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Published 24-Oct-2002

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Use the wide range of information sources on the 'Net to help decide whether or not to take that overseas holiday you've been planning for months, especially if you're intending to go to locations that may be described as "off the beaten track".

Use the World Guide to browse through the culture and way of life in different countries. Read through the information available at sites such as Aussie in London where you can gain a perspective on what to expect. Know the sites which will give you locations of overseas Australian embassies.

Of course, use the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs site at to be up to date with the latest travel advisories to foreign countries.

  Crippled CDs  

Several major record companies began a campaign at the end of last year to prevent purchasers of their CDs from potentially making copies. The method used was to "cripple" the CD so it couldn't be played in a computer CD-ROM by writing some code on a track on the CD. Not only has this process upset consumers but, more importantly, it breaks the international standard for what constitutes a valid audio CD as defined by the Red Book standard.

Not all crippled CDs have been labelled as such so if you get home and your computer CD won't play one you've just purchased, return it for a refund.

On another music front, the 'Net still continues as a means of sharing music files around the world, mostly for free. Even though the record companies have set up sites from where their music tracks can be downloaded on a subscription basis, music lovers are complaining their range is limited and don't offer consumers a wide choice. Consequently we're now seeing bands setting up their own web sites from where their music can be purchased for a reasonable price.

File-sharing sites such as Kazaa are as popular as ever. If you want to join in this type of music-sharing, be aware of how the system works. Basically, once you log on to to a system such as Kazaa, your computer is accessible to everybody else on the 'Net so there are security implications, as well as any possible breaches of copyright.

  Virus checkup  

Remember to take normal precautions to keep the bugs away. That is, don't open email attachments unless you have made prior arrangements with the sender. To be specific, you've been told by the sender in a separate email to expect such-and-such a document or picture file as an attachment. You'll will have already made an agreement with the sender that in the email with the attachment you'll be told the type of file (for example, Word document or JPG picture or Excel spreadsheet) and its size.

When news of a new potential virus is reported, check sites such as Microsoft Security or HoaxBusters before taking any action to ensure the validity of the information.

Because many viruses are still being spread through Outlook email, users of Outlook should have installed the security patches which Microsoft made available nearly two years ago.

Finally, take advantage of free services and products. There's a free virus check available at and webDotWiz is a strong supporter of AntiVir PE Free from


With exam time not far away for VCE students, a reminder to take advantage of the many sites in the Homework Help section of the webDotDirectory.

For those interested in pursuing further study, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is slowly but surely putting all its courses online. Even though you can't officially graduate after completion of any of these courses, the experience of working through such a high-quality curriculum will be beneficial. Current courses online range from aeronautics to zoology.