, which terms you searched, and so on. After a number of visits to the site, a personal profile emerges. The question is, what do site operators do with this information?

48 Some websites sell information to marketers
Privacy Some websites sell information to marketers This means that you may find yourself receiving unwanted information from people or businesses that you have never heard of or whose sites you have never visited. Most claim that they use it to personalize your experience on the site. For instance, if a gardening site learns that you are interested in heirloom vegetables, the next time you visit the site, you might be presented with an article or advertisements for rare tomatoes. However, you can never be certain exactly what is happening with the information that is being collected. Junk mail is more of an annoyance than a serious problem. But what if you read articles about cancer on a health site? Would you want this information revealed to insurance companies? Most people consider that an invasion of privacy. Many sites now post their privacy policies online. Before you reveal any personal information, read the policy to make sure you agree with it. Some sites specifically seek your permission to share your personal data with third parties or to receive announcements. This is known as "opting in". To avoid this, opt out by checking the "No" box.

49 A cookie is a small file that is created and installed on your computer's hard drive by a website that wants to collect information about your interaction with the site. As you browse through the site, information is stored in the cookie. The next time you return to the site, that data is transmitted to the site. Privacy Cookies If you don't want your web surfing behavior to be tracked without your consent, configure your web browser to reject cookies. Only the site that created the cookie can read it, and it does not have access to other files on your computer. Cookies can be useful for things like storing a password so you don't have to enter it each time you access the site. But cookies are invasive because they are normally set without your consent. To control cookies when using Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or a higher version under the Tools menu, select Internet Options. Now click the Privacy tab and then select the Medium setting to block third party cookies that transmit personally identifiable information without your consent. With Netscape Navigator 7.0, under the Edit menu, click on Preferences, then click on Privacy and Security and Cookies. You can now choose whether to accept or reject all cookies, or to be warned before a cookie is placed on your computer.

50 Privacy Encryption Protect the privacy of your electronic communications by using encryption, a form of cryptography. Encryption requires special software to encode your or any other files you want to send securely over the Internet. The person receiving these files must use the same software to decode them. An excellent reference is the World Wide Web Virtual Library's Cryptography ( article, which includes an extensive list of related resources. If you are interested in efforts to regulate the Internet, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation website. .org/. .

51 Computer crime cost UK businesses £2.4bn in 2004.
Security Tips Computer crime cost UK businesses £2.4bn in To avoid becoming a victim of misguided pranksters or cyber-crime, take the time to examine the security of your personal data. . The openness of the Internet has dramatically transformed global communications, making it easy for people around the world to exchange information. But the very same openness also creates an enormous problem. Anyone can access the network, yet not everyone has good intentions. Some engage in malicious mischief by unleashing destructive software programs, while others view hacking computer networks as sport. Then there are people with criminal goals in mind. 1. Use anti-virus software. Viruses spread rapidly and can damage or destroy your computer. New ones appear almost daily. It's critical that you install and update anti-virus software regularly. Use the program to scan all the files on your system once a week, deleting the infected ones.

52 Security Tips 2. Be wary of attachments. Viruses can hide in an attachment. Opening it will unleash the virus. Don't open an attachment from anyone you don't know. Even if you do know the sender, an infected attachment may have been surreptitiously sent from an infected machine. The safest thing to do is to scan the attachment with anti-virus software before you open it. 3. Install a firewall on your computer. A firewall is a software program that blocks unauthorized access to your computer. This is particularly important if you have a broadband connection, such as DSL or a cable modem. One program that we like is ZoneAlarm. You can download it for free for personal use from Zone Labs ( 4. Protect your passwords. Many online services, such as banking, brokerage and require the use of passwords. A secure password is the first line of defense against cyber- snoops. Use a different password for each account, don't divulge them to anyone and change them periodically.

53 Security Tips 5. Update security patches for your operating system and web browser. You've probably read about security "holes" that turn up periodically. Once they are discovered, you can download fixes. For Windows users, an easy way to update your system is by clicking on the Windows Update option under the Start menu or by pointing your web browser to this link: 6. Back up your data. Make copies of your files in case they become corrupted or your system fails. Get in the habit of doing this regularly, at least once a week. 7. Log offline when you are done for the day. You are most vulnerable when connected to the Net. If there isn't a good reason to remain online, disconnect from the network. Follow these tips and you will enhance your personal security and the health of your PC.

54 Safety Tips For Parents
Just as in the real world, parents should exercise supervision. Of course this is easier said then done, particularly when children may be more comfortable with computers than their parents. If this sounds like you, don't be intimidated by the technology.. You may have heard stories about children being exploited online, whether through unwanted overtures by adults or exposure to sexually oriented or violent material. Considering the tens of millions of kids who use the Net daily, the frequency with which these incidents occur is relatively small. While it's true that material of a sexual nature can be readily accessed over the Internet, this kind of content represents only a fraction of the vast collection of information online. The chances of a child accidentally stumbling across inappropriate material are increasing, even though many sites now clearly post warnings. Before permitting access, many adult-oriented sites require visitors to register and provide a credit card number to verify their age. Unfortunately, a few high profile incidents obscure the fact that cyberspace teems with extraordinary resources for both adults and children

55 If a six-year- old can use a computer, you can too.
Safety Tips For Parents To prevent children from becoming victims, consider these guidelines: You don't have to understand how an internal combustion engine works to drive a car. If a six-year- old can use a computer, you can too. Use common sense. Don't just get them an AOL or other Internet account and turn them loose. Monitor their activity. Ask them which sites they visit and why. Set up the computer in a common area so you can keep an eye on things. Check the web browser's History file to see which sites they access. Set limits. It's up to you to determine when your kids can go online and how much time they spend. Use filtering software. Although not perfect, you can block selected websites. Here are some products to evaluate: Cyber Patrol ( CYBERsitter ( Net Nanny (

56 Or ask your kids for help!
Safety Tips For Parents Many libraries, community centres and colleges offer hands-on training, so take the time to familiarize yourself with the technology. Or ask your kids for help! Ask your kids to agree to these rules: Don't give out a credit card number online or via . Don't divulge any personal information without your approval. Make sure they let you know immediately if they encounter any material that makes them feel uncomfortable. Technology expert Larry Magid has an excellent collection of information about child safety on his website( Another information-rich site with practical tips is GetNetWise (

57 Film sales are falling by 20% a year.
Share Your Digital Photos Digital cameras and camera phones have certainly captured the public eye. Last year consumers bought over 500 million of them in the United States. Film sales are falling by 20% a year. The chances are that you already have one of these handy devices and have amassed a pile of pictures on your PC. Part of the fun of photography is sharing your images with friends and family. Traditionally, people have made prints from their film and if you have a colour printer, you can easily print your digital files right at home - no need to spend money for film processing anymore. But with digital photos you have some 21st century options – ing your images or sharing them online. ing: Just Attach and Send ing can be quick and simple - all you have to do is download the pictures from your camera to your computer, select the ones you want and attach them to your . But before you click the Send button, keep a few things in mind.

58 Share Your Digital Photos
Many digital cameras now come with photo editing software that you can install on your computer. For around $100, you can buy programs such as Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro and Microsoft Digital Image Pro that easily reduce file size, as well as a lot of other useful things. Share Your Digital Photos Digital images are typically stored as jpeg files (you'll notice the .jpg file extension at the end of the file name). With today's megapixel cameras, snapping a photo at high resolution can result in an image with a very large file size, sometimes .5 megabyte or more. If you plan to print your photos, you will want high resolution images, as they will give you much sharper, clearer prints. But e- mailing high resolution images presents some problems. Unless you have a broadband Internet connection, it can take a long time to send these huge files. The same is true for the recipient downloading large attachments over a dial-up connection can try anyone's patience. Also, large files may clog the recipient's mailbox or worse, your message may be rejected because it's over the account limit. So what do you do?

59 Share Your Digital Photos
If you have no intention of making prints of your photos, then shoot them at low resolution, say 600 x 800 pixels. Most cameras have a manual control to set the image size. An added benefit is that because the images are smaller, you can store more of them in the camera's memory. Remember to make a copy of the original file, then save the copy at the smaller size. Otherwise you may overwrite - and lose forever - your original high resolution file. Another option is to shoot at high resolution, then reduce the file size of the photos you want to e- mail. You can do this a few different ways. If you use Microsoft Outlook for your , there's a handy feature that will automatically reduce the size of photo files. After you attach the photos, click on the Attachment Options button, then select the appropriate setting. Once you've reduced your masterpieces to a manageable size, just attach and send.

60 Share Your Digital Photos
With the explosion of digital photography, you can now find dozens of services for building an online album. Most are easy to use, with standard features. All of them require you to register first and offer password protection to limit access to your album. . Create an Online Album ing images works well for sending several snapshots at a time, but you may want to create a virtual photo album, complete with fancy titles and captions. In many ways, your album is similar to a personal web page--in this case, it's where you upload and display your personal photos. It's a terrific way to share events like birthdays, weddings, family celebrations and vacations. Instead of sending the actual images, you simply a link to the album to friends and family. You may wonder why these companies offer this service for free. While it may be "free" to build your online album, there is a price to pay. Expect to receive from them promoting their products. They're betting that once you become a customer, you and the people you invite to page through your album will order prints or other merchandise from them. After all, they've got to make a buck somehow.

61 Choose a service with staying power.
Share Your Digital Photos The following have all been around a while and as of this writing, they're all free. Kodak EasyShare Gallery ( from the company that brought photography to the masses, provides unlimited storage for your pictures. While you are required to make a yearly purchase to keep your account active, 4" X 6" prints only cost US $.15 each--cheap enough. But if you don't buy something, say goodbye to grandma's 80th birthday album. Shutterfly ( like the other services, lets you share photos online, but the service is really geared to selling custom prints and gift items, such as greeting cards and calendars. The site has some good tools for organizing your ever-expanding collection. If you want to mail photos to friends and family, Shutterfly does all the work for you. Downside: anyone who wants to view your album has to register. Choose a service with staying power. After all your hard work designing your album, you certainly don't want to lose it if a website shuts down.

62 Share Your Digital Photos
Snapfish ( provides unlimited storage and some handy online picture editing tools. For digital images, you can upload or them from your PC or send them from your mobile phone to the site. You can also mail in film for processing and they will automatically put your shots online. Like the other services, you can order all kinds of gifts, like a mug with your mug on it. Yahoo! Photo requires that you become a Yahoo! Member, but once you join, you can create individual albums--a nice feature. You can also edit or delete your albums. Yahoo! offers unlimited storage and the requisite photo printing and gift items. Downside: Yahoo! deletes accounts inactive for six months. Don't just let your photos gather dust on your hard drive. Go out there and share them!

63 Do you need a newsreader?
First you need a newsreader program. Both Navigator and Internet Explorer have built-in newsreader software. Do you need a newsreader? Visit the Ultimate Guide to Newsreaders. ( ommended- newsreaders. htm) Newsgroups There are literally thousands of newsgroups covering every topic imaginable-- from computers, social issues, literature and science, to recreation, entertainment, hobbies and current affairs. In newsgroups you can find job postings, business and healthcare advice, announcements about events, referrals, political and religious discussions-- even photos you can download. Newsgroups provide a way to quickly communicate with people from all over the world who share your interests, without ever having to leave your keyboard. You can communicate with them anytime you like. (By the way, you can read what others are posting without responding.) The great feature of newsgroups is that anyone can participate, though not all Internet service providers offer access to every newsgroup.

64 Find the newsgroup of your dreams with Google Groups
Newsgroups Determine which newsgroups interest you and subscribe to them. Because of the sheer volume of newsgroups available on the Internet, only subscribe to those that really interest you. Keep in mind that newsgroups were once the only way to have so- called threaded discussions, where related messages are grouped together. Today, many websites have discussion group postings. When you are looking for a discussion to join, look at websites as well as newsgroups. A Brief History of Newsgroups Like many services on the Internet, newsgroups had their humble beginnings in an academic environment. In 1979 a couple of Duke University graduate students connected some computers together to exchange information with the UNIX community. At the same time, another graduate student at the University of North Carolina wrote the first version of the software used to distribute news. TRY THIS... Find the newsgroup of your dreams with Google Groups (

65 Newsgroups This network, called Usenet, grew into a voluntary, cooperative exchange of newsfeeds, eventually evolving into electronic discussion groups. While there are some places that charge a fee for the newsfeed, Usenet continues to reflect its origins as an academic project designed to distribute information freely to anyone who wants it. Usenet newsgroups are transmitted through UUCP (a fee-based system) or NNTP, a more common and free method of transport. The newsfeed can be held on a system until a sister site calls up and gets it, or as is increasingly the case, direct connections remain open between sites at all times, sending news out to other nodes on the Net as soon as it is received. Each system administrator decides which newsgroups will be carried on the system. Since newsgroups take up valuable hard drive space and transmission bandwidth, administrators may choose not to carry all hierarchies. The Internet carries many kinds of resources of which Usenet is only one. Usenet is also carried on networks that are not part of the Internet. You can find some of the more interesting information on the Internet in newsgroups, electronic forums where people post messages of mutual interest.

66 Searching Newsgroups To access them you need a software program called a newsreader that keeps track of the newsgroups you have subscribed to. Both Internet Explorer and Navigator have built-in newsreader programs To read or participate in a newsgroup you must first subscribe to it. One way to start is to review a complete list of newsgroups available to you from your Internet service provider (ISP). But since there are tens of thousands of newsgroups, this is a very time-consuming process. (Note that not all ISPs carry all newsgroups.) A more efficient way is to search for newsgroups using some of the same search tools you use to search for websites, such as Yahoo! and Lycos. Another service we recommend is Google Groups, which lets you quickly search archives of newsgroup postings. If you're new to this, you may not know what to search for. Start by looking for lists of newsgroups. For the "official" list of hierarchies (the newsgroups starting with comp., misc., new., rec., sci., soc., and talk.), see the two-part article "List of Active Newsgroups" available in one of the following newsgroups: news.lists news.groups news.answers

67 Start Your Own Newsgroup
The best way to read newsgroups is to use a stand-alone newsreader program, although you can use the newsreaders that are included with Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. If you are interested in starting a newsgroup, don't try it alone the first time around. Find someone who has been through the process before. Many arcane customs and rules have sprung up around creating new newsgroups. Let's say you are a cactus aficionado and want to start a newsgroup at rec.gardens.cactus. The process you would go through is as follows: A formal Request for Discussion (RFD) is posted to news.announce.newgroup and any other newsgroups related to the topic. Interested people will discuss the name of the group, where it should go in the hierarchy, and whether your group is really necessary. If there is no agreement on these issues at the end of 30 days, the discussion will be taken to , where the idea may eventually be killed, or the participant will come back with a new proposal and make a new Request for Discussion.

68 The ones built into web browsers are more limited in what they can do.
Start Your Own Newsgroup Specialized programs allow you to manage the huge volume of messages in many newsgroups. The ones built into web browsers are more limited in what they can do. Once the name, place, and purpose of the group are decided, a Call for Votes CFV) is posted to news.announce.newsgroups and other related groups. The voting period will be more than 20 days, but less than 30. Votes are sent via to a list moderator. At the end of the voting period, the results are posted to news.announce.newsgroup. A mandatory five day waiting period after the vote is posted allows for correction of any errors in or discussion of the vote count. If there are no serious objections and if there were 100 more "yes" votes than "no" votes, and if at least two-thirds of the total number of votes were "yes" votes, the group will be created, and the moderator will send out an announcement. If the proposal fails, a new RFD can be proposed after a six month waiting period and the whole process begins again.

69 You can check just one or all of the newsgroups you've subscribe to.
Subscribing & Reading Newsgroups You can check just one or all of the newsgroups you've subscribe to. The simplest approach is to download all of the new responses from all newsgroups at the same time and then read them. Once you have downloaded your ISP's newsfeed into your reader software, select the newsgroups you wish to subscribe to. Then visit those newsgroups whenever you like. If you subscribe to a lot of newsgroups, this is the time to have a large cup of coffee! The newsreader software will display a list of all new responses. The best way to manage this is to thread your reader so that it groups related responses together. To do this, order the postings by subject. That way you will see the postings and the responses together.

70 Ten Tips For Smart & Safer Shopping
Online shopping has never been more popular. The reasons are easy to see--buying online saves time and money. Before you hit the virtual malls, review these tips 1. Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable sites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or SET (Secure Electronic Transmission) that encrypt data during transmission. You can tell if this technology is in use when the lock icon at the bottom of your web browser window is closed. (In no case should you send your credit card number by .) Another way is to check the address of the site you are accessing; it should begin with "https". (notice the extra s rather than just http). 2. Shop with businesses you already know and trust. Many retailers now offer online shopping. One advantage is that some let you return merchandise to their store, instead of shipping it back. If you want to make a purchase from a store you haven't heard of before, do some research. Start with Consumer Affairs Also, make sure the site lists a physical address, not just a post office box. Finally, check to see if it displays seals from consumer protection organizations. You can also check what other shoppers have to say about a particular merchant.

71 Ten Tips For Smart & Safer Shopping
3. Look for coupons and other discounts. Many online merchants offer rebates that can save you a bundle of money. To receive the discount, typically you enter the coupon code in the order form. It's then deducted from the total purchase price. For travellers, many airline sites offer weekly specials and e-fares. To keep informed of these discounts, sign up for newsletters at their websites. 4. Comparison shop. So-called shopping bots compare prices for products across a number of websites. You'd be amazed at the range of prices you'll find. Start with this trio: PriceRunner Shopzilla 5. Be skeptical. Be wary of deals that appear too good to be true. They probably are. If you have suspicions, call the merchant and ask those tough questions. No phone number listed on the site? Then take your business somewhere else.

72 Ten Tips For Smart & Safer Shopping
6. Check the shipping costs. Shipping, especially for next day delivery, could make the total purchase price more than what you would pay in a retail store. At one time, many sites offered free shipping as a way to attract customers. While those days are over for the most part, some sites still offer free or discounted shipping for purchases over a certain amount. 7. Protect private information. All reputable sites should post a privacy policy that explains what they do with customer information. Take a few minutes to review it. If you don't agree with the policy - some sites sell data to third parties - don't shop at the site. Even if you have no objections, don't provide unnecessary information by filling out the optional fields in the order form. 8. Review the return and refund policy. How do you return unwanted merchandise? How long do you have? Will you receive a full refund? Who pays for return shipping? An e-tailer should provide answers. If not, call the merchant before you buy.

73 Ten Tips For Smart & Safer Shopping
9. Pay with plastic. Credit cards offer the same consumer protection whether shopping online or offline. You can also challenge charges and withhold payment in the event of a dispute with a merchant. An alternative payment option, particularly for buying from auction sites, is setting up an account with Paypal. You electronically transfer money from your bank account into your Paypal account, then you can use it to pay merchants. 10. Print a copy of your order for your records. After you submit an order, you will get a screen with details of the transaction. Sometimes there is a link to a web page where you can check the delivery status. You may also receive an confirmation.

74 Ten Privacy Tips Almost everything you do online, whether it's visiting a website or sending , leaves a trail of personal data. Some of it remains on your computer, some is transmitted to third parties. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, you can control who sees it. In the interest of protecting your privacy, we offer some tips. 1. 1.1 Don't mix business and leisure. Get an address for personal use. You have little privacy protection with company . Most businesses claim that it is their right and responsibility to monitor because it represents the company, uses company equipment and travels over the company network. You could argue the point, but getting a private address is much easier. Use your business address for company business only.

75 Ten Privacy Tips 1.2 Use encryption software.
Unless you encrypt your messages - essentially scrambling the data - your is no more private than a postcard. An easy-to-use encryption program you can download for free is PGP ( 1.3 Ignore spam. Sure, junk is a nuisance, but it's easier to get rid of than the paper kind - just hit the Delete key. If you reply to spam, asking to be removed from the list, it just confirms that your address is valid. You will soon be spammed and spammed again. 1.4 Remove old from your computer. When you delete messages, they are still on your system. To permanently remove them, open the Deleted Mail folder, highlight the messages and delete them again. Be aware that messages may still reside somewhere on your computer. A trained technician may be able to recover them. Messages may also remain on the mail server and be archived in file back-ups.

76 Ten Privacy Tips 2. Web Surfing 2.1 Turn on the cookie alert.
A cookie is a small file sent to your web browser by a web server to record your activities on a particular website. To block the cookie, set your browser to warn you before a cookie is written to your hard drive, then decide whether to accept or reject it. Here's how: If you use Netscape Navigator 5.0 or a later release, go to the Edit menu, choose Preferences, then click on Advanced. Now check this box: "Warn me before accepting a cookie." If you use Internet Explorer 5.0 or a later release, go to the Tools menu, then select Internet Options. Next, click on the Security tab, then click on the Custom Level button. Scroll down the list. Under the Cookie category, check the Prompt option.

77 Ten Privacy Tips 2.2 Use Anonymizers.
To prevent your activities from being tracked as you browse websites, use online tools that disguise who you are and where you come from. One reliable service we recommend is ( 2.3 Review sites' privacy policies. Before you provide any information to a site, read its privacy policy. Every reputable site should post one. Look for a link on the home page. The policy should state what information is collected, how it is used, how it is protected, who has access to it, and if it is sold or shared with third parties. If no policy is available, think twice about providing personal information. 2.4 Opt-out. Websites that collect personal data may allow you to decide whether the data can be shared with third parties, such as marketing companies, and whether you want to receive offers from them. Typically you check a box, either agreeing to this or refusing. You have no obligation to share your personal information with anyone, so opt-out if the offer holds no interest.

78 Ten Privacy Tips 3. Your Computer
3.1 Make sure your computer is secure. If you access the Internet with a dial-up account, the chances of data theft are minimal. But if you have high-speed Internet access, such as DSL or a cable modem, watch out. With these "always on" connections, you become a more likely target for hackers. Be sure your computer has a firewall. Microsoft's XP operating system has one built-in. But if you need to install a firewall, we recommend ZoneAlarm. 3.2 Clean up your history files, location bar list and cache. As you surf the Web, your browser both records the addresses of where you have been and stores downloaded files in a cache. If you want to keep this information from prying eyes, clear the temporary Internet files, delete the history files and the drop-down list under the address or location bar. While this may seem an extreme step, if you share a computer, or use a public computer, consider doing this. Here's how:

79 Ten Privacy Tips If you use Netscape Navigator 6.0 or a later release,
go to the Edit menu, choose Preferences, click on Navigator, then History. now click on the Clear History and Clear Location Bar buttons. Next, To clear the cache, click on Advanced then Cache. next, click on the Clear Cache button. If you use Internet Explorer 5.0 or a later release, under the Tools menu, select Internet Options. now click on the General tab. next, click on the Delete Files and Clear History buttons.

80 The technology that makes this all possible is called streaming audio.
Web Radio The technology that makes this all possible is called streaming audio. "Streaming" means that you don't have to download an entire audio file before the music starts to play. Imagine using your computer to listen to the radio. It may seem like a strange thing to do, until you realize that there are thousands of radio stations around the world and most of them only broadcast locally. By putting their programming online, these stations can now reach a global audience. Let's say you have just moved to London from Chicago and long for some blues music. Listen to blues hits from 99.5 The Wolf right over the Net. Best of all, Internet radio puts you in control. You can listen to what you want, when you want. Get Plugged-In To listen to radio online, your computer must be equipped with a sound card and speakers or you will need headphones. Then you may need an audio player plug-in for your web browser. If you're not sure what this is or you want to know how to install it, read the plug-in article.

81 Regardless, you won't hear hi-fi audio, at least not yet.
Web Radio Don't expect miracles with online radio. The audio players work adequately with a dial-up connection, but just like the rest of the Net, the faster your connection, the better the results. Regardless, you won't hear hi-fi audio, at least not yet. If you're already familiar with these handy programs, we recommend that you download two free ones, RealPlayer from RealNetworks and the Windows Media Player from Microsoft. (By the way, both support streaming video, too.) These two plug-ins are not cross-compatible; you can't play a RealMedia file with a Windows Media Player and visa versa. Windows users may already have the Windows Media Player on their system. To find out, click on the Start button, go to All Programs, the Accessories folder, then the Entertainment folder. Streaming audio technology has been improving steadily though, and may soon deliver the crisp sound we've come to expect from CDs. In general, speech sounds better than music.

82 Web Radio Some online radio programs are indexed, which means you can jump right to the part you want to hear, for instance skipping the weather report to take in the local sports scores. Take Control One compensation for the low-fi sound is the control you have over the program. Just like with cassette recorders, software audio players have control panels, so you can play, pause, fast-forward and rewind at will. Turn on Those Tunes Now that you have the audio player installed, what can you listen to? Make your first stop Radio-Locator ( The site boasts thousands of stations worldwide that have websites. Although only some of them "broadcast" over the Net, there's certainly enough to keep you busy for quite a while. If you just can't get enough of Car Talk click on over to the National Public Radio website ( to listen to highlights of this and other favorites.

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