This page provides Internet help in the form of information on Internet security, Internet privacy, tells you which is the best Web browser, how to turn off popup ads, how to stop loading ads in your browser, free bandwidth tests, how to protect your e-mail privacy, et cetera.
The Internet help given here is free. Other people will charge you for that information, or insist you buy a program to do some of the things listed, but I tell you how to do it for free, saving you money, and the time and headache of having to learn more programs. :-)
While new users to the Internet will benefit from this Internet help page the most, more experienced users may not know of some of the things covered here. If you want to help out other people, especially those who are using the Internet for the first time, please give them the URL to this page. Put it in e-mails, give it out in chats, or, if you have a Web page of your own, link to it. It's a far safer page for people to go to for help than many other pages they could try, there's no charge to use it, and I, unlike most other .com sites, aren't trying to sell them anything. :-) If you want to donate a dollar to help keep it going, that's up to you, but it's not required, or even expected.
Just make certain you tell everybody about this page now, as there's probably going to be a lot of... disgruntled advertisers out there who won't like me doing this kind of thing.
Web Browser Review.
How to turn off popup ads.
How to stop seeing banner ads and other ads on a page.
Internet Privacy and Cookies.
Free Bandwidth Testing.
Web Browser Review:
After being on the Internet since 1995, I've decided that I like the Firefox Web browser the best.
You can download it for free here. If you want the most stable version, avoid the alpha versions. You can sometimes tell if they're alpha by an a after the version number.
My reasons for choosing the Firefox Web browser:
#1: It's not made by Microsoft. That means that it's not tied in with the operating system, if you're using Windows. Also, if somebody wants to put something that will compromise the security of your computer on a Web page, their first choice would be to create it with Internet Explorer in mind, as most first time users of the Internet use it. Unknown to users of Microsoft Internet Explorer, people who know enough about HTML can create links on pages which, after somebody is made to click on them, it'll delete whatever the link specified. Oops!
#2: It's free! :-)
#3: It has an e-mail program in it if you get the full Mozilla Suite, sometimes called 'Seamonkey'. So, you're not stuck using Outlook Express for e-mail. As most people will tell you, a lot of those viruses and worms are written for Microsoft products, so if you avoid using Microsoft products as much as possible, your chances of getting hit with a virus or worm drop considerably.
#4: It contains privacy options that you'd ordinarily have to pay for by buying programs that do the same thing that Firefox (and the Mozilla Suite) does for free. Like a popup ad blocker, a way to turn off a lot of ads on Web pages, e-mail filters for spam, et cetera. More detail on the rest of this page.
#5: It's up to date with Web standards, unlike Internet Explorer, which can't correctly interpret things like CSS 2 which has been standardized since the mid 1990s.
To see proof of this, check my CSS and the History of Web Browsers page.
How to turn off popup ads:
Firefox users: For Firefox users, this is extremely easy! :-) Select Tools > Options... > Web Features on the left side and on the right side will appear a box you can check to block popup windows. This may make some sites un-usable like those who use popup windows for short duration video files, but you can always turn it back on temporarily for those.
Mozilla Suite (AKA Seamonkey) users: For Mozilla users, this is almost as easy, but gives you finer control. :-) Select Edit > Preferences... > Privacy & Security category > Popup Windows subcategory > and check the box that says "Block unrequested popup windows". You'll still get the popup windows that you click on but that means you want something to happen. It's those annoying popup ads you can live without!
Internet Explorer users: Well, the easiest solution is to get a better Web browser like Firefox or the full-featured Mozilla Suite, but if you insist upon using Internet Explorer... Go to Tools > Internet Options... > Security tab. If the slider is there, move it all the way up to High. If it's not there, hit the Default Level button, then move the slider to High. Click Apply and OK if you're done, and that's it. You'll have to set this back to Default if you use the Windows Update thing, and possibly for some Web-based e-mail services, but it's up to you if you want the inconvenience of using an inferior Web browser.
How to stop seeing banner ads and other ads on a page:
Mozilla Suite users: Select Edit > Preferences... > Privacy & Security category > Images subcategory and check the box that says "Accept images that come from the originating server only". That will get rid of most of the banner ads you see on Web pages, as well as a lot of the little ones. The pages you see won't be quite as colorful, but they should load faster, and you won't have as many ads to put up with. While you're there, you may also want to check the box that says "Do not load remote images in Mail & Newsgroup messages".
Firefox users: Select Tools > Options... > Web Features on the left side & check the box on the right side that says "Load Images" (if it's not checked already), then > check the box that says "for the originating web site only".
The rest of you: You guys are on your own. Either make the switch to Firefox or the Mozilla Suite, or put up with all the ads they want to throw at you.
Step #1: Get a firewall!Windows users: If you're using something like Windows XP, you've more than likely already got one on your computer. But it's probably not turned on. Go to Start button > Control Panel > Network Connections. Then, right-click on the connection you see in the list that you're using, and select Properties. Select the Advanced tab. Check the box in there that talks about the Internet Connection Firewall. Provided you don't have to use your computer for a server, you should be fine. But I wouldn't count on the Windows firewall stopping everything. Get another firewall on top of it.
The best free firewall I've found so far: ZoneAlarm. You can download it here. After you've downloaded it, create a folder for it to have for itself. Then, copy the program into it. You may want to keep the original copy in the folder you downloaded it into just in case, or if you've got a CD burner, you can make a copy of it and other free programs onto a CD, provided they say you can. Check the license agreement if you're not sure that you can. After you've copied ZoneAlarm to the folder where you're going to install it into, double click on it to install it.
You'll probably want to set both the Internet Zone Security and Trusted Zone Security levels to High. Program control should be set to at least Medium. ZoneAlarm will ask you when programs want to access the Internet. For some programs, it's okay, but for others, you may want to re-consider.
If you selected not to let a program have access to the Internet, and you discover that you can't connect or download anything, open up ZoneAlarm, click on Program Control, then the Programs tab, and left click once on each program name in the list to select it to find out what it is. If it's in one of the Windows sub-folders, you'll probably want to give it access to the Internet. If it's not, the choice is up to you.
Web browsers need to have permission to access the Internet, but some media players you may not want to give access to unless you're playing files that are on the Internet. If you're just playing stuff you have on your computer, they won't need access.
The way most people use ZoneAlarm is to have it not give you 'Informational alerts'. Which basically means that it won't popup a window every single time some clueless newbie wants to 'ping' you. Yes, there are things you can do about that kind of person, but I won't tell you. I have enough authority figures looking over my shoulder as it is, thank you very much.
Step #2: Get an anti-virus program!This is very important especially if you're using Windows, as a lot of people like writing viruses and worms for Microsoft products.
There's a lot of anti-virus programs out there, but one of the best I've found to date is Norton's. If you get Norton's SystemWorks, it also comes with better stuff than Microsoft gave you to keep your computer running smoothly.
Yes, there are free anti-virus programs available, but just between you and me, I'm not sure if I want to trust something as important as my computer files to a company that doesn't update their program very often to be able to recognize the latest viruses and worms. The anti-virus programs that you pay for do that on a regular basis, and some even have auto-updaters and live update options so you can do it whenever you want to.
Step #3: Test your computer's security!One of the best sites that test your computer's security for free, and don't insist you download and install anything is the Shield's Up! thing. Click here to go to the site, then find the Shield's Up! part on the pages there. It's pretty fast, and you'll get the results back within a minute or so most of the time. Mozilla / Firefox users, you'll have to allow images for all sites to enjoy this one, though.
For those who aren't aware of it, yet, everything you do on-line can be monitored. Those who can do it range from government agencies, your boss and fellow employees as well as your ISP to your bored neighbor who wants to see what you're doing on-line.
Many Web sites also monitor their site traffic, and keep records of visitors' IP addresses, browser types, operating systems, country of origin, what specific pages and files they view on the site, which page they went to first, and which page they saw last. They can even tell which page you were looking at before you got there and what you searched for in a search engine to find their site. Trust somebody who's been making Web pages since 1995. This stuff is child's play, and you don't even have to accept a cookie for them to know that information about you.
What To Do About Cookies:Mozilla Suite users: If you want to turn off cookies, just select Edit > Preferences... > Privacy & Security > Cookies. Then you can just check the button that says Disable cookies. If you have to use Web-based e-mail, you can just change it to Enable cookies for the originating Web site only. I recommend that if you do that, you also check the boxes to Disable cookies in Mail & Newsgroups, Ask me before storing a cookie, and Limit maximum lifetime of cookies to: current session.
Netscape users: You can probably do the same thing that the Mozilla users do.
Internet Explorer users: To turn off cookies, go to Tools > Internet Options... > Privacy tab. Then move the slider up as high as it will go to Block all cookies. If you have to use Web-based e-mail, or Windows Update, you'll have to have Cookies enabled, but you can probably get away with only setting it as low as High. If it requires more, you'll probably be told by the site.
How to Web-surf as privately as possible:Do as much of the above stuff as you can, and also try The Anonymizer for free. And yes, the last time I checked, they were using Red Hat Linux' Apache server software. LOL The free version of The Anonymizer won't let you Web-surf to all the pages on the Internet, but it'll let you do it with some of them, and that's better than no help at all. :-) They also have programs you can buy from them which will encrypt the information going between your computer and them so that even some bored technician working at your ISP wouldn't be able to see what you're doing on-line. If you can afford it and you like your privacy, you may want to check it out.
Free Bandwidth Testing:
There's a lot of sites out there that charge you for this service, but only a few that do it for free, and do it half-way accurately. The DSL reports site is one of those. Click here to try their Speed Tests. If one of them is busy, you can always try another they have listed, or come back later.
Check out my E-mail Privacy / PGP Made Easy page. That's where you'll find download links for free encryption programs and step by step instructions on how to encrypt your e-mail so nobody but the person you're sending it to can read it. :-)
If you want to be helpful, I encourage you to pass this page's location out to everybody you know who could use a little help, and most especially the new people to the Internet. Your way of doing your good deed for the day :-)
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CyberWoLfman's Pix #4. Back to the real world. Includes Halloween pictures, party pictures, more pictures of Bloomington-Normal Illinois including events, people, theaters, et cetera.