The Portable Freeware Collection is my first stop when looking for applications for my USB flash drive.  The site prides itself on cataloging software that can be run without installation.  This makes it ideal for USB drives, but it is also quite useful when moving applications from computer to computer.

Keyboard Shortcuts (Part 2)

October 2nd, 2006

Today’s focus will be on Internet Explorer.

  • F5: Refresh current page.
  • F11: Full screen mode.
  • CTRL+N: Open new window.
  • Ctrl+B: Organize bookmarks.
  • Ctrl+E: Search sidebar.
  • Ctrl+H: History sidebar.
  • Ctrl+I: Favorites sidebar.
  • Alt+Left: Go back a page.
  • Alt+Right: Go forward a page.
  • Alt+Home: Home page.
  • Ctrl+F5: Refresh page and cache.
  • Esc:  Stop downloading page.

These are for IE7:

  • Ctrl+Q: Open Quick Tab view.
  • Ctrl+T: Open new tab.
  • Ctrl+Shift+Q: View list of open tabs.
  • Ctrl+Tab: Next tab.
  • Ctrl+Shift+Tab: Previous tab.
  • Ctrl+left mouse click: Open link in background tab.
  • Ctrl+Shift+left mouse click: Open link in foreground tab.
  • Alt: Toggle Menu Bar

Opera Mini 2.0

September 30th, 2006

Opera Mini is an impressive little web browser for your phone. It allows you to access the web via a remote server that pre-process web pages before sending them to your phone. The content is optimized for your device, providing good performance and a suprisingly great experience. I loaded it on my RAZR and have been pleasantly surprised by how well it works and how well it displays the pages. Definitely something to check out.

You can download Opera Mini using your phone’s browser and going to http://mini.opera.com/

Did You Know?

September 30th, 2006

Firefox is not safer than Internet Explorer

According to a recent security report from Symantec, “Mozilla browsers had the most vulnerabilites, 47, compared to 38 in Microsoft Internet Explorer.”  Firefox has some great features and is a fine browser to use, just don’t hang your hat on the misconception that it is a more secure browser.
 

Howstuffworks

September 26th, 2006

Howstuffworks is a great source of easy-to-understand explanations of how all kinds of things actually work.  Be careful though, I ended up spending a couple of hours there during my first visit, I kept finding more and more that I wanted to read about.  A definite keeper for your Favorites folder!

The Phrontistery

September 25th, 2006

The Phrontistery  is a great resource for finding definitions to rare and obscure words.  This site is full of words that I never knew existed (such as phrontistery!).  I originally came across it while looking for a new name for my server.

StumbleUpon

September 23rd, 2006

I “stumbled upon” (ouch, bad pun!) this site while analyzing my blog’s traffic.  StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com) is a vehicle for discovering and sharing websites.  It uses ratings to form opinions on website quality.  You can join up and install he toolbar (works on IE and Firefox) to gain the benefits of delivering to you pages that match your preferences or you can go to Stumble Buzz to see what’s hot in various categories.  Good for finding what’s new and exciting on the web.

Google Mobile Homepage

I was happy to find that Google allows you to customize your personal Google homepage so that you can view it on your phone. From your PC’s browser, go to http://www.google.com/ig/cp and you will see your homepage layout. Select what you want to be available on your phone (not all options are available). After you are done, simply go to google.com/ig on your cell phone’s browser to see your mobile homepage. Now I can keep up with new recipes at Tech-Rx plus the blogs as well as weather, sports, stocks, etc., all on one page. It works great on my RAZR and hopefully it will help me with my computer withdrawal when I am out and about.

It sometimes amazes me how many computer users out there are going online totally unprotected. They’ve disabled (or simply never enabled) their firewall, never installed an antivirus application, have no spyware detection and yet continue to download everything they can find on the internet. While the internet offers a great wealth of knowledge and wondrous areas to explore, one must understand that there is a moat of sewage existing there as well. Viruses, malware, spyware, worms, and bots all wait in the shadows to exploit an unprotected system. While it is almost impossible to have a system that is completely immune to their infections, you can provide a decent layer of protection in just a few easy steps.

Step 1: You should enable the existing protection on your computer. Both Windows XP and Mac OS X have built-in firewalls. These firewalls block unwanted incoming variants from the web. You could go one step better and install a 3rd party firewall that would block unwanted outgoing data as well.

Step 2: Install and use an antivirus application. In this day and age, it is shocking how many people neglect to do this. It is very easy to get a virus and not always so easy to get rid of it. By installing an antivirus program and keeping it up to date, you are adding a much needed wall of protection for your PC and your data. If cost is an issue, there are some very nice free antivirus solutions such as avast! Antivirus Home Edition. It provides good virus detection, is easy to use and produces no noticeable side effects with other applications.

Step 3: Keep your operating system up to date. Make sure you are current with all security patches for your OS, especially if you are running Windows XP. If there is a patch available, it means there is a security hole in the program. Make sure to cover that gap.

Step 4: Don’t blindly install applications and gadgets on your PC. Get your applications from reliable sources. Be very skeptical of installing a toolbar, as they are often carriers of spyware and may impact the performance of your computer.

Step 5: Install some form of spyware detection, that way if things go wrong with the previous step, you have a way of getting rid of the trash. I use both Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware SE and Spybot Search and Destroy. The combination of these two has served me well in eradicating spyware from client computers.

While this is by no means an all inclusive list of solutions, it is a good start for any computer user. By doing these 5 steps your PC will stay safer and your experience with it will be far less frustrating.

It goes without saying that the best piece of advice for parents is to only allow the child to access the internet if and when the parent is present.  Being that it is not always going to be possible, and as your child gets older, they are going to want some breathing room.  It is still a good idea for the parent to be aware of the amount of time their child is spending online and what they are doing.  You’re not going to let your child just go wandering around outside your home without knowing where they are going and what they will be doing, this is no different.  In a way, they are leaving  the safety of your home whenever they venture onto the net.

Younger children really do require parental supervision when online, there are really too many cracks for them to fall into.  However, you can minimize this to some degree by installing software such as Net Nanny or Cybersitter that will allow you to create a white list of sites that the child can access.  This white list will contain only the sites that you have approved, the child cannot access any other site.  Some applications utilize a black list for blocking unwanted sites, but I feel that is far too unreliable due to the vast amount of inappropriate material on the web. While this will work well when the kids are young, it can become quite cumbersome once they start getting older. They will need and/or want more and more access net, so it is a good idea to start teaching them safe practices at an early age.  These include:

1.  Never share your email address (or screen name if they use an instant messenger) with anyone except for friends and family.  They should not be trying to establish new friendships on the internet.  Their online identity should only be given out when they know the person in real life, not virtually.

2.  If they have to chat with someone they meet online, they should never, ever give out personal information.  This information includes last name (I even frown on disclosing their first name), address, phone number or any other information that could give someone physical access to your child.  This includes disclosing what school they attend, what city they live in, where they hang out, etc.

3.  Never allow them to register on any website without your permission.

4.  Teach them on how to recognize inappropriate behavior from others.  Teach them proper manners for behaving online and have them expect to be treated in the same fashion.  Any online acquaintances they have should follow the same etiquette and be blocked if they fail to do so.  Inform your child to notify you immediately if they 
feel uncomfortable with a situation.

5.  Inform your child that all internet activity is ultimately subject to your review and approval and that you can check it at any time.  It is up to the parent as to how much freedom and privacy to allow their child, although as in most cases, either extreme is unwise.  Too much freedom or a complete lack of privacy can both have severe consequences.

You should treat the internet like you would real life situations.  You would never allow your child to walk up to a stranger and give out their name address and phone number, where they go to school, etc.  The internet is even worse because someone can pose as a child but actually be some 45 year old who preys on kids.  Educate your child about the hidden dangers of the internet just as your would the hidden dangers of life.  While you cannot always be there to shield them from the unwanted elements, you can prepare them for how to handle the problems when they occur. 

The internet has a vast amount of wondrous information about everything under the sun.  It is no different than the world outside your door.  Educate your child so they can explore and learn while still staying safe.